My undergrad courses in international development served me well in 1997 when I flew off to Thailand to work for the Social Development Division of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. I worked there on several projects examining the issues surrounding assistive devices for people with disabilities (such as wheelchairs and hearing aids) in Asia and the Pacific region, especially their poorer states. The biggest one was a document which is still available and in use as an online reference. Its original writer was an engineer for the Indian government, and while the document he had produced was full of essential information, its organization was difficult to follow. It was my job to edit it all and put the information into a useful form.
I expected that I would continue working in international development, and soon went to Cornell University to pursue a Master of Science in development sociology. As I came to see that my interests were moving more toward religious studies, I developed a master's thesis topic that would bridge the two areas of interest. Supervised by Paul Gellert and Benedict Anderson, I wrote about the ways in which the governments of India and Singapore had come to adopt (respectively) Hindu and Confucian ideologies in the 1980s. I argued that a significant motivation in each case was to maintain the governments' perceived legitimacy as they faced increasing difficulties sustaining an economic welfare state. I published a shorter version in the Australian journal Asian Studies Review; you can also read a PDF of the full original.
More recently I took a contract position supporting a publication of Martha Ferede's on the education of refugees, making structural edits to the document. My first job at BU involved doing research to support the 2011 Global Urban Health Summit, on urban health conditions in poorer countries.