Dorottya Patko

Although I officially joined the IFRC last year in December 2012, I had been in the planning and reporting officer position for eight months. Our daily work consists of quality control, analysis and fine-tuning of reports coming from various field posts across Europe. This is actually the small part of the job. The bigger part is that we have to constantly follow, engage and discuss with colleagues on the ground, throughout the lifespan of a project, in order to improve the efficiency of our studies and ensure accuracy at the end. So I think we sit right at the heart of the organization, as almost all information coming in or going out passes through our desk.  

Is this the job you thought you'd be doing?

I never imagined finding a career path that combined my passion for international relations and aid work. I attended the Corvinus University of Budapest where I studied international relations. Back then, I could never have imagined ending up here, although I always wanted to work for an international non-governmental organization. I stumbled on an advert for the IFRC job and I thought, “Why not give it a shot?”. The interview procedure was a gruelling two-stage process, so I was delighted and pleased with myself when I got the job. Initially, I was in an assistant position, until I was offered the planning and reporting officer position in the interim. I gained the position in August, after a successful application procedure. Needless to say, I am happy and feel lucky to have this job.

Any career highlights so far?

I think the floods which happened across Europe between May and June 2013 - and affected us in Hungary as well – were an absolute eye-opener. In Austria, Serbia, Croatia and the Czech Republic homes were flooded, schools were closed and industries ground to a halt. Although I wasn’t on the ground myself, it was quite an exciting time as we were on our feet for the entire duration of the process: gathering statistics and taking in reports. Sad as it may be, in our line of work and to outsiders, disasters present an opportunity for us to demonstrate the work we do.

What do you like about your job?

We don’t only deal with reports and planning. My job is far from monotonous and I am quite inspired to be able to work on a wide range of Red Cross programmes. Our organization works a lot with young people – an essential and growing demography of our volunteer base. And although this is not our department’s core responsibility, I find it stimulating to know that our organization is involved with young people.  

What is your earliest memory of Red Cross work?

In 2010, we had an industrial disaster here in Hungary when a huge tide of red industrial waste began flowing into villages and later the Danube River. The industrial accident claimed some lives. Although not much of a huge disaster, if you compare it to Haiti (earthquake of 2010) or the recent Philippines storm (Typhoon Haiyan, 2013); it was a catastrophe for us here. We saw the Hungarian Red Cross doing a lot of positive work in terms of supporting families and organizing emergency response units, and that as well was an eye-opener.    

What are you looking to do in future?

I am a socially sensitive individual, which is why I believe I am sitting in the perfect space career-wise, with the work I am doing. I am empathetic about the needs of the vulnerable and disadvantaged communities. Even though I may not have been able to translate these virtues and personality when I was younger, I now have the clarity to know that I want to help others as much as I can with all my skills, experience and knowledge.

What advice would you give to an aspiring aid worker?

Even if you are not sure what your job title is going to be, head in the direction your heart tells you to go and the rest will follow. Also, here at the Red Cross, we pride ourselves as the largest volunteering organization in the world. Young people may start by volunteering which I believe is a great way to transition into a new career. You of course need to be a good team-player, good communicator and be very open and flexible. Nonetheless, the is a real enabling atmosphere within the organization, room for growth and a real wealth of experience going back over 150 years.


Dorottya Patko

Planning and reporting officer, Europe Zone Office, Budapest

Educational background: International relations. Corvinus University, Budapest