Series – How do you launch your career in the aid and development sector? (Part 2)

Series – How do you launch your career in the aid and development sector? (Part 2)

This is Part 2 of our series – How do you break into a career in the aid and development sector. If you have not read Part 1 of this series, please have a look – you will learn interest tips to define your strategy to find your first aid and development job, as well as tips to implement a professional (digital) brand that will get you noticed by recruiters

In Part 2 of this Series, we will show you how volunteering experience can propel (or at least facilitate) your career in aid and development. You will understand why you should apply to jobs for which you strictly meet the requirements:


1. Focus on giving first by volunteering


It is commonly expected that when you are passionate about something, you will hardly care about being paid. At this stage of your career indeed, you should be more interested in deepening your knowledge and developing new skills than receiving a big salary.


That being said, one of the best ways to gain experience is volunteering. Not only this is a good starting point for any job seekers with no or little experience, irrespective of the sectors, many opportunities to volunteer in the aid and development field exist. In addition to visiting AidCareers where you will find many volunteering opportunities, here are others resources that may help you:

  • Make cold calls to associations in your local community to propose your service
  • Contact your university to learn about organizations that they sponsor
  • Visit the United Nations online volunteering platform that provides many opportunities ranging from translation to project management
2. Be more strategic when you apply for a post


Since competition is fierce, especially for internships and entry-level jobs, you honestly need to ask yourself two questions prior to working on your application – Do you meet the requirements for the position? Do you have the skills your future employer is looking for?


If you can answer yes to the above questions, there are few thing you need to bear in mind to be more strategic:

  • Emphasize on your ‘soft skills’ (e.g., communication skills, capacity to work in team, client-orientation mentality)
  • Emphasize on your languages proficiencies and computer experience
  • Emphasize on the technical skills you have gained by volunteering and your previous internships


A career in the aid and development sector is rewarding on so many levels – you work towards improving the state of the world, providing humanitarian relief to populations in need, and building the capacity of countries through development programs. As a result, many job seekers with a similar level of experience are competing to have a chance to be recruited by governmental and non-governmental organizations. While it may look impossible to get in especially if you have no connection, it is possible to get your dream job. Be patient, don’t give up on your passion, build in-demand skills, and the rest will follow.