Aug620091:37 pm

Careers in international aid

Humanitarian Relief just ran a series of posts from the indispensable Alanna Shaikh on charting a career as an international aid worker. Definitely give them a read if this is an area of career interest. Topics include: organizational culture in various aid agencies; characteristics of a good aid worker; and, my favorite, how to find you first bad job. A sweet excerpt from this last entry:

What you want to do is find that first job in aid, and then immediately start trying to find a better one. It really doesn’t matter how bad that first job is – how soul-crushing, badly paid, or meaningless. You just need to get it on your resume as proof that you understand the profession and won’t freak out in the field [...]

Luckily, bad jobs are easier to find than good jobs. No one likes bad jobs, so they leave after six months – just like you probably will – so organizations are always trying to fill them. For someone trying to get a first job in relief and development work, that is a blessing.

In theory (and an ideal world), I would recommend against taking a job that you know you want to leave as quickly as possible. But in practice, in order to move your way up, you’ve got to get in. And it’s no secret that it can be very hard to get in. So if getting in means that you start in the shit and claw your way out…well, I say, do what you’ve got to do.


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