17 February 2010

How to work in Development

Step One:

Listen to Michael Jackson when you are growing up. “Heal the World” is in your DNA. You are an idealist.

Step Two:

Go to school and study Development/Economics/Anthropology/Politics/Sociology/Geography. Cultivate and refine your idealism.

Step Three:

Do lots and lots of unpaid work. Or even pay to work. So you can get that essential developing country experience. Fall in love with somewhere in Africa/Asia/Latin America. Put a human face on your idealism.

Step Four:

Get your first real development job. Awesome. You’ve made it. Until you are disillusioned almost immediately. Everything is more difficult than you imagined. Nobody seems to care like you do. Nobody seems to want to heal the world. What do you do with your idealism now?

Step Five:

Actually the swimming pool on a Sunday is pretty nice. And if that new consultancy contract works out you’re going to be raking it in. Tax free! And you’ll get to ride in a shiny white landcruiser and sit in the A/C all day, and go to the pool on Sundays. Ha! You used to be so na├»ve! Idealism ischmealism.

(With apologies to the ~20% who actually work like dogs for little pay and do great things. Specifically people like these. You are my heroes).


Paul C said...

There should be an extra step between 4 and 5, where you spend several years getting yourself into positions where you think you might be able to effect more change, only to find that the levers of power don't actually work as advertised, and you've just ended up compromising yourself while everybody watching thinks that you're just another ambitious tw*t.

Shooting Star said...

I have done one, two and three, and now I am in a parting of the ways. Also I would like to buy what Paul said above. A long and winding road to be a development worker...

Lee said...

Which way are you headed shooting star?

Anonymous said...

Don't forget about 3.5, working for Teach for America where you spend hours comparing rap lyrics and Shakespeare in order to reach these inner city kids and then they'll realize, "Finally, someone GETS IT!"

Except they won't. They'll hate you. Then you'll cry. The end.

Shooting Star said...

Staying in a lifetime, secured non-development related government job, or getting into a PhD in a development related discipline for a lifetime research in developing countries.

Anyway, I like the tagged paper in the post. Love to see non-academic like subjects analyzed in an academic paper.

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