Landing your first humanitarian job after graduating can be tough. The field is competitive, and more and more people are earning degrees and qualifications to address the various humanitarian crises occurring around the world. Internships, volunteerships, and traineeships are a great way to get one’s foot in the door but, at some point, securing a proper, paid job becomes crucial. While a lot of the process will depend on connections, timing, and even luck, these organizations are known to offer an extra helping hand to recent graduates who are looking to break into the world of humanitarian aid.
The ICRC has a traineeship program that allows participants to go beyond the realms of an intern and learn and practice practical skills in their desired field. The traineeship offers positions across 40 different sectors at the headquarters in Geneva. The program allows recent graduates to enrich their professional experience in an international atmosphere and with experts in their chosen sector. Unlike many internships, this traineeship is paid, but salary will depend on the specific department. Trainees will work on a full-time schedule, with the opportunity of seeking permanent employment at headquarters, in a country office, or in the field after acquiring the necessary skills.
Human Rights Watch offers positions for entry-level professionals in the field of human rights. Associate positions allow recent graduates and young professionals to start their careers in the humanitarian and human rights field, giving them the chance to get involved in projects and campaigns. This is one of the programs that accepts Bachelors level candidates and does not require a Masters degree, which makes it a great opportunity for those feeling their way around the field.
OXFAM International is one of the most well-known humanitarian organizations in the world. They operate programming in many countries, aiming to reduce inequality and poverty, assisting the poorest and most vulnerable in the world. This scheme is a paid training program that last for an 11-month period. They encourage applications from people of very diverse educational and professional backgrounds. It is not a graduate scheme, meaning people without formal qualifications and previous experience are still allowed to apply. The main requirements are passion and enthusiasm for humanitarian work; the specifics of how the organization and the sector as a whole works is taught through the activities and projects completed throughout the program.
This program offered by CRS is designed for recent graduates who want to get their foot in the door of the humanitarian and development fields. Participants will receive comprehensive training on program management and operations, which are invaluable skills to be able to put on one’s CV. Plus, the placements offer participants to work in a variety of sectors in areas of need around the world, from emergency response and education to health and peacebuilding. Being willing to relocate anywhere that you are needed is a large component of the fellowship program, so be sure to accurately assess your needs and desires as a recent graduate who is trying to navigate their way through this industry. The fellowship in an oversea country program lasts for 12 months.
The Global Health Corps offers young professionals the opportunity to participate in a year-long fellowship at existing health organization and government agencies abroad. Recent program participants have completed their paid fellowships in several African countries as well as in the United States. The Global Health Corps works with other organizations to improve healthcare access and outcomes in the world’s most impoverished communities. Placements for young professionals can range from working at small grassroots organizations to large international NGOS. Though students of public health and other medical backgrounds may have an advantage in health-focused problems, this program also aims to foster cross-sector partnership.
Charityworks is an intensive, 12-month program aimed at providing recent graduates with the opportunity to learn the inner workings of a non-profit organization. The program is a paid, fixed-schedule scheme, with participants being given a mentor and placement supervisor to assist them throughout the process. While not every placement will necessarily involve international humanitarian work, the program has been shown to be a huge success, giving graduates invaluable, transferrable skills that can then be utilized in other NGOs. Roles and tasks may focus on communications, campaigns, HR, fundraising, and face-to-face programmatic work.
The IRC leads the world in responding to disasters and assisting refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs). They have positions around the world, but many of them are quite senior. However, they often offer caseworker positions for entry-level professionals, allowing them to gain first-hand experience working with people in need. Caseworkers must have a relevant educational background, and, be able to demonstrate their ability to contribute to the area of work. Any previous experience (internships, volunteers, previous placements, etc.) will certainly strengthen one’s application for these positions, but earning one of these spots is a definite career-booster. These positions are available in regional officers around the world, as well as in headquarter offices in the US and the UK.