How to get into IC

Are you interested in a career in international cooperation, but do not know how to get started? This happens to many. Starting off in this field is very challenging and there is no simple recipe. And the entry process differs in some respects from other professions.

Working in international cooperation (IC) means applying your own professional knowledge to this particular field and building on it. Learning through professional practice (experiential learning), as opposed to formal education and further training, is highly valued. Education and training supplement professional experience, they do not replace it.

For this reason there are few clearly defined entry points into IC, and not all of them are open to those interested. Much depends on your personal circumstances such as age, occupation and work experience. As a result, you generally have to create your own entry points, step by step. It can take some years before you have enough experience to compete in the IC labour market.

If you envisage focusing your profession completely, or long-term, in IC, you should immerse yourself as soon as possible and as deeply as possible in IC and its labour market. As a general rule, the younger you are, the more entry points there are open to you.

Not everything can be influenced

A successful start in IC only partly depends on planning because you cannot influence every factor. Anyone choosing a profession should therefore ask: «Would I still study this field if I wasn’t employed in IC?»

However, a career in IC demands completed studies and professional experience. The relatively high work standards in IC require qualified employees. You must also be willing to get international experience, if possible from the beginning.

Essential considerations before starting

Starting off in IC requires immersing yourself in career planning: What is my situation? Where do I want to go? What drives me? What do I value besides my professional career? It is worth evaluating these medium- to long-term perspectives, not to set your future in stone, but to enable you to thoroughly assess different options and their consequences.

If you are in the process of trying to get into IC, you should also think about your motivation: Where exactly in IC do I want to be? General expressions of motivation are not sufficient to match the diversity of professional fields, functions and types of organisations in IC.

This might also interest you:

Discover IC Panorama

What does international cooperation mean? In the panorama of the IC working world you will find definitions, actors and career examples.

Orientation map

Finding your place in international cooperation starts with knowing yourself: use these questions to reflect more deeply and find the information you need.

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