Not-For-Profit Jobs 

Development Versus Humanitarian Jobs

Most not-for-profit jobs overseas belong in one of two categories: development or humanitarian.

Development work usually covers the long-term needs of a developing country – education, health, environment, human rights.

Humanitarian work tends to cover the immediate needs of a country in crisis, such as war, famine, drought, earthquakes or tsunamis.

Development work can last a lifetime, while humanitarian work can be over in weeks. Of course, the two can often overlap – and they should, as humanitarian aid translates into long-term rebuilding.

If you have any special skills or experience, not-for-profit jobs could be an important way of combining overseas living, making a contribution, and making a living.

These aren’t jobs for the unskilled, however, so if you’re just out of school or if you don’t have some sort of expertise, this may not be for you. Remember though, expertise isn’t always technical. You could have a background in medicine, logistics, accounting, communications, grant-writing, office management, and much much more.

When it comes to not-for-profit jobs, each situation will have its own needs, as will each organization.

If you’re looking for humanitarian work, a great place to begin is ReliefWeb, which has both job listings and some of the best disaster and conflict information on the web.

If you’re looking for work in development, I would start with One World, which acts as an umbrella group for many non-governmental organizations.

Finally, if work with the United Nations (short-term or for the long haul) is what you really want, start with the UN website. Check out its employment section and follow links to sister agencies and outfits. A good compendium of UN vacancies is also maintained at UN Jobs. Or, you can always check the list of United Nations offices in each country (look under UN Country Teams) to get a sense of the size of the UN presence in that country. Then go to each agency’s country website to get more details.

Let me give you an example. The website of the UN Development Program, or UNDP, has a long list of countries and projects (just click the upper left, “UNDP Around the World”. c If you go to Oxfam site, you’ll find a drop-down menu with Oxfam’s other country sites.

Headquarters and regional offices

As a woman on the road, the non-profit jobs that interest you might be mostly in developing countries. But if you can prove you have the right qualifications, you could land a temporary non-profit job in the headquarters of an international organization or an international charity or non-governmental organization.

Many of these are located in New York, London, Geneva, Rome, Brussels, Paris, Nairobi and Vienna. There are also regional offices, serving a group of countries in regional hubs such as Dakar (Senegal), Bangkok (Thailand), New Delhi (India), Panama City (Panama), Johannesburg (South Africa)…

If you’re a citizen of a European Union country, you’ll be eligible for short-term not-for-profit jobs in European-based organizations. If you’re between 17-30 and a citizen of a Commonwealth country, you can work up to a year in the UK. Americans can work at UN Headquarters in New York, of course, but without the fun of being on the road!

If you’re qualified and determined, there’s a good chance you can work your way in as a replacement or short-term staff member. If you’re truly interested in not-for-profit jobs or a career in an international organization, you could even turn a temporary job in a headquarters or regional office into a longer stint.

It takes time so if you’re just trying to pick up some quick money along the way, something simpler, such as a seasonal job or a job teaching English abroad might be a better option than a development or humanitarian job, which may take much longer to look for – and get.

— Originally published on 31 July 2011

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