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April 1st, 2022

Discover ID – 8 top tips for working in financial institutions and government aid agencies


Estimated reading time: 10 minutes


April 1st, 2022

Discover ID – 8 top tips for working in financial institutions and government aid agencies


Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

As part of our Discover International Development programme, we hosted a fantastic panel of industry experts working in financial institutions and government aid agencies across the sector.

Our panel included:

  • Ilaria Caetani, Principal Partnerships Specialist at Asian Development Bank;
  • Ria Sen, Lead Preparedness Officer at World Food Programme;
  • Priya Lukka, Independent Strategic Advisor;
  • Alex Kucharski, Technical Assistance Professional at CDC Group.


Here are eight top tips for getting into and working in financial institutions and government aid agencies – as described by our panel…

Focus your expertise

Ilaria advised against jumping from one field to another: find your “spark” and specialise, emphasising this specialist interest when applying to roles.


Keep an eye on the ‘hot issues’ affecting the sector

Financial institutions and government aid agencies are led by the issues of the day, and Alex highlighted the importance of staying informed. Climate change as well as broader Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) aligned investing, he says, is an exciting new field that a lot of financial institutions are moving into, so specialising in this area stands you in good stead.


Get some experience

Whether that’s through internships, volunteering or graduate schemes, applicants must display an involved interest in the sector. Carolyn said that having a master’s would give applicants the edge in the application process because it’s so competitive, but to also not discount the importance of voluntary and out-of-classroom experiences.


Ambition is key

Ria’s top tip was to remain ambitious and dream big. If you know what you want to do in the industry, you can carve a path towards it and specialise your knowledge. She also emphasised the importance of using LSE Careers’ services to help make yourself the strongest candidate possible, whether that’s through CV and cover letter support or one-to-one discussions about your next steps.


Keep up with changes in the development sector

Ria highlighted that you should not discount IT-related roles even if you do not have a STEM background. “Technical and non-technical skills are not binary,” she said, highlighting that no skills cannot be learned on the job. The sector is evolving all the time, and Ria emphasised the need to keep up to date with the changing tech needs and roles that will come to the fore.


Empathy is crucial

Roles in financial institutions and government aid agencies often involve close work with “less-developed” countries and so it’s important you work with empathy and are self-aware.


Broaden the horizon of opportunities to consider

Alex said to look at a variety of organisations, not just the big high profile ones. For example everyone is trying to work at the UN and World Bank because of their strong brand. It might be easier to get into and develop your career in a relevant field in the private sector (eg working in a renewable energy company rather than NGO doing renewable energy projects).


Check in with yourself

Government aid agencies work on big picture issues, and it can often feel disheartening when approaching ‘wicked problems.’ Ilaria highlighted that applicants shouldn’t forget the real-world effects of work in international development and the contributions that can be made to something bigger than themselves. The best part of this work for Carolyn is seeing first-hand the impact of the projects you are working on.

With thanks to our panel for sharing their insights at this event.

For more information about kickstarting a career in international development, visit our ID sector webpage.


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Posted In: Careers Advice | Discover ID | International development

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