After ICS, many volunteers are inspired to pursue a career in international development. We spoke to four alumni who told us what you can expect from those first steps in the sector.
Former Development Manager – Hands Around The World, Zambia
ICS volunteer, Zambia, 2015
Before starting his ICS placement in Zambia, Harry, 26, had plans to become a teacher. That all changed following ICS, with Harry finding his time in the southern African nation had given him other ideas.
“After doing ICS, I fell in love with development work. I realised I wanted to do something similar with my career. When I got back, I started looking into different jobs in international development.”
Soon after returning, Harry secured a one-year contract as Development Manager at Hands Around The World – an NGO based in Zambia.
“I was applying for grants for the charity. This required me spending most days researching different grants or trust foundations and writing applications for them and to the Welsh and UK Governments.
“I was also involved in the projects in Zambia, (as) a project coordinator for a school in Zambia, where I would work with the team leader.”
Now that his role with Hands Around The World is over, Harry is looking for his next job in the sector – a prospect that’s made easier through having completed ICS.
“ICS helped me to get a job in international development by giving me a lot of skills, especially working with different communities and with partners in-country. My advice would be to volunteer as much as you can to gain experience.”
Communications Officer – Jambo Bukoba, Tanzania
ICS Team Leader, Tanzania, 2015
Lameck, 25, was a Team Leader on Raleigh’s Water and Sanitary Health (WASH) programme. Spending three months volunteering in in his home country of Tanzania, Lameck loved making a difference in local communities, as well as personally developing in ways he couldn’t have imagined.
“My experience being a Team Leader changed everything. It changed my attitude. I wanted to continue my work with the community and the youth of Tanzania. Volunteering helped me to see how I could be a leader, work in communications, present myself as an active citizen. It was an experience that left a mark on my career and personal development in general.”
Since 2017, Lameck has been working in Tanzania at Jambo Bukoba, a German charity, as a Communications Officer.
“At Jamo Bukoba, we promote gender equality, health, education, sanitation and hygiene. As the Communications Officer I’m responsible for all the videography, photography as well as communicating the impactful work that we are doing on the ground. It's a career that gives me the opportunity to try and get donors to see how they can support our work,” he says.
“What I love most is when you're implementing projects and speak to beneficiaries who say ‘you have changed our lives. Through the training you've given us we've been able to change the way we live.’ When you hear this, you feel how important your work and projects are. It makes me want to do more and work harder for the community.”
“Raleigh meant I was able to understand the world of international development. Everything that I'm able to do now, I got from my experience volunteering. Volunteering is the best decision ever; I would advise every young person to take part to gain experience.”
Programmes Manager – Aberdeen Women’s Centre, Sierra Leone
ICS volunteer, Tanzania, 2014
After her ICS placement, Alexandra, 25, worked at the Department of International Development as a procurement assistant for two years to gain further experience. From there, she got a job working in the maternity unit and rape crisis centre at a hospital in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone.
“It's a very busy and varied job. Most of the time I'm responding to emergencies of patients, but my main job is overseeing the management of the units, managing staff and taking the lead on comms and marketing for the hospital.”
“My job can be very stressful. When we have a maternal death, I must be there when we tell the family. That's the most upsetting part. It is also hard overseeing the rape crisis centre. Sierra Leone has a very high child rape rate, so we get cases of children under 10-years-old coming in every day.”
She says that while her job can be stressful, her previous experience with DFID and ICS gave her the ability to see it through.
“There are a lot of skills I first learnt during ICS that I’m now using everyday here. For example, volunteering taught me how to be patient and a leader, which I’m doing now in this job every day.”
And what advice would Alexandra give to those hoping to follow a similar career path?
“Don't turn down any opportunity that you're given. Secondly, don't give up. The sector is so difficult to get into and you have to knock at so many doors to get a job but if you're persistent and passionate you'll get there – but until then keep trying.”
Founder and Chief Executive Director – Earth Care Foundation, Bangladesh
ICS volunteer, Bangladesh, 2016
After volunteering with ICS in his home country of Bangladesh, Joseph, 31, was determined to stay involved. Since finishing, he has gone on to become the President of the National Youth Engagement Network (NYEN) and President of VSO’s Alumni Association Bangladesh.
“Working with NYEN really showed me the value and power of being a young person. When I was the President, it was my role and mission to inspire more young people to get involved with active citizenship and contribute to something bigger.”
And that’s exactly what he’s done. Joseph has now founded his own organisation, Earth Care Foundation, a collaborative platform providing formal and informal learning and engagement to encourage young people to become responsible citizens.
“ICS has played a huge part in getting me where I am today. It’s given me the confidence and skills to apply to other organisations, build networks, and pursue other opportunities,” he says. ”For me ICS is a lifelong journey. It gives you the foundations needed to follow your dreams.”