A great way to travel around the world while also contributing meaningfully to society is by becoming an international aid worker. The main goal for an international aid worker is to offer assistance to people in locations all over the world. Aid workers offer their help in the areas of healthcare, sanitation, housing, education and construction. Some aid workers also take up agriculture, industrial development, human rights, sustainability and relief from natural disasters.
It may seem like a broad area of a work, but once you select your area of interest, it is an extremely rewarding career path. As part of your job, you will be involved in several activities including hands-on relief work, fundraising, project planning and project management. You will travel to all kinds of places around the globe, experiencing cultures and interacting with several new people.
Entering the world of International Aid
To become an international aid worker, having a master’s degree in an applied field is of great relevance. For example, if you have a degree in nursing or medicine, you can travel as a healthcare aid to different parts of the world. Most of your training and development will happen on the field. Structured instruction and training is a little hard to come by. Only large organisations like Oxfam and the United Nations provide a certain level of training prior to starting your job as an aid worker.
Volunteer work and remaining persistent
Having prior volunteer experience will make it a lot easier for you to enter the world of international aid. Prior experience working in NGOs always helps. While you may not be immediately posted to an international location, over time and with more experience there is a very high chance that you will travel all over the world. It is imperative to remain focused, hard-working and persistent.
Attributes of an international aid worker
As an international aid worker, you will be engaging in a lot of humanitarian work. Empathy and compassion are core values that will have to be a part of your personality. Apart from that, a sense of integrity and accountability is also very important. Your work might be sensitive in nature which is also why you need to have a strong psychological make-up.
You will have to get used to living without luxury and adjust to new areas, languages and culture. A spirit of adventure will take you a long way as an international aid worker.
Things to keep in mind as an international aid worker
- Look local: Since you might be posted in fairly remote areas, ensure your clothes and demeanour match those of the locals to allow you to fit in better. This will directly benefit the work you’re doing as it will help you connect with the people better.
- Bring a specific skill: While you will be having a specific area of interest, having handy skills at hand will help you advance your career as an international aid worker.
- Plan ahead: Right before setting off on your assignment, remember to plan well ahead and do all your relevant research. The more prepared you are the better it will reflect in the work that you do, thereby showcasing your worth to your organisation. Study the region you’re going to thoroughly to understand the people you will be working with.