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Project Everest Ventures

  • < 100 employees

Karli Chan

The coolest thing about this experience is the ability to help people, to meet like-minded people and to feel like you made a difference.

What's your job about?

Project Everest Ventures (PEV) is a social enterprise that runs projects in Malawi, India, Fiji and Timor-Leste to tackle social issues such as poverty, malnutrition, gender inequality, inability to access clean and affordable energy etc. PEV recruit’s university students to work on these projects during winter and summer break (Jan/Feb/June/July/Dec), providing these students with the opportunity to gain academic credit and work experience in return.

As for what you get to be doing, that depends on what project you are working on and where it’s up to in its development. Using Female Hygiene and Sanitation (which I have been part of) as an example, if you trekked in it’s first month of operation you would have been engaging with women in rural communities to see if our assumptions on the issues were correct, if they collectively identified with the problem, and to gain more insight into the topic relative to Malawi. Compare this to the projects second and third months that focus on distributing products, and later months focusing on setting up the business model and on-boarding local staff.  

Throughout the month there are multiple workshops run for your personal and professional development, so there is much more to this experience than just working in a developing country. This is the main reason why I stay in PEV, why I am the most experienced trekker [at PEV, interns are referred to as ‘Trekkers’], and why I’m set to undertake their Team Leadership Training this year. I gain so much development each time I go overseas with PEV, whether it was my first month with them or my fourth, that I know I will get more than my money’s worth each time I trek [intern].

What's your background?

I grew up in the small town of Albury/Wodonga, more specifically Albury. I lived a 6min walk from my primary school yet Mum and Dad insisted on driving me to school every morning. Some of the more important stages in my life include graduating primary school and high school, moving to a different city for university, trekking for the first time in my final year, a fall out with a friend, and trekking again after uni. I first heard about Project Everest Ventures (PEV) in March of 2019 at a careers fair where I put down my name, phone number and email. A few days later I received a phone call which quickly lead to me getting booked into an online interview. Everything that happens with PEV happens extremely quick and before I knew it, I was at Trekker Training in Sydney and about to fly out to Malawi in just over a week. Since then I have been overseas with PEV for a total of 4 months.

When I first went over in June 2019 I was only supposed to stay for a month, but halfway through week 2 I realised that I was so about everything I was doing and the people I was with, and decided to extend my stay for a month. Going home after my 2 months I knew I would come back to Malawi, the question was whether it would be as a trekker or a team leader and for which 2 months. The answer was trekker and for January and February. Now I have 4 months of trekking under my belt and am on track for Team Leadership Training

Could someone with a different background do your job?

Yes. During my time trekking, I met people from all different faculties. I’ve been on a team with people with engineering backgrounds, commerce backgrounds, science backgrounds, political backgrounds and arts backgrounds. The main thing is that the skills you learn will trekking are transferable wherever you go. The only “skills” you really need to have for this experience are a willingness to try new things.

What's the coolest thing about your job?

The coolest thing about this experience is the ability to help people, to meet like-minded people and to feel like you made a difference. You learn the ins and outs of your project and start connecting to the venture and your target customer segment on a personal level, and you really want to see the project reach its full potential, therefore helping those who need it the most. You also spend a month living with the other trekkers and every month I have left with a new lot of family members. Trekking definitely teaches you to open your heart to more people.

What are the limitations of your job?

A limitation of the experience is that each project has to follow a specific structure [in accordance with the lean business methodology], which sometimes means that it takes a while before the people that need the help the most can actually get that help. It’s especially hard when you’ve built these relationships with individuals and you go to show them the solution you have, only for them to tell you that they can’t even afford to feed their families, let alone afford the solution that you’re offering. I’ve seen people cry from frustrations like this.

3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...

  1. Sign up for PEV now so that you have more time to trek and more chances to lead
  2. Don’t be so afraid of stepping on toes because people have thick skin
  3. Do what makes you happy