Home>Natalia, Chargée de projets – Pôle Migration, Genre et Droits Humains, Département de Gouvernance, Expertise France


Natalia, Chargée de projets – Pôle Migration, Genre et Droits Humains, Département de Gouvernance, Expertise France


Natalia Noriega Serrano has graduated with an enhanced master's (law school’s migration clinic) in Human Rights and Humanitarian Action with a gender concentration. Coming from Colombia, she currently works as Chargée de projets – Pôle Migration, Genre et Droits Humains, Département de Gouvernance at Expertise France

What are your main responsibilities?

My department is divided into thematic units, and I am part of the Migration, Gender and Human Rights unit, being in charge of a portfolio of three projects on gender in the Latin American region. I am part of a team made up of project officers, project assistants, and project managers.

Project assistants provide support with administrative matters, project managers pilot the implementation in the field, are responsible for budget execution and activity implementation, and are in charge of the project teams. As a project officer -Chargée de projets-, I am the intermediary between the headquarters and the field. On the one hand, I ensure that the internal procedures of the headquarters are followed in the field, and on the other hand I report the progress and difficulties of the field to my management at the headquarters to adapt our implementation strategies depending on the context.

My role consists of putting in place all the technical and logistical mechanisms necessary for proper implementation of projects in the field, throughout the entire project cycle. Specifically, this involves a number of tasks that include requesting and negotiating funding with institutional donors (mainly AFD and the EU), drafting concept notes and project proposals, designing a project’s theory of change, logical framework and budget, preparing audits and reports, managing strategic relationships with key stakeholders and donors, monitoring the implementation of the projects in my portfolio, participating in the recruitment of the project team, and controlling internal administrative mechanisms, such as due diligences and contracts. 

How did you prepare for this job?

Throughout my career, I’ve tried to ensure that all my academic, professional, and volunteer experiences were focused on human rights issues and project implementation, the sectors in which I am interested in working. Having a CV that is consistent with the job opportunities for which you are applying can help your profile to stand out.

In terms of the Sciences Po resources available to PSIA students, the two tools that in my opinion contributed the most to having my current job were the third semester internship and the support from the PSIA careers team. On the one hand, my internship in project support at the IOM, which I found though the PSIA Careers Excel list, allowed me to expand my professional experience in international cooperation project management, a fundamental requirement for my current position. On the other hand, the workshops on how to draft a French-style resume, how to properly prepare for job interviews and how to write convincing application letters undoubtedly helped me make my application dossiers more attractive to recruiters. 

Having relevant experience for the position you’re applying to is important, but knowing how to show why those experiences are indeed relevant is essential.

What is the most fascinating part of your job?

The most fascinating part of my job is being able to contribute to the strengthening of gender equality policies and mechanisms in my country, Colombia, through the French international cooperation system. Throughout my career I have had a deep interest in advancing gender and contributing to the protection and guarantee of women's rights. Being able to focus on a thematic area that I am passionate about while working for my region and my country is a great privilege.

Besides, having worked for cooperation agencies and foreign ministries in the past, I have a particular interest in diplomacy and managing strategic relationships with stakeholders. My current job allows me to exchange with senior officials from French and Latin American ministries to promote issues that are a priority for me, such as the rights of women and girls, their autonomy and the fight against gender-based violence. 

For instance, a couple of months ago I was able to help organize an exchange visit with 15 ministers of equality from Latin America and the Caribbean in Paris, in coordination with the MEAE and the French Ministry of Equality. This event aimed at promoting inclusive societies with a particular focus on women’s economic autonomy. It was certainly inspiring to learn from a group of powerful women how they are working to fight for equality in their countries. 

How did your PSIA experience contribute to the position you hold today?

My training at PSIA was instrumental in taking this step in my career. Having a Sciences Po degree is the gateway to many job opportunities in this sector. At Expertise France, as is the case with multiple international cooperation agencies around the world, having a master's degree is a primary requirement. Moreover, in the terms of reference of my position, a diploma from Sciences Po was mentioned as “desired”.

Additionally, I believe that being able to acquire academic experience in the three thematic areas of my unit: migration, gender and human rights, made my profile stand out. I gained academic and practical experience through my enhanced master choice, the migration clinic. I was able to take classes on French and European immigration law, and I learned about the French immigration system first-hand through my role as “tiers accompagnante” to asylum seekers in Paris. Furthermore, the different concentration classes I took on gender equality, women's rights, feminist movements and gender-based violence enriched my knowledge about current challenges and needs, as well as on the necessary mechanisms for the promotion and protection of women’s and girl’s rights. 

Having an expertise in different thematic areas within the same team makes me a versatile project officer within my unit. Although my portfolio currently focuses on gender, if needed, I could very easily assume the management of projects on migrations or human rights, given my training on these subject matters.

What advice would you give to current students?

Also, take advantage of the excellent network of professors in your faculty. These people, with vast experience in the thematic and geographical areas of each master's and concentration, can give you valuable advice to catapult you career. Do not hesitate to talk to them and ask for guidance or advice on how to enter the sector or organization of your interest. They are incredibly generous and would be more than happy to help. 

Lastly, plan ahead. If you are clear about the type of job you are interested in, start applying a few months before graduation, look for the recruiters on LinkedIn and express your interest in the position. Particularly in the case of non-European citizens, recruitment processes can take a long time given the migration status requirements and procedures, so it doesn't hurt to get started with the application process as soon as you can.

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