Working for USAID
A master’s degree in international relations provides the foundational knowledge and professional skills you will need for a career in the field—which may include a service career in the government and nonprofit sectors. Students in these programs gain an in-depth understanding of international politics, nation-to-nation relationships, the growing global morality gap, and sustainable international development. If you are specifically interested in sustainable development graduate programs, then a master’s in international relations (MIR) may be the best fit for you.
Similar to a sustainable international development degree, an MIR requires students to focus on an interdisciplinary curriculum that incorporates hands-on field experience and research on world issues, such as widespread disease, poverty and climate change. If these are topics you are passionate about, then you will find a wide range of opportunities with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
As the leading U.S. government agency that provides humanitarian assistance to developing countries, USAID has a twofold mission: promoting U.S. interests abroad while improving lives in the developing world. Founded by President John F. Kennedy in 1961, USAID is responsible for global initiatives that address hunger, health, human rights, environmental degradation, governance, economic growth, world trade, and crises brought on by natural disasters and conflict.
USAID Direct-Hire and Private Sector Positions
USAID’s workforce is made up of direct-hire and contract employees based in the U.S. and at field missions around the world. A wide variety of technical, managerial, analytical, and operational skills are required to help the agency achieve its international development mission. Direct hires must apply online at USAJOBS, the federal government’s official job search website, and submit a cover letter and resume. Prospective employees are also required to obtain Top Secret clearance and pass a federal employment background check.
USAID also hires from the private sector through personal services contracts in accordance with Federal Acquisition Rules. Purchase Orders and Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs) are also used to pay consultants stationed in Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia, Africa, Europe, Eurasia, and the Middle East. You can search for USAID contractor positions on the FedBizOpps website.
USAID Local Employment
In addition to private sector and direct hires, USAID also employs locally for Foreign Service Nationals who are able to provide vital program and support functions. To be considered for local employment, you must be eligible to work in the country where you want to be hired. Those who are interested in USAID local employment should visit the mission website for the specific country where they want to work or consult the online mission directory for contact information.
From lead action officer to chief information officer positions, USAID offers careers that “foster transformational growth around the world.” That growth involves supporting economic and agricultural growth, researching solutions for global health issues, providing humanitarian assistance in less developed countries, and tackling emerging international conflicts. International relations programs and sustainable development graduate programs will provide you with the necessary training and experience you will need to effect positive change on a global level.