Davidson International Development Initiative Handbook
I. Public Sector (Donors)
The public sector is comprised primarily of multilateral institutions and bilateral organizations.
Multilateral institutions are funded by groups of countries that share certain goals or characteristics. The largest are the United Nations (and all of its organizations), the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund.
Bilateral organizations are funded by a single country to assist in development projects which support that country’s interests. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) represents the US abroad, but most countries have a similar agency.
Both bilateral and multilateral organizations provide technical assistance, policy support, and financing to developing countries.
Many nonprofit or non-governmental organizations work in the area of international development. These organizations can range in size from only a handful of workers to extremely large organizations with offices in a number of countries (Catholic Relief Services, Save the Children, CARE). Often the programs, designed by the organization, are supported by both private donations and support from bilateral organizations (such as USAID).
NGO’s are also sometimes involved in other activities including fundraising, advocacy, and research. These positions may require a different skill set, but are often make a valuable contribution to the goals of the organization.
Development Consulting firms are for-profit firms that enter into contacts to implement, support and provide technical expertise to programs funded by donor agencies, such as USAID.
Pros and Cons
Starting salaries are generally in the mid -30s. Be prepared to work your way up, starting with an administrative position and working up to a more programmatic or managerial role. These consulting firms are generally good about promoting from within so opportunities come to those who demonstrate their worth and who are patient. These firms usually allow some international travel within the first several years. After several years, they also usually offer opportunities to move to a full-time overseas position within the company.
Project Management- Most junior positions assist in managing a contract (usually with USAID) and supporting the team in the field. These positions are often based in the United States and sometimes allow for short term (2-4 weeks) travel to the field. The main responsibilities for such a position would include recruiting consultants for the project, reviewing invoices, seeking advice about contractual compliance, and editing reports that detail the project’s successes.
Proposal Writing- Consulting firms must compete to win the right to implement the donor’s project. Therefore, consulting firms submit proposals (both technical and cost) in order to be awarded the contract. Proposals highlight the company’s strategy for implementing the project, past work experience in the region and technical area, and the qualifications of the proposed personnel. Those working on the proposals must write well, pay attention to detail and be able to work well under a tight timeline.
Technical Expert- These are more senior positions and usually require expertise in a particular area such as public health, agronomy, law, or public finance.
Peace Corps is a US Government Agency established by President John F. Kennedy in 1961. The agency sends American volunteers to developing countries with the following mission:
1. Helping the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.
2. Helping promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.
3. Helping promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.
Candidates are chosen by the Peace Corps through an application, akin to a college application, followed by an interview. Assignments for those accepted are for a period of 27 months. The first 3 months are spent in intensive language & cultural training, often in the country of service, with a group of fellow volunteers. The following two years are spent in a village or town where volunteers are assigned to assist a local institution in their mandate. Depending on volunteer skills and interests, positions are available as teachers, agricultural specialists, or advisors to citizen associations, businesses and municipalities.
The work can be very challenging as the volunteer must work hard to integrate into the culture of the organization to which they are assigned, often working solely in a language other than English. There are also the physical and emotional challenges of immersing oneself in a developing country with limited outlets to the comforts of home they left behind. Due to these challenges the decision to join the Peace Corps is not one to be taken lightly. It is not uncommon for 1/3 of those who begin an assignment to withdraw for personal reasons.
For those who do survive and thrive during their two years of service, it is a badge of honor they carry with them for the rest of their careers. Peace Corps is considered a way to gain management experience at a relatively young age for many volunteers and shows that they have the fortitude to deal with the uncertainty that comes with living and working outside their comfort zone. Many volunteers use their Peace Corps service as a spring board to an international career. Additionally, Peace Corps Volunteers are given Non Competitive Eligibility status for federal jobs upon their return to the US. But the decision to volunteer two years of your life should not be done primarily with future career goals in mind. Rather, those who get the most out of it see an enlightened self interest in knowing that through one's service a volunteer will gain friendships, experiences and understanding of the world that many back home cannot fathom; and that it will benefit them throughout their professional and personal lives.
Soul Searching- Know what you want
Before you begin looking for a job in international development, think about some key questions.
What subject area interests you? Are you passionate about a particular area such as microfinance, refugees or healthcare? If so, you will be targeting a different set of organizations than if you are interested in multiple areas.
Think about what skills you have and what tasks you enjoy, and this will dictate what type of position for which you are looking. If you enjoy writing and tight deadlines, maybe working on proposals would be a good fit for your skills. Other potential positions include project management, fundraising, and research.
Where do you want to be based: in headquarters or in the field? Generally speaking, unless you have substantial experience in a particular country, it is easier to find a position in the US. Then with several years of work experience, your chances of finding a position in the field will be better. Many organizations are located in the Washington, DC area, but you can find development organizations in many cities including Atlanta, New York, Baltimore, Chapel Hill and Boston.
Most international development organizations hire on an as needed basis, so they do not generally recruit in the fall for openings in the spring or summer. This means that they will often expect you to be ready to begin work as soon as possible, so keep this in mind when applying for jobs. While this is generally true, some organizations have formal training or internship programs with deadlines well in advance of when the position would begin. Be sure to keep this in mind as you consider opportunities. Below are several organizations that offer undergraduate summer internship programs or programs for recent graduates.
Who is eligible
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Junior Fellows Program
January 15, but must be nominated by your school
Research; Peace; 8-10 one year fellowships;
The Carter Center
March 1 for summer
Current upperclassmen and recent graduates
Peace, Health, Operations; 32-36 interns chosen
Student Intern Program
December 31 for summer
Washington, DC or overseas
Both paid and unpaid;
Doctors Without Borders
Rolling; April 15
Different qualifications for each position
New York City
3 months; $10/ hour
Population Reference Bureau
International Programs Fellowship at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
BA/ BS required; Those with advanced degrees are not eligible
Stipend of $35K-$40K per year plus benefits
What skills do I need?
The most important thing your resume should show is a genuine interest in the problems of the developing world. If you have taken classes focusing on the developing world, studied abroad or worked in your are of interest, you will make a much more compelling candidate.
Meaningful experience in the developing world
Your resume should demonstrate that you have spent time abroad. (Western Europe does not count). If you truly want a career in development, you must demonstrate that you can manage some of the challenges that come along with living and traveling in non-Western countries. Spend a semester or a summer studying or interning in a non-Western country.
Fluency in a Foreign Language
While not necessary to work in internationally, fluency in in a foreign language is an advantage. Speakers of Arabic, Spanish, Russian, French and Portuguese are in high demand. Your level must be high enough to enable you to work effectively in the local language.
Many companies will test your language skills during the interview process, so be honest about your skill level on your resume. To prepare for an interview, it might be helpful to familiarize yourself with the development vocabulary by browsing foreign language documents on the UN, World Bank or the World Health Organization websites.
Interpersonal skills, maturity, cultural sensitivity, flexibility, and ability to deal with uncertainty are all extremely important for successful work internationally.
Experience managing a budget
Many government contractors and NGOs like to see experience managing a budget. Government-funded projects are usually tied to a budget that is closely managed on a monthly basis, so if you have experience managing a budget (such as a club treasurer), be sure to include that on your resume.
In the same vein, make sure you have a basic knowledge of excel. You should be able to use formulas, link cells and pages, and do basic formatting.
While each organization is different, some organizations use the behavioral style interview where they will ask you to give an example of when you have demonstrated one of the skills that they believe you will need for the job. The idea is that past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior and they want to gauge if you will be able to handle the challenges presented by the job. Some sample questions might be:
· Tell me about a challenge that you overcame
· Tell me about a time you dealt with a difficult client/ boss. How did you manage the situation?
· Tell me about a time when you worked as part of a team. What role did you play?
· When you spent a summer (semester) in Zambia (X country), what was the most challenging thing about the summer?
Resources for finding a job or internship
· Net Impact Job Board (www.netimpact.org)
· MBA Nonprofit Connections (www.mnc.nonprofitoffice.com)
· Idealist.org (www.idealist.org)
· Guidestar (www.guidestar.org)
· International Jobs Center (Home of International Career Employment Weekly)
The most effective way of finding a job is through networking. Davidson alumni can be found through sites like the the Davidson International Network and the Davidson College Network groups on LinkedIn or Davidson College’s networking database, Alenda Links
While many of these alumni are happy to help you, you still want to make a positive first impression. Always ask for a short conversation (no more than 30 minutes should be expected) and have questions prepared for that person. Alumni will be able to discuss their experiences in the field and offer insight about the skills and the culture of different organizations. After the informational interview, always remember to send an email thanking the alumnus/a for taking the time to speak with you. This goes a long way in making a good impression!
Finally, once you begin working in international development, make sure you serve as a resource to current Davidson students so that we can continue growing the Davidson network.
1. Two useful books on international careers (check with Career Services, who may have them).
Careers in International Affairs. http://www.amazon.com/Careers-International-Affairs-Maria-Carland/dp/1589011996/ref=sr_1_1?s=gateway&ie=UTF8&qid=1285431371&sr=8-1
Working for Change: Making a Career in International Public Service -- http://www.amazon.com/Working-Change-Making-International-Service/dp/156549203X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1285431417&sr=1-1
Note that the first book by Maria Pinto Carland has a wider focus (covering public, private, and non-profit/philanthropic sectors) than Derick and Jennifer Brinkerhoff's book (more on development).
2. See my set of slides on international careers. For internship links, see slides 13-16. Note that the slides have a broader focus than just international development.
3. Some basic points or “no-brainers:"
Multilateral development institutions include:
· The World Bank Group, which consists of five different institutions:
o International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD)
o International Development Association (IDA)
o International Finance Corporation (IFC)
o Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA)
o International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID)
· The African Development Bank (AfDB)
· The Asian Development Bank (ADB)
· The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)
· The Inter-American Development Bank (IADB)
· The Islamic Development Bank (ISDB)
· The United Nations Development Program (UNDP)
· The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
· The European Commission – External Relations
· TakingItGlobal website Directory 3000+ nonprofits worldwide
· The NGO Cafe http://www.gdrc.org/ngo
· including various definitions of an NGO
· Searchable Database of NGOs http://www.uia.org/extlinks/pub.php
· Another database of NGOs http://www.sover.net/~paulven/ngo.html
· Asia Foundation www.asiafoundation.org
· Care USA http://careusa.org
· Oxfam International www.oxfam.org
The Communication Initiative’s Development Classified: Market Place for International Development http://www.comminit.com/en/classifieds
Global Health Council’s Global Health Career Network
· Chemonics www.chemonics.com
· Development Alternatives Inc. www.dai.com
Dalberg Development www.dalberg.com (Dalberg tends to look for people with several years of management consultancy experience)
General Online Career Resources
· Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies Career Services, www.saisjhu.
· University of Sussex Career Development and Employment Center,
· Interaction, www.interaction.org (also industry information)
· ReliefWeb, www.reliefweb.int
· DEVJOBS, www.devjobsmail.com
· DevelopmentEx, www.developmentex.com
· dev-zone, www.dev-zone.org
· Idealist www.idealist.org
· The Microfinance Gateway www.microfinancegateway.org
Abt Associates, Inc.
Arthur D. Little, Inc.
Birch & Davis International, Inc.
Booz Allen Hamilton
Cambridge Consulting Corporation
Casals & Associates, Inc.
Center for International Private Enterprise
Checci and Company Consulting, Inc.
Chemonics International Consulting
Clapp & Mayne Inc.
Coopers and Lybrand
Creative Associates International, Inc.
Deloitte & Touche
Development Alternatives Inc.
Economic Consulting Associates
Emerging Market Economics Limited
International Science & Technology Institute
Institute for Sustainable Communities
International Business & Technical Consultants, Inc.
International Management and Communications Corporation
IRG (International Resources Group)
J.E. Austin Associates
John Snow, Inc.
K&M Engineering and Consulting Corporation
Land O’Lakes International Development Division
Lloyds TSB Bank
Louis Berger Group
Management Systems International
Mendez England & Associates
Overseas Projects Corporation of Victoria
PDP Australia Pty Ltd.
POHL Consulting & Associates
P.E. International Consultants Ltd.
Resources Management International Solutions for Progress
Organizations By Sector
Emergency Response/ Refugee Organizations
· ACCION International
· Africa Microfinance Network
· AAIMED (All India Association for Micro Enterprise Development)
· Bank Rayat Indonesia
· CGAP (Consultative Group to Aid the Poor)
· Development Innovations and Networks (IRED)
· FINCA affiliates
· Grameen Bank
· Kashf Foundation
· Microcredit Summit Foundation
· Microfinance Network
· Microfund for Women
· Opportunity International
· People’s Credit and Finance Corp.
· Prisma Microfinance
· Share Microfin
· South Pacific Business Development
· Uganda Women’s Finance Trust
· Vermont Development Credit Union
· Village Welfare Society
· Washington CASH
· Women’s Venture Fund
· Women’s World Banking affiliates
Microfinance information and Job listings
· MicroBanking Bulletin, www.mixmbb.org/en
· The Microfinance Gateway, www.microfinancegateway.org
· Microfinance Network, www.bellanet.org/partners/mfn
· Microfinance: A Way to Help the Poor Build, www.microfinance.com
Additional Resources and Suggested Reading
· One World, www.oneworld.net
· Open Society Institute, www.osi.hu/partnerships
· Vault Guide to International Development Careers, from Vault, Inc., available October 2008
· Career Opportunities for American Planners in International Development, APA, 1994
· Good Works: A Guide to Careers in Social Change. Barricade Books, 1994
· Great Careers: The Fourth of July Guide to Careers, Internships, and Volunteer Opportunities in the Nonprofit Sector, Garrett Park Press, 1990
· Guide to Careers in World Affairs. Impact Publications.(3rd edition) 1993
· World Directory of Environmental Organizations [Science Library - Reference Collection | S920.W67]
· The Little Green Book: Directory of Environmental Opportunities
· Directory of NGO's in the Field of Human Settlements
· Hoover's Handbook of World Business: a Directory of American Firms Operating in Foreign Countries
This section will be completed when the list of Davidson mentors is updated.
 Much of this list is taken from the Wharton Social Impact Handbook