Katrina Deutsch, Peace Corps recruiter for the Metro Boston area with professional experience in international education and international volunteer management and support, sat down to answer five key questions about working in international development. This post originally appeared in the Harvard Student / Alumni Advice Forum on LinkedIn.
Q: What advice do you have for Harvard seniors looking to break into your field?
If you want to get a job in international development overseas, consider finding fellowships or other programs to start. Programs such as the Peace Corps, WorldTeach, Fulbright, or university sponsored fellowships offer an opportunity to gain grassroots international experience without having years of professional experience. Another way to get started is being willing to move overseas for an internship or unpaid volunteer-work position with an organization in order to gain experience for your resume to get a good paying job overseas. In addition, organizations such as USAID and the UN have junior officer positions for those with less work experience, and applications are usually open annually.
Q: How has your concentration come into play (…or not come into play) in your work?
My concentration from my undergraduate career no longer plays a role in my work. I majored in English and communication studies in college, hoping to go into a career in publishing, and am now a recruiter for the Peace Corps. My experiences overseas as a Peace Corps volunteer (something I did right after college) led me to pursue a master’s degree in international education policy, which is what my career has focused on. It is important to have a college degree, but it is definitely not a defining factor in a career once you have a couple of years work experience. I always use my brother as an example: he has a degree in sports management, but has worked in advertising and now data analytics, and is pursuing his MBA.
Q: How do students find out about jobs/internships in your field?
The Office of Career Services is a great place to start. There are also many listservs that send weekly job openings, including BNID (the Boston Network for International Development), Devex, DevNetJobs, the Foreign Policy Association, and even LinkedIn! The more specialized and up to date your LinkedIn profile is, the more relevant the job openings they email you will be.
Q: Where do you see growth opportunities in your field?
Monitoring and evaluation is a huge part of development, and especially international development when there are donors or funders involved. Gaining experience in monitoring and evaluation, or taking a course on the subject (most graduate school policy programs offer courses in this field) will make you more competitive. There are also many non-profits focusing on international development in various arenas, which is a great way to break into the field.
Q: What are some great locations where students can start in your field?
Washington D.C., New York, and San Francisco are the three largest cities for international development in the United States. Outside of the US, geographic areas tend to depend on the type of work you are interested in, but the Middle East and Africa seem to have the most employment opportunities (from the emails I receive with job openings).
Harvard EdM ‘10, International Education Policy