I’ve recently had the privilege to coach professionals with interesting and diverse backgrounds who are searching for careers in international development, particularly in the United Nations or other international organizations. What drives them most of all is the desire to contribute to the greater good. They wish to change direction and get involved in something meaningful on a global scale. And these organizations do need motivated and qualified people who want to take up such a challenge. The demand is high, opportunities abound.
Careers in the development and humanitarian sectors offer great personal development opportunities, too. I can certainly vouch for that after 25 years of experience! You get to work with different nationalities, experience life in other countries, learn new languages and open to diverse cultures. Your efforts make a visible difference. You get a chance to apply your knowledge and skills to unique situations; even be a part of History in the making. Conditions may be tough if you’re working in the field, but the salaries and benefits are competitive. Many organizations offer advantages to attract and keep staff, especially to those willing to work in difficult places. Having said that, not all jobs in these organizations entail working in the field. Myriad of jobs are headquartered in the major cities and capitals around the world. There the work may revolve around policy or decision making and provide support to the field offices.
What about the downsides, there are those too. Some organizations are very bureaucratic and hierarchic and that can be frustrating. The work can be too much, cause too much stress and frequent moves can strain relationships. Language barriers and culture shock may be hard to overcome. All in all, it takes a big dose of soft skills to thrive and advance in such environments, they aren’t for everyone. But in the view of many, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. You can bet it’ll be an unforgettable and unique experience to tell one’s grandchildren in the future. And there’s something so rewarding about being part of the teams that work for the World.
In this video, hear from an expert who has some great advice and insights to offer
Below are some sources to find out more about careers in international development