The Big Picture
International development professionals work to reduce or eliminate poverty in developing countries. Practitioners in this vast field target issues ranging from global health to emerging market investment opportunities, at scales ranging from village-based enterprises to country-wide financial and government infrastructures. With momentum around the UN Millennium Development Goals, high-profile foundation efforts, and many innovations and new models emerging across sectors, it’s a great time to step into this field and make your mark.
- Over three billion people – almost half the world’s population — live on less than $2.50 a day.1
- 40% of the world’s population – that’s 2.6 billion people – lives without access to “improved” sanitation facilities like pit latrines or a public sewer.2
- 10% of children worldwide have no access to even basic primary education.3
What can you expect if you decide to go into international development?
Hope you like 100 degree days and no electricity
Because international development often means spending time in developing countries, you might just find yourself immersed in unfamiliar environments and cultures. If you're not adaptable in these situations, this might not be the career for you.
Grow a thick skin
No matter how hard you work and how great your ideas are, you’re going to encounter situations that are emotionally challenging and roadblocks that seem senseless...sometimes even infuriating. Resilience, dedication, and the ability to roll with the punches are essential to making a lasting impact.
Humility moves mountains
Because international development often requires immersion in other cultures, professionals need to be careful they don't swoop in thinking they know all the answers. The most successful solutions stem from genuine collaboration with local communities, so if you're often sure you know what's best for others, you might want to consider a different line of work.