#MondayMotivation: What Does Your Future in International Development Look Like?

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Welcome to the start of a brand new week! We’re taking some time this week to explore what a future working in international development might look like, with a whole range of organisations and alumni coming back to SOAS to reflect on what this rewarding sector can offer you.

Head to the International Development Fair this Wed 21 Feb, 1 – 4pm in the Cloisters Paul Webley to find out more. Hear from the International Committee of the Red Cross, the London International Development Centre, the Centre for Feminist Foreign Policy and loads more awesome social enterprises.

Come and get involved with all the other inspiring talks happening this week too.

Mon 19 Feb, 12 – 1pm, SL62: DISCO Presentation: BOOK NOW

Tue 20 Feb,  12 – 1pm, SL62: Top Tips for Interviews: BOOK NOW

Tue 20 Feb, 2:30 – 4:30pm, Brunei Gallery Suite: Diversity in the Civil Service Fast Stream: BOOK NOW

Wed 21 Feb, 12 – 2pm, SL62: Top Tips for Assessment Centres & Psychometric Testing: BOOK NOW

Alexis Fromageot

 

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Insight From Your Fellow Student: From SOAS to Dakar, or, the NGO Internship Route

As part of our Student Insight blog series, Madeleine Race, MSc Violence, Conflict and Development (2016-7), talks about her move from London to Dakar, Senegal for an internship with community development NGO, Tostan.

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After two years working in the UK charity sector, and an eye-opening three months volunteering in sustainable business development in Uganda, my desire to pursue a more international-facing career with a socially-oriented goal drove me to apply for a development studies Masters. Suffice to say, an intense year studying ‘Violence, Conflict and Development’ at SOAS both satisfied and encouraged my curiosity to know more about the world which turns around us.

Of course, after a year of poring over dusty textbooks (read: napping in the Senate House library) and countless conversations putting the world to rights over a Blue Moon in the JCR, mine and my classmates’ discussions started to turn towards the world of work. Having spent the year tearing apart the complexes and corruptions of the ‘Development system’, how on earth were we going to come to terms with finding a job in it?

It was during one of these conversations that a good friend suggested Tostan, a human rights-focussed NGO which has been working to empower African communities to fulfil their own visions for sustainable and relevant development since the 1990s. Tostan – which means ‘breakthrough’ in Wolof, the primary language of Senegal – works alongside rural communities to equip them with basic knowledge of their human rights and responsibilities, and the leadership skills needed to make positive change. The organisation is especially well-known for sparking incredible social change across the West African region through the movement to abandon harmful traditional practices such as Female Genital Cutting and child marriage.

How lucky I felt to see a job post on their website at the end of the exam period: I applied straight away! I am now halfway through a six-month internship in the Grants Department in Dakar, and learning every day about the realities (good and bad) of work in an NGO headquarters and life as an ‘expat’ in Senegal. Settling in to life here has been at once challenging, invigorating and astonishing. Although there is plenty to critique about the Development sector’s reliance on underpaid graduate labour, the reality is that internships can be excellent gateways and I am looking forward with optimism to seeing where this one takes me. My key advice to anyone considering the internship route, however, is to first reflect and be realistic: Can you afford to do it? City life is expensive the world over. Will it challenge you enough? If you already have some work experience, then you could apply for posts with more responsibility. Will it lead to further opportunities? Smaller organisations can often be more flexible at the end of your contract than larger structures like the UN.

It is important to note that I wouldn’t have discovered this opportunity if it hadn’t been for that one recommendation from a friend, or the support of the SOAS Careers Service. One of the best things SOAS has left me with is a worldwide network of incredibly dedicated and dynamic peers – so my top tip would be to listen to them, take their advice, share your own, and you never know what a small conversation might lead to. The Careers Service helped me to do a practice interview and even specifically sought out a Francophone team member to run through questions in French. This practice interview gave me the small but vital confidence boost I needed to do well in the real thing. Having been out of the professional mind-set for a year, the Careers Service’s tips helped set me on track to think and behave professionally and confidently in the interview. Go and see them today – it’s the perfect excuse to get out of that library!

Madeleine Race

Please note that the views expressed in this blog are those of the author and unless specifically stated are not those of SOAS Careers Service. If you consider this content to be in breach of the SOAS values, please alert careers@soas.ac.uk.

Please also note that SOAS Careers is committed to only advertising paid internships positions, in line with National Minimum Wage regulations. Further information and positions are available here.  

#MondayMotivation: Change the World With the International Committee of the Red Cross

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It’s Monday, the first day of the week that you get inspired to start changing the world. Come and hear from the International Committee of the Red Cross this Wednesday at 3:30pm in the Careers Seminar Room (SL62), and find out why they’re looking for people like YOU to make the world a better place.

The ICRC is an independent, neutral organisation ensuring humanitarian protection and assistance for victims of armed conflict and other situations of violence. They regularly recruit interpreters of predominantly Asian and African languages for field operations around the world. This talk will tell you everything you need to know if you want to work for the world’s oldest humanitarian organisation as a linguist.

It’s worth knowing that this year the ICRC is particularly looking for speakers of Amharic, Kirundi/Kinyarwanda, Swahili and Farsi.

Come and get involved with the massive range of other inspiring talks happening this week too. All our events take place in the Careers Seminar Room (SL62, Paul Webley Wing):

Tue 23 Jan, 12 – 1pm: Top Tips: Writing a CV: BOOK NOW

Wed 24 Jan, 2 – 3pm: National Speaking Academy: How to Change the World Through Public Speaking: BOOK NOW

Thu 25 Jan, 12 – 1pm: Top Tips: Networking: BOOK NOW

Thu 25 Jan, 2 – 4pm: Opportunity China: The Benefits of Working Abroad for Your Career: BOOK NOW

Alexis Fromageot

Insight from Your Fellow Student: Working in Sustainability

As part of our Student Insight blog series, Charis McCarter, MSc Environment, Politics & Development (graduated 2016) takes an honest look at how she’s secured a job in the sustainability field.

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Charis & the team at 2 Degrees Ltd

It seems rather surreal to be writing a piece for SOAS Careers when half a year ago I couldn’t even find a job!  I do (thankfully) have an awesome job now, but the process of getting here wasn’t easy.  For any of you looking for jobs right now and feeling disheartened; there is light at the end of the tunnel!  I know you’ll have heard it from your mum/dad/sibling/extended family/boyfriend/girlfriend/dog, but keep trying!  Hopefully my account of life post-university will reassure some of you that you will find a job… Just maybe not as quickly or as easily as you may have envisioned!

SOAS fostered in me my passion for the environment, but it also made me scrupulously critical of almost ALL organisations trying to address environmental (and developmental) issues.  That left me in a difficult position when I left – I had simultaneously opened my skillset to a range of jobs in the environment sector, and closed myself off from them by being so critical.  That combined with a crazy competitive job market anyway meant that it took me 2 months after I submitted my dissertation to find something that ticked my boxes in the right field.

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Charis demoing the M2030bee tool at the launch event at the Shard (which she worked on as part of her internship)

And even then, it was in the form of an internship.  Not exactly what I had envisaged after doing a Masters and having two years development experience in Uganda.  However, that internship paid off – I was offered a full-time job in the same company as an Assistant Engagement Manager at the end of it. I now help to source high-impact innovations that will help to reduce energy, waste and water in our client’s buildings for the Innovation Gateway.

While I am very fortunate to now be doing a job in the sustainability field, with a bunch of like-minded conscientious people, my journey here hasn’t been easy… So here are my top three tips for making your job search post-university that tiny bit more bearable:

  • Try an intern while you study.  Get in touch with a few companies that you like the look of and offer them your time and skills for a set amount of time each week.  This will give you an insight into the company, whether you like the type of work you’re doing, and access to a network of interesting people in that field.
  • Use your dissertation to explore a topic you’d like to work with/in in the future.  So many of my friends have got jobs because they highlighted the knowledge they had gained through writing on a specific topic.
  • Use SOAS Careers as much as you can!  I took my CV and cover letter to them several times and received invaluable advice about how to improve my applications, and they were super helpful even after I had left SOAS in giving advice. Make use of all the resources on offer by coming to the Careers Learning Zone (SL62, Paul Webley Wing) or contacting the team on careers@soas.ac.uk

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Charis & the team at 2 Degrees Ltd

Charis McCarter

Please note that the views expressed in this blog are those of the author and unless specifically stated are not those of SOAS Careers Service. If you consider this content to be in breach of the SOAS values, please alert careers@soas.ac.uk.

 

What’s on this Week: Third Sector Week

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Passionate about making a difference? Keen to change the world for the better? Then this week is all for you! We’re taking a look at careers in the third sector – both if it’s your first time stepping in to this rewarding industry or if you’re looking to go back in to this sector after a break.

Not quite sure if this is the path for you, or want to explore more about what working within the third sector will look like? We’re open every day in SL57 and would love to talk your next steps through with you.

Here’s what’s on for Third Sector week:

 

Mon 6 March, 5:30 – 7pm, B111, Brunei Gallery: Working in the Third Sector: http://bit.ly/2mTUNtC

Wed 8 March, 10:30 – 11:30am, Careers Learning Zone (SL62), Paul Webley Wing:  Career options (with IFMR LEAD) for Students with Passion in Addressing the World’s Most Pressing Development Issues: http://bit.ly/2miSkvD

Wed 8 March, 1:30 – 2:30pm, S118, Paul Webley Wing: CVs for the Third Sector: http://bit.ly/2m3ggm2

 

See you there!

Alexis Fromageot

What’s on this Week: International Development Week

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Passionate about changing the world for the better? This week at SOAS Careers we delve into every aspect of working in International Development: a rewarding and challenging sector.

Not quite sure what your next steps after SOAS will be, but know that you want to help change the world? Don’t even worry – pop by SL57 and we can talk through it all with you.

 

Wed 1 Feb, 1:30 – 2:30pn, S118, Paul Webley Wing: Schwartzman Scholars: http://bit.ly/2jPdyiW

Thurs 2 Feb, 1 – 4pm, Cloisters, Paul Webley Wing: International Development Fair: http://bit.ly/2kmbC2H

See you there!

Alexis Fromageot

 

How to get in to Humanitarian Aid and Organisations

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A sobering record was set by the United Nations humanitarian appeal launched in early December. $22.2 billion, the largest sum ever, is needed in 2017 for 93 million people affected by natural disasters and conflict in 33 countries. The Global Humanitarian Overview 2017 provides a more detailed, sobering insight into funding trends and the significant increase in needs over more than a decade.  This is one sector where the growth in demand does not signal a buoyant economy and satisfied shareholders.

If you are considering a career with Humanitarian organisations, how can you research this area and what can you do? Work in this sector is diverse ranging from education to governance and human rights to healthcare. Where do your interests lie?  What you would actually do within humanitarian organisations is equally varied as are the routes into the sector.  There are many different skills and knowledge sets needed so thinking about where your strengths and work interests and practical considerations such as location and the type of working lifestyle that you want can also be a useful starting point.

The size and structure of organisations involved in some way with the humanitarian sector vary considerably from Governmental organisations such as DFID (the UK’s Department for International Development), International organisations which include the UN and its agencies and NGOs (Non Governmental Organisations) and charities.  If your interest is in research in a broader context, then academic institutions and ‘think tanks’ such as the Chatham House (known more formally as the Royal Institute International Affairs) work on international and development topics.

Whilst working as a project manager or specialist practitioner in the field may be the first type of work which springs to mind if you are just starting to explore options; there are other possibilities. Humanitarian organisations, like many others, have infrastructure needs such as finance and logistics. Generating income through fundraising  (across a spectrum from individuals to corporate and grant making organisations), educating and informing audiences through communications and media and working in policy and research are all roles that can  in varied ways to enabling charities, non governmental organisations and others deliver.

You can find lots of information on the different roles and employers within the International Development section of Occupational sectors on MySOAS Student. Also in this section are links to a large number of job vacancy sites such as BOND (British Overseas NGOs for Development) and Eldis. Looking at current job vacancies even if these are targeted at more experienced staff can give you a great insight into the nature of opportunities. LinkedIn can be an additional useful resource in this respect, not only because you can begin to network with those working in the sector but because you can follow organisations (could be useful for vacancy posts), look at the backgrounds of people working for them and also join interest groups to further your knowledge and contacts.

Being able to articulate an informed interest in the sector will be crucial to securing opportunities. Volunteering and internships can enable you to build an insight into this multifaceted area. Think carefully about the contribution which you want to make and where your talents, knowledge and skills might best be used. Your overriding driver may be because you want to make a difference – passion and enthusiasm is important but refining your thoughts about the part you can play is important.

How do you want change your world?

Claire Rees, Careers Consultant