The not-for-profit (NFP), humanitarian and community sectors are all about helping people who need it. Whether you’re working as a medical assistant in a war zone, providing disaster relief for flood victims or working as a retail assistant at your local Vinnies, the imperative is improving peoples’ wellbeing. These vocations are suited to those with a deep desire to change the world for the better, and they require a whole range of different practical skills.
Will it suit me?
While the specific skills required to be a humanitarian, NFP or community worker are various, it’s the ethical motivation that brings these roles together. Caring for people who are in need goes to the core of empathy. Humanitarians are often required to travel, sometimes finding themselves in obscure outposts within the developing world. This demands a huge amount of resilience and the ability to adapt to challenging environments.
What jobs can I do?
Project manager, program assistant, translator, consultant, disaster relief worker, policy advocate, labourer, medic, doctor, nurse, finance, administration, HR, engineering, monitoring and evaluation, health services, marketing manager, campaign manager, charity promotor.
How can I get there?
Because of the diverse range of jobs in the NFP and humanitarian industries, there are a number of different pathways into a career. For generalised roles, such as project management and logistics, you might start with a degree in international development or international relations. For something more specific, such as health care, engineering or HR, you can study something more specialised, then search for an internship within the humanitarian sector. Some organisations will even offer their own training courses or internships. You’re better off researching the organisation/s you would like to work for and the role you would like to be doing to find out what kind of education you will need.
Is it a good industry?
While it can be a very rewarding industry, it’s not always a vocation that leaves workers feeling good. As one former humanitarian worker puts it, “You may spend a lot of your time refusing requests because of inadequate resourcing, deal with donors who are unsympathetic, officials who are uncooperative, or combatants who are unwilling to help.” While the work is inherently designed to help people, sometimes it can be frustrating, demanding long hours and heavy workloads. But if the feeling of aiding someone in need is what you seek in life, then you’re probably built cope with all the hard parts.