How do you make a career in international organizations? During the summer term, me and my team at the department of political science at the University of Jena organized a speaker series on “Starting Your Career – International Organizations as Employers”. The series aimed at giving students at the University of Jena the opportunity to get to know the variety of possible tasks in international organizations and to familiarize them with the requirements of working in such organizations – especially since many do not want to pursue a PhD. We deliberately decided to invite young professionals who recently made their way into these organizations and started their career as we agreed that they would better relate to the lives of students, their questions, and their concerns. A pragmatic and informal exchange with young professionals would allow for a (more) realistic assessment of the requirements and the actual daily work in this career path, we reckoned.
We hosted six young professionals as speakers during the summer term. They work in large governmental international organizations, such as UNHCR and OCHA, as well as NGOs and think tanks, including the Aspen Institute, Democratic Society, and Polis 180. Each speaker kick-started the evening with a short presentation – including information about the organization, their personal backgrounds, their career trajectories, and anything else they deemed insightful and important. Afterwards, we opened up for a Q&A which usually lasted about an hour due to the many questions and feedback from the audience.
Here’s what we have learned.Continue reading So you want to work in international organizations