Master of Arts in Sustainable International Development

SID Careers

We believe that SID and Heller should prepare you for your dream job in development. As a Heller student, you will work closely with the Career Development Center to define your professional goals and create strategies to achieve them. Beginning with the online Career Academy the summer before orientation, SID students regularly meet with career advisors, learn from professional development workshops and attend employer events throughout their time at Heller. 

SID students gain the knowledge, skills and tools at Heller to get great jobs where they bring innovative ideas and creative practice to the development sector. Furthermore, they learn about human rights, gender equity, inclusive societies and environmental sustainability—the values that we believe should guide development work, whether it's in a large multilateral organization or a small local nonprofit organization. Heller's career development team helps students decide how and where they can work to make the world a better place, as a researcher, policy analyst, practitioner or advocate in countries around the world.

Meet our alumni: 

Wafaa Arbash

Wafaa Arbash, MA SID/MA COEX'17

Co-founder and CEO, WorkAround

"When I was young my dream was to work for the United Nations. When I got to Heller, I still had that goal. But the more I studied about international development, the more I realized that the bureaucracy would drive me crazy. I want to see direct impact. So that’s where I started thinking about this idea. I reached out to many companies that had the resources to implement my idea, but nobody wanted to do it. So I started thinking, maybe I could do it. And here we are, three years later."

Elisa Trotta Gamus, MA SID/COEX’11

Venezuela's Ambassador to Argentina under President Guaidó

Trotta Gamus is a lawyer, diplomat and human rights activist. "I went to Heller and learned about so many other things are happening all around the world and how important is not only to know about it, but to fight arm in arm with your colleagues, with your friends, with your professors, or the other students. We have to fight for our principles and to defend our values. That’s what Heller means to me."

Learn more about Elisa's work.

Christopher Ives, MA SID’11

Christopher Ives, MA SID'11

Creator, eco-friendly Vitruvian Van

“Ten years ago, the Heller SID program helped educate me about intersectional systems of sustainability, and I’ve realized more and more, every day, how connected I am to that system—that ecosystem. Ecosystems aren’t just the environment; it’s about how we interact with the environment; how we act with our ‘ecos,’ our home.”

Learn more about Christopher's work.

Van Ngoc Ta, MA SID’12

Van Ngoc Ta, MA SID’12

Chief Lawyer, Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation

Ta is the chief lawyer at Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation, working to end modern-day slavery and human trafficking in Vietnam. Over the last 15 years, he has rescued nearly 1,000 victims of sex trafficking, sexual abuse, labor exploitation and many other forms of slavery, and sent 135 traffickers to jail. He has also held workshops and training sessions across Vietnam for thousands of police officers, prosecutors and judges. His advocacy work has led to changes in Vietnamese policies, laws and practices that provide better prevention and protection for human trafficking victims.

Learn more about Van's work.

Elizabeth Petheo

Elizabeth Petheo, MA SID’06

Regional Representative, Miyamoto International

"In international development work, there is an ever-present reconciliation of the ideal and real—whether it is in the realm of policy dialogue or program implementation. Because of the complexity of the work—including the unforeseen setbacks, changing priorities, budget and staffing constraints, external shocks that affect outputs and outcomes—the limitations and challenges are abundant.

One of the things I learned is to not get discouraged. To focus on what is in the span of one’s control. Lead by example. Work hard and focus on the mission. In essence: keep at it. Impact may come in ways and at times you had not anticipated."

Learn more about Elizabeth's work.

Sydney Skov, MA SID'15 (United States)

U.S. Foreign Service Officer; Co-founder, Free Body Project

“Dance and social justice — nobody speaks about it as a field. It blows my mind that this work isn’t done more. There are huge international ngos that do classical music with kids, for example, but a violin is thousands of dollars. Why doesn’t dance have a place in this field? Every culture has a dance form. You can walk into any space and teach a dance class for free — there’s massive potential.”

Learn more about Sydney's work.

Elle Chang, MA SID'15

Elle Chang, MA SID'15

International Trade Advisor, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

As Chang looked at graduate programs toward the end of her Peace Corps service, Heller’s SID program stood out with its practicum option. “A lot of the organizations were places I’d been interested in working for,” says Chang, including the United Nations Development Programme, where she joined the Equator Initiative for her practicum.

For Chang, Peace Corps opened many doors. The Coverdell Fellowship made graduate school at Heller affordable; her shared experiences developed into friendships with fellow RPCVs both at Heller and beyond (she even met her fiancé through the Peace Corps); and it gave her noncompetitive eligibility for federal government hiring, which helped her get a job at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Learn more about Elle's work.

Shadi Sheikhsaraf, MA SID/COEX'17 (Iran)

Associate Reporting Officer, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

Public Policy and Coexistence Fellowship Recipient

Sheikhsaraf grew up in Iran during the Iraq-Iran war in the 1980s, which raged throughout her childhood. “The trauma is still with me. But that was motivation for me to work on humanitarian activities and conflict prevention and post-conflict healing, for the betterment of people’s lives.”

“When you’re at war, you do not see the other side. It’s not easy. But I started talking to my classmates from Iraq. We became friends and understood that the fear we experienced was the same. Having classmates from all over the world helps you to get rid of some of the biases you have.”

Learn more about Shadi's work.

Wafaa Arbash

Wafaa Arbash, MA SID/COEX’17 (Syria)

Founder and CEO, WorkAround

"I was thinking about what could be done to help refugees and displaced people," said Wafaa Arbash, a Topol Fellow in Nonviolence Practice, who first came up with the idea for WorkAround while conducting her master’s research. "There are so many organizations doing a lot of good work to help refugees, but a lot of them focus on donating more and more aid, which is not a sustainable solution. I kept thinking about all of my friends and the people I know who left Syria, all of these people who are talented and educated and motivated to do something with their lives, but they’re stuck.

“At the end of the day, what really matters is economic empowerment. I just felt like this was where we had to help people. At the same time, I found that companies are always looking for cost-effective solutions to their online repetitive tasks and jobs. It’s expensive for them to hire someone here in the U.S. to do these jobs, so they outsource this work.”

Learn more about Wafaa's work.

Sarah Zoen, MA SID'06 (United States)

Senior Policy Advisor, Private Sector Department, Oxfam America

“I remember coming to one of these brown bag [Lunch and Learn programs hosted by the Career Development Center] and talking to someone from Oxfam and they were working on this Fair Trade coffee campaign.” That turned into a summer internship opportunity and eventually, a full-time job with Oxfam America after graduation. Thirteen years later, she's still there, and today, she and her team have launched “Behind the Barcodes,” focused on six major U.S. supermarkets and their supply chains, starting with Whole Foods. “Companies these days are good at recognizing their environmental footprint, but human rights fall by the wayside.”

Learn more about Sarah's work. 

Panther Alier

Panther Alier, MA SID’07 (South Sudan)

Country Director, Smile Again Africa Development Organization

He traveled from refugee camp to refugee camp through Ethiopia and Kenya, separated from his aunt and siblings, before finally resettling in the United States in 2001. It was a struggle to acclimate to his new country—but eventually, he earned a bachelor’s degree from UMass-Boston and started to earn a comfortable living. He gained U.S. citizenship. No one could fault him for staying.

But that’s not what Alier wanted. He chose to pursue a master’s degree in sustainable international development at Heller so he could find a job that would take him back to Sudan.

“My goal was always to return and help communities back home,” he says. “I went back with the euphoria of going to make drastic changes.”

Learn more about Panther's work. 

Rodrigo Moran

Rodrigo Moran, MA SID'16 (El Salvador)

Technology for Development Manager for Central America, Creative Associates International

"I'm currently based in San Salvador, El Salvador serving as T4D Manager for Central America. In order to do my job I need a very unique mix of experiences that only a program like the SID program at Heller can provide. Youth development theory and practice, information and communication technologies for development, planning and implementation, education and conflict, and much more. My Heller cohort continues to be my extended family and professional network. I frequently reach out to individuals or groups to inquire about specific topics and I'm always amazed by the overwhelming support."

Read more about Rodrigo's work. 

Melissa Brigante

Melissa Kizildemir Brigante, MA SID'07 (Turkey)

Founder and Director, Grenfell Hope Project

“I loved being in the field but wanted to develop tools to help organizations work more effectively: How can we serve more people with fewer assets?” she says. She chose to pursue a master’s degree in sustainable international development at Heller, where she put her newfound knowledge into action at her practicum placement with OxFam America during Hurricane Katrina.

Today, she's the founder of the Grenfell Hope Project, which provided psychological first aid immediately following the devastating fire at the apartment complex in London, and now offers mental health services as well as resilience-building trainings for survivors, first responders and more. 

Read more about Melissa's work. 

Rebecca Herrington, MA SID/COEX’14 (United States)

Developmental Evaluator, Social Impact

“At Heller, there’s the opportunity to be proactive and create your own path through the programs. I leveraged what professors had to offer with their experiences, had the experience of teaching and grading, and took advantage of being in Boston to work with NGOs there. I wanted [my master's degree] to be practitioner-focused and wanted to do both conflict management and international development. Heller was a great place to combine that.”

Read more about Rebecca's work. 

Jarnail Singh

Jarnail Singh, MA SID’13 (India)

Deputy Director, The MacArthur Foundation, India Office

“The skills I gained at Heller allowed me to grow within the organization. Heller is a community of leaders; you learn not to be closed to any sort of ideas. The leadership traits I picked up during my time at Heller—coupled with technical knowledge—that’s what did the trick.”  

Read more about Jarnail's work. 

Lisette Anzoategui

Lisette Anzoategui, MA SID/COEX'15 (United States)

Program Manager, Social Impact

As a Peace Corps volunteer in Honduras, “I saw constantly the interaction between violence prevention and conflict and peacebuilding and development. That was a huge part of why I chose Heller, where I could do the dual degree in sustainable international development and coexistence and conflict to make those linkages.”

Read more about Lisette's work. 

Noah Steinberg-Di Stefano, MA SID'17 (United States)

Program Associate for Emergency Response Operations, Lutheran World Relief

“The practicum option was attractive because international development is something that’s so dependent on experience. The opportunity to spend the second year traveling and working and getting exposure was really valuable.”

Read more about Noah's work. 

Arina Lester

Arina Chithavong Lester, MA SID’15 (Laos)

Director of Development and Operations, Legacies of War

She landed her dream job working as the director of development and operations at Legacies of War, a Washington, DC-based organization, which advocates for the removal of unexploded bomb leftovers from the Vietnam War era in Laos. She conducts training, victim assistance, bomb clearance and advocacy for communities in Laos.

Read more about Arina's work. 

Peter Ter, MA SID/COEX'14 (Sudan)

Peace Corps Response Volunteer

Peter values the theoretical and practical skills he acquired as a Heller student. “We go through simulations that relay real-world experiences. Our professors are respected international experts in their field — and we learn the word is mightier than guns, and that by bringing people together, they can work through their differences.”

Read more about Peter's work. 

Enka Tsendjav, MA SID’11 (Mongolia)

Media Representative, Mongolian Health Initiative (MHI)

“Development isn’t just about implementing projects, development is everywhere: even in our daily lives. I believe development practitioners should utilize knowledge from science, technology, entrepreneurship, art, and media into their development work. Development work should be scientifically proven, technologically advanced, attractive as art, and publicly approachable as media. The Heller School installed a mindset of sustainability very deeply in me. So whenever I do something, regardless of the field, I have a strong sense guiding me to do all things in a sustainable way.”

Read more about Enka's work. 

Dorcas Wepukhulu

Dorcas Wepukhulu, MA SID’11 (Kenya)

Co-founder, African Storybook Project

Before Heller, she taught high school for 16 years in rural Kenya. In these arid regions, social services are rare and age-appropriate children’s books in local languages even rarer. While a student at Heller, she met Judith Baker, a Boston classroom teacher who was also concerned with meeting children’s literacy needs in Africa. Together, in 2011 they conceptualized the African Storybook Project, an organization that provides access to large quantities of age- and language-appropriate digital reading materials for young children in Africa.

Read more about Dorcas' work. 

Megha Hedge, MA SID'14

Research Associate, D-Lab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

"As research associate I create and implement research plans for field studies focused on affordable technologies and processes for people living in poverty in developing countries. My research at D-Lab is actionable, participatory and includes user-centered studies such as needs assessment, technology evaluation, technology adoption and behavior change. For me, the SID program was a stepping stone to a dream career in international development. The research and project management skills I learned in the program have been very useful in my job. Being a part of a diverse cohort was also a very unique learning experience that only Heller could offer."

Learn more about Megha's work (VIDEO)

Josh Cramer-Montes, MBA/MA SID'17

Communications and Engagement Director, Sustainable Business & Innovation at Nike

"The pressing environmental, economic and social issues of today are all interconnected and will become more so in the coming decades. Approaching them holistically will be key. Both the SID and MBA programs mix the theoretical with the practical. Together, these programs—along with the Heller staff and faculty— built upon my previous professional and educational experiences and positioned me well to get to where I am today."

Roger Perez, MBA/MA SID'16

Senior Associate, Nonprofit Finance Fund

"Heller's curriculum, faculty, staff, and students prepared me well to work directly with senior-level financial and strategic decision makers. From the Team Consulting Project to the focus on social justice and equity, Heller bolstered my technical capacities as well as refined the interpersonal skills needed to help mission-driven organizations achieve their outcomes. The transition to my current role was smooth, as I was able to hit the ground running and contribute immediately to team efforts. I benefited greatly from internship and extracurricular activities on and off campus both in the United States and abroad."

Hend Nafea, MA SID/COEX'19, human rights program coordinator for the Vital Voices Global Partnership, explains how her fight for human rights, especially during the Arab Spring in Egypt, led her to study conflict resolution and coexistence and sustainable international development at Heller.

Adam Rosenberg MA SID/COEX'11, on how his Heller degrees have helped enhance his career in international trade.