International Development Careers Are Not ‘One Size Fits All’

by Mckenna Morgan, MPP ’20, and Caitlin Thompson, MPP ’20

The two of us had the opportunity to travel to Washington DC over Spring Break with Global Public Affairs at Luskin. We learned valuable information about the diversity in the types of jobs associated with international policy and development work. This diversity has shown us that there is a good fit for everyone. Whether you’re more interested in field, advocacy, policy research work, or some combination of the three, you can find a job applicable to your skills and interests.

Throughout the week, we had the opportunity to meet with groups such as USAID, InterAction, The World Bank, World Resources Institute, Millennium Challenge Corporation, and Mathematica and clearly see how this diversity ultimately ends up working together towards a common goal of improving global outcomes through their work on various areas. Those we met with were honest in their discussions about their experiences, both prior to joining their respective organizations and with their current organizations. They were also candid in our conversations regarding the realities of working in the field of international development in general. We found this in particular at the World Bank, where both representatives spoke openly about their experiences working with their coworkers, as well as for the organization under prior leadership. Both of us found it invaluable to hear about the skills that we can develop while still in school that can allow us to be successful when we enter the field in a year in contrast to the skills that we may able to just acquire while on the job, and overall how it is okay to realize that certain aspects of international policy work isn’t for you.

Many of the people we met with pointed out the importance of recognizing your personal preferences and where your skills best align and pursuing those types of opportunities. Just because we may find ourselves not particularly interested in one area does not mean we are excluded from the entire field. Personally, we feel that given our skills and prior experiences, that we would likely fit into the area of international development relating to research and advocacy. We enjoyed hearing from representatives at Mathematica, where their company structure, practices, and goals closely follow what we would ultimately like to pursue in the future.

Prior to this trip, both of us had never visited Washington DC so we planned to arrive early and stay later than the official trip. In this free time, we were able to visit many of the major monuments and memorials around the city and explore many of the Smithsonian Museums. We loved having the opportunity to absorb the history and cultural relevance of the city and see how the work that we could one day be doing in this city could add to this.