Making the Switch from IT to ICT4D

Last newsletter I asked you to tell me about your job search dilemmas and wow! I received a wave of responses. I’ll be publishing a few over the next few newsletters. Ask your question to see it responded to here.

Their Question:

I want to find a job that matters and I don’t know where to start. I’m worried I’ll have to leave a cushy, well paying, IT job and be poor in order to make a difference in people’s lives, but I’m worried I’m not adding enough value today, in a direct fashion, to other people, to the environment, to the world.

My Response:

I know the feeling of being lost in a current career and wanting a new one. It took me years to discover ICT4D and then a few more to get my dream job in the field. Throughout that process, I found that there is only one way to discover what calls to you: ask people who are doing it what they think, do, and like about their jobs.

Informational interviews – where you ask about their work/career and then reflect afterward if what they talked about seemed worthy for you. This is the best route, regardless of what field you want to go into. Yet, I am always surprised about how few people do them.

If ICT4D is your calling, you will not be making Silicon Valley money in the NGO world. You can look at any organizations’ IRS Form 990 (see for them) and see the highest paid staff over $100K. Usually its a short list.

At my company, and we are one of the larger ones, senior staff are around $200K, the CEO clocks in at $250K, and we’re a $650 million/year org. So yes, typically IT engineers take a pay cut when they move into ICT4D, but we’re not in this for the money.

I sleep really well at night with my role. I know I am making a difference – I can see it. Not daily, but I believe in what we are doing and have seen the results in the field. That feeling of doing good drives me more than buckets of cash.

Want more depth to your career questions? Grab a career coaching session.