Humanitarian Careers Advice

A career in the humanitarian sector can be as challenging as it is rewarding, but for many individuals hoping to work with a humanitarian agency, just getting that crucial first job is a huge challenge in itself. This section of the website aims to provide practical and realistic advice to students, graduates and professionals hoping to start a career in the humanitarian field.

Why is it so hard to ‘get in’?

Recently the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) warned that the scale of the humanitarian challenge we face today is greater than ever before, and consequently growing amounts of money are being spent to address humanitarian crises around the world, meaning that the size and number of humanitarian programmes are increasing. In response to this, humanitarian agencies are often looking for good staff to deliver their programmes however, given the nature of the sector, they have a responsibility to be very selective, and choose to employ only those staff with the right qualifications, skill set, and, perhaps more importantly, relevant experience. And so we come to the Catch-22 problem found in many sectors – you can’t get experience unless you’ve already got some!

What are the humanitarian agencies doing about it?

Many of the leading humanitarian agencies are taking steps to make it easier to gain that first vital ‘foot in the door’. If you have a particular interest in a specific agency, take a look at its website for volunteer and internship opportunities. We provide a summary of humanitarian focused opportunities on offer by some of the leading agencies on our Agency Access Schemes page.

How have other people found their way ‘in’?

Some of the best advice you can find is from other people who were desparate to establish a career in the humanitarain field- and did it! We hear from four humanitarian professionals: Matt, Kate, David and Melvin who describe their route in. Find out more about their journeys in to the humanitarian sector below.

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Elrha is hosted by Save the Children, a registered charity in England and Wales (213890) and Scotland (SC039570).

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