Posts Tagged ‘International Aid’

What’s it really like to work in international aid?

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

Michael Bear at Humanitarian Relief is running a series of posts profiling what it’s really like to work at various large international aid and humanitarian organizations. Something we harp on quite a bit here at Working World is the need to look at the full picture when it comes to a job or an organization. Yes, the title sounds important, but what really will you be responsible for in this job? Will you enjoy and thrive on your daily activities? Is there room for growth? Yes, this particular organization has a mission you admire, but does its organizational culture match the working environment in which you see yourself? What about professional development? Salary? Benefits? Safety and R&R (aspects unique and important to aid jobs that might send you to dangerous and difficult locations)?

So Michael is right on in delving into the depths of these aspects of international aid work—knowing the full picture is important. Start with CARE, then IRC, then Oxfam. Michael says more, including UN agencies, is to come.

Careers in international aid

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

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.

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.)