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Should I get my foot in the door, or hold out for a better job?

July 27, 2015

Q. Hi Nick,

I am volunteering in Uganda as a financial consultant for a local NGO and have been offered a finance internship with an international relief agency or 6 months. I already have 18 months in graduate finance/accounting experience from home in Australia. Finance is not my passion, and I want to be in operations more, but this is that ‘foot in the door’. For me, I’m trying to decide whether to take this opportunity or hold out for better paid spots. Your page here essentially tells me to “take the career hit” and start from the bottom. Do you agree? Thanks, Rhys

A. Hi Rhys,

My short answer is ‘yes’ – take the hit, take any job, and then once you have a few months of experience under your belt you can use it to leverage a move into other areas.

The biggest single issue that prevents people from getting their dream job in international work is not having appropriate field experience. This is important because, without it, hiring managers are worried that you might not know what you’re letting yourself in for. They are worried you might end up in a country and decide that, after all, you don’t really like the conditions. Six months to a year of developing world experience on your resume is all you will really need to convince them otherwise.

Your experience in finance will give you good insight into how aid operations work, and an ops manager with a strong finance background is a very desirable proposition! Take the job, take every opportunity you can to help integrate finance and ops (they should be tightly nit anyway!), and I don’t think you should have a hard time moving into operations in a few months time.

Good luck – let us know how you do!


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