Michelle Compton, Manager, Chapters and Volunteers for Room to Read
International Development Job Path
Over past decades, nonprofit organizations that specialize in international development, humanitarian aide and disaster relief have experienced positive upward trend in popularity of human capital. Who wouldn’t want to travel to exotic places or make a positive impact on the lives of people around the world? It’s the ultimate nonprofit dream job!
My friend, Michelle Compton, Manager of Chapters and Volunteers, has that dream job in International Development with the ultimate nonprofit, Room to Read. A fairly young nonprofit organization, Room to Read began in 1999, by founder, John Wood. Since its inception, Room to Read has expanded to provide educational access and opportunity to millions of children in Nepal, Vietnam, Cambodia, India, Sri Lanka, Laos, South Africa, Zambia, Bangladesh and Tanzania. In 2009 alone, Room to Read established six libraries per day and distributed a book every 3 minutes.
The first thing Michelle learned when planning her International Development career path is that positions for job seekers with little to no related work experience are hard to come by. “You can’t just jump into an international development role,” said Michelle. “Employers are searching for experienced people.” By experience, Michelle means knowledge of the cultures you’ll be working withand experience dealing with each non-profit’s program focus. For example, if you’re interested in the International Red Cross, you’ll likely need knowledge of on-the-ground humanitarian aid duties .
Well, how do you gain experience without committing to 1 year working with an organization like Peace Corps? “Volunteer with an international organization,” said Michelle. Michelle volunteered for six weeks with a rural NGO in Tanzania through Mondo Challenge. Although Michelle volunteered, she also relocated to Toronto Canada to work full time for 2 years with the Canadian Diabetes Association.
If you can’t commit for a stay abroad duration, Michelle has these tips for International Development job seekers:
- Informational Interviews and use contacts in LinkedIn
- Target your search . Ask yourself, what is the global impact that you want to make? Be honest with yourself about what you’re looking for in an organization, what skills you bring to a job, and what you’re passionate about (education, issues of poverty, health)
- Volunteer for an international organization , locally
- List your personal travel abroad
- Be strategic about the jobs you choose
Since 2005, Michelle has utilized Opportunity Knocks to find nonprofit jobs. Recently, Michelle found her position with Room to Read on Opportunity Knocks. “It’s incredible coming to work each day for an organization committed to literacy and girl’s education. I work with some of the most creative, passionate, intelligent peopleI’ve ever met. , said Michelle.”
Aspects that Michelle loves about Room to Read are the connections to she feels to the global work Room to Read is doing, her new work family, and her ability to make a difference to the organization’s mission. Room to Read is very results driven and focused on spending donor dollars as efficiently as possible. “It’s a very satisfying feeling leaving the day knowing the work I’m doing is making a difference to children around the world, said Michelle.”
“Also, at my previous employer, Stanford University, professional development was highly valued. I was very pleased to find that the same value is held at Room to Read, said Michelle.”
If you are interested in learning more about international job opportunities with Room to Read, click here.