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Looking for a Job in International Development? Ignore This Advice

Looking for a Job in International Development? Ignore This Advice

While good job advice can help you get over some initial hurdles in job seeking—like the importance of tailoring your resume and cover letter for each job—various fields and professions have different expectations for job candidates (for example, if you’re a designer or copy writer, you’ll likely need a portfolio. If you’re an accountant, not so much).

Kate Warren, the the director of global recruiting services at Devex, highlights five common pieces of career advice that she believes won’t help you land a job in international development. Here is one that stood out to us:

"You need to get a degree in international development

I was talking to an engineer recently who said she really wanted to work in global development but was advised by others that she would need to go back to school to get a master’s in international development, despite already having a master’s degree in engineering.

A master’s in international development can be a fine degree program to choose if you aren’t sure about where you want to specialize and will provide fundamentals that can cross-cut many sectors of development. But the industry is becoming more specialized, resulting in a higher demand for technical degrees. A degree in public health, econometrics, agriculture, environmental science and certainly engineering can be more useful to an international development career than a general degree.

For this aspiring global development engineer, her time and money would be much better spent on gaining real experience rather than adding an additional degree."

Read the rest of her advice on Devex.

This point reminded me of an interview we did last year with Asiyah Sharifi, head of legal and regulatory affairs at Afghanistan Financial Service (AFS), a private company that provides legal and financial support to businesses and nonprofits operating in Afghanistan. She also noted that there is a need for more specialized and hard skills in international work, “What can you offer that’s not already in that country? This is where a technical skill is important too. Soft skills are more difficult to translate internationally. An engineer might have an easier time finding a work.”


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by Allison Jones

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