Volunteering: The paradox at the beginning of an aid career

I think this is a really important idea that needs to be discussed in the sector. Recently, I’ve read many articles about volunteering and voluntourism, and their harmful effects. However, it seems impossible to break into the international development field without any time spent in “developing countries”.

Development Intern

As commencement has come and gone and the Class of 2014 is entering or returning to the working world, I’ve been thinking more about how people begin careers in international development. Most often, by my guess, they get their start by volunteering, often at schools or orphanages, during post-high school “gap years,” undergraduate summers, or between college and graduate school.

I began that way myself, starting with volunteering at a small NGO in Uganda during my final summer of college and later serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Rwanda. I’d estimate that at least half of the students who studied development in my graduate program had similar experiences.

Aspiring development professionals aren’t the only people who engage in volunteer work abroad, of course. In fact, the majority of short-term volunteers are not probably future aid workers, but rather other students or people on vacation from their regular jobs.

In…

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About Amanda

Hi, I’m Amanda! Originally from Ottawa, Canada, I am currently living with my partner (Steve) in Sucre, Bolivia for the next year. I work in the unique space between industrial design and international development – but what does that even mean? I’m passionate about working WITH marginalized communities in a way that utilizes design to improve the lives of different types of people around the world. I have worked, studied, traveled, and researched on every continent (except Antarctica), and most recently I lived in Ghana, Bangladesh and Nepal. I love exploring new cultures and learning more about myself along the way.
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2 Responses to Volunteering: The paradox at the beginning of an aid career

  1. Jennifer Ambrose says:

    Thank you so much for re-blogging this, I appreciate your comments! And good luck with your time in Ghana, I’ll be following along on your blog!

    Like

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