Is Development work for you?

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Before you start getting invested in this process, you should seriously question: is development work for me? I’m not trying to crush your dreams here; I’m trying to make you think on the reason why you are investing your time and energy in this profession. What drives you? Why do you think you can do it well? What interested you in the first place?


This will help you clarify, not only your strengths, goals and vision, but also, help you correct paths if you realise maybe you are not interested in development. How so? Here are some examples:


“I decided to work in Development because I like travelling…” – If the travelling part is really what motivates you, then do just that. Become a travel blogger, travel guide or just plain adventurous. There are plenty of ways of making money while travel the World that are also development-related. I get more into it in the book, but you can always check HelpX and WOOF to find ways I which you can work while travelling if your goal is to see the world.


“I feel like working on Development would make me a better, more charitable person…” – It can do, but it is not a rule. For many people development is a purpose, for others is a 9-5 job or a diplomatic function without the attachment to a State. The ones that suffer the most are the ones that see as their purpose (as I do) because we tend to assume people’s motivations would at least be similar to yours and they don’t. Bear that in mind, have your truth clear and don’t force rules for the game on people that were not aware they were playing by. You can be incredibly charitable and not work in development. Supporting your charities of choice is one way of doing it.  You can also be very uncharitable and work in development.  My point is: your actions matter more than your intentions.


“I always wanted to work for the UN” – There are literally thousands of different UN posts. You can be at the UN as a representative of your country. You can be a translator, receptionist, driver, editor, engineer… You can work in the UN under almost any job under the sun (and snow, rain and grizzle) so having development itself is not a strategic advantage. Again, this is not to depressed you or try to get you discouraged. You need to see things clearly, there are plenty of jobs of the UN, but they are specialized, so you will HAVE to know what you can and cannot do. And in that lies one of the biggest issues for development students.


This is not a soul-crunching exercise, but to get closer to your own goal, you have to clarify what that goal is. There is no point of me sitting here and telling you how to apply for a post if you don’t have it clear how that post looks like. So, how do you find out? I’ll tell you next time we meet!

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