ict4d work experience

Where Can I Get Early Career Experience in Digital Development?

Question 15: Where do I get early career experience?

I’ve recently graduated with a Master’s Degree in Management Information Systems but I’m finding that many ICT4D jobs require several years of experience. Where do I job search if I’m just starting my career?

Have a job search or career growth question? Ask me!

The Classic Experience Conundrum

Entry-level international development jobs often require 3-5 years of experience, but it’s hard to get that experience when entry-level jobs demand work experience. This is true even with a Master’s Degrees.

So how does one get experience when every job demands existing experience? Volunteer.

Three Ways to Volunteer for Experience

For better or worse, you will need to volunteer to get your initial experience in international development. Volunteering doesn’t have to be unpaid work. In fact, most volunteers receive a small stipend, though nothing close to a real salary.

Whichever of these options you choose, be sure to work hard in your role and network like mad. The whole point of a volunteering role is to show the organization you’re working with (or their competitors!) that you’re an amazing catch they should hire today.

Here are three ways to volunteer for experience:

– Government Programs (Peace Corps)

The USA government runs the Peace Corps for US citizens, and multiple other countries have similar programs for their citizens. This can be an effective way to get 2-3 years of work experience that is essentially all-expenses-paid.

– Organization-Specific Programs

Many organizations have internships, fellowships, and volunteering opportunities where you can showcase your programmatic work skills and have real impact on constituents while you’re networking with potential peers and employers.

– Choose Your Own Adventure

You don’t need to join an established program – you can create your own experience if you propose a project that will have real impact, and trade your time for exposure and connections. This can be one of the most effective ways to network your way into your specific dream job, though its the hardest of the three options.

Good luck!

software developer age ict4d

Am I Too Old to Start a Digital Development Career?

Question 14: Am I too old to start a development career?

I have over a decade of experience in software development and data journalism. I am now 37 years old. Am I too old to start a career in international development?

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Development Needs Many Viewpoints

International development is like any industry, it constantly needs new viewpoints to see and develop innovation and move the industry forward. These viewpoints come at different stages – be they views from early career, mid-career, senior career, or even retired professionals.

At 37 years old with over a decade of software development and data journalism experience, you would have very relevant skills and abilities that many international development employers would highly value.

you are not too old

In fact, you could be at a great age to make the move into development. You probably have the enthusiasm to develop new ideas and the maturity to mold them into practical solutions. Check out our jobs newsletter – one could be just for you.

international ict4d job

How Do I Get an International Job in Digital Development?

Question 13: How Do I Get an International Job?

Do international organizations ever hire someone for an international role, or its it always a local hire? How can I get a job in another country in humanitarian relief?

Different International Jobs

This question has many meanings as the concept of an international job has many meanings as well. Generally, a company wants to hire someone local to that country.

Be it Botswana or Belgium, the person from that local context will know the culture, rules, and expectations of that culture better than someone from somewhere else.

Still, there are cases when the company will hire someone from one country to work in another, and generally these people are called expats if they are from the headquarters country, or Third-Country Nationals if they are from one country and now working in another.

Which International Jobs Are For You?

So yes, development organizations do hire people for international jobs. However, it is not common, and of the two types, TCNs are more common than expats.

It’s very rare for an international organization based in a wealthy country to hire from that country for a job in another country, mainly due to the great expense involved. TCNs are usually also paid better than local hires, so they have a greater cost to the organization too, though less than HQ expats.

Either way, good luck if you’re offered a role in a different country. It is an amazing opportunity, when it works out. When it doesn’t work out, it can be a major failure.

referral recommendation ict4d job

How Do I Ask for a Referral for a Digital Development Job?

What questions do you have about digital development careers? Click here to ask your question! We’ll answer it in the next newsletter.

Q8: How Do I Ask for a Referral?

I identified an interesting job at the same company where a friend of mine works. How can I get them to vouch for me so I can get the crucial first round interview?

HR is Overloaded with Applications

High quality job opportunities get dozens, if not hundreds of applications. As we’ve discussed previously, its hard to get past Human Resources screenings. They are looking for a very specific person, based on the criteria they are given by the hiring team, and you need to be that unicorn to get the job.

Referrals are Crucial to Get Interviews

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The best ways to get past HR and secure the crucial first round interview is to be the internal candidate. Second best, is to have someone on the hiring team (or adjacent team) put in a good word for you. Their recommendation will pluck your resume out of the sea of applicants and usually get you an initial interview.

How to Ask for a Referral

Referrals are tricky, as the person referring you is putting their reputation on the line for you, so you may want to build your case with them, so they’ll be comfortable making the recommendation.

Tell them about your career aspirations. Show them how this role fits into your dreams and that you’ll succeed in the role. Make sure that they are happy to refer you, and be confident that you’ll be awesome in the role.

How to Accept a Rejection

Also, respect their response, even if they say no. They will have insights on what the hiring team wants, and it may not be you. Don’t take this personally, they just saved you from wasted effort if you’re not the right fit.

Good luck!

ICT4D Job Departure

How to Leave Your Digital Development Jobs Gracefully

While I usually talk about how to get a new job, I would be remiss not to stress that how you leave a job also has great bearing on your future employment prospects.

ICT4D is a small industry and word gets around fast if you’re an ass, so one of the best employment insurance policies is to leave your employers gracefully. But what does “gracefully” really mean?

Give Plenty of Notice

Departures happen, and there is no reason to feel bad about leaving a job for a better opportunity. However, the first step in leaving gracefully is to give your current employer plenty of notice.

Yes, two weeks is the minimum, but why be that person? I personally like to give a month’s notice, at least, so there is plenty of time for the team to recruit someone new and have me train them before I depart. This isn’t always practical, but it should be your aim.

Leave on Good Terms

I cannot stress enough how important it is to leave on good terms with your colleagues. These are the people that will be your future employment references and generally, your social capital across digital development.

So go make amends to those you’ve disrespected. Bury your perceived slights, and recognize the good things that happened. Especially when you felt grievously wronged.

Always Speaking Kindly

Finally, do your best to always speak kindly of your past employers. They are only human after all, and like you, have their faults, biases, and issues.

Be especially respectful of your past team around your new team. They are keenly aware that one day, they’ll be your past peers and they don’t want a preview of what you’ll say about them.

Good luck!