With unemployment hovering around 8.5% in Washington State, it may be surprising to hear the global development sector is expanding daily. This means more opportunities for those interested in a career in poverty alleviation, global health and global engagement!
Global Washington’s first Global Workers Series event on Friday brought together over 40 eager job seekers of all ages and career levels who came to learn, network and connect with like minded individuals. Andy Dwonch, Senior Director of Social Innovations at Mercy Corps, and Bookda Gheisar, Executive Director at Global Washington, shared their stories, wealth of expertise in the field, and offered precious advice for those interested in international development.
Dwonch started off the night by talking about his upbringing in Walla Walla and his aspirations of becoming a farmer. The idea of working in the global development sector never crossed his mind as a child. “Walla Walla, where the international section of the newspaper was only a ¼ of a page?” Dwonch expressed, “International development was such a detour from the picket fence life!” It was only after spending time abroad in college that he discovered his passion for implementing humanitarian relief and development programs in the Middle East. Farm boy to social innovator, who would’ve thought?
Dwonch credits much of his success in the field to luck, simply being in the right place at the right time. In Global Washington’s eyes, that’s networking a critical component in the international development job search. He noted that his extensive time abroad, being able to work and adapt in foreign countries made him a prime candidate for his current position at Mercy Corps. International experience was highlighted throughout the night as a skill that significantly increases ones chances of finding a career in the sector. “Traveling allowed an understanding of poverty and real life that is unknown to all other things in a very mature way,” Dwonch reiterated.
Gheisar briefly discussed her past as Executive Director at the Social Justice Fund and at the Cross Cultural Health Care Program in Washington State. With over 22 years of experience in the global development field, she talked about the importance of bringing people together to find commonalities. In this field, Gheisar stated, “all voices together are much stronger than alone”. There is a great need for people who are willing to take on the task of bridging gaps between development organizations to coordinate strategies that are sustainable Gheisar said. She concluded by mentioning that it is the sum of all of your experiences that make you a valuable candidate in this field.
Both Dwonch and Gheisar brought up valuable points and sparked much discussion from the crowd. Attendees were able to mingle with one another and discuss the main points of the evening. All in all, it was an eye opening experience! Best piece of advice of the night: “Go out and get your boots wet!”
Below are the major tips from the night:
Tip #1: CLEARING THE INTERNATIONAL EXPERIENCE TEST. First thing we look for once we pick up a resume, Dwonch said, is relevant international experience. It is not necessarily about the technical skills but it’s about the set number of years in the field doing developmental work.
Tip #2: LANGUAGE OPENS DOORS. Be open to learning a new language at any age, it will open up opportunities within the global development sector. It is vital to be proficient in speaking and writing.
Tip #3: CROSS FERTILIZATION OF SKILLS. It is essential that an individual can work in a corporate setting, a non-profit setting, a social entrepreneur setting. Being able to adapt is key! Don’t limit yourself to one skill and one career avenue. The more you have to offer, the more attractive you’ll be.
Tip #4: COMMUNITY ORGANIZING SKILLS. This is deeply needed in the ever changing global development sector. Being able to find commonalities and bringing people from all walks of life together helps build stronger communities and sustainable projects.
Tip #5: THE HIDDEN TIP OF NETWORKING. Though not explicitly stated by our two speakers, networking was the underlying theme of the night. Put yourself out there!
Global Washington’s 2nd Global Workers Series is happening April 13th, 2012! This event will focus on ‘What Employers Really Want: How to Get a Job in Global Development’ featuring Andrea Ballard (HR Consultant & Career Coach with Expecting Change) & Kate Cochran (COO at Vittana). Registration is required!
Friday, April 13th, 2012 5:00-7:30pm
4649 Sunnyside Ave N. Suite #400
Seattle, WA 98103