Working in International Aid and Development is something that many people aspire to. You need only look to the number of students studying international relations at an undergraduate level at Monash to recognise that the field is hugely popular. Work in the sector often entails travel, experiencing different cultures and working in high pressure environments to navigate quickly developing situations. Jobs in international relations are highly sought after, and consequently the application process is highly competitive.
The Employment and Careers Department (ECD) at Monash offers a range of advice for students serious about pursuing the field. They advise that employers often look for not only outstanding academic results, but also extracurricular activities which demonstrate genuine interest in the sector. Independent travel, for example, is something that many students enjoy and also demonstrates an individual’s adaptability and autonomy. Proficiency in a second language is another asset which many employers look for. For many aid and development roles language proficiency is essential for integration into local communities.
The Department also recommends engaging in volunteer work, which they say provides people with an opportunity to demonstrate practical skills. Volunteering can occur on a local level or internationally. The requirements for volunteer positions can vary hugely from organisation to organisation, with some requiring nothing more than enthusiasm and basic education certificates, and others stipulating that candidates must have obtained tertiary degrees and have other role-specific qualifications. Internships are another highly popular source of experience in the field; organisations such as the United Nations and Oxfam have regular internship opportunities, as do Government bodies such as the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Industry related experience is vital regardless of which sector graduates wish to work in. International Aid and Development work is available in Government, NGO, commercial and academic and research sectors, and skills are often transferrable. Each sector offers exciting opportunities, and it is key that students adequately research these in order to create targeted job applications.
ECD offers a range of materials for those wishing to investigate the field, as well as information on finding professional jobs outside of Australia. Whilst pursuing overseas employment, particularly in high pressure fields such as International Aid and Development, can be daunting, rewards can be high. The Department stresses that research and preparing documentation early are essential for those wishing to relocate. Ensuring adequate related experience through volunteering, internships or research can also substantially ease the relocation process.