NPSIA Summer Work Profile – Briana Yerbury, HumanitarianU

This post is part of a profile series on NPSIAns and their summer work experiences. If you have any questions for the student profiled, please refer to their contact information at the bottom of this post.

NameBriana Yerbury

Position title: Monitoring and Evaluation Associate

Workplace: HumanitarianU (Working for a start up remotely / from home).

NPSIA cluster: Development Projects and Planning

Position obtained through the Carleton co-op process?: No

Undergrad school(s): McGill

Undergrad major(s): Political Science


What is your commute to work like?

I work from home, although we are investigating co-working spaces in Montréal, still tbd.

How would you describe the dress code at your work?

Business casual for meetings.

Are there many other NPSIAns at your workplace?

No, my colleague who got me the job has a Masters’ in Public Health. My employer Dr. Kirsten Johnson is an emergency medicine physician, with aMasters’ in Public Health and experience in humanitarian intervention.

What are the lunch options like nearby your work?

In Montréal, endless.

How many jobs did you apply to this summer?

I chose not to apply for coop because I was convinced there would be no interesting opportunities for the students in DPP [the Development Projects & Planning cluster], particularly because I do not want to do policy analysis. I applied to less than a dozen posts, mostly paid or unpaid internships with UN, ADB, JPal, Carter Centre. I researched and chose what I thought would be interesting and where I would get to apply some of the knowledge I have gained this year. The two recommendations I would give is to network as much as possible (that’s how I found my job), and not to get discouraged.

What is your favourite part about your job?

The independence I am given thanks to my boss and the fact that I am learning everyday.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

The independence is a double edged sword because it can be challenging to stay motivated and on-task working alone at home.

What is an average day like for you?

For the most part I dictate my schedule. On Fridays I sent my boss a weekly activity report and Mondays we will Skype to determine priorities for the week. I do get requests to do work other than my research and I have already had the opportunity to attend a course and a humanitarian intervention simulation with potential to travel to some others over the summer.

HumanitarianU offers a range of online programs for development professionals

HumanitarianU offers a range of online certifications for disaster response situations

Is your workplace fully bilingual, or does it favour English over French (or vice versa)?

Favours English even though we are located in Montréal the courses we offer are being promoted mostly to english language universities and internationally to INGOs and organizations like WHO. They are planning on offering the courses in more languages in the future.

What are some exciting things happening in your workplace right now?

Everything! We are launching and training students at McGill, Brown and Harvard (to name a few), in the principles of humanitarian practice. However my colleague and employer have been travelling to South Africa to create partnerships with more universities and this month they are in Geneva attending the WHO surge training for regional coordinators to see how we might partner with them to train they heath experts.

What surprised you the most about your workplace/position?

I am more knowledgeable and capable than I anticipated. My boss is also an excellent employer because she encourages me to think for my self, take initiative and suggest avenues of research.

Are you also taking classes (NPSIA, language training, etc.) and/or studying abroad this summer?

No, I want to enjoy my summer, work hard and come back to school refreshed, re-focused and committed.

Which NPSIA course best-prepared you for your position?

Selected topics in DPP, with Ana Dammert: evaluation. Research methods and statistical analysis were also helpful for me, but I have not taken those courses in the past in my undergrad.

What sort of work experience did you have before this position?

I may be a bit unusual for the grad students in NPSIA because I worked for 2.5 years in marketing, administration, and sales before returning to my studies. I have worked for municipal governments in Québec but only in summer position like environmental assistant and camp councillor.

What are your hours like?

Currently it is still pretty flexible, I work about 30 hrs a week.

What is some advice you’d give to a student hoping to get hired/intern at your workplace?

I am not sure what the opportunities will look like for us in the future, we are constantly growing and changing (the nature of a startup), and we have very limited staff.

Looking back, is there anything you wish you would’ve done differently in your job search?

I would have attended more events of interest over the school because I am the perfect example that it is not only what you know but who you know. I would also have applied for even more jobs, even the ones I passed up thinking that I was perhaps under qualified.


Have any questions for Briana? 

You can get in touch with her via the NPSIA Students’ Association at and check out her LinkedIn.


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