Working in International Development – Top Tips from Industry Experts!
By UCL Careers, on 21 February 2018
If you’re considering a career in international development, you might already be aware that this is a competitive sector to break into. As part of International Development Week we have asked some of our themed week contributors, with experience in this sector, to tell us some of their top tips.
- Joshua Adams, Europe Policy Analyst, UK Department for International Development.
‘Make sure to use the full breadth of your experiences in applications – formal and informal education, training and learning, workplace experience, sports groups and social collectives. I’ve seen a range of examples from touring rock bands to UN youth panels used in applications. As long as the narrative from situation to result, and what was learnt in between, is well formed, you can easily demonstrate the transferability of important skills. This is particularly relevant for competency based applications!’
- Alexandros Yiannopoulos, Humanitarian Coordinator covering Middle East, North and Southern Africa in Oxfam’s Global Humanitarian Team.
‘There is no substitute for experience, this is a catch 22 situation which frustrated me when I set out at the beginning, but now looking back and making decisions on who to employ at whatever level of seniority, experience counts and becomes the litmus test. There have been times when I have made a decision when someone had done an excellent interview, not to recruit them because they did not have the right level of experience for the role. For entry level roles, get voluntary experience that is relevant, this shows that you have commitment and drive towards the role you would like and are applying for.’
- Katie Bisaro, Careers Consultant and Deputy Head, UCL Careers, and former Programme Manager at Save the Children,
‘My biggest recommendation for working in the sector, or more specifically when you are breaking your way into the sector, is to stay on people’s radar- the sector moves rapidly and opportunities can come up very quickly, so keep yourself at the forefront of your contacts’ mind’
- Soha Sudtharalingam, International Development Consultant, PwC.
‘You can’t change the world on day one, whilst the work is exciting, be prepared to get your hands dirty when you first join. There’s a lot of admin that needs to be done, i.e. reporting as donors require them.’
Follow the news and be aware of political changes, political economy is key in decision making and this cascades down to every level of work you do.
Be prepared to be humbled, it’s a humbling experience when visiting the field. Don’t go in knowing it all.
Network, network, network! You only broaden your insights if you talk to people outside your circle who bring new ideas and ways of thinking.’
If you missed our International Development Week events then visit http://www.ucl.ac.uk/careers and look out for themed week event recordings.