young professionals

Shifting Careers: the International Development Option

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

You’ve been working as a lawyer for an investment firm in Washington, D.C. for the past six years or so. The hours are long. You slowly feel that your rights are being violated. You have less sleep, less time yourself, and less time for your family. You wonder how other folks, like truck drivers, waitresses, and teachers are doing with their 9 to 5 jobs. Maybe they aren’t as sleep-deprive as you are. You wonder if they’re life is as fulfilled or unfulfilled as yours. You’re starting to realize that time is just zipping by you. You want more time with your family. A career change might be necessary.

You called your friend ho works for a non-profit in the city to ask for his advice. He says that with your credentials you can easily transition from investment banking to work in the international development industry. Could this be for you? Here are some of the things that you need to know:

What Is International Development?

You might have touched on this in law school. After World War II, there was destruction everywhere. Countries needed to rebuild. Rich nations helped poorer nations, or what is now called developing countries, in the reconstruction effort. Fast forward to today, governments from developed countries continue to provide the same support through what is now called the Official Development Assistance or ODA. The ODAs are typically funds managed by state agencies called bi-lateral aid agencies. In the USA, it’s called the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). In the UK, it’s the Department for International Development (DFID). The entire European Union has a department called Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (DG-DEVCO), which handles ODA. ODAs fund projects from water and sanitation to education to fighting corruption.

The World Bank (WB) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) are examples of multilateral development agencies. Together with non-government organizations (NGOs), these entities constitute the main actors in the international development industry, which has an estimated net value of nearly $150 billion back in 2017.

Environmental scientists, trade experts, economists, gender & development specialist, lawyers, energy experts, and micro-finance entrepreneurs are just some of the professionals who work in this industry. You can leverage your experience working for an investment bank to work as a financial expert.

How Does One Get In?

scientists looking at a screen

You need to have some understanding of the industry. Talking to Jimmy is already a good start. Consider the following as well:

  1. Reflect on what you want to do first. The entry-point may come via different channels. Are you going to decide your career move based on the kind of organizations you want to work for? Or are you targeting a specific sector (e.g., finance, energy, trade & development, etc.)?
  2. Fix your CV. Once you’re clear with your goals. Revise your CV and make sure to use the language used in the industry. A professional CV writing service can help you with this.
  3. Scout for opportunities. Subscribe to popular online job boards to find out the latest opening.

Whether you find yourself working for the WB or UN or an NGO, transitioning to a new career requires a very deliberate effort. Reflect and perhaps you won’t be too sleep-deprived in your next career.

Scroll to Top