After two years of working at BCG, I was ready to make a change. As much as I enjoyed the fast paced nature of consulting and the high caliber of talent on my teams, I felt as if something was missing. I was intellectually challenged, but not fulfilled at a personal or professional level. Luckily, through connections at BCG, I was able to get in touch with a contact in the Business Innovation office at the World Food Programme. Several months of interviews and Italian visa application headaches later, here I am in Rome starting the next chapter in my life.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with it (I wasn’t until a few months ago), the World Food Programme is the direct food aid agency of the United Nations. It provides food aid and assistance in times of natural and political disasters (everything from draughts to earthquakes and tsunamis to responding to the current crisis in Syria) and fights hunger and food insecurity in developing countries. WFP currently has a presence in 80+ countries and is responsible for disbursing $5B+ in food aid each year. The team I’m working for—the Business Innovation office—functions as an internal consulting group at WFP headquarters in Rome, providing analytical and project management support for several strategic initiatives across the organization.
If the job alone wasn’t exciting enough, there’s the added bonus of living in Rome for a year. Aside from two 10-day long trips in high school, I haven’t spent any prolonged time in Europe. I’m really looking forward to getting to travel, eat and learn about new cultures and new histories. And since my girlfriend Rachel will be in grad school for the year in London, we’ll get to experience the year abroad together.
That’s not to say that living away from home won’t come without its challenges. When I was in South Africa, the longest I spent away from home was just over two months. This time around, things are a little bit more permanent. Combined with the fact that I have to contend with a foreign language I don’t know (but am trying to learn), culture shock and homesickness are sure to set in.
But for now, with my first week in Rome under my belt and a city, country and continent to explore, it’s time to sit back and let the adventures begin.