As a Doctoral candidate myself and a Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) professional, I am developing my personal list of resources for careers in M&E. I’ve outlined what I have found useful in approaching careers in M&E, specifically where you can locate opportunities and the different sectors you can work in.
Types of Careers in M&E
M&E is a cross sectoral career where you can work in health, education, law and governance, human rights, youth focused programing, agriculture, amongst other focus areas. This is an advantage for M&E practitioners who want to specialize, like me, to one specific sector. I focused my work on education as I realized over the years that the work I liked best occurred within learning environments, both formal and informal. Most M&E practitioners specialize in some way, whether on method or tool used in evaluation (like people who focus on geospatial mapping, qualitative analysis, or quantitative analysis, etc.) or a sector (like education). As you gain experience and learn more about M&E, you will find yourself drawn to specific projects or topics and can build your expertise in an area you identify.
Looking for Careers in M&E
One of the first places to look when considering a career in M&E are M&E communities like the American Evaluation Association (AEA) and Monitoring and Evaluation News (MandE, UK based). Associations like AEA and MandE have listservs and social media sites where you can join a conversation with other practitioners. They also list Requests for Proposals and employment positions. Consider what professional organizations you would fit best in: do you do mostly qualitative interviewing in your M&E practice, focus more on quantitative data and analysis, or prefer mixed approaches? You’ll find communities and interest groups through AEA and on LinkedIn that focus on the specific methods you utilize. Other LinkedIn groups like Monitoring and Evaluation Professionals are also useful sites to get to know others in M&E and find out about opportunities.
Specific Job Functions in M&E
Although the below job functions are not exhaustive, this is a good overview of job functions in M&E, adapted from A Guide for Project M&E. Within these positions, each organization will have different hierarchies and responsibilities depending on their internal structure. In addition, different personalities will change how much a Program Director engages with Field Officers, etc.
Program Director with M&E focus
- Develops and manages the M&E office
- Hires staff
- Guides all project components
- Works with stakeholders to develop relevant M&E system
- Coordinates with funding agencies and partners on project strategy
- Conducts ongoing management of the day-to-say operations of the M&E team
- Communicates with internal and external teams and stakeholders
- Works with director, officers and other relevant staff to guide the and implement the M&E strategy
- May focus on one project or multiple projects
- Guide team and internal stakeholders implementing the project and drafting reports
- Conduct training with team members implemented M&E systems
- Prepares reports, visits projects, and works with project teams
M&E Officer/ Field Staff
- Reviews and revises M&E strategy (including logframe)
- Monitors project activities, expenditures and progress
- Identifies indicators and questions the project seeks to answer
- Reviewing existing M&E systems
- Communicates with project and M&E team about progress and reporting
- Organizes and conduct training
- Prepares and maintains database
Building an M&E Network
One way I build my list of resources for careers in M&E in the sector I’ve identified is by presenting at and attending conferences in education, like the Comparative and International Education Society and American Educational Research Association. Conferences are great opportunities to approach M&E as a researcher and find out about other work occurring in the sector. As a PhD student, I find opportunities to present so I can work towards academic publication, but for those not interested in work in academia, conferences can still provide a chance to meet practitioners and researchers interested in the same topics you are. A quick search of ResearchGate or Academia.edu can show you who is doing work on the topics you are interested in and where. As an M&E practitioner, I also stay abreast of local networks, like the Uganda Development Practitioners, and email network I joined in 2011 when I worked for a year in Kampala, and Craig Zelizer’s Peacebuilding and Collaborative Development Network, which shares interested opportunities in development and M&E. These examples of the networks I find useful can help you consider what networks you could join or look for to build your experience, expertise, and opportunities in M&E.
One of the best places to start building your career in M&E is through education, like the Graduate Certificate in Project Monitoring and Evaluation at American University, where I teach Qualitative Methods in M&E.
About the Author
Ally Krupar is an Adjunct Instructor at American University’s Office of Graduate & Professional Studies where she teaches Qualitative Methods in Monitoring and Evaluation. She is also a Doctoral Candidate in Adult Education and Comparative International Education at Pennsylvania State University and a Visiting Researcher with RET, an international organization providing secondary and post-secondary education to displaced peoples worldwide. She holds a BA in Anthropology from Case Western Reserve University and an MA from the School of International Service at American University. Follow Ally on Twitter.
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