If you're working on your economics degree, you might be wondering about what career options are open to you before. You can do all sorts of work with the skills which you'll pick up from your degree, but one of the most highly desired jobs among ambitious students is a role in an international organisation. This job could be in an inter-governmental organisation (IGO) such as the United Nations or European Union, or in a non-governmental organisation (NGO) such as the charities Amnesty International or Oxfam. If you want to try a career in an international organisation, how do land your first job in the field? This is what we'll be looking at today, so read on for our tips on finding the job you want.
One of the most common ways to start working at an international organisation is by volunteering during your free time. If you have a few weeks free over the summer, or you can spare a few hours once a week, then this is a great way to see how an organisation operates up close. However, remember that although volunteering can be a way to get your foot in the door at an organisation, it can be extremely difficult to turn a volunteer position into a paid job. In order to land a paid position, you'll need to work on your CV and your skills.
Build up your essential skills
In order to be successful in a job in an international organisation, a passion for the mission is important – but it's not enough! You need to show practical skills which will be useful to the organisation you want to work for. Too many students are given the impression that good grades and passion are enough to land them a job, when in fact skills and experience are needed too. So start working on the skills that are important in a job – things like project management, administration, budgeting, or fundraising. These might not be the flashiest sounding achievements, but they are what the day-to-day work of jobs at an international organisation will often involve. So any chance you get to practise these skills you should take up. If you've had a summer job in administration, for example, that's useful experience. Or perhaps you've lead a group project to a successful conclusion, showing your talents at project management.
Focus on specific skills for economists
As an economist, there are certain skills which you will have acquired during your studies which are helpful for careers in international organisations. Skills like data analysis and high levels of numeracy make you stand out from other job applicants, as they are directly useful for performing research and writing reports. Other skills like problem solving, critical thinking, and written communication will also be a selling point for you as a economics student.
However, in order to put yourself ahead of other students applying for similar roles, you need to stretch yourself even further. Is there an extra course given by your university you could take on report writing? Can you learn a new piece of statistical software? Also, to give yourself the best chances at landing a job, you don't just need to have skills – you need to show how you've used these skills in practice too. Keep a record of any projects you've been involved in, especially if they were real-world based, and show how your skills helped the project to succeed. Be sure to mention these projects in your cover letter to strengthen your application.
Internships / Traineeships
Another way to get experience in an international organisation is through internship or traineeship schemes. Big organisations often have schemes for getting enthusiastic students into entry-levels jobs, which is the best way to learn lots of relevant skills if you want this to be your career. However, such schemes are usually extremely competitive, so make sure your application is as strong as possible! You can find information on traineeships on websites such as http://www.ectraineeship.info
You can find advertisements for positions for economists right here on our website, and you can also try out these sites which specialise in posting vacancies in international organisations:
- EuroBrussels www.eurobrussels.com
- Brussels Jobs www.brusselsJobs.com
- EurActiv http://jobs.euractiv.com
- Idealist www.idealist.org
- OneWorld http://oneworld.org/jobs
- World Service Enquiry www.wse.org.uk/work/job.htm
For more advice for economists, see these articles: