With organisations such as the World Bank, IMF, UNDP and ADB on campus this term it’s no surprise that many students are looking to embark on a career in an international organisation. The typical profile of someone starting in such an organisation is often a mid-career professional with a master’s and 4-5 years relevant professional experience. This means that whilst LSE graduates do comparatively well in this sector, their career trajectory often starts in a different sector where they can build the experience and expertise required by an international organisation. In this article we pick out a few of the typical sectors where you might start!
Building up experience of how government bureaucracies function and develop and implement policies is transferable to international organisations. Many national governments run graduate schemes with structured development programmes, but you can also start your career by gaining experience in a graduate entry role in a government department and then progress your career by promotion and applying for different jobs.
The majority of International Organisations tender some of their work out to third parties. Organisations such as ODI and Adam Smith International bid for such contracts and deliver projects. This is a good way to gain experience of working on World Bank or UNICEF projects for example, whilst at the same time making useful contacts within these organisations.
International NGOs (INGOs)
There’s plenty of career transfer between INGOs and international organisations. Particularly at field level, staff will be involved on similar projects and interact on a regular basis. Additionally they will sometimes deliver international organisation funded projects so this can be another great way of getting relevant experience.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that representatives from international organisations often make the point to aspiring candidates that it’s better to focus on what you want to contribute rather than who you want to work for. In other words, try to work out what you’re interested in and gain experience and expertise in that. In the end, this approach will open up many more career opportunities for you!