A man walking on the road that has two arrows pointing in the opposite direction behind him.

June 4, 2021, by ulyrh1

I Want To Work for an NGO… but How Do I Make It Happen?

By Rowena Harris, Student Blogger

Feeling at a crossroads regarding what you want to do in the future? You are not alone. As I am sure many other students do too. I have a vague idea about what I want to do in the future. But it kind of stops there… So, the question is, how can you transform an abstract idea into concrete reality?

My vision of working for a non-governmental organisation (NGO), using my language degree, and travelling the world seems like more of a distant dream now, as I sit here at home, a cup of tea in hand, amidst a global pandemic that has shut down the whole world: flights cancelled, shops closed, and our primary instruction to ‘stay at home’. Ironic, right? For now, my future career seems to be on standby, that dream job seeming more out of reach than ever.

However, I then realised that my dream career will not just materialise out of thin air; I have got to make it happen. But, where do I start?

Be proactive!

A good place to start is the University’s Career in Mind page, which has links and advice to help you figure out what you want to do, whether you have a specific job or a broad field of work in mind. Research the field you are interested in. Scroll through some company websites. Talk to people you may know who work in that field. Attend relevant career events organised by the University. Make sure you know what you are getting yourself into – in case it is not the right path for you after all! I briefly considered going into teaching after finishing my degree, but after some research, I realised I wanted to do something where I had the opportunity to travel, while teaching was perhaps something I could come back to later in life.

What companies or organisations exist in your field of interest?

Track down some relevant companies or organisations whose work pique your interest. Can you picture yourself working with them? If so, find out if they offer internships. I love the idea of working with a charity or NGO, like Greenpeace or the World Wide Fund for Nature, whose overseas environmental projects are making a real difference to tackle the climate crisis. So, I turned to the charity work section on the University’s types of jobs page and found links to a bunch of available internships and graduate schemes! I discovered hundreds of NGOs working on a whole range of issues, so I could find something I felt really passionate about.

What jobs are there?

It is all very well liking the sound of a particular field of work – but what jobs actually exist within each company or organisation? It is important you feel inspired and enthusiastic about the specific tasks required in a particular role. Consider what your strengths and passions are. I knew I wanted to use my language skills so I looked specifically for jobs such as international aid worker or translator for NGOs. If you are someone who likes more hands-on tasks and being active, avoid a job that is going to land you sitting behind a computer in an office five days a week!

Although it can be confusing, overwhelming, and time-consuming doing career research – especially given the current feeling of inertia  with being under a national lockdown – it is so worth it in the long run! Students now is the time to be proactive about defining your future career so you end up doing something that you love.

Remember you can always log in to MyCareer with your student login and book an appointment with the university careers team if you want some one-on-one advice about finding a job or to find out more about how you can work with an NGO.

Posted in Applying For JobsCareers AdviceChoosing Your Career