International Development & Charities festival highlights

IDC highlights

The International Development and charities festival provided a wealth of tips and advice from Cambridge alumni and others working in the development and charities sector. We’ve gathered some highlights for you to learn more. 

Getting Work Experience

A common question our students wanted answered was how to get meaningful work experience in a sector where formal structured internships can be difficult to find. Our speakers’ answers covered a range of different types of experience they have had themselves or have seen when they’re recruiting for roles. 

  • Volunteering 
  • Short courses/online learning 
  • Informal research, perhaps from networking or following social media 
  • Formal research (e.g. a dissertation) for good 
  • Related internships/paid work- including opportunities at university to get involved in research projects as an assistant or in widening participation and outreach 
  • Internships/paid work outside of the charity and development sector. That could be casual work building your administrative skills in an office or interacting with members of the public in a shop or bar. It could also be something more typically considered  ‘professional’ work, perhaps an internship in the private sector 

There was also an interesting discussion around unpaid opportunities and what to look out for. 


This patchwork effect of different experiences makes it even more important that you’re able to give a coherent narrative about the skills and qualities that you have developed over time and how you will be able to apply them too work in the third sector. The second highlights video as examples of people talking about the skills that they see as having been crucial to their career. There’s such a wide variety of different roles within the sector that it’s impossible to give the definitive list of essential skills. However, listening to people talking about what’s been important for them should give you some ideas of what might form part of your own skills to develop and find evidence for. 

  • Working in diverse teams and communities 
  • Data gathering, analysis and communication 
  • Languages 
  • Project management 
  • Flexibility 


people sometimes think of networking as a fairly corporate endeavour but in the sometimes niche world of charting development, it can also play an important part. Perhaps you want to learn more about the skills that are vital in a particular role or charity that you want to target, perhaps you want to find opportunities to gain work experience, perhaps you’ve got more questions that haven’t been answered here and you want to get answers straight from the horse’s mouth! This last video offer some examples and suggestions of how you could go about it including 

  • Reaching out to people you don’t know, also called the ‘speculative’ approach 
  • Expanding your network through referrals and friends of friends 
  • Getting your foot in the door with volunteering or early-career jobs 
  • Social media, including LinkedIn 
  • Events, including those run by the careers service. 

if you want an opportunity to practise networking and find out more how about some of the topics raised, this year’s International Development and charities festival runs from the 6-17 February

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