The Who, What, When & Where
In my presentation, I posited that this is the time of their lives to figure out first and foremost, who they really are! This is the foundation of everything about what will happen in the next stages of one’s life.
What I offered is an exercise to understand themselves through interests/skills/values meshing. When these three things were factored, it is a potent formula to determine that perfect permutation.
That right fit between who you are, what you stand for, and what you are skilled at -is what people say, purpose, calling or vocation.
The sector of international development is vast. There are no clear roadmaps as in other fields, wherein you take a medical degree and then specialize, and then, you are on the right path. Even when there is a specific sectoral specialization, it is still broad and there are many entrance and exit points to it.
If you are taking International Development as a graduate degree or undergraduate degree, it means that you are a generalist. Then, you have to further specialize.
In our disrupted economy, the jobs of the future call for greater specialization than ever. 10 years ago, the generalists had a hard time finding jobs in the field. Today, there is no way that they can get the juiciest jobs without being a specialist in one area or another. Even as a generalist, the core functions of running and managing projects, organizations, networks, and movements call for a skills set that is transferable across these platforms.
I get this question all the time- local versus global?
As a beginner in the field, get experience at the local level. There are tons of organizations that would be needing volunteers for their programs. Do not try to reinvent the wheel. Once you have built your skills, networks, strategies, and perspectives, it is time to move forward to the global level if this is your desired track.
As the world gets interconnected and interrelated, there is a blurring of the line between local and global as far as influence, authority, and reach is concerned. The information and communications technologies have created an expansive state where global actors can make a difference wherever they are.
I have built my business on both local and global platforms and increasingly there is no problem with being based in North America while attuned to developing country contexts and needs.
When is the right time to start in humanitarianism or international development?
Some of these high school students have been on different trips abroad for their school’s project in the developing countries. While they have started, they are still learning the ropes. At this stage in their lives, there are many things to consider -- further studies, getting a job soon, being involved in the community, among others.
There would be time to clearly decide if this is a career for them or something to do on the side. When deciding a career, like any other occupations, the first thing to do is to get a good toe-hold of the sector they want to specialize.
Some people have to delay or stall this part considering other things that life will throw at them and then eventually, later on, pursue it with more vigor and focus. While others, consider humanitarianism as a mindset and gladly tackle what is present in their communities.
I would say that if they are serious about getting somewhere, they need to put the focus, time, and effort to that goal in mind. The perfect time will not come. There is always something happening simultaneously. The ability to balance those priorities is crucial.
They will only be 16 once, and then, life happens. Self-discovery is a must, and this is a continuing process.
Like any other profession, the more you are attuned to yourself, your values and your skills, the easier it is to get to that perfect place and space in humanitarianism whether locally or abroad.
I hope that there are more opportunities like this for young people that have expressed interest in the sector and willing to have a head start in terms of knowledge, understanding, and capabilities needed to navigate their career paths.
To the millennials, the sector welcomes your fresh inputs, ideas, and designs. Disrupt, reinvent, and revive it!
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