How to Get an Amazing ICT4D Dream Job in 2011

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It's damn hard to get a job in international development. And if you're geeky and want to do ICT4D - use information and communication technologies for development, it's even harder.

Yet every year several hundred people graduate with international development degrees, many of them hoping to start a career in ICT4D. An equal number of professionals decide that ICT4D is their calling too. The ICT4D space is not big enough for all of them find their dream job - or any job for that matter.

So you see the problem. Now let me quantify it. For every job advertised, ICT4D employers get 100+ resumes. And that's the jobs not filled long before by a referral from a friend. So the odds are long.

It took me a lifetime of travel and geekery to prepare for two years of hard-core job hunting and over 150 informational interviews before I found my first ICT4D job at Geekcorps.

nonprofit employment

It's all about who you know

How might you find a dream job, or even several to choose from? All the experts and I agree: meet the prospective employer (or their colleague) long before there is a job opening, get to know them, show them your skills, and have them be thinking of you when they need help.

See, a job ad is the last thing an overworked international development expert wants to deal with. They hate the hassle of advertising the position, culling the resumes, and doing interviews. It's like a bad game of online dating. They would much rather hire someone they already know, or someone referred to them by a colleague, than a stranger off the street.

Still, you're thinking, "but how do I meet potential employers?" If you don't have an ICT4D job already, you don't know the places to meet ICT4D professionals or have a way to show your skills and potential.

Here's you chance to know everyone

Over the last 6 years in the ICT4D space, I've collected one hell of a Rolodex. Yeah, I know people. In fact, I pride myself on using that Rolodex to help those trying to break into international development. I'll do informational interviews with anyone and try to connect ICT4D hopefuls with at least 3 of my colleagues.

But now I'm willing to do more. I'm willing to give someone an inside view of ICT4D. I'm willing to share my whole Rolodex - everyone I've ever met or worked with in international development. I'm giving someone the opportunity to showcase their ICT4D skills to that Rolodex, and position themselves as the must-have candidate for the next dream job.

The catch

You want an amazing ICT4D dream job. You want to meet the who's who in international development. I organize several communities of practice around the intersection of technology and development. Each will need more love and attention that I can provide this fall. Do you see where I am going yet? If not, let me spell it out:

Work with me to cultivate and expand these communities from July to December, and I'll work with you to make sure you've got an amazing ICT4D dream job offer by January 2011.

Don't be thinking this is an internship - its not. This is an investment in your ICT4D career. You'll invest 10 hours a week cultivating contacts with the best and brightest, people I love to work with and you'd love to work for. You'll gain priceless networking and community building skills. And you'll have at least one job offer in just six months of effort - a full year quicker than most.

So who am I looking for?

You need to be a self-starter, someone who can take a goal and figure out how to reach it. You need to have some familiarity with ICT4D, or at least international development. You'll need to be willing to commit at least 10 hours a week over the next six months. And you can work from wherever, but you do need to be able to be in Washington DC regularly - at least 2-3 times a month.

Past that, convince me that I should trust you with six years of contacts and my professional reputation when I refer you to potential employers (yes, that's the goal - figure out how to reach it).

What will you do?

First, you'll meet with me regularly - I may be an online junkie, but face time is priceless. During these meetings we'll discuss two overall topics:

  1. Goals for the different communities of practice and how we can work together to achieve them. You'll be a partner in their development, not a gopher (not to say there aren't boring tasks you'll have to do). You'll be expected to spend at least 5 hours a week on the communities.
  2. Goals for your career and how we'll work together to achieve them. Everything from what you want to be doing to whom you want to work for, and all the steps and introductions needed to get there. You'll be expected to spend at least 5 hours a week on your career goals.

Note this is an unpaid engagement; your reward is an amazing ICT4D dream job. Yet, I cannot guarantee that job. It will be your achievement as much as mine.

So what are you waiting for? If you've read this far, you should be itching to email me your interest so we can meet and discuss this opportunity in more detail.

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