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Checking nets in Kerala, India

Photo: iStock/Bartosz Hadyniak

Getting a job in international development

In our jobs listings you'll find many of the best jobs in international development. Working for a charity or NGO can be fascinating and rewarding, but it's a competitive sector, and can be hard to break into.

There is no guaranteed way to get a job, it is often a matter of good luck and timing. But you should find the information below a good place to start.

Know what you want to do

Have a clear idea about the kind of development work you want to do. Are you interested in working overseas or in the UK? In advocacy or programmes?

Being clear about your objectives will help you target your efforts much more efficiently; there may be specific qualifications you can study for, certain experience you will need to gain, and organisations who you may wish to contact.

Know what you will need to do it

Study: Relevant qualifications are offered by universities such as SOAS or the University of East Anglia. You may not need to gain a specific qualification but in a competitive sector, many people have gained post-graduate qualifications or Masters degrees even for entry level positions, so it is something you may wish to consider. If you don’t want to or can’t afford to study full time, The Open University has a range of part time courses.

Volunteer: Charity job carries lots of volunteer vacancies, or you can approach an agency directly. They will often advertise for volunteers on their website or you can call them. This demonstrates commitment, looks great on your CV and also means that you will be in a great position to hear about vacancies as and when they arise.

Internships: While an internship can be financially challenging (many intern positions are unpaid), it could dramatically increase your chances of finding a paid position whilst gaining invaluable experience in an organisation and in the sector as a whole. Volunteer positions exist both in the UK and overseas.

Bond courses

Bond offers training under various themes. Depending upon the area of work you wish to focus on, you may find a number of these courses useful, particularly those offered at an introductory level. If you are simply looking to find out more about the international development sector, you might be interested in our Introduction to international development course.

For more information, or to discuss which course might be most suitable for you, please contact the learning and training team. All our courses are open to non-Bond members as well as Bond members.

Interns and volunteers: useful sources of information

The Careers Group, University of London provides the careers service for the University of London Colleges. Their website lists a range of resources, and a guide to entry level careers in international development. They also run a popular Facebook page for students interested in international development and a careers search engine.

World Service Enquiry maintains a list of organisations offering placements for volunteers and paid employment. WSE's Guide to working for development at home and overseas is available online.

The volunteer recruitment website Do-It has launched a one-stop guide to help people who are interested in volunteering overseas. The site lists organisations offering volunteering opportunities throughout the world for new and experienced volunteers, in addition to case studies and online diaries.

Christians Abroad offer careers advice and sell a booklet on Working In Development. Their website also covers volunteering opportunities and practice advice on working abroad.

The Career Development and Employment Centre at the University of Sussex has a good introduction to the variety of entry points into development work.

Ethical Careers specialises in guiding young people into ethical careers, including those in development.

Another useful source of information is the experience development website. The site is designed for UK students interested in, and/or studying some aspect of international development.

The Aid Workers website has several pages of career advice for aspiring aid workers:

ICA:UK organises training and orientation for people from all backgrounds considering volunteering overseas, and have a wide range of contacts with NGOs overseas for placements.