Development Jobs are Changing the World

By Natasha Warby on 2 Sep 2015 - 09:36

Have you ever wondered what you could do to reduce world hunger or end poverty? If so, you might want to consider a development job working for an international development agency or charity, which are often described as ‘Third Sector Jobs’.

With a variety of career paths now open to people interested in helping make the world a better place, development jobs are more prevalent than ever, offering exciting opportunities in comparison to standard corporate 9 to 5 jobs.

So what exactly is a development job?

Essentially, those working in development help tackle some of the most crucial global issues, such as global poverty, health and environmental issues and are often based in, or focus on, the developing world.

People working in development come from all kinds of backgrounds. While some have degrees in International Development and Relations, it is becoming apparent that development agencies need other skills, such as experts in science, education and medicine.

We find growing development opportunities in linking, for instance, health and education, or human, animal and environmental health, in developing countries

said LIDC Director Jeff Waage. No matter what your background, education, or experience you can use your skills to have an impact in the developing world.

Some typical jobs roles in development include:

• Policy and research

These roles are usually based in the head office. Policy and research is probably the most competitive sector and attracts Masters and PhD students. Successful candidates often have previous experience gained through volunteering and internships. Experience in the field is a distinct advantage.

• Fundraising and campaign strategy

Fundraising often has a poor image with new graduates, who imagine rattling tins on street corners! In reality, most fundraising jobs are office based and of crucial importance to the organisation. They often involve creating innovative fundraising ideas and events.

• Advocacy

Advocates help people who are struggling with an issue to understand their human and civil rights. Advocates present possible options to empower others to make a change, through a number of different methods; including petitions, marches, protests, talks, reports, etc. No particular qualifications are required for advocacy but a motivation for and an understanding of the work is essential. There are many forms of advocacy, including social justice, budgeting, bureaucratic, health, media etc, so a genuine interest in a particular area can help with applications.

• Programme

Programme workers are essentially project managers and are usually field-based. Nationals of the particular countries where the programmes are being run often fill these roles. Some programme liaison roles are available in head offices.

• Media and communications

Media roles are responsible for communication with the outside world. It is possible to apply for these roles directly but it’s often easier to transfer from similar roles in other sectors with relevant experience.

• Technical specialist

These roles are usually field-based and require technical expertise. Common roles are in engineering (water and sanitation) or health (HIV/AIDS, nutrition, public health). Most candidates have a relevant technical qualification and previous field experience.

• Support roles

Human resources (HR), IT and finance roles exist in most organisations. Support roles sometimes require experience but can be a route into international development.

From relief work, to peace building and development aid, there’s a lot of challenging and worthy work to become a part of. In UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children Report in 2005, they reported that, out of the 1.9 billion children in the developing world, 400 million have no access to safe water and 270 million have no access to health services. These are the kind of statistics that international development jobs are setting out to change, which is why they can often be the most rewarding kind of job.

If you decide to focus your career on international development and look for a development job, many opportunities will open up to you. From super-national bodies with representatives in government, to some of the most well known charities in the world, such as Oxfam, Christian Aid and Unicef, development jobs can help take you to places you never would have expected. It won’t be a typical, cushy office job, but you’ll be given the opportunity to explore the world, and make real, tangible changes to the lives of people you meet.

So what are you waiting for?

Check out the ethical jobs listings, there's normally a few development jobs in there...