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Roles and Work Environment
“Global (International) development lacks a clear definition, but it is often linked with human development and international efforts to reduce poverty and inequality and improve health, education and job opportunities around the world. A variety of data can be used to describe what is also often referred to as international development, including a country’s gross domestic product or its average per-capita income, literacy and maternal survival rates, as well as life expectancy, human rights and political freedoms. While humanitarian aid and disaster relief are meant to provide short-term fixes to emergencies, international development is meant to be long-term and sustainable. ...International cooperation and development aid remain catalysts for global development, whether the assistance comes through debt relief, budget support, technical assistance or impact investing. The global development community – multilateral and bilateral donors, foundations, nonprofits, companies, consultants, advocates and entrepreneurs – work at the forefront of this cause: to boost worldwide prosperity and ensure sustainable development.” (From Devex)
Below is a sampling of roles you might find:
Examples of Global Humanitarian Aid and International Development Jobs:
- Communications Associate
- Grant and Finance Administrator
- Monitoring and Evaluation Assistant
- Program Associate
- Proposal Coordinator
- Peace Corps Volunteer
- Research Associate
Opportunities in global development can be found across nonprofits, NGOs, foundations, private sector organizations as well as within departments and agencies in government. Here are few examples of organizations where you might find opportunities:
Examples of Global Humanitarian Aid and International Development Organizations:
- ActionAid International
Devex, InterAction, WANGO (World Association of Non-governmental Organizations) and Wikipedia maintain lists of large, medium and small-sized global development organizations.
Skills and Training
Global humanitarian aid and international development professionals represent a wide variety of disciplines from an even broader mix of academic backgrounds and experiences. Therefore, we don't recommend one academic track over another in general. Overall, organizations advise that you do your best in all your academic pursuits.
The following combination of education and skills will be helpful for you as you explore opportunities in this field, but may not be necessary for every role. Be sure to familiarize yourself with requirements for specific positions.
Examples of coursework relevant to a career in global humanitarian aid and international development:
- Data Science
- Global Studies
- Foreign Languages
- Foreign Affairs
- Environment and Sustainability
- Religious Studies
- Gender Studies
- Cultural/Ethnic Studies
Examples of places to develop your skills or research graduate programs for global humanitarian aid and international development:
- Master a Language: Many academic programs exist at UVA to help you become multilingual. There are also several language houses on Grounds that will help you build a stronger connection to the UVA community while also gaining valuable transferable skills that are highly valued in Global Humanitarian Aid and International Development.
- +Acumen: Led by a UVA alumna, take free courses on everything from Human-Centered Design to Social Impact Analysis.
- Data Literacy Courses: Being able to collect, review, analyze and tell a story with data is vital in public service and government. The UVA Library offers FREE courses to help students develop their data analysis skills.
- Learn ArcGIS hosts a database of online courses. They offer a 60 day trial for free. ArcGIS a platform for organizations to create, manage, share, and analyze spatial data and is an extremely valuable skill for organizations who are mapping geographical information.
- Corporation for National and Community Service: Find free online courses on a variety of topics including Community Engagement and Strengthening, Disaster Preparedness, Faith-Based Community Initiatives, Performance Measurement, Volunteer Leveraging and more!
- DisasterReady.org: Offers a library of cutting-edge eLearning courses on critical topics such as Humanitarian Essentials, Technical Sectors, Program Support, Protection, Management & Leadership, Staff Safety & Security, Staff Welfare, and Personal Development.
- Grant Proposal Writing Guide: Free guidebook for writing a grant for funding.
- Master’s degrees are not required for entry-level jobs in global humanitarian aid and international development, but it may be something you want to pursue later in your career. Some programs you might consider include Public Policy, Public Affairs and Public Administration.
Global Humanitarian Aid and International Development organizations normally hire internship and full-time opportunities based on immediate needs. Some positions may become available in late spring/early summer, so you should continue to look for opportunities throughout the academic year and beyond. Review the Public Service and Government Community page for examples of recruiting timelines of PSG industries.
One of the best ways to gain experience in this industry is through volunteer work in the community, exploring service learning opportunities in the classroom, and involvement through student organizations. Below are some ideas for how to find these opportunities on Grounds and within the Charlottesville community:
- Consider programs and student organizations that help you to explore new cultures and backgrounds:
- Studying abroad is another great way to gain experience in an international context. Many global development organizations like to see that you have had experience working with people from different cultures and backgrounds. Consider studying or interning abroad.
- UVA is also home to many centers for research and learning that can expand your connection to various parts of the globe.
- Other UVA Centers that feature an international component
- Public Service at UVA - Learning in Action: Get connected to the “front door to public service” at the University to find ways to integrate your classroom experience with your interest in service, search UVA student organizations by issues of interest, find volunteer opportunities, and learn the timeline of when major PSG events and programs happen at UVA. You can also sign-up for a monthly newsletter.
- Madison House: A nonprofit in Charlottesville supporting UVA students who wish to make an impact in the local community, Madison House partners with 160+ community-based organizations to provide volunteer and leadership opportunities to students. You can participate as a volunteer providing direct service or try out your leadership skills as a Program Director. Find out how to get involved today by exploring their Volunteer Programs.
- Devex (Any student can request a full access account by emailing Dreama Johnson at email@example.com or Elizabeth Wall at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
- Global Jobs
- A Guide to Global Development Opportunities@Middlebury
- AWID - Women's Human Rights Organizations and Jobs
- CRS International Development Fellows Program (IDFP)
- Guide on International Development: Public Service Careers & Opportunities
- NGO Job Board (By InterAction)
- Peace Corps
- The MicroFinance Gateway
- USAID Careers
- World Food Programme
- ImpactPool Internships and Jobs
Applying and Interviewing
Resumes and Cover Letters
First impressions are critical in the job search. Developing and executing the best documents possible will help to ensure that you put your best foot forward and increase the likelihood of progressing to an interview. Make sure to check out the Resumes and Cover Letters sections of the website for helpful advice and sample resumes and cover letters.
The International Development Curriculum Vitae (CV) vs. Resume Debate
In many organizations, the term CV is used interchangeably with Resume, and most employers will expect a one-page snapshot of your experiences. You will find, however, that a few fields have different guidelines for resumes. One of these fields is International Development. Here the document requested is most commonly a CV, and the term is used to indicate that your resume can be more than one page in length. Check out this International Development Resume Example and Webinar: Development CVs That Make a Difference (Devex) for more information on creating a CV for this particular field. Additionally, if you are applying to the Peace Corps, check out the Peace Corps Resume Samples found on this section of our website.
Global Humanitarian Aid and International Development organizations want to see any international experience you’ve had including fluency in multiple languages. If you have experience with the particular population the organization works with or the particular issue it addresses - whether from your own personal lived experience or from other opportunities - it can be important to share that information. Finally, don't forget to highlight your academic experiences. Think about the classes you have taken that demonstrate your knowledge about a specific population or issue. Include these experiences on your resume!
If you have never interviewed before, make sure to check out the Interviewing section of our website. You can also conduct a mock interview with a career counselor for practice. Most interviews will contain some mixture of questions about your past experiences (resume-based) and your ability to handle typical workplace situations (behavioral). For full-time positions, depending on the size of the organization, you should expect to start with a 20-30 minute phone or virtual (e.g., Skype, Google Hangout) screening interview, then a longer virtual or in-person final interview. A thank you letter should be written after every interview with an employer. Send the note by email within 24 hours after the interview.
Additional Industry Resources
Blogs and Industry Research
- 12 Tips for Getting a Job in International Development
- Careers in International Development
- Defining Development and Humanitarian Aid
- Getting Your First Job in Relief Work
- Is it time to rethink the divide between humanitarian and development funding?
- Professionals in Humanitarian Assistance and Protection
- Relationship between Humanitarian and Development Aid
- United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- Blog: Jump-start Your Career in the International Development Area
- Foundation for Sustainable Development
- International Association for Community Development
- International Development Association
- International Economics Development Council
- International Humanitarian Studies Association
- Peace & Collaborative Development Network
- Society for International Development
- Worldwide NGO Directory
Alumni Spotlight: External Affairs
Katrina is an External Affairs Coordinator for HarvestPlus International, a nonprofit with the global mission of "breaking down silos between agriculture and nutrition to develop creative solutions to hidden hunger" by targeting some of the world's most vulnerable populations.
Major: Economics (Bachelor)
College: University of Virginia
State: District of Columbia
Explore More Career Pathways
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