Each year we run a series of panel events as part of the Discover International Development events programme, where professionals in the sector give a range of insights and advice.  We’ve picked out the five of the best ones for you here!

Don’t overlook non-academic skills

Panellists emphasise how useful it was to have project management skills. Project management doesn’t have to be a formal course – it could be as simple as being very competent with Excel or having run events with a student society.

Network in various ways

The importance of networking is a commonly suggested as a good way to break into the sector.  This doesn’t just mean attending formal networking events but thinking about ways to make your extra-circular activities, such as volunteering, work for you. For example, one alumni who joined a recent DiscoverID panel was President of the International Development society whilst at LSE, meaning they had direct relations with organisations wanting to engage with the society.

Be open minded and strategic

Begin looking at jobs early on to build your understanding of the market place and get an idea of skills often asked for by employers. This will also help increase knowledge of both different areas of employment in the sector.

Make your dissertation work for you

If part of your dissertation research involves meetings or telephone calls to employers, you are already making a network of contacts you can approach when you start to look for a job. If you can create synergies between the topic of your dissertation and your preferred area or specialism of work this can boost your attractiveness to employers. Previous panellists have shared that they found it was their dissertation topic which made the difference to securing their first job in the sector.

Private sector experience can help too

The benefit of private sector knowledge or insight can be powerful, and one panellist shared their experience of moving across into a private sector to build experience and expertise to then transfer back. Many NGOs are being forced to change the way they work and operate in a more commercially minded way and being ‘financially aware’ is an important skill often overlooked by those applying for the sector.