Development Practice Student and Graduate Profiles

The Development Practice suite of postgraduate Programs is very fortunate to have a rich and vibrant student community with students from many different countries and cultures. Our Alumni share some of their experiences about studying Development Practice at UQ.

If you're wanting to share your experience please get in touch with us at

15. Brooke Laidlaw

Q)  What are some of your fondest memories of your time with us?   

Some of my Fondest memories are of the amazing people I met through the course who taught me as much as the lecturers did.  I'm still friends with many.  Some really good friends. They were a wonderful support to me,  and hopefully I to them!  

Q)  What did you most take from your studies, that you have been able to apply in work and life?        

So many things:

A much better understanding of the structural complexity of everything in political life. I was challenged to think more critically about everything.  I entered the program somewhat naive, politically  'left wing' with strong social justice values  prior to the course,  but I didn't have the nuanced skills to challenge my own ideas.  The MDP course actually made me more considered  and critical of all ideas,  including my own.  There are no 'good guys' and no 'bad guys'. It's never that simple. 

The program also showed me the practical tools or methods with which I can make change in my own small way.  

Q)  Where are you now, and how did the MDP help you get there?      

Since graduating I have stayed and worked in Brisbane.  I was in debt when I graduated and just needed to work. My goal was to save and go overseas, volunteer my time for a development program after a year or two in the hopes of using that as a pathway into a paid job in the sector.  I had a couple of set backs which really knocked my confidence in applying for and getting into development work overseas.  I applied for several AYAD roles,  was successful once but the organization in Bangladesh pulled out before  i went to training.  

Then life happened and I met a lovely man and had two babies here. Early career development work does not allow for much of a personal life, relationships or family. Especially for women. 

I have worked in related fields  here,  public housing (as a public servant)  and now I work for Vinnies as Community education coordinator for the state.  I develop and implement adult education programs for marginalised and disadvantaged people in our community. It's a fulfilling role which I really enjoy. I have had the opportunity to grow and develop a career here,  and I do hope to  work in development practice on an international level in the future. 

I would say having a Master's in a community or social services related field on my CV definitely helped boost  my employability since graduating. Professionally the MDP has helped me go from basic admin roles to actual project / program work,  coordinating, research,  development,  analysing,  managing multiple stakeholders, communicating effectively for change.  

 5) what would you say to others thinking about studying the MDP? 

If you are thinking of studying the MDP,  I would say it is a wonderful program that will help you grow intelectually, personally and professionally.  

If you are not yet working in the field, and particularly if you are a domestic student, do consider and research what it will take to get into the field.  Think about the the time it will take to get a paid job,  can you afford it ? think about what stage of life you are at and how working in development might impact that, in terms of family and relationships. Talk to people in the field! How did they do it?