Your dreams come true: a PAID internship in Paris

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This post originally appeared on WhyDev.

 

One horribly hot and sweaty summer, I found myself sitting on our itchy mid-century beige sofa, applying for job after job while my roommate went off to her paid internship at a large, multinational organisation. I was envious; I, too, wanted to get dressed up in nice clothes and go do important work that would affect the lives of millions of people, but after sending off literally hundreds of application forms to human rights and international development organisations, I was no closer to getting a job, or even an interview.

The year before, I’d fallen in love with international development after a stint at a microfinance in Madagascar, and thought I had what it takes to make it in this field: an understanding of specific development needs, a passion for helping others, an eagerness to share knowledge, and the gift of being a “people-person”.

But working in Madagascar, like in so many developing countries, was emotionally and culturally challenging, besides, I wanted to improve my French. I sent out email after email to organisations all over France, but it seemed completely futile, because lots of positions required EU nationality. I began to feel horribly naïve, thinking NGOs would be interested in my education, international experience, creative mind and great set of soft skills.

Towards September, just when I was getting really desperate, came a lovely, warm email from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), based in Paris: was I available for an interview on Skype, 3pm Central European Time? A week later, my internship was confirmed, and I was over the moon.

But while large organisations like the OECD can teach you a great deal about the international development system, and I was eager to get started, Paris is expensive, and the idea of living from hand to mouth was daunting, to say the least.

Happily, the OECD traineeship program pays every intern at its Paris headquarters a monthly stipend of 554,40 euro, which can be supplemented by a grant from the Erasmus+ Traineeship Grant, awarded by partner universities in participating countries and ranging from €390 to €700 per month for the duration of the internship.

Best of all, you don’t need a French or European work permit to start working there. The majority of the interns are affiliated with a University in the OECD countries (particularly France and the US), but you don’t need to be an EU citizen or come from an OECD member country in order to apply.

Wondering how you, too, can be selected for a paid internship at the world’s premier policy organisation, living and working in the heart of Paris?

Here’s how:

1. State your skills clearly.

The OECD selects for applicants with academic backgrounds in a discipline related to the work of the organisation’s research-oriented work, (which can range from social affairs, trade, agriculture, development, education, to employment, finance, and statistics), with strong quantitative skills and international experience in research and analytical activities. The more you emphasize these points and demonstrate your ability to undertake tasks requiring these skills, the better your chance of being selected.

2. Cater to the role, and not to the organisation as a whole.

There are over 15 Directorates at the OECD and the intern network is quite localised to each Directorates. Most intern roles involve some form of research work, reasoning, analytical and writing (drafting or synthesising) skills are very much valued. In my application to the OECD’s Business and Industry Advisory Committee, I headlined my published research on financial regulatory frameworks, and work experience in knowledge management, liaison, and coordination – the latter of which were specifically requested in the job description.

3. Demonstrate that you’re a global citizen.

The OECD produces policy recommendations for 35 member countries around the world. It’s a big responsibility. You’re expected to be capable of working in a team in a multicultural and international environment, and the OECD requires written and spoken fluency in either English or French.

4. Show the link between your studies and the OECD internship.

Most interns are enrolled in programs such as international relations, public policy, economics, political science, and other fields relevant to the work of the organisation. Those who are still working on their master theses usually link their topic to the work they do at the OECD. In my emails with the HR manager, I mentioned that I was enrolled in a Master’s degree in international public policy, and that the internship would help me better understand my coursework and reading.

5. Show you can do the job before you get the job.

Although you’re applying for an internship, your application is the first element of communication in a relationship that might last longer than six months, particularly if you’re asked to stay on and start a consultancy, or a full-time job at the organisation. HR will look for candidates who demonstrate their likelihood of performing well before they ever set foot in the organisation’s Paris headquarters. Hard work and commitment are extremely appreciated, and you can improve your chances of being selected by demonstrating your passion for the research topics on which you’ll be focusing, and your commitment to the discipline.

 

Ready to apply but not sure where to begin? Click here to get the exact scripts and techniques I used to successfully get a position at the OECD.

 

Top photo by Jasmine Ng, with kind permission.

3 steps to a job you’ll love

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Last night, I go out to dinner with my friend Jerôme and his girlfriend. He proposes an Italian restaurant, in the most crowded part of the city.

“It’s super trendy right now,” he tells me, when we see each other.

I’m afraid it’ll be all pasta and pizza, standard fare at Italian restaurants outside Italy, but I keep quiet, trying to be open-minded. They’ll have options, I tell myself.

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How to get a job at an international NGO without any prior experience

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A version of this article was also published on:

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“I’m going to New York City for a conference,” Caroline* tells me, when we hung out last Saturday. “They’re flying me out there.”

“I would have never thought I’d be working here. I never imagined this was all possible,” she says, a huge smile on her face, eyes alit with happiness.

We met last year, through our friend Alison*. Caroline was sad that evening, distraught because she could not find a job doing the kind of work she dreamed of doing. At one point, she burst into tears: “I don’t have any experience in this field. I’m trying so hard to find something, just to get my foot in the door, but it’s been five months and I haven’t found anything yet!”

Happily, her situation did not last long.

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The only five websites you need to find a job in development

926162_1392325687718296_1780040244_nThis post was featured on WhyDev, which provides professional, educational, and support services to individuals, communities, and organisations committed to global development. 

During a summer internship at a microfinance in Madagascar, I realised that international development work is what I want to do. I loved the idea of being able to work in a number of different locations, for people who often can’t help themselves. But once I got home, I felt paralysed, not sure where to begin. The whole world of working in international development was fairly new to me, and I didn’t know where to start looking for jobs in the field.

At the microfinance at which I had my internship, in front of one of the bank depots in the region.

At the microfinance at which I had my internship, in front of one of the bank depots in the region.

The months that followed were filled with job-hunting, an internship that didn’t quit match what I want to do, and lots of Google searches. Of the 8,497 job listings available on my university jobs database, exactly five were at NGOs and international organisations. I scrolled and scrolled, feeling stuck. But as winter turned to spring, my browsing history became less scattered, and I found myself returning to the same five well-organised websites to look for new job postings.

Since that summer of blood orange sunsets, knowing where to look has become a lot easier. Because although there are hundreds of websites featuring NGO jobs around the world, only a select few are worth your perusal. Here’s a list of where I’ve found every job I’ve ever had:

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