A career path with an IDS degree

As human beings, our desire to help others often leads to wanting to learn more about other countries, their political and economical problems and how we can help them. And although sometimes we struggle to achieve this - as was discussed in the document, "What are we doing here?" about the struggles we've have had to lift Africa out of despair - there is still a desire we have, as a people, to understand international development issues and solve these problems.

If you are somebody whose had a profound curiosity in political, social and economic issues, perusing a degree in international development studies or (IDS) is exciting. With an IDS degree, you will study key issues and ideas that can help solve development problems in countries around the world. These problems include adapting new technologies or ideas to a country to enhance or improve their way of life, improving their diplomatic relationships with other countries, and your values and principles to another country's way of life. Those with degrees in this field of study can often find promising careers with local governments, freelance consulting firms and lobby campaigns to raise money for international efforts.

What do I need to be aware of, if I'm looking at IDS jobs?

Often times when people start on a career path, they aren't completely sure of what that path will entail. With IDS jobs, many don't realize the difficulty of turning their degree into a lucrative career so we'll take this opportunity to mention some areas you might want to be aware of:

First of all, find a particular area of focus within the degree and concentrate on that. As we stated before, there are multiple aspects to an IDS degree. Different positions will want you to focus on particular areas of concern such as economics, human rights, security, animal rights, preparing for disasters, etc. If you focus the majority of your degree in, let's say, "Disaster preparing" positions, looking specifically for that skill set will find your curriculum beneficial.

This is because most employers often want to hire people who have specific knowledge in specific areas rather than people who have a wide range of knowledge. This also gets into our conversation about returning to college and pursuing a graduate degree, which we will talk more about below.

What can I do if I am unable to land a job immediately with my IDS degree?

This is an issue many recent college graduates face; sometimes those who hold an IDS degree are unable to find positions after school. The following are some helpful tips you may want to consider:

  1. Consider a graduate degree in IDS. With so many students holding undergraduate degrees looking for work, having a masters or doctorate in the same field could give you an edge over others.
  2. Get a double major to give your undergraduate degree a boost and improve your skill set. One such study is "Interdisciplinary Studies" which is a degree built upon your specific interests such as problem solving as it relates specifically to the studies of international development.
  3. Consider volunteering. This can be vital, and lets potential employers know you have hands on experience.
  4. Don't be afraid to get in on the ground floor. Often times positions are available that do not pay well, but the ability to get your foot in the door can lead to potential opportunities later on. The same applies with IDS positions.

Where can I find more information on international development studies?

The following websites can be very helpful for those looking for information on careers that relate to IDS studies. They all offer great information that relates to this career path and many have job boards which list current openings.