"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)

4.19.2010

monday bleg

One sure sign that I've arrived as an assistant professor: I'm now in charge of figuring out a series of events and creating resources for our students on the topic "Careers in International Affairs." I'd like to have a list of all the possibilities for an undergraduate student who is interested in global politics, economics, and society.

Given that I 1) am still a first year assistant professor, 2) am grading papers in the busiest part of the semester, and 3) have three IRB applications due today, I thought I'd ask for your help with this project. If you work in any career that is related to international issues, would you mind answering a few questions about your job in the comments? I would SO appreciate it, and will definitely compile the list and make it available to the many students who read this blog.

Here's the info I need:
  • Job type (eg, aid worker, starving intern, policy assistant, development economist, etc.)
  • Examples of specific organizations that employ people in this job (eg, the UN, Save [fill-in-the-blank], Harvard)
  • Average starting salary in your field (If working for free is usually required in order to get a foot in the door, please note this.)
  • What kind of advanced degrees are required or helpful for someone in your field?
  • Is it better to get experience or go to grad school first in your career path? If the former, how much experience does one need before going to grad school?
  • Where are most jobs in your field located? (eg, London, rural outposts, lush tropical islands)
Thanks in advance for your help!

29 Comments:

Blogger Tord Steiro said...

Here's the info I need:

• Job type (eg, aid worker, starving intern, policy assistant, development economist, etc.)

non-governmental organization bureaucrat. Administering aid projects for a non-governmental organization mostly working with partner organizations abroad. We have a small office, so although my primary function is to implement and oversee the execution of internal monitoring and evaluation and a imposed regime of results based management, I also do many other issues related to administering aid programmes and conducting longer field visits.

Work is varied, challenging, and rewarding.

• Examples of specific organizations that employ people in this job (eg, the UN, Save [fill-in-the-blank], Harvard)

My kind of work is typically found in most NGOs, including Care, whom I try to cooperate with. My employer is tiny small, so we use an extensive network to keep up with the larger NGOs.

• Average starting salary in your field (If working for free is usually required in order to get a foot in the door, please note this.)

I started at around 60.000 USD, with very good working conditions.

• What kind of advanced degrees are required or helpful for someone in your field?

MSc. Economics and/or management. I have a MSc. In Development Economics with additional courses in agriculture and ecosystems, organizational theory, sociology and anthropology.

• Is it better to get experience or go to grad school first in your career path? If the former, how much experience does one need before going to grad school?

You have very little chance without field experience. My best advice would be to take a year or two between your bachelor and your master degree. My second advice would be to work as a volunteer together with your studies. Doesn’t matter what you volunteer for, but make sure to get some relevant references.

My experience is that academic references are far inferior to 'field' references or references from relevant volunteer work.

I worked one year for a student organization between my bachelor and master years, and I interned 6 months for an embassy immediately after graduating. I also volunteered for different political organizations for 4 out of my 5 years in University.

I was still confronted with a 'lack of experience' in job interviews.

• Where are most jobs in your field located? (eg, London, rural outposts, lush tropical islands)

Typically in Western capitals. If you are tired of living a posh and shielded life there, you can always try to get promoted to some sort of ‘local representative’ typically located in larger cities in developing countries.

Monday, April 19, 2010 6:00:00 AM

 
Blogger MC said...

* Job type (eg, aid worker, starving intern, policy assistant, development economist, etc.)

I worked for two years as a country risk analyst (Sub-Saharan Africa) for a private research firm. I did economic forecasting and political analysis for seven countries. Clients subscribe to the service to read our analysis or download our historic data/forecasts. My time was split approximately half and half between research and writing. I was part of a team of about 40 people covering the developing world.

* Examples of specific organizations that employ people in this job (eg, the UN, Save [fill-in-the-blank], Harvard)

Control Risk, Global Insight, Economist Intelligence Unit, Business Monitor International.

* Average starting salary in your field (If working for free is usually required in order to get a foot in the door, please note this.)

I started as an intern at half pay (£10,000 per year), and then advanced to about £25,000 per year. I was on the low end of the payscale though.

* What kind of advanced degrees are required or helpful for someone in your field?

For my company, I just needed a bachelor's degree, but many people had a masters. More than a masters degree is unnecessary.

* Is it better to get experience or go to grad school first in your career path? If the former, how much experience does one need before going to grad school?

My company had a graduate track program, and experience outside school was not necessary. Other firms might want more experience, or in-country experience.

* Where are most jobs in your field located? (eg, London, rural outposts, lush tropical islands)

Probably London and New York are the main headquarters for many firms, but there are also regional offices around the world.

Monday, April 19, 2010 7:42:00 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Job Type:
Field staff for NGO in humanitarian context

Who Hires:
Most big NGOs, CARE, IRC, Save the Children, OXFAM, etc

Average Starting Salary:
My organization starts people at $30-35,000. I think it varies a lot; some people view field assignments as a hardship post and want to be paid more for it; others view it as the "real" work and would do it for less than an office job. Org's interpret the job market differently when making positions, and given the competition and idealism of the candidates, drive the price down. Also bear in mind that a young westerner competing for a field assignment is competing with others from countries in the developing world, who have much more field experience and will still work for the 'entry level' salary. That said, young westerners do also bring advantages, but it is one reason why some org's that use a lot of 3rd Country Nationals keep salary offers low.

Grad school vs. working
I think a common experience is: work for 2 years, then get a masters, then take a field assignment. Often organisations put an MA as a requirement, just to keep down the applicant pool and make HR filtering easy. Having some work experience is helpful both in getting into a good MA, and in getting a job after. Obviously some overseas experience is necessary, but I don't think the amount really matters unless it is in a comparable environment. A lot of even entry-level HQ jobs at NGOs or Contractors will send someone to the field a couple times, and this experience is probably more useful for a permanent overseas assignment than, say, volunteering in Thailand. Country experience is the most valuable.

Location
Most HQ jobs are in Western capitals. Most field jobs are in capitals and major cities in the countries where we work. We do sometimes hire v. qualified people to head small field offices if they have experience.

Monday, April 19, 2010 7:55:00 AM

 
Anonymous jina said...

Job type (eg, aid worker, starving intern, policy assistant, development economist, etc.)

I know I don't quite "fit" but I thought this might give your students a slightly off-the-beaten-track possibility... I'm a journalist who covers international affairs, as a freelancer in Africa, and thereby gets to spend time in these places/thinking about all the great IR, aid, etc. questions.

Examples of specific organizations that employ people in this job (eg, the UN, Save [fill-in-the-blank], Harvard)

While newspapers are not exactly full of job openings, I find NGOs increasingly in need of communications people who think like journalists, especially those who can blog and handle social and multi media. Especially if you want to go to Africa, radio skills are in high demand. You can get good paying work as a media trainer if you can offer radio skills.

Average starting salary in your field (If working for free is usually required in order to get a foot in the door, please note this.)

Journalist, $25k. Yes, you have to work for free at some point. You can leverage even a little journalism experience into a $35-$45k NGO comms job.

What kind of advanced degrees are required or helpful for someone in your field?

Experience is more important than a degree, but people like to see a master's in journalism.

Is it better to get experience or go to grad school first in your career path? If the former, how much experience does one need before going to grad school?

I'd recommend working for two years. You'll get more traction, more job offers, greater salary leverage. If you can't get a job you want after that, or if you need to learn some specific software or skill, go to grad school.

Where are most jobs in your field located? (eg, London, rural outposts, lush tropical islands)

Comms folks tend to be in DC. I've seen a lot of people create jobs for themselves in international capitals, though, if they spend a few months hanging around, doing some impressive work on their own, and befriending the right people.

Monday, April 19, 2010 8:18:00 AM

 
Blogger Rachel said...

Job Type:
Volunteer Aid Worker

Who Hires:
Everyone loves a volunteer! The usual suspects: CARE, IRC, Save the Children, OXFAM, NRC, CRS, and others: World Learning, Tostan, etc etc etc

Average Starting Salary:
What's a salary?

Grad school vs. working
Beats me. Having done both grad school and multiple several-months-long volunteerships in four countries in Africa, I am still told by recruiters that I don't have enough "experience". I would say that the right kind of experience, if you can get it, trumps school in the eyes of recruiters, and probably also in your ability to do your job.

Location:
Distant & foreign locales

Monday, April 19, 2010 8:18:00 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

* Job type: PR/communications strategist for boutique global health/development firm

* Examples of specific organizations that employ people in this job: Fenton Communications, Glover Park Group, Global Health Strategies, SS+K


* Average starting salary in your field: Varies. 30-45K, with rapid increases.

* What kind of advanced degrees are required or helpful for someone in your field? None.

* Is it better to get experience or go to grad school first in your career path? If the former, how much experience does one need before going to grad school? Expereince. Grad school is neither needed nor encouraged.

* Where are most jobs in your field located?: New York, DC

Monday, April 19, 2010 8:30:00 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

* Job type (eg, aid worker, starving intern, policy assistant, development economist, etc.)

Aid worker in an International Development Organization

* Examples of specific organizations that employ people in this job (eg, the UN, Save [fill-in-the-blank], Harvard)

Quite a few UN agencies hire people for development related work as do a number of International Financial Institutions.

* Average starting salary in your field (If working for free is usually required in order to get a foot in the door, please note this.)

UN salary rates here: http://www.un.org/Depts/OHRM/salaries_allowances/salary.htm
actual salary depends on work experience and duty station. Quite a good benefits package. Most people start out at "P-2" level - but people usually need at least 2-5 years relevant work experience before being hired.
Working as a volunteer might help you get useful contacts - but in my experience it doesn't count for much in recruitment. Better to get paid experience with an NGO, Bilateral Aid agency or similar - or on short term assignment with the UN.

* What kind of advanced degrees are required or helpful for someone in your field?

Masters degree required. Lots of people have degrees in International Relations or in technical areas realted to programmes such as Public Health. You do find people with all kinds of backgrounds - some quite unlikely. Less obviously related degrees only OK if you have good work experience though.

* Is it better to get experience or go to grad school first in your career path? If the former, how much experience does one need before going to grad school?

Given the way selection works, I'd probably say graduate school first, practical experience after (since post-grad work experiecne is rated more highly).

* Where are most jobs in your field located? (eg, London, rural outposts, lush tropical islands)

20% HQ based (New York, Geneva etc.), 80% Developing Country based - mostly in capital cities.

Monday, April 19, 2010 8:57:00 AM

 
Blogger texasinafrica said...

This is super helpful, everyone. Thanks!

By the way, if someone has already listed your career, please feel free to add your two cents. I'm trying to get a range of experiences, salaries, etc.

Monday, April 19, 2010 9:16:00 AM

 
Blogger charley said...

* Job type ICT Network Manager

* Examples of specific organizations that employ people in this job (eg, the UN, Save, IRC, FHI, OI, WV, Harvard)
* Average starting salary in your field (Varies - Directors and C titles start near or above 100K, Sysadmins 60's to 90's depending on experience, Junior Net Admins 30-50K)
* What kind of advanced degrees are required or helpful for someone in your field? My Bachelor's is in Music. I'm doing grad school part time for Technology Management. Lower level jobs require a Bachelor's generally, or equivalent work experience. Higher level jobs usually require a Master's, but not always. Its like anything else sometimes. Who you know is important.
* Is it better to get experience or go to grad school first in your career path? If the former, how much experience does one need before going to grad school? For IT jobs in nonprofits, no grad school isn't required. If you want to be a business leader and drive policy (read have the respect of your peers) you need a Master's.
* Where are most jobs in your field located? (eg, London, rural outposts, lush tropical islands) HQ. Our CTO travels extensively. I have also traveled overseas. We have an overseas IT director stationed in Nairobi. Other organizations spend beaucoup dollars sending their US based IT people around the world to set up offices and provide support.

Monday, April 19, 2010 9:34:00 AM

 
Anonymous Cynic McYnical said...

Job type (eg, aid worker, starving intern, policy assistant, development economist, etc.) Mid-level advocacy hack.

Examples of specific organizations that employ people in this job (eg, the UN, Save [fill-in-the-blank], Harvard) For entry-level positions in advocacy, think first of the places maligned on blogs (ONE, Amnesty International USA.) They tend to be bigger and with younger staffs. From time to time, other places like Refugees International, IRC, and Oxfam will hire, but they are almost exclusively looking for people with 3-5 years advocacy/policy experience. For policy-leaning positions, think broader like Brookings, CSIS, CGDev, foundations, and humanitarian organizations--most policy positions will have an advocacy component.

Average starting salary in your field (If working for free is usually required in order to get a foot in the door, please note this.) You're going to have to intern. Try to do it during the summer while you're in college so you don't have to do it as much after college (if at all.) Starting salaries are in the low $30s, but in the low $40s with a year or two of experience.

What kind of advanced degrees are required or helpful for someone in your field? I've known very good advocacy directors with only a BA, some with JDs, and others with PhDs. But in DC, an advanced degree is important. Because policy here is so tied to the legislative process, a JD gets you almost as far as an MA. Get either one eventually.

Is it better to get experience or go to grad school first in your career path? If the former, how much experience does one need before going to grad school? Definitely get experience first. Two to three years of it. Then go to grad school. Otherwise you will have six years of schooling and an unpaid internship to show for it.

Where are most jobs in your field located? New York, DC, London

Monday, April 19, 2010 10:23:00 AM

 
Blogger Julia said...

•Job type: Think tank research assistant

•Examples of specific organizations that employ people in this job: Center for Global Development, Brookings, U.S. Institute of Peace, CSIS

•Average starting salary in your field: Many offer internships (some paid, others not). Full-time I would say $38k-$45k

•What kind of advanced degrees are required or helpful for someone in your field?: MA not required (at least at my org), but economics background (and experience with statistical software) a big leg up.

•Is it better to get experience or go to grad school first in your career path? If the former, how much experience does one need before going to grad school?: Most research assistants are either hired directly from undergrad, or after some kind of international experience (Peace Corps, Clinton Foundation, etc). Think tank world is an excellent place to be for those looking to pursue a Ph.D. Most RAs stay a couple years, then will go back to grad school, often for Economics, Public Policy, International Affairs or Development.

•Where are most jobs in your field located?: DC, NY

Monday, April 19, 2010 12:55:00 PM

 
Blogger evancparker said...

Job type (eg, aid worker, starving intern, policy assistant, development economist, etc.)

*** Legislative Correspondant/Legislative Aide -- The former is responsible for drafting letters to constituents about particular topics, work that serves as an apprenticeship towards being a Member's chief aide on a particular issue (such as International Relations).

Examples of specific organizations that employ people in this job (eg, the UN, Save [fill-in-the-blank], Harvard)

*** US Congress, though analogous jobs can be found throughout the executive branch too (surely someone who reads this blog works for State and can speak better to that branch than I).

Average starting salary in your field (If working for free is usually required in order to get a foot in the door, please note this.)

*** From the 20s through the low 30s. Few junior positions go to people who aren't already in the door, as either a staff assistant or an intern. Often possible to jump from a Member's state/local offices to Capitol Hill (and back).

What kind of advanced degrees are required or helpful for someone in your field?

*** No degree specifically required, though IR aide positions go largely to people with IR degrees, or at least some kind of IR experience.

Is it better to get experience or go to grad school first in your career path? If the former, how much experience does one need before going to grad school?

*** Intially, experience comes first. Start out as an intern or staff assistant, and them move on to correspondance, which is an apprenticeship towards being a Member's chief aide on a particular issue. Once that happens, people tend to go to grad school for the issue they cover, so that they can get better jobs with better Members (or even committees). Law degrees don't hurt, too.

Where are most jobs in your field located? (eg, London, rural outposts, lush tropical islands)

*** Washington DC.

Monday, April 19, 2010 3:03:00 PM

 
Anonymous Chuck said...

Job type: Catalog Librarian

•Examples of specific organizations that employ people in this job: Research libraries, Library of Congress, public libraries, NGOs

•Average starting salary in your field: Had I started with an MLS in hand, my starting salary would have been in the $40-50K range. Starting as a cataloging assistant, it was about $28K.

•What kind of advanced degrees are required or helpful for someone in your field?: Master's in Library Science (MLS), or Master of Science in Information Systems (MSIS)

•Is it better to get experience or go to grad school first in your career path? If the former, how much experience does one need before going to grad school?: Experience matters, but a couple of years would be sufficient.

•Where are most jobs in your field located?: The field is always in flux, and salaries are highly variable depending on location. But the nice thing is they're needed everywhere, which gives you some latitude on deciding where to work.

Monday, April 19, 2010 4:49:00 PM

 
Blogger Tristan said...

Any of your students with a little familiarity with statistics should apply to the Jameel Poverty Action Lab, and Innovations for Poverty Action. Particularly if they're interested in the academy, but also if they want feild experience working with NGOs in evaluations work. These are one of the few jobs out there that give smart 22 year olds the opportunity to work abroad and have real, non-intern like responsibilities. They're also a good starting point for networking with NGOs in the field and launching a job from there.

(Should emphasize also that anyone interested in international work should take courses in statistics, as evaluation is a growth industry in the field, and as it will make them better at their jobs).

Monday, April 19, 2010 8:53:00 PM

 
Blogger Tristan said...

Should add, starting salary is $1000 per month (PPP adjusted for in country costs) plus travel and airfare and healthcare (when i took a job like this, a principal investigator framed it as "you won't be saving, but you won't be dissaving either", with options to move up to a real salary in a few years. Jobs are all over, in the field, and in Cambridge or New Haven.

Great way to get into MPAID, ecetera as you'll get a letter from a top notch economist. Why else would they be able to pay so little?

Monday, April 19, 2010 8:57:00 PM

 
Anonymous hls said...

* Job type: Research assistant at think tank.

* Examples of specific organizations that employ people in this job: Covered by someone above - but DC shops (Council on Foreign Relations, Brookings, CSIS), university shops (Harvard Kennedy School, maybe others?)

* Average starting salary in your field: I started at $35k almost 10 years ago. It's probably a little higher now (though really dependent on the place).

* What kind of advanced degrees are required or helpful for someone in your field? For this job, no. And I wouldn't take it with an advanced degree. It's a great job post-undergrad pre-grad and, at least for me, let me see different paths I could take in the future b/c there were a variety of degrees represented and b/c a lot of the senior people in the organization had a range of experience b/f settling into the think tank. I ended up going to law school.

* Is it better to get experience or go to grad school first in your career path? If the former, how much experience does one need before going to grad school? As I wrote above, I think this a fantastic place to go between undergrad and grad. Not everyone goes on to grad school (for example, a former colleague went from the think tank to a job doing defense consulting with Booz) but many of my former colleagues have. Off the top of my head theres: 2 JDs, 2 MBAs, 3 PhDs. People take varied paths out of think tanks, not only because of the variety of work w/in the tanks but also b/c it's a great time to figure out what YOU want to do. These also tend to be really divided work environments - with the fellows or whatever at the top and then their assistants below and little ground between them. That said, one of my most impressive former colleagues started at the think tank AFTER she'd gotten her MPP and went from a strange position at the think tank (for which she was overqualified) to a really great World Bank job. I'm not sure her time at the tank helped her get the World Bank job but at least it gave her something to do while she waiting for the right match.

* Where are most jobs in your field located?: New York, DC.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010 8:10:00 AM

 
Anonymous Mike said...

Not answering the question specifically, but I think this might be some good thoughts for those getting into the business :

http://sm4good.com/2010/04/06/aid-worker-life-options/

It is worth entering the industry already thinking about an exit strategy. The other post-field work plans I hear a lot are "government job" or "PHD and teach."

Tuesday, April 20, 2010 9:05:00 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a question for some of those with this career bent...

Is it possible to have children and work as an aid worker (or however it is?)? I don't really see it as being a problem, kids are still kids no matter what country, but I've gotten feedback that I could not do both.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010 12:04:00 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Think tank--DC (mid-level staff but started as junior staff, have an MA)

Research Assistant--starting salary. Sorry but that's still mid-30s. If you want high 30s you need 2 years experience or an MA.

Don't go straight to grad school.

If you think you're getting a job at the UN straight out of undergrad, get real, it won't happen.

On job applications (I have had to recruit new RAs so I will tell you what makes me toss applications without looking at them): resumes that are more than one page long (you're 22, don't be an arrogant ass and assume I have time for two pages) one page, and I couldn't care less about whether you play the clarinet).

Cover letters that have the wrong organizations or major spelling/typing errors.

Not following application instructions. These things make me doubt you'll be able to assemble a list of attendees at a meeting--why would I hire you?

Once I've started reading, tell me what classes you took, what papers you wrote and how you did the research. Don't just assert things.

Yes, an unpaid internship is a good place to start.

Finally, for think tanks, within 3 days of our last announcement, we had 500 applications. I read the first 100, found 20 people from whom I wanted writing samples, 10 people I wanted to talk to on the phone, and 5 to show to my bosses so they could talk to them. All this to say, if you were #102 in the email list and you were great, I never even saw it.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010 1:56:00 PM

 
Blogger lu said...

Here's the info I need:

• Job type (eg, aid worker, starving intern, policy assistant, development economist, etc.)

UN agency Project Officer (started as Project Assistant)on migration and protection related projects

• Examples of specific organizations that employ people in this job (eg, the UN, Save [fill-in-the-blank], Harvard)

All the usual suspects - UNICEF, UNHCR, UNODC, OCHA, IOM, ILO, etc

• Average starting salary in your field (If working for free is usually required in order to get a foot in the door, please note this.)

I started with a paid internship (and was one of the lucky ones to make peanuts while I 'put my time in') for 6 months and then got hired at a PU salary, which is how the UN gets away with continuing to pay people peanuts while they await the P2 jobs that will hopefully come. I believe after a year I was making about $24,000 untaxable income. Health benefits and leave is better than you'll find elsewhere though.

But it is important to note that this is entirely dependent on heads of offices, HR departments, and immediate supervisors and how much they are behind you, your development and advancement, and every organisation and office is different.

• What kind of advanced degrees are required or helpful for someone in your field?

I wouldn't say that it was ever very necessary in the work, but you wouldn't get a second look (even for an internship) without a Masters degree.

• Is it better to get experience or go to grad school first in your career path? If the former, how much experience does one need before going to grad school?

Experience trumps all, but is tough to get. I got mine through a funded work experience project in South Africa, but otherwise I think it would have to be volunteer. But even doing this in your own community would be helpful. I did this before heading back to grad school and got my paid internship immediately following grad school.

• Where are most jobs in your field located? (eg, London, rural outposts, lush tropical islands)

Typically in capitals and medium sized cities in all UN member states.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010 2:37:00 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Job type (eg, aid worker, starving intern, policy assistant, development economist, etc.)

Special projects manager/assistant for economist who does gov't consulting/I-dev work

Examples of specific organizations that employ people in this job (eg, the UN, Save [fill-in-the-blank], Harvard)

UN? top-notch academics, some consulting firms

Average starting salary in your field (If working for free is usually required in order to get a foot in the door, please note this.)

(w/an econ/stats MA and a couple of yrs of good experience under your belt) about $70k. Without, probably $35-40k

What kind of advanced degrees are required or helpful for someone in your field?

an MA Econ/MPAID/even maybe a PhD


Is it better to get experience or go to grad school first in your career path? If the former, how much experience does one need before going to grad school?

Experience. Agree with Tristan about nod to J-Pal and IPA

Where are most jobs in your field located? (eg, London, rural outposts, lush tropical islands)

DC, New York, London - with lots of travel. Not a bad gig if you can get it.


Thanks in advance for your help!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010 3:58:00 PM

 
Blogger Jason said...

* Job type (eg, aid worker, starving intern, policy assistant, development economist, etc.)
Clinician (respiratory therapist) and PhD student.

I practiced as a clinician for 2 years and then took a volunteer position in West Africa, working as a clinician. Now have an MA and working on a PhD in population health. My time as a volunteer clinician has informed a lot of the choices I've made, and has prompted me to understand the complexities of global health work and research. My work currently focuses on population health assessments/needs assessments during rapid-onset crises.
* Examples of specific organizations that employ people in this job (eg, the UN, Save [fill-in-the-blank], Harvard)
Some aid agencies, the UN, different government agencies.
* Average starting salary in your field (If working for free is usually required in order to get a foot in the door, please note this.)
As I said, I spent time volunteering and this was really helpful for understanding what I was getting into, and what I understood the challenges to be.
Obviously, I'm not doing a PhD to get rich in the process... But, I am being paid to learn, and that's a privilege like none other.
* What kind of advanced degrees are required or helpful for someone in your field?
A master's in epidemiology would be helpful, or a master's in public health. Being a clinician provides a valuable perspective, but we are a multidisciplinary research team, so is not an absolute necessity.
* Is it better to get experience or go to grad school first in your career path? If the former, how much experience does one need before going to grad school?
Hard to say. For meeting job posting criteria or entry into some programs, it can be anywhere from 2-5 years. That seems rather arbitrary, though. I recommend getting some experience, you'll have a clearer understanding of where you want to go with your grad studies. It's hard to just land in grad school and to try and find your way. You'll change your mind a million times, but that's part of the experience. In some ways, it's about knowing what you don't want.
* Where are most jobs in your field located? (eg, London, rural outposts, lush tropical islands)
Major centres, with fieldwork postings. New York, Geneva, Amsterdam. Or wherever you decide to do grad school!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010 4:00:00 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Job type (eg, aid worker, starving intern, policy assistant, development economist, etc.)
Project assistant at a USAID contractor

Examples of specific organizations that employ people in this job (eg, the UN, Save [fill-in-the-blank], Harvard)
All those companies listed on the USAID site - Chemonics, McFadden, etc.

Average starting salary in your field (If working for free is usually required in order to get a foot in the door, please note this.)
High 30s - low 40s

What kind of advanced degrees are required or helpful for someone in your field?
The usual - MPH, MPA, MPP - are quite common in the higher ranks of my company

Is it better to get experience or go to grad school first in your career path? If the former, how much experience does one need before going to grad school?
No grad school necessary, though I worked in project support for non-profits. Perhaps, for me, in the future, especially as I'm not sure what the future holds.

Where are most jobs in your field located? (eg, London, rural outposts, lush tropical islands)
DC. Or the, ugh, NOVA / DC suburbs.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010 9:15:00 PM

 
Anonymous Michael Kleinman said...

A few potentially useful links:

Finding a job overseas: http://humanrights.change.org/blog/view/finding_a_job_overseas

Aid worker careers - how to find your first bad job:
http://humanrights.change.org/blog/view/aid_worker_careers_how_to_find_your_first_bad_job

Getting the experience you need to get into grad school:
http://globalpoverty.change.org/blog/view/getting_the_experience_you_need_to_get_into_grad_school

Salary-time - how much do aid workers actually earn:
http://humanrights.change.org/blog/view/salary-time_-_how_much_do_aid_workers_actually_earn

Wednesday, April 21, 2010 7:06:00 PM

 
Blogger Leslie said...

I can't add much to what others have said, but I think it's important to note that many employers require/prefer second and even third languages.

I can't remember the last time I didn't see a development job posting that didn't require a second language.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010 10:30:00 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this! It's lately occurred to me that I have no idea where to go after Peace Corps and this is exactly the kind of thing I've been looking for!

I check your site every day. I especially appreciate the link posts. :)

Friday, April 23, 2010 1:25:00 PM

 
Anonymous Michael Keizer said...

I started to write a profile for 'celeb activist', but it became a bit too bitter.

Saturday, April 24, 2010 10:23:00 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too would greatly appreciate if some of the older folks could answer Anon's question pertaining to having children:

I have a question for some of those with this career bent...

Is it possible to have children and work as an aid worker (or however it is?)? I don't really see it as being a problem, kids are still kids no matter what country, but I've gotten feedback that I could not do both.

Monday, April 26, 2010 4:48:00 PM

 
Blogger Even T said...

I'm a journalist working for NORAD, the Norwegian Development Agency, which is about the only game in town for purely aid/development-related journalism. Not quite. But almost.

Other jobs for someone like me would be any kind of media outlets (not directly development-related), or info work in any NGO or other organisation (not really journalism).

I have worked for free for many years, building up experience writing for all sorts of publications. Pay varies wildly. I currently work on an hour-by-hour basis, earling around £35 an hour as a freelancer (which means no pension benefits, sick pay, or anything like that).

I have a BA in journalism and soon a MSC in political economy. A degree in journalism helps, but is not really necessary. It also helps to know something about stuff that other journalists may find difficult, such as economics.

Experience matters a lot. Education not so much. This is changing somewhat, but journalism is a bastard field without much of formal requirements.

Most jobs for me are in Oslo (or London, if I was British). If I had been doing info work for an NGO i would probably have been working from their main office.

Saturday, May 08, 2010 9:35:00 AM

 

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