Career in Development Sector
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Do I really want to work in development sector?

Among the different professional sectors, among the enormous number of professional skills needed in the market, among the various motives for work, why choosing a career in development in the first place?

  • Is it because of the availability of opportunities in the development sector – sometimes – versus scarcity of such opportunities at a certain point of time somewhere else?
  • Is it because of my network of people who are affiliated with the field of development in some way or another?
  • Is it because it is a non-profitable field that yields a considerable profit on the individual level?
  • Is it because something specific that I – was a human being – want to accomplish for the people’s interests?

Many people have started their careers in the field of development coincidently. But some others they knew very well what they are heading for, they had their life calculations in their mind, they kept nourishing it throughout their way in the development path.

When you are working in the field of development it is highly crucial to have an answer to the above-mentioned questions, because if you don’t have clear answers, your journey in development will be a source of boredom to you rather than a source of feeling alive.

In the sector of development, it is important for the employees to have an end, a purpose, an aim, because of which they have joined this field and which they are trying for their whole lives to fulfill through joining this field, dedicating time and effort, even if they get paid on monthly basis.

A profession in the field of development can’t be just a job.

Why so? Because there are people relying on us everywhere in the world, we are motivating life changes for different categories of marginalized people, we are restructuring people’s fulfilled and unfulfilled needs allover the world, and somehow or another, we are controlling scarcity of resources vs. availability of resources through our daily tasks.

The development is playing a very important role in today’s world, that’s why it can’t be just a job.

Whether you are playing this role through your job in the IT or finance department, in business development department, or program implementation units, it has to be very clear to the naked eye that working for a development entity is a big responsibility that we have to be ahead of.

5 reasons why I can’t blossom in my career in the development sector?

1) Job oriented attitude…

If you can’t perceive how big your role is, how your many countless efforts in your job end up with real changes in people’s lives, if you can’t drive out the passion inside you towards the previously this fact, then you won’t be able to spark in your department or in the organization as a whole.

You may mistakenly think that your job – if it is not a front job – then it’s not having any lively changes subsequent to it. But guess what? This is totally incorrect. Simply because people in the front yard will never be able to deliver
their lively changing deliverables without you being there, delivering your services to them; your very non-people-oriented services to them.

You are as important as the guys designing a new project, monitoring and evaluating the current projects, managing current projects, creating potential partnerships, and leading the implementation of life-changing interventions.

2) You are not foreseeing real impact…

You might as well become not sure of how you – may be a small role – yielding any life changes for the beneficiaries.
In this case, I will agree with you, upon the fact that you won’t really perceive what kind of changes your efforts can yield on the field level if you don’t know how you – as a non-front employee – are contributing to the bigger picture.

In this case, I might invite you to imagine with me the following:

The development project is an idea / or some ideas that came to the mind of someone, business development department phrased it and marketed it in cooperation with the finance department, various thematic advisors, numerous field personnel, and few managers.

The written project masterpiece was phrased on the laptop that was operationalized by the IT department which purchased it with the help of the operation department with the fund of the donors here and there. After the project is finally framed and approved by the donor – after many emails and reviews – it was sent by the relevant personnel to the relevant governmental authority to approve the fund.

Right after this cycle, the HR department announces the vacancies of the project staff, monitors the application process, conducts the interviews with the relevant technical personnel, and finally, the staff is hired.

The staff now is ready to deliver the final product to the beneficiaries, ensure the benefit, maximize the profit on behalf of the beneficent communities, and monitor the project till its last phase, and evaluate it for the results to be used in upcoming projects in the same thematic area.

Now, we can’t conclude that the final touch of the project staff is actually implying that only the project staff is delivering a tangible benefit to the beneficiaries.

But actually, every single person involved in this process from its very beginning; starting from the security guard, the genitors, ending by the country director, each one in this chain is contributing to the final product delivered to the beneficiary. Within this framework, your passion should drive you.

3) Changes are hard to occur:

If you are living in a developing country, you might think that it is so hard to drive real changes on the ground.

However, yes, it is hard, but not impossible.
Remember what I’m going to say;
The development field is like a billiard table, you only have to strike the first ball .. and watch its impact, ending by one ball either missing the goal but too close to it, or actually hitting the target goal.
In the development, you can’t predict which ball is going to hit which ball, and how exactly the final goal shall be accomplished.
But you have always got to do your best, starting from the situational analysis ending by striking the right ball, and watch the results, and learn, and then do it all again and again and again, until the final goal is accomplished – Which will drive us to the next point.

4) You will find me always in my office…

No matter whether you are in the program team or in IT team or finance, in order to drive your passion, it’s of utmost importance to leave your office and pay the field a visit every now and then.

You must be able to witness the changes you are driving, the life improvements that you were a hidden drive for it, the victories, the failures, the laughter, and the tears.

This will definitely get you to understand how your working hours in the office are influencing other peoples’ lives.
It will give you the taste of reality, instead of only dealing with computers, numbers, and paper.

5) The sense of self-awareness – or mostly; lack of awareness

It is important for you to be aware of why you’re joining this organization in the
first place.
If you found yourself joining just because it was the available opportunity at some point in time; then I recommend you reconsider your inner drives. You don’t have to be sensing the real-life changes when you apply for the job. But after getting accepted, I fully recommend you to get your self in the loop of development realm. Here are few suggestions on how to do this:

  •  Read project narrative reports
  • Watch project’s documentaries
  • Read the project’s final evaluation reports
  • Attend the important global or local visits to the field
  • Read the success stories

The above mentioned few alternatives will definitely help you figure out why you are in this place, will help you imagine the consequent changes with or without your role will help you to become attached to the field of development more and more.


The field of development is a sensitive field, I personally consider it like the medical profession, your contribution either will get someone to be awakened from death or will actually contribute to his/her death.

  • Yes, it can’t be phrased in another way, sorry for that.
  • The development field is the only safe way – especially in the developing countries – through which we can plan for doing something good for the interest of people whom we don’t know, and actually succeed in doing it.
  • It is a riskless opportunity, unlike politics for instance. It is purely heading towards the pure goodness of the people, and it’s definitely going to pay you back with coins of humanity not only financial coins.
  • It is a real passion for the people wishing to do something that really counts in the future of someone.

Well, best of luck for all the folks working in development, monitor your contributions, evaluate it, celebrate the successes, learn from the failures, and do it all over again and again and again.

About The Author


Heba Maher

Heba Maher is a development sector specialist for over 10 years. She has worked in different sub-specializations, on top of the Education, Youth empowerment, Civic participation, and Women Empowerment. Her passion is highly derived from civic participation, Monitor and Evaluation, Gender mainstreaming, and social accountability interventions.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Why do you want to work in development sector?
You have the opportunity to address social challenges, promote social justice, and work towards an equitable and inclusive society. Every time you listen to a success story and realise that you were a

5 reasons why I can’t blossom in my career in the development sector?
The 5 reasons are Job Oriented Attitude,You Are Not Foreseeing Real Impact, Changes Are Hard To Occur, You Will Find Me Always In My Office, The Sense Of Self-Awareness – Or Mostly; Lack Of Awareness

What does it mean to work in development?
A career in development is about the relationships you build, the connections you make, and the time you put into creating lasting ties. Whether you are writing grants, planning special events, growin

What are your top 3 skills development priorities?
In general, you should focus on three types of skill areas: functional, self-management and special knowledge skills. In this post, we'll explore why these skills are so important and reveal how they

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