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Development studies degree from a less developed country?

June 8, 2015
Q. Hi Nick,
I am from one of the least developed country, I studied bachelor in development studies. Than I went to one of the best university in Europe to study masters in development economics. Academically, I gained quantitative and qualitative stills, specialized in development with a hope to make my career in ‘development industry’. I gained 2 year field experience (part time) during my bachelor degree did 3 month internship in survey, data collection, and so forth. I also did some quantitative analysis job for research projects during my master.
Now after my studies are over, I am struggling to put my foot in the door.
My question is that will an internship in cities like Geneva, Hauge, Brussels or Vienna help to land up somewhere?
Secondly, why does the development industry make students work free during internship? I mean students from developing country can’t afford to stay in such cities and work for free unless those internship are only meant for students from developed countries or rich ones. If so than for those who cannot afford such internship, one of the door is closed! Finally, as I find it very difficult to find a job in development, I plan to pursue a second master degree in economics (now not with development anymore) and go into a corporate career or an academic career. 
I would appreciate your advice. 
Thank you.
A. Hi there –
Congratulations on your degree – I’m afraid the problem you’re facing isn’t unusual. While you have some internship experience, reading between the lines I don’t think that you have what aid agencies consider ‘work experience’ in the developing world. Internships in Geneva can sometimes be helpful, certainly in building networks of contacts, but rarely translate directly into jobs in the field. I can only suggest the same advice that I give to most people – you need to find ways to get experience living and working in the kinds of places you want to work. You don’t mention what country you’re from, but you may want to look at the UK’s VSO program.
To your second question, the answer is that they can. Organizations that struggle to make ends meet and don’t have sufficient funding to carry out their core mission find it advantageous to get free labor. It is a shame that that disadvantages candidates from less privileged backgrounds, and if I could change it I would, but that’t the reason.
If I were you I would not pursue a second masters degree unless you have a very specific reason to do so. It rarely helps you find a job, and won’t give you the critical field experience you need.
Good luck!
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