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5 Ways to Work with Refugees

For international development professionals wanting to work with refugees and other forced migrant groups, there are several career paths into this specific field. Refugee crises require work in various specialty areas and at all levels—government, international organizations, non-governmental organizations, multilateral organizations, etc. Here are just a few of the ways that you can work with refugees both domestically and internationally.

  • Project management, monitoring & evaluation

For any ID organization, project management and monitoring & evaluation are key components to successful aid and development programs. These positions help with the development, implementation, and analysis of various projects to ensure their efficiency and effectiveness. They coordinate with various staff to train and educate about the programs and ensure that they are implemented and evaluated correctly. They also gather data to 1) develop projects and understand how to implement them effective and 2) analyze the program as it goes on and after it finishes to see what worked and what should be changed and to report this information to outside stakeholders and funders. Organizations working with refugees implement programs in a wide variety of areas, from health and safety to housing to resettlement. Those involved with the project management and monitoring & evaluation play important roles in ensuring that their programs are being carried out correctly and that they are achieving effective results and solutions.

Where to search for jobs: UNHCR, IOM, International Rescue Committee, Norwegian Refugee Council, Islamic Relief, US Committee for Refugees & Immigrants, Save the Children, Church World Service, government refugee programs, localized refugee resettlement agencies

  • Case managers, field specialists

Case managers and field specialists work first-hand with refugees and forced migrant groups. In domestic positions, case managers help resettled refugees establish basic services and access essentials such as medical care, housing, food, and more. They work closely with refugees to ensure that their needs are met, especially within the first months of resettlement. Field specialists are usually based internationally within camps and cities that refugees establish residence in after leaving their home countries. They work to carry out various programs in the field, helping with areas such as healthcare, shelter, food, youth programs, and more. While the work of case managers and field specialists varies in nature, these jobs work directly with refugees to meet basic needs and ensure their safety and wellbeing.

Where to search for jobs: USCRI, Church World Service, Islamic Relief, World Relief, HIAS, Save the Children, Lutheran Services, Catholic Relief Services, localized refugee resettlement and social service agencies

  • Community engagement

Community engagement encompasses any career that works to gain support and funding for refugee organizations. For larger organizations and governments, marketing and communications specialist positions are usually available to report information to the public and other organizations. For nonprofits and social service organizations, community engagement involves marketing, communications, social media, grant coordinating, and fundraising. Professionals in community engagement positions work to tell the stories of the refugees they work with, raise awareness and support around issues impacting refugees, and gain funding and grants from outside institutions and organizations. Their work helps to educate the public about refugees and forced migration and to secure support and funding so that organizations can continue their programs.

Where to search for jobs: IRC, CWS, World Relief, Lutheran Services, Catholic Relief Services, IOM, UNHCR, USCRI, Save the Children, Norwegian Refugee Council, Danish Refugee Council, localized refugee resettlement and social service organizations

  • Policy and advocacy

One of the major challenges surrounding refugees is advocating for policies and government support that will positively impact refugee crises and situations of forced migration. Larger organizations and international organizations often have policy specialists who work closely with government institutions, especially in third countries where refugees are resettled, to report research and advise on policies that directly impact refugee communities. They can also help influence foreign policy surrounding countries with refugee crises. Advocates have similar roles, working to gain support from the public and from other organizations, as well as influence policy that will have a direct impact on refugee communities and immigration law. In general, professionals in these careers often have expertise in law and/or government. While they do engage the public in advocacy, they more often work with other organizations, government institutions, and other stakeholders at the national and international levels who have an impact on laws and policies surrounding refugees.

Where to search for jobs: UNHCR, IOM, USCRI, HIAS, Norwegian Refugee Council, Danish Refugee Council, European Union, other national-level organizations

  • Administration

Without administrative professionals, these organizations and institutions would not be able to do the work they do. This area covers director positions, human resources, finance, and technical assistance. They ensure that the other workers can continue their day-to-day work through accounting, hiring, management, and maintenance. While this work does not directly impact refugees, these careers are often a good place for entry-level professionals to start, gain experience, in the field, and get transferrable skills. These are also the areas where field-level employees often move to once they advance in their career, managing programs and people. Administrative positions are essential to ensuring that the day-to-day operations of organizations that work with refugees continue efficiently and effectively.

Where to search for jobs: All organizations and government institutions have administrative positions. UNHCR, IOM, USCRI, CSW, HIAS, Norwegian Refugee Council, Danish Refugee Council, Islamic Relief, World Relief, Catholic Relief Services, Save the Children, Lutheran Services, localized refugee resettlement agencies

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