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Careers

A common question often asked is: What type of jobs are there in international Development? Here is a very brief overview of the sector.

A career in International Development – how to start?
First, you will find it helpful if you can answer these questions about yourself.

1. What can you offer?
2. What do you want to do?
3. Why you?

The Sector

Most people only think about Non Governmental Organisations (NGO) when thinking about working in international development, however there are a range of recruiters (and opportunities) working in different capacities overseas in the developing world and the range includes:

  • NGO, Emergency and Relief, Charity, Social Enterprise, Civil Society groups
  • Private sector, Commercial companies (consultancies, CSR departments, development banks)
  • Academic
  • Think-tanks/research
  • Public or government sector (government departments, ID programs overseas, International Organisations)
  • Bilateral and multilateral agencies

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What’s out there?

Generally the industry can be split into 3 main specialist areas:

  • Technical: infrastructure, irrigation, water/sanitation (watsan), public health, food distribution and assessment, judicial reform
  • Management/Administration: project direction, technical advice, coordination with donor agency/local government, project reports
  • Research: typically at think-tanks, non profit organisations, universities
Look at the job market to see the range of opportunities and see where you fit in.

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Types of jobs in International Development organisations

Accounting
Administration
Advocacy
Agriculture

Campaigning
Capacity building
Communications
Community mobilisation
Conflict resolution/peace building
Country Programme Management

Development Education
Education specialist
Elections (monitoring)
Engineering
Environmental management
Finance accountancy and technicians
Fundraising
Food security

Gender Specialist
Health professionals
Human Resources
Human rights

Information Technology
Logistics
Management/project coordination
Marketing
Office support
Outreach worker

Policy
Policy and Research
PR/Media
Public Health
Secretariat
Security management
Telecommunications
Training

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What they want

Recruiters are looking for these key factors in your applications.

  • Qualifications: Are needed for work permits for overseas contracts and to prove you have the necessary academic background; many jobs require a Masters degree.
  • Skills: Prove them (volunteering, campaigning, any other stuff you have done).
  • Experience: Work experience in your chosen specialism; Developing country experience is often a prerequisite.
  • Passion and commitment to the cause.

Experience, skills, passion and commitment are the key to unlocking opportunity. A career consultation will help you identify and clearly communicate these.

You could build your experience and CV through:

  • Internships - are very rarely paid but can give you valuable work and organisational experience.
  • Volunteering - skilled volunteering that adds value to your CV.
  • Languages - French, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic.
  • Get involved - While at university through student groups such as U8 or People and Planet.

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Many thanks again for all your help in getting me this far! MH
Just to say thanks again for all your help and for looking at the CV and covering letter. The help was much needed and is much appreciated! PO
Your advice was absolutely perfect. I feel I have come on leaps and bounds now, thanks to you. SSB

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Kevin Cusack
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International development jobs, volunteering overseas and international development career advice for people in transition: new graduates, career changers and international development workers. Working with you in support of the Millennium Development Goals.