Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Spotlight: Annalise Miller
Annalise spent just under two years serving in the Peace Corps as a Community Economic Development Volunteer.
By Matt Lindner, Senior Content Marketing Manager
Premise’s growth is being driven by employees that bring a diverse array of backgrounds and skills to our company.
Every year, thousands of people join the Peace Corps to drive change in developing nations. They travel to remote locations around the world, learn about new cultures, work with a diverse group of people, and develop new skills that help set them up for future career success.
In today’s edition of our Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Spotlight, we talk to Annalise Miller, International Development Customer Success Operations Specialist, about her Peace Corps experience.
How long have you been at Premise?
Since April 2021.
What do you do here at Premise?
I brainstorm, develop, build, launch, and manage tasks and data collection for our International Development clients to provide them with the data they need for every decision!
How long were you in the Peace Corps for?
Just under two years. I was evacuated during the global evacuation of all volunteers due to COVID-19 just two months before I was set to complete my service.
Where did you serve?
Namibia, in the northwestern region of Omusati on the Angolan border.
Tell us more about your experience — What did you do, and what was your favorite part about the experience?
As a Community Economic Development Volunteer, my work primarily focused on encouraging entrepreneurship, teaching business skills, and working with existing small businesses.
Throughout my service, I developed a suite of solutions to address high rates of unemployment among young adults. These programs included regional business plan competitions between trade schools; a weeklong interactive entrepreneurship youth camp focused on instilling the foundational skills necessary to be a successful entrepreneur; business skills workshops; a nationwide entrepreneurship curriculum review; and financial and computer literacy courses.
Outside of these entrepreneurship and business focused projects, I volunteered at a local elementary school, painted world and Namibia map murals, ran a weeklong girls empowerment camp and led the committee that produced original digital content and managed all Peace Corps Namibia social media accounts.
My favorite part of the entire Peace Corps experience is hard to pinpoint. However, my experience would have not been the same without people I met and the sense of community I felt. Namibians welcomed me with open arms into their families and homes time and time again, despite language barriers and plenty of cultural faux pas I surely committed. I experienced what is best described through the phrase Ubuntu, a Zulu phrase from South Africa which means, “I am, because you are.”
The feeling of interconnectedness and communal responsibility for one another in every aspect of life made my experience richer than I could have ever imagined, and it created a new extension of what I consider home. These connections and relationships allowed me to be successful in all of the projects and work I described above, without relationships I would not have accomplished any of those things. I gained a deep understanding of the value of a relationship focused approach to community development, and that I will always carry with me.
How has the Peace Corps helped you in your career?
I believe each experience provides a new lens through which we view the world. As we collect experiences, we add more lenses to our collection and we diversify our perspective. Serving in the Peace Corps provided me with a unique lens and deep understanding of living and working in an unfamiliar culture and context.
This understanding paired with the resilience and flexibility developed by volunteers during their service (and in my case during evacuation) has prepared me to be successful in a multitude of professional contexts despite ambiguity, competing priorities and tight deadlines. It also gave me a great sense of humor and plenty of experiences to draw on that speak to my skills and talents as a potential employee that are highly unique and fare well in interviews!
What lessons from the Peace Corps do you bring to your role at Premise?
The list never ends! Throughout my (so far) short time at Premise I continuously see ways that my Peace Corps experience applies to my role.
As with any tech startup, the ability to be flexible and creatively solve problems has been extremely valuable here. I often joke that I have done more with less, but in reality, having done work at the grassroots level with very few resources taught me to think even more creatively and to remember that no barrier or road block is too high to overcome, you just have to look at it from a different perspective to find the way forward.
Specifically in my role on the International Development team, a deep understanding of cultural awareness and contextual information is very helpful. It allows me to think about the tasks and data from the perspective of our Contributors, and frame things in a way that will result in the highest quality of data possible for our clients.
And last but certainly not least, my time in the Peace Corps has connected me deeply to our mission here at Premise. I saw first hand how having accurate and timely data at the ground level can dramatically impact and improve programming and services and in turn, dramatically improve individual lives. This is something that keeps me grounded in the work we do here, the reminder that the data we collect empowers our clients to make informed decisions that will then best serve their constituents.
What would you say to someone who is thinking about joining the Peace Corps?
The biggest lessons I learned from my Peace Corps experience came at unexpected times, in unexpected places, and were none of the things I thought I might learn. Be prepared to have your values, view of the world, and privilege challenged in the best ways possible. But most importantly go with an open mind, without expectations, and with the understanding that you will learn far more than you could ever offer. Cherish each moment and opportunity to grow.
Please reach out if you want to learn more about how we can help you apply data to every important organizational decision you make. If you’re a job seeker, please check out our careers page to see our current opportunities.