Looking to change the world? Consider a career in aid and development

Have you been dreaming of a career where you can tackle global issues?

Find out how you can play a part in helping communities manage poverty and recover from disaster.

And the best part is, no matter what degree you’re studying there’s a pathway into the astounding field of international aid and development.

We spoke with Bachelor of Arts graduate, Nick Turner, about what led him to his rewarding career as a Communication Specialist with the United Nations Development Program.

Navigator: What did you study?

NT: “I studied a Bachelor of Arts with a double major: Film, Media and Cultural Studies, and English and Writing.”

Navigator: How did you get into your current line of work?

NT: “I’ve been in Papua New Guinea since 2015, originally coming here to work with a local television station. Port Moresby, the capital city, is a very small place and everybody knows everybody, and I was originally recommended for a role with UNICEF by a friend who was working with them at the time.

I started working with UNICEF in 2016, and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) happen to share the same floor space as UNICEF. UNDP heard that my contract was finishing with UNICEF, and they offered me a job. So I suppose that I have just happened to be in the right place at the right time on a few occasions now.”

Navigator: What sort of challenges does your current line of work pose?

NT: “One of the biggest challenges of working somewhere like Papua New Guinea is accessibility. Limited infrastructure and poor roads, and the fact that you have to fly to reach almost anywhere outside of Port Moresby mean that travel is incredibly time consuming, incredibly costly, and riddled with delays. The sheer remoteness of a lot of places also makes work difficult, last week I had to hike eight hours from the nearest road just to reach a village that UNDP are providing support to.

The other big challenge is acquiring a degree of patience that you might not necessarily need with your regular office job in Australia. Things happen at their own pace, not just here in PNG but in many developing countries and in the aid and development sector, and without a degree of relaxation and a go-with-the-flow type attitude you’ll be banging your head against the wall through frustration very quickly.”

Navigator: What motivated you to start working in the field of aid and development?

NT: “I’ve always had an interest in working overseas, and a particular interest in working within the development sector. From afar it always seemed like such exciting, glamorous and incredibly rewarding work. While I’ve now learned that it’s certainly not always that, particularly the glamorous side of things, there is something really exciting about coming to work every day in an environment where you just don’t know what to expect.

Navigator: How has your area of aid and development changed over time? Has the increase in digital communication methods influenced your role?

NT: “It’s a total game changer for me, given that it is the field in which I’m working in. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and many more platforms are integrated into every facet of work that someone like the United Nations is doing. Your more traditional forms of communication such as annual reports and case studies will always have their place in this line of work, but digital is now the go-to way to tell the stories of those benefiting from aid in a concise, timely and far-reaching manner.”

Navigator: What is the most memorable thing to happen during your course of work?

NT: “Getting to travel the length and breadth of PNG is the thing I’ll cherish as the greatest memory from my time here. I’m very privileged to be here, and perhaps I have embraced it a little more than most by being happy to get out and see most parts of the country, but I’d have trouble pinpointing just one memorable things as there have been far too many.”

Navigator: What do you enjoy most about your job?

NT: “Meeting new people and hearing their stories. Every day I get to speak with people and hear all about their lives; and there are so many fascinating stories here that deserve to be told. By getting the chance to do just that, share these stories through my work, I’m really lucky.”

Navigator: What advice would you give to students who are also looking to work in the field of aid and development?

NT: “Take a leap and apply for a paid volunteering role through a program such as Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID). AVID is an Australian government supported program that places volunteers with host organisations in developing countries. It is such a great foot in the door to the world of aid and development, and the positions are generally geared towards people aged under 30.

They provide a brilliant taste of what work within the sector is like, offer greet experience with working in an overseas environment, and open up many doors to other opportunities.”

All images courtesy of Nick Turner. Instagram: @npt_pics

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