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Top tips on building a career in aid and development

The year is 2020 and people are looking for new jobs and new ways to follow their passion to reality while making it fun.

I thought I shall (re)start my writing by sharing some insights I have gathered while being involved with aid work in India and the world from over a decade now.

Career in aid world can become your dream job with a lot of risks, thrill and adventure. But it has amazing perks, if you land the right job.

Nowadays, we are all conditioned to follow some quick hacks and small digestible chunks of information so I have made a few tips.

  1. Passport: Have (privileged) passport? Will travel.
    Turn 18, have a deep sense of insecurity, unhappiness, frustrated with your parents or your world, and the quest for finding your purpose in life. It is a very normal human thing to do. Then all you need is to be born in one of the rich, developed, industrialised nations of the world with your passport. This is the most important qualification you will ever need, its the basic minimum and the rest is all mundane details.
  2. Confidence: Fake it till you make it.
    Constantly talk about yourself and be confident, have a good heart and constantly repeat “that’s so sad!” when you meet poor people or people who are working in the poor country you want to go for work. Remember, you do not need a professional degree or training in any kind of useful skills required in this sector. You already have #1. Ideally this comes naturally to you if you come from a belief system (culture, religion, etc.) that puts human being (ideally a man) on top of the food chain on earth.
  3. Volunteer to teach a colonial language or hula-hoop.
    Usually the poorest of the regions are speaking one of the colonial languages or if you are in a conflict zone, even then you can get-by, by teaching English or French or any other language that you are a native speaker of. You do not need a professional certificate that shows that you are a trained teacher. The rule of providing professional certificates and training only applies the other way round. Sometimes you can also get-by by teaching some other skill, like music, singing, dancing, hula-hoop, skateboarding and call it “empowerment” and a “confidence building” activity and get people to pay for it. You are doing a noble service of making people happy and having fun. There are tonnes of systems and institutions built around funding such ideas, if not, there is always your crowd-sourcing and asking money from your networks for your journey of finding yourself and explore the world. Because, hello who doesn’t want to believe the world is one’s oyster and it was meant to be explored! #YoLo. Its that’s easy.

    It is highly unlikely that by now, i.e. following tips #1 – #3, you do not really have a smooth track towards your dream save the poor people of the world path. But if you are still struggling to find a dream job, read on.
  4. Join the Google University and learn new skills
    For people who are too cool to go to school, and want to just travel the world and explore. Google University and privileged access to Internet, a laptop and all that confidence and entitlement from #1-#3, lets you learn any new skill online, also run an online business to keep making money while you are travelling the world. You do not require any checks and balances because of your nationality. Got PayPal? Will earn. Bonus points: if you do a certificate course in MS Excel or any other fancy tool (Strata) that they use in Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E). I once met a person who got the job and later learned it during the flight to the poor country where they had to do M&E for a government donor. So really, all it takes is a go-getter attitude.
  5. Networking in expat hangouts
    Last but not the least, it’s all about networking. Your ability to charm and disarm a professional working in this sector at any of the local or international events. Usually in a bar in a poor country where expats are. You hit it off, over a drink or dance and you were able to use your humanly powers of persuasion by any trick in the book. And voila. Bonus points: If you are of the image of god or an angel, attractive and possess any of the other globally acceptable standards of pleasing characteristics.

The aid industry is an interesting playground where you see different kind of human beings. If you have seen some like these, especially, those who do not have any formal training. Do comment your experiences or opinions.

Do you find the tips realistic and helpful?
11 votes

I believe such people are a menace for the aid industry and its a very high risk when you allow them unrestricted access to crucial work that involves vulnerable people.

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