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February 4, 2016

"I only want to work in international development..." The danger of closing the door on your options

International development is a tempting field to aspire to work in to get that feeling of making an impact. But as Anna explains, it isn't the only way to satisfy that need.

"I only want to work in international development" is the most common thing we hear from candidates. Eager to change the world and make a difference, many candidates look to overseas issues and exciting humanitarian causes to focus their fundraising expertise on.

Of course, international development charities are incredibly important and conduct vital and life changing work, which many want to be a part of. However, it is important that job seekers are aware of how limiting it can be to solely focus in this one area and understand exactly how competitive the international development sector is.

When speaking to candidates about what exactly it is that they are passionate about, it becomes evident that it isn't always the 'international' element of the cause that appeals to them. It is the idea of being able to help 'change the world', being given the chance to travel and being part of a cause larger than their own surroundings.

The reality of this can often be quite different: residing in a London based office, far removed from beneficiaries and unsure of the impact your day to day efforts are having in the real world. International travel can also be a rarity so if this is of huge importance to you, it is worth exploring at interview, exactly how often you'll be hopping on that plane.

When we delve deeper, it becomes apparent that candidates are also just as keen on the issues of children, young people, inequality, human rights and education (just to name a few!). If this is the case, then we urge candidates to take a broader view on the charities that they'd consider working for. For example, there are lots of human rights charities based within the UK such as Refugee Action who support refugees and asylum seekers to settle and build new lives in the UK.

Charities such as Sense, the deafblind disability charity have an international arm which looks after beneficiaries in 7 developing countries enabling the fundraising team to have an impact domestically AND internationally. The Teenage Cancer Trust is another phenomenal charity where you can really see the impact of the fundraising you do. It is a bright and funky brand and they have huge music events with well-known bands and celebrities every year.  

These organisations shouldn't be ignored and in fact, working domestically can bring you closer to the cause and bring out a passion you never thought you had!

By being more flexible in your job search, this will also ensure that you have more options available to you. There may be more chance for career development, a higher salary and job satisfaction, potentially better benefits and a chance to meet some fantastic colleagues, all of whom can add to your life experience and career.

Every day we meet and talk to incredibly talented individuals who are working on truly exciting and unique initiatives and projects, some of which I'd never even heard of or thought could exist!

So before shutting the door on your options by saying, "I only want to work in international development', we always ask candidates to re-consider  and become open to all the fantastic opportunities out there.

More often than not, candidate's are so pleased that they did, opening themselves up to some fantastic life experiences and life changing opportunities - some of which they'd never even thought of before.   


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