“Sri Lanka Red Cross Society Management Trainee Programme is extremely important for recent graduates who value humanitarian values. This programme provides a one-of-a-kind opportunity to gain extensive knowledge and hands-on experience in your field of study and beyond. Furthermore, you will receive valuable technical guidance, participate in various Sri Lanka Red Cross Society training sessions, and earn internationally recognised certificates, broadening your knowledge base. Working for a company with a globally recognised structure allows you to gain valuable experience as well as a recommendation letter. As a result, this programme is an undeniably valuable opportunity for recent graduates”, says Ayodhya.
I am Ayodhya Dissanayake, and I have an honours degree in International Studies from Kelaniya University’s Faculty of Social Sciences. I am a Management Trainee at the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society’s National Headquarters. This November, I completed nine months at the organisation and was the last month of my internship.
- What encouraged you to apply for the position of management trainee at the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society?
At university, I majored in international studies, studying topics such as international law, human rights, international migration, and international organisations. My decision to join the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society was prompted by the knowledge I gained during my studies, as well as a growing passion. My admiration for humanitarian work fueled my desire to help people facing various challenges. As a result, I discovered that the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society provided the best platform for me to begin my professional journey, leading me to embark on this path as a management trainee.
2. How has your experience as a management trainee at the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society been?
The experience I got from the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society as a management trainee is invaluable. In short, it was fundamental to change many things in my life. The most rewarding experience I have gained from coming to the Red Cross is how to respectfully help people who are facing a disaster or a dangerous situation, regardless of their race, religion, or social status. The reason for that is that they are entitled to human rights in society just like other people, even though they are facing difficult situations. Also, when providing humanitarian aid to people, I gained a lot of knowledge about how to make sure that it is given to the most appropriate people as well as how to be responsible for whether their needs were fulfilled in the same way.
I was able to gain experience by working in various departments. If I talk about some of the experiences I gained in the disaster management department, the knowledge gained about projects and workshops related to climate change from project manager Ms. Udari Samarakoon, and the knowledge gained about Cash Grant projects under project manager Ms. Ruwanari Charuni, the experience is worth it.
It was a great experience for me to do the migration and displacement assessment under the Restoring Family Links Coordinator, Mr. Kamal Yatawara. During the key informant interview intervention, I got the opportunity to work with organisations like the ICRC, IFRC, IOM, UNHCR, ILO, Embassy of Switzerland, and Foreign Employment Bureau. I also had the opportunity to participate in key informant interviews with other government stakeholders and Sri Lanka Red Cross branches and contribute to the process. I have acquired a range of valuable experiences, including those I’ve previously mentioned. Furthermore, my collaboration with people possessing extensive knowledge and experience has afforded me numerous additional experiences.
I was able to realise my aspiration of working with a globally recognised humanitarian organisation while also benefiting from the education I received during my time at the university.
- What did you take away from the programme, and how is it guiding your studies and career goals?
Sri Lanka Red Cross Society, along with some of the subjects I studied under the heading of international studies, provided me with practical insights into this field. I had the valuable opportunity to broaden my knowledge of various topics, including international organisations, international humanitarian law, human rights, diplomacy, international migration, and the Rohingya refugee crisis, which I first encountered during my university studies, through my involvement with the Red Cross. Furthermore, working in such an organisation as my first step in my career has provided me with a great stimulus and assistance.
I also gain knowledge from the IFRC’s training and learning platforms. This organisation acted as a significant catalyst for both my personal and professional development. My time at the Red Cross taught me not only the essential skills of a job and the importance of work ethics, but also the importance of clear and effective communication and appropriate workplace attire. As a result, my time with the Red Cross enabled me to gain knowledge and boost my self-confidence, allowing me to advance towards my career objectives.
- What are your most important takeaways from your time as a management trainee at the country’s largest organisation?
My work with the country’s largest humanitarian organisation taught me a lot about how serious the organisation is about the welfare of the local people. It became clear that there are numerous aspects of the Red Cross that go beyond what people typically perceive. I was able to witness various aspects of the organisation, such as first aid, health and care, disaster management, climate change, livelihood development, and family reunification.
Through these experiences, I learned about the organisation’s unwavering commitment to meeting the critical needs of the people of Sri Lanka. Furthermore, I learned a lot about the collaborative efforts with international organisations like the IFRC and ICRC that support each of these initiatives.
- What is a typical day at the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society for a management trainee?
A typical day as a management trainee at the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society begins at 9 a.m., though there may be occasions, such as field visits, when we must report even earlier. Every morning, our project manager goes over the day’s tasks and keeps track of our progress. We must work with dedication and efficiency in order to better serve the community. Given that each project must adhere to a strict timeline, precision and effectiveness are critical.
A project support assistant provides assistance as needed throughout the day. The workday usually ends around 5 p.m., after tea breaks and lunch breaks, during which we diligently complete our assigned tasks.
Management trainees are sometimes tasked with multiple responsibilities spanning multiple departments, such as HR, finance, and others. This broad exposure enables management trainees at the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society to gain comprehensive experience in all aspects of a business.
- What was your experience like when travelling for field trips, and what did you learn?
A field visit provides an excellent opportunity for a management trainee to gain valuable experience within the Red Cross Society. My migration and displacement assessment field visit was especially beneficial because it allowed me to interact with various institutions and participate in activities such as focus group discussions. I also learned about community engagement during field trips as part of this experience. Furthermore, it became clear that field visits are critical in post-monitoring, emphasising their importance at the end of a project. In addition, I came to value the positive response to the organisation’s contributions and its role as a model for assisting more people.
- What are your thoughts on the technical guidance and mentorship you received as a trainee?
The higher officials inform us about the proper method before and during each activity. They also warn that if something is done incorrectly, there may be complications. I always get the most accurate advice because there are so many experienced officers in the organisation. Adhering to the correct procedure, rather than the simplest, ensures that I receive consistent advice aimed at minimising problems and achieving a successful process.
- Did you feel inspired to pursue your unique professional interests and passions?
Sri Lanka Red Cross Society has deepened my strong desire to help people and heightened my sense of humanity in sensitively responding to their needs. It has instilled in me a strong curiosity and a sincere desire to help a broader range of people in any way I can. Furthermore, the Red Cross Management Trainee Programme has inspired me to pursue a unique profession that directly benefits and aids people.