5 tips to gain a career in the development sector

There are are no sets of do’s or don’ts that could land a job where you want. There are no patterns or set pathways that you follow to get a job in the development sector. However, there are a few steps that you can take in order to get the job you need. These steps cannot be the same for every field and every person but who knows, what works for you!

Here are a few tips that can be helpful when you are searching for a job in the development sector.

Network, network, network

Networking is the key.

career development partnerMany organisations offer structured internship programs. Find one in your qualified area and use this to expand your network and experience in the sector. You also need to be prepared to give up your time and see what is involved day to day, discover if you really like the work and how you can add the most value. Small organisations are a great place to start because there is always a broad scope of experience to be gained.

Don’t be shy about contacting people working in the industry to arrange a time to meet and ask for advice. People are generally very generous and happy to provide guidance – but remember, they’re also often very busy!


It’s not all about volunteering overseas says communications manager Kate Moore. Start small in your community. Join your local Girl Guides, hold a monthly craft meet-up or join your local branch of Amnesty.

If you’re craving an international adventure do your research on what is considered good practice to make sure you have a valuable volunteer experience.

If you already have strong skills in a relevant area, look at RedR who provide skilled personnel during emergencies or UN Volunteers who deploy volunteers to a range of UN agencies.

Take the jump

Be flexible and open to adventuring through doors wherever and whenever they open says advocacy manager Aivee Chew. Some of the most exciting opportunities arise when you least expect it. Try not to have a rigid five-year plan – this sector will always throw up new adventures you hadn’t planned for.

Start small and navigate to where you want to be.

If you’re looking to be involved in international programs, expect to start in an entry level says UNICEF Australia program manager Felicity Wever. You can expect the role to start with administration tasks but from there you can develop your skills and knowledge.

Love what you do

Never stop learning says UNICEF Australia’s marketing manager Steph Phillips. You need to be passionate about what you do and be interested in the cause. The sector is full of wonderful, interesting people so take the time to learn from them.

Ultimately, keep trying your best and keep your ears and eyes open when you’re job hunting in the development sector. Ask your friends to help you connect with the right people and always keep trying. If at once you don’t succeed, try again! Sky’s the limit!

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