Posts Tagged ‘Development’

A rough time to be an international aid worker

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

Michael Kleinman at Humanitarian Relief chronicles all the disturbing evidence on how it can be dangerous to be an international aid worker these days. Kleinman also has followed in great detail the Sudanese President Omar Bashir’s decision to expel first 13 international aid organizations, and now all of them.  His posts from the two weeks or so on this topic are worth a careful read, not only for awareness of the growing humanitarian crisis but also because I think this is an example (albeit a stark and extreme example) of the challenges international development and aid workers face in some of the more desparate and dangerous places in the world. (My point being, of course, not to dissuade anyone from pursuing international development work but rather to encourage anyone considering a development career to approach the work with a clear notion of what it can and often does involve.)

International development: you deserve our attention too

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

It’s been on my mind recently that Sherry and I don’t pay enough attention to the third part of the title of this blog, international development (which, depending on your view, includes or intersects with or is one and the same as international aid). This happens mainly because we both work in international education and exchange, and thus our daily world revolves more around those fields. This is no excuse though. We simply need to stretch further to bring in those perspectives on careers in the development world, a thought that was brought into needed relief by Martin Tillman’s comment in his recent review of Working World that examining the international development field is “not the strong suit” of our book.

So, thus begins a more concerted attempt to engage more fully the world of international development. To start things off, varied advice from around the blogosphere on getting a job in international development:

Chris Blattman at Yale University offers a few posts on getting a job in ID. A few of his points:

  • “Get a technical skill needed in developing countries.”
  • “Going wherever you are assigned is the key in the beginning. After you ’stick it out’ for your first assignment, you can begin to pick and choose situations that appeal to you.”
  • “You need some experience in the developing world for at least 6 months, ideally a year-plus. It should be in a region where you want to work, or a ‘hardship’ place.”

Michael Kleinman at Humanitarian Relief gives his perspective on finding a first job in development:

“There’s also no substitute for being there. Given high turn-over in the field, it’s often easier to find a position the closer you get to an emergency.” (My friend Beth who works in development had her first substantive experience in the field volunteering in Indonesia after the 2004 tsunami.)

“It seems to me many of the people who do the interesting stuff just go somewhere and find some interesting opportunity after they’re there.”, a great search resource for development jobs, lays out their take on the ID career world:

  • DevEx says there are basically three types of jobs in development: technical expert, project manager, and researcher.

In addition to reading the above development-career specific posts, put those sites, as well as the following, on your regular reading list, not only for possible job leads and career tips but to stay engaged in the field and to get a very vivid sense of what it means to be an international development/aid worker (especially in some of the more volatile regions of the world):