Community Empowerment Network's Blog
My website, Over50andOverseas, is primarily a resource for international volunteer opportunities for persons over 50 years of age. Recently, have noticed many visitors to the site have an interest in obtaining information about international employment. I understand the interest. I have been both an international volunteer and an employee of international non-governmental and intergovernmental organizations.
For me, it all began with international volunteering. Over 50 at the time, I served in the Peace Corps in the early 90s in Guatemala. My Peace Corps service led to service as a United Nations Volunteer (UNV) in Bosnia in 1996. The Bosnia experience led to employment with an intergovernmental organization. And so began a delightful journey.
Volunteering can become an important portal to international work. To an employer seeking to fill a position in international development or relief work, a person with a successful international volunteer background has proven much-needed abilities. The former volunteer has lived in a culture different than one’s own. She/he may have lived in a difficult situation where conveniences considered a given in many societies, such as electricity and running water, were not readily available. Employers have found that many people are attracted to the “romantic” aspects of foreign development work but have a difficult time adjusting to the on-the-ground realities. A former volunteer knows what to expect.
My experience has shown me is that the networking one can do while volunteering internationally can lead to future employment. I mentioned earlier that my Bosnia volunteer experience led to very satisfying work in many parts of the world. Another example. An Italian colleague in Afghanistan read about the dire conditions of the animals in the Kabul Zoo due to the recurring hostilities. She traveled to Kabul to volunteer to help. While volunteering at the zoo she met internationals who were working for development organizations and was offered, and accepted, a very interesting employment opportunity with an intergovernmental organization. I have met many other individuals whose international employment was facilitated by volunteering and networking.
It is important to note that employers are also looking for skills and experience that fit job openings. International volunteering is not the only factor that will secure employment. But, combined with the right background, it can be a deciding factor.
I am including below links to organizations that advertise development and relief work vacancies. You might find something that is of interest to you.
Good luck in your endeavors!