International service is a challenging and rewarding profession based on empowering communities in developing countries (or developing communities in developed countries) through education, innovation, health, and many other methods. It is focused on serving the communities’ needs through resources the community is comfortable leveraging.
International relief is focused on working in developing communities immediately after a disaster, or other crisis helping provide emergency medical care, shelter, and food.
Both types of work are difficult to break into, and many jobs regarding international development/relief require experience, which is hard to obtain besides volunteering. Suggested routes include taking time to volunteer for an international development/relief organization, or doing a volunteer program, such as the Peace Corps, to strengthen job prospects for working with international service or relief organizations.
Interviews About International Service
Jonathan Zimmerman CC'83
Get insights from NYU professor and Columbia alumnus, Jonathan Zimmerman, about his experience with Peace Corps in Nepal after graduating from Columbia.
Get insights from Tyler Zabriske, Vice President of International Programs at the American Refugee Committee about how to "break-in" to the international service sector, and about his experiences spanning from Cambodia to Los Angeles.
Potential Jobs in the Field/Potential Projects:
ARC Relief International
As a refugee camp manager, you could be responsible for the operations and management for hundreds, possibly thousands of people, in a refugee camp. Your duties would include ensuring all programs are operational, managing relationships with local leaders and headquarters to ensure the quality of services, distributing physical supplies, and developing new programs to help refugees.
Peace Corps Volunteer Videos
As a Peace Corps volunteer you could be doing a variety of different tasks. You could be assigned to work in education, business development, agriculture, health, or youth development. Videos of all the different opportunities through the Peace Corps are in the link above.
Resources on Campus:
Alternative Spring BreakInitiative through the Office of Student Affairs to help fund alternative winter, spring, and summer break projects volunteering internationally.
Columbia College Alumni and Parent Internship Fund Fund run through the Center for Career Education providing students with funding for unpaid internships (both domestic and abroad) over the summer.
Columbia University Engineers Without Borders Student group that supports community-driven development programs worldwide by collaborating with local partners to design and implement sustainable engineering projects, while creating transformative experiences and responsible leaders.
Peace Corps Peace Corps
International Volunteer Program International Volunteer Program: Not-for-profit helping people wanting to volunteer abroad develop programs with over 3000 volunteer opportunities (paid program)
Davis Projects for Peace An initiative for all students at the Davis United World College Scholars Program partner schools to design grassroots projects for the summer with $10,000 grants given out to selected projects.