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Work for an NGO after your Au Pair stay

by Alena on Jan 23, 2020
How to find a job in NGO after your Au Pair stay
Do you consider yourself as someone who has many different interests, competencies, and experiences but who can’t find a job that would satisfy your needs and expectations? Do you feel that helping your Host Family was something really important? Do you want to create a change and make the world a better place? If you answered “yes” to at least one of the questions you may want to consider working for an NGO as the next step after your Au Pair stay.

What do people employed in NGOs do?

Collins dictionary defines a nongovernmental organization or shortly an NGO as “a non-profit organization that works independently of any government, typically one whose aim is to address a political or social issue”. You’ve probably heard about AIESEC, Doctors Without Borders or Greenpeace. Usually, an NGO has a topic or an issue they work on such as humanitarian aid, children and youth, refugees, nature and animal protection, human rights, religion, education, etc. People who work for NGOs have an insider joke that if there is a certain issue you can think of - you’ll find an NGO that’s dealing with this problem. For instance, in 2019 there were at least 616 NGOs running in Germany that are covering basically any subject one can imagine. There are many more but some are very small or call themselves “initiatives” so they may be not as recognized as the bigger ones. 

To tell the truth, this kind of popularity is understandable: being involved in NGOs allows one to do something meaningful, help those who need it - no matter if they are people, animals or oceans - and bring positive changes into the world.

Depending on the size of an NGO they may either have very few paid positions and involve volunteers and local communities to help or keep separate departments for a project and product development, public relations, marketing, human relations and many more. Hence, there are different positions available in NGOs:
  • Youth worker
  • Project manager
  • Consultant
  • Social worker
  • Fundraising Coordinator
  • Administrative Assistant
  • Translator
  • Bookkeeper
  • Lawyer
  • Expert on a particular subject 
  • Program Assistant
  • Financial Specialist
  • Communications or Research Manager
  • Intern
  • Events and Marketing Manager
  • and a lot more, depending on the candidate’s interests, skills, and competences.
So, according to everything that was mentioned, you may have a more or less clear picture of what are the possible jobs NGOs may offer. But the most important thing is to ask yourself what you would like to do. Many people refer to their job as a mission or destiny and helping others seems pretty close to these references. But we can’t help everyone and that’s why it’s important to find something that drives and motivates you. Something you would really want to spend your time and energy on. Figuring this out will help you to understand what type of work is right for you and what kind of organization you’d like to work with. And if there is more than one topic or group you want to work with- just choose one, and for the rest, you know, you could volunteer. 

How much can you earn working in an NGO?

Working in an NGO may be tricky because as we mentioned above, these organizations are nongovernmental and non-profit so their main goal is to make an impact, not money (reminds us of “make love not war”, right?). Still, people need to earn to be able to live and help others so here we discover what average salary NGO workers get. 

Usually, NGO employees receive their salaries from the approved projects and get their wages accordingly to the sum of the given grant. However, it’s quite a rare situation that administration and staff costs get fully financed from one grant so many organizations also collect membership fees, ask people for donations and receive some partners’ or donors’ support.

Nevertheless, none of it means that you would work for free. Depending on your position in an NGO and the country your salary may vary. For instance, in the US you can get from about 30,000-35,000$ per year as an intern up to 85,000-90,000$ as a program officer or associate director. In Germany the range is also wide: here the project manager’s average salary is €48,875, communications manager something between €37K and €62K, a software engineer can earn up to €58K. One company in the UK offered around £33,000 for the position of events and marketing manager. 

But again, it depends on the organization and its funding so you may want to check their website and find out this information before applying for a job.

Where to start?

We have to note: getting a job in an international NGO won’t be easy. Many people work for smaller organizations and volunteer in local NGOs for years before feeling qualified enough to apply for a senior position.

However, if you really want to work for an NGO that deals with any specific topic - be brave and unwearying. Even if you don’t have the required skill set, many international NGOs often offer great entry-level positions. So if you are just at the beginning of your career path, many companies would still love to hire you and use your skills, intelligence, and enthusiasm to do something good for society. 

So answering to “where to start”, we would suggest starting volunteering in organizations that work with a topic you’d like to work with; visiting events that are organized by these organizations and getting to know people. Be curious, open-minded and eager to talk to all these change-makers - and who knows, maybe soon you’ll become one of them!

Also, let us share a nice tip that could be useful whenever you’re looking for a job. If one day you want to become a product manager but now you’re only at entry-level, take a look at the requirements for a manager’s position. This way you could get an idea of which competencies and skills you would need if you want to apply for a similar job in the future.

How to look for a job?

Basically, anywhere where you would look for a different job. When you decide which job you would like to do, you may want to start looking for employment. Of course, the obvious choice is to go to the organization’s website or social media page, or as an alternative using a jobs site that collects many offers from different companies. There is a list of websites where you could try to find a job that would fit your criteria. Needless to say, there are many more of them but that could be a good beginning: 

Will being an Au Pair help you to find a job in an NGO? 

Believe us - it will. Most wanted skills employers seek in their workers you got by being an Au Pair. Let’s check: 
  • speaking another language: after your Au Pair year, you would at least know your mother tongue and the Host Family's language. Knowing different languages will help you to communicate with people and authorities in their language which makes you more reliable. 
  • understanding different cultures: if you want to make a career in an NGO, you probably will have to work with people with different backgrounds, who come from different cultures and societies. And is there a better way one can understand another culture than being immersed in it fully and live with society representatives under the same roof? 
  • being independent but able to work in a team: you’ve managed to find a Host Family, prepare all documents, get a visa and come to another country. And there you became a part of the team and learned how to work together without problems and conflicts. Do we need to say more?
  • having experience: Au Pair experience is much more than taking care of kids. It’s also giving you valuable organizational and communicative skills, understanding of people’s behavior, accounting skills, reliability and flexibility and other soft skills that employers look for. 
Are you interested to learn more about various jobs after your Au Pair stay? Then stay tuned and read more next Thursday! 
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