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How Can I Get My First Job in International Development?

In January LIDC held a peer-to-peer careers networking event. Here are they key tips that our development professionals shared on how to get a job in international development!

On Monday 30th January 2017 we held an  International Development careers and networking event with SOAS University. The event had a peer to peer focus with all speakers having graduated within the past 5 years.

Around fifty eager students from across our member colleges attended the event and had a chance to listen to the speakers explain their their current jobs and their career path into the international development sector.

These speakers were:

Mehroosh Tak (Assistant Consultant at Oxford Policy Management)

Sébastien Hine (Education Research Adviser at Save the Children UK)

Stella Tsoli (Research Assistant at International Initiative for Impact Evaluation-3ie)

Emma Kerr (Partnerships Support Officer at the Commonwealth Secretariat)

Anjuli Borgonha (Communications Officer at London International Development Centre)

The speakers then answered questions from the audience and gave advice and tips to students!

Here is a sum of the key advice and tips  given by our development professionals:

Getting experience:

  • If you are in a job or studies that is not development related, search for development experience you can do in your spare time to keep your knowledge up to date such as volunteer journalism
  • Look for volunteer work in your community or abroad to get experience in a desired field. Idealist is a great search engine to find volunteer opportunities
  • If you are considering sudying a PhD be clear on why-  do you want to work in academia or is it to help you get into research roles?

Finding a job:

  • You create your own luck- be active in seeking opportunities
  • Take advantage of your mentors and career services at your university. Also reach out to alumni and find alumni networks. LinkedIn and alumni Facebook groups are a good way to find these networks.
  • Look for side roots into development jobs. Smaller NGOs are a great place to start, or find jobs in a development agency where you can develop transferable skills that will lead you towards your dream job (communications, fundraising etc)
  • Know your skills. Gallup Strengths Center is an online quiz that will help you discover your strengths and skills
  • Always research employers before interviews and  tailor your CV to specific jobs. Use key words from the job description in your CV to show that you fit the role
  • In your CV, highlight  transferable skills by connecting past experiences to skills you will use for the desired job

Things to remember:

  • Keep in mind your values and where you want to go in your career, but flexibility is key because there is no straight path to achieving your dream job in development
  • Look after yourself and your wellbeing because only you know what is best for yourself. Accept a job that will further your personal growth and development
  • Tiny steps do make a big difference, and it is okay to take a step back to go forwards (i.e. salary cut)
  • The job search is hard, and there might be some rejections, but keep working hard to find a job that makes you happy.

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