If it’s January, it’s time for the Society for International Development/Washington (SIDW) annual career fair at George Washington University. If you are aspiring for a career in international development, this is the place to be to connect with some 40+ employers including USAID, Peace Corps Response, and DAI, among others.
I attended this year, as I did last year. Last year I wrote an extensive blog on the fair including links to employers attending. Read last year’s blog to see the employers. By and large the same employers attend every year.
Besides the employers, the most important benefits from the fair are meeting other aspirants and attending the breakout sessions. There were two sessions this year: Panel A: “The Many Paths of International Development” and Panel B: “How to be More Interesting Than a Cell Phone.” I attended Panel A.
Panel A was moderated by Melissa Logan from Chemonics. The speakers included Ann Hudock from Counterpart International, Josh Mandell from IBM, Jeffrey Singer from Nathan Associates, and Jamila White from Mercy Corps.
The panel was first welcomed by Katherine Raphaelson, president of SIDW.
Ann Hudock shared about her journey starting with graduating from the University of Dayton and asking the university president to send her to Sierra Leone. She urged individuals to “embrace the detours.” When her husband was posted in Vietnam, at first she was reluctant to go, but found many opportunities there. Ann urged aspirants to seek informational interviews and use LinkedIn. She recommended the Rotary Peace Scholarship program. Also, when you don’t get the job think: “I’m the right person, but for the wrong job.”
Josh Mandell shared about his efforts to find work early on, and his attempts to start his own consultancy. His first job in the field was at AED, now known as FHI360. He later realized that M&E (monitoring and evaluation) work was important and went back to New York University to get a grad degree. He also talked about DevResults. He stressed developing relationships over always applying online.
Jeff Singer early on studied Russia and East European studies. He talked about the importance of proposal writing. Being able to pivot to new areas is important. Regarding grad degrees getting an MBA degree or something more focused and technical is best. Jeff emphasized the need to be a good writer.
Jamila White shared about her experiences at Hampton University and originally studying fashion. She experienced study abroad in Senegal which convinced her to go in a different direction. She talked about the importance of project administration experience and recommended PMP credentialing. Knowing how to use Quickbooks was important for her.
Consider reading my other “Event Reports. ”Recently I have visited CSIS, World Bank, Johns Hopkins University/SAIS and other career fairs.
David J. Smith is a career coach, speaker and consultant based in Rockville, Maryland, USA. He is the author of Peace Jobs: A Student’s Guide to Starting a Career Working for Peace(IAP 2016). He is an official member of Forbes Coaches Council and member of the PCDN Career Advisory Board. David is also the president of the Forage Center for Peacebuilding and Humanitarian Education, Inc. and teaches at School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University and the School of Education at Drexel University. He can be reached at email@example.com.