Feature IR Careers

NGO Job Opportunities for Graduates of International Relations

As a  young professional or student of International Relations, you might face indecision regarding your career. Read on to learn more about how to begin advancing in the NGO world.

International Relations degree holders have plenty of career choices to make upon graduation. Should they go into the public or private sector? Work domestically or internationally? What if going further down the academic route is the best alternative? Adding to the equation, they also face competition with newly minted and established political scientists, economists and lawyers often vying for analyst positions in similar policy fields.

Non-governmental organizations have always been a very attractive alternative to think tanks, private sector and government work. Working in a nimble team and focusing on a specific set of issues is also exciting work. A recent graduate of an International Relations program will have studied many policy areas that match the work of NGOs, such as health, gender, climate or Furthermore, graduates have unique soft skills that usually fit within the NGO mindset, such as cultural awareness, adaptability to changing environments, an understanding of the interaction between different stakeholders.

NGO Job Search

We can start by answering some questions and use the resulting criteria to narrow down the search for a position within the NGO realm. What type of NGO jobs are available for at my level? What areas of work do these organizations focus on? Where are these organizations located?

Normally a non-governmental organization will have three main capacities of work across specific projects and general operations. These are then specified into different roles that typify the jobs available at the organization:

  • Research and design, implementation and monitoring of projects
  • Planning, budgeting, and management operations
  • Donor relations and communications

Another criterion is the area of specialization. NGOs focus their work on very diverse issue areas with great degrees of policy impact. Therefore, it is relevant to reflect on which issues interest you most, for example nature conservancy, human rights, or social welfare. A job search can begin with either a specific policy interest in mind and then lead to the priority roles an organization is seeking to fulfill or vice versa.

Unlike in many other careers, a International Relations professional can secure a position in varied locations around the globe. While many organizations that operate internationally are headquartered in the US or Europe, there are many local NGOs in developing countries that aim to recruit internationally for their projects. For any professional in International Relations, international experience in any future job application is incredibly desirable. The social impact of working for an NGO is also an excellent resume boost and very rewarding.

The job opportunities available to International Relations professionals in NGOs are quite vast. It is therefore important to take the time to research the different fields that pique your interest.  As you perform your search, check and make note of posted requirements so you can tailor your resume to each position.

Rising professionals in International Relations should recognize how their studies apply to an NGO’s objectives,  be clear on their priorities, and have a strong vision for how they will succeed within their chosen area and organization.

Below are some resources to help and inspire professionals and students of International Relations make the jump towards a challenging and fulfilling career in non-governmental organizations.

Job Portals

Non-governmental organizations

Looking for more information about careers in International Relations? Check out another one of our articles about International Relations Jobs.

Job Listings: The Ilkmade Careers team will periodically update the job listings contained the following posts

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