My Experience as a Junior Field Researcher and Intern at L-IFT

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Research is a tool that enables humans to delve into the unknown. It is this very nature of it that fuels civilizations’ leap into newer stratospheres of achievement. Fueled by the ever-present curiosity of humans and the unquenchable zeal to find answers, research has always been at the center of tremendous discoveries that made a difference in the world we live in.  There is no doubt that without curiosity and research, human progress would slow or even come to an unprecedented halt, and it would be hard to fathom the kind of life we would’ve been living without it.  

My name is Zimare Worku. I am from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I graduated with a BA degree in Business Management and currently, I am studying Business Administration Information Systems. Before L-IFT, my knowledge about research was only technical, not practical, but after joining L-IFT as a junior field researcher, I got a chance to gain practical experience on how research work is done.  I have been working with L-IFT since March 15, 2021, under the title of Junior Field Researcher on the Small Firm Diaries project. I was in charge of assisting a senior field researcher, assisting in translation when required, contributing to storytelling in the form of observation during the field sessions, and documenting the project. I have been with L-IFT since the beginning of the diary research and worked as a junior field researcher for 14 months on that project. This work consisted of traveling to the assigned sites and recording the respondents’ interaction with the field researcher. At first, we faced some difficulties during the process because we were meeting with people with different personalities, some of them were accepting and some of them were really hesitant to cooperate with us. But through time, we got along with all the respondents. We are like family now and I really appreciate the exhausting moments we went through trying to get respondents. I learned a lot of skills through my fieldwork: communication skills, persuasion skills, and time management skills, and even got a lot more confidence. 

Another part of my work was writing stories of my observations in the field and I wrote a story about one respondent. I visited anything which is related to their business. The observations for the story contain new aspects about what happened to the assigned respondent to make the understanding of this respondent more profound and show more details about the obstacles they face.  

For our Small Firm Diaries work, the respondents’ periodic situation would be updated on our telegram channel and it is written in the blog sessions as well. Through the Telegram group, the entire team would exchange information. All of us learned from others’ field observations and we could see how our own respondents were similar and in some cases different from the others. 

After finishing my contract as a Junior Field Researcher I was asked if I would join L-IFT as a staff intern, which was great news for me. I was really happy since research is my one and only dream, and the new tasks that came with the internship were very interesting. Some of the tasks are data cleaning, transcription, attending bi-weekly project meetings, contributing to promoting the FINBIT mobile app, and doing some research with my fellow workers together and individually. One of my assignments was to conduct research on the many tools that Google Workspace provides and research on the acquisition of FINBIT for organizations. I have prepared PowerPoints and presented my idea to the project manager. It was a great experience and exciting to be sharing new ideas, etc. Out of all these, my main task is data cleaning. This is cleaning the data which is filled on the server through the app by cross-checking if the field researchers filled the data correctly and completely. To explain it more first I will download the round and query in order to work quickly since sometimes the network is a bit slow. It is really time-consuming but it is a task I enjoy because I understand the importance of accurate data.

During my stay at L-IFT, I have experienced unique transferable skills, compensating challenges, and unlimited aspiration. The research projects I participated in have been a great bridge between my dream and graduate education. And this has a great implication for my career by providing a perfect opportunity to get a new chain with professionals (Experts). It has been and is very satisfying. It is undeniable, however, that doing research works takes up a considerable amount of time and requires the effort and interest of the researcher. The demanding nature of research tasks can sometimes take its toll on the mental capabilities of the researcher. I had days when I would lose my energy and motivation to perform certain tasks due to being overworked or having too much data to analyze and reach conclusions. But L-IFT’s conducive environment and its team of vibrant and cooperative researchers have always made it easier to get through tough times and demanding tasks. I believe that every new recruit in any company needs such a nurturing and grooming experience. Getting the chance to work under a team of competent and highly experienced professionals has contributed immensely to how I approach research tasks. I believe this unique experience will shape my career trajectory favorably and I am greatly indebted to L-IFT.