How to become an aid professional

by David Week on 05 November 2010

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First: you need to know what an aid “professional” might look like, and the hazards (and potential strengths) of being an aid “amateur.” There’s been a small debate on the blogs recently, and Saundra of Good Intentions has posted a cool summary of the results, here.

Everyone starts at some time as an amateur, and learns from there. Sometimes the first step is in the field. Sometimes it’s in a donor-country office. Sometimes its in an academic degree course. And if the pool of professionals is going to grow, we in the development community need to provide paths for new professionals to enter the field and grow.

It’s good to remember too that:

  • Mhd Yunus was a development amateur when he founded Grameen—he was an academic economist. And he seems to have made a contribution without a degree in development.
  • The word “amateur” comes the Latin “amare”, to love, and the word “amateur” originally referred to person who worked for love of what they were doing, rather than for payment. In that sense, no matter how professional we become, it seems like a good ideas to always remain an amateur at heart.

My next post will be reflection on my own career path, and what lessons might be drawn from that.

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