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International development

Group of volunteers pointing at the camera

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This sector not for you?  Don't worry, there are plenty of others to explore.

International Development is about helping to empower people to improve their health and wellbeing and eradicate extreme poverty. Organisations working in this sector are involved in long-term sustainable solutions, or provide humanitarian aid and disaster relief, or both.  As well as front line work, international development needs staff in a range of support functions, so you should investigate the different roles, and explore your own skills and motivation for applying to this sector.

Find out about international development

Key resources

Research the sector and keep up with current issues by reading: 

Other resources

What skills do I need?

A career in this sector is likely to require specialist skills or technical knowledge, as well as soft skills and personal qualities:

Subject specific skills may include:

  • medical, public health
  • engineering
  • logistics
  • finance / economics
  • environmental technology
  • project management

Personal skills include:

  • teamwork
  • adaptability
  • communication
  • cultural awareness
  • a readiness to learn
  • negotiation
  • resilience
  • languages

In addition you are likely to need relevant experience, and should be prepared to build up practical experience after your degree.

Work experience

To secure a job in international development, you will need relevant experience, gained through volunteering and/or paid work. You should start building your experience as early as possible (see the @ York section for further suggestions) - as well as helping with skills development, this will demonstrate your commitment and motivation.

The following may help with volunteering projects and internships:

Finding jobs

International development is a competitive sector with few entry-level opportunities; many applicants have a postgraduate qualification as well as experience in the field, and it can be helpful to get experience in the business or private sector before looking for a job in international development.  An administrative job in an NGO's head office could allow you to get a good understanding of the organisation, as well as skills such as fundraising or communications. You may find you need to be flexible and make some sideways moves before getting your ideal job.

Jobs in international development

What can I do at York?

Here are some suggestions for things you can do at York to increase your understanding and experience before applying for work in this sector:

  • Use York profiles and mentors to find out about graduates working in the sector (search charity and voluntary) - you can ask questions and even request a mentor
  • Get involved in student societies to develop your skills in organisation, events organisation, writing, campaigning and budget management
  • Volunteer in a school or community project; or with an online project, such as Amnesty Decoders, a global network researching human rights violations
  • Learn a language – language skills are important, especially French, Spanish, Portuguese and Arabic, and demonstrate your commitment to intercultural work. Check Languages for All to see what courses are available
  • Take the opportunities university offers to get to know students from other countries and cultures.

More resources: networks, podcasts and blogs

Networks, podcasts and accounts to follow

Find out more about the sector from these multimedia resources.


Connect with York graduates on York Profiles and Mentors

Find the full list of graduate profiles on York Profiles and Mentors

Social media accounts