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Mina Popović, IBEI Alumni 2013-14

Name and Last Name: Mina Popović

Nationality: Serbian and American

Master studied at IBEI: Master's in International Relations

Class: 2013-14

Current working company, position and city: Programme Assistant at The South Eastern and Eastern Europe Clearinghouse for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons/UNDP, Belgrade (Serbia).

1. Why did you choose the IBEI Master’s?

The reason I chose IBEI for my masters was the curriculum which offered the courses in my field of interest. In addition, IBEI had small and concentrated classes, excellent professors and students of varied backgrounds and nationalities.  The fact that IBEI was located in the wonderful and dynamic city of Barcelona was certainly an added plus.

2. What is your experience at IBEI? 

My experience at IBEI was definitely beyond my expectations. IBEI’s course of study enabled me to gain a great deal of both theoretical and practical knowledge in the realm of international relations.  The courses prepared me for my future working career and instilled added passion to my already interest in this field. I learned so much in just one year! My professors were outstanding and I particularly enjoyed the fact that they came from diverse backgrounds. I made many friends at IBEI with whom I remain very close.  Another added bonus was that I integrated into Spanish life and culture for one year.

3. Describe your career path since graduating from the IBEI

I would say that my career path has been dynamic after graduating from IBEI considering that I live in a country (Serbia) that is still very much developing economically and politically. After graduating I started working at the NGO The Danish Refugee Council in Serbia. I started off as a Social Worker for a UNICEF Project where I worked on programmes providing physical and psychological rehabilitation support and basic material support to refugee children and caregivers situated in Belgrade that were affected by the migration crisis. I then worked as a Project Officer for a UNFPA Project developing and implementing assistance programmes for women and girls in refugee and migrant centres throughout Serbia including the running of women’s health clinics. I worked for my final two years as a field assistant/social worker on a EU funded Project “Supporting Recovery of Household and Local Economies in Serbia affected by severe floods in May and September 2014”. I worked in the field together with technical staff and officials from local municipalities to implement the provision of housing assistance to needy beneficiaries.

4. What is your professional experience (your current position, your main functions)?

Currently I am Programme Assistant at The South Eastern and Eastern Europe Clearinghouse for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SEESAC) which is under the umbrella of the United Nations Development Programme in Belgrade, Serbia. I’m in charge of administrative, financial, programme and logistical support in the organization of meetings, trainings, seminars and conferences for relevant government, military and police officials along with donors to strengthen the capacities of national and regional stakeholder to control and reduce the proliferation and misuse of small arms and light weapons and thus contribute to enhanced stability, security and development in South Eastern and Eastern Europe.

5. How did the master programme prepare you for the work you're doing now? 

The IBEI master programme prepared me for the work I do today because it provided me with solid theoretical and practical knowledge in the field of international relations which was an excellent foundation for my present work. I work on programmes for the control of small arms and light weapons in South Eastern and Eastern Europe which is particularly relevant to my studies as I completed a pathway in International Security and Peace. 

6. Is this more or less what you pictured yourself doing after the master programme?

Yes, definitely. Both my work at an NGO providing assistance to refugees and migrants and my work with government, military and police authorities in South Eastern and Eastern Europe was and continues to be both interesting, fulfilling and challenging.

7. What advice would you give to current students who want to follow this career path? / Some advice to future IBEI students? 

My advice is to follow a career path that you are passionate about. If you are ready to take interesting classes, with a group of dynamic teachers then IBEI is the right place for you. The positive thing about this career path is that it covers multiple areas of interest and provides a wide range of options career wise. The career path is most interesting and extremely dynamic.

8. What do you miss most about IBEI? 

What I miss most about IBEI is the mix of different cultures, different people, different languages, our little study groups, and group trips, and all the different experiences and people that all come together to study in a city that is full of life. At IBEI I always somehow felt that I was on a learning vacation! 

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