Where to begin?

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    Rachael Brown

    I’m an American university student one year away from getting a bachelor’s degree in French, and I’ve decided that I really want to pursue a career in international development. I’ve done a lot of googling, and checked out a stack of books about two feet high from the library, and now I’m feeling a little overwhelmed with how much there is to know and do.

    I am especially interested in working either for education or water security, but since everything is so new, I’m still wide open.

    What I would really like to know is: would it be best for me to go on to get an advanced degree in international studies (or something similar) or to jump right in and find a volunteer opportunity on the ground? How can I do the most good? How did you all figure out what direction you wanted to take?

    Thanks for the help.

    Ben C

    That’s great that you’ve decided you want a career in ID. You’re right: there is a lot to this field if you haven’t specialised!

    Have you done or considered doing an internship or voluntary work at an NGO (head office or even better in the field)? West Africa might be a good match for you with your French. This would help you narrow down your interests and start building up your network, as well as exposing you to the unique world of non-profits. That would be my recommendation, before taking a few years to do an advanced degree.

    Rachael Brown

    Thanks Ben C. I had sort of considered field work in a francophone country, but hadn’t really looked into it much. I’ll see if I can find any good positions there!

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