I have had amazing experiences here in France and I am so grateful to have had this opportunity – particularly because it showed me that although I really admire the work NGOs do, I may not necessarily want to work in this field in the future. I thought that because NGOs are not tied to governmental bodies, they have more capabilities than other organizations, but now I have been made aware that this comes with consequences and diplomacy is always necessary and essential in IR, no matter your affiliations (or lack thereof).
For one, there are several threats to NGOs, particularly ones involved in humanitarian work like the one I have been working at this summer. Funding is often hard to come by (particularly when a lot of “shmoozing” has to be done in the name of diplomacy, which often involves dinners at fancy restaurants) and I’ve found out from my coworkers (all of which have worked at several NGOs in the past) that monetary issues are not uncommon in this line of work, and often the change we are trying to make in the world doesn’t necessarily line up with the personal interests of those who are critical in actually getting anything done. For example, we need as many signatories on our documents as possible to make a difference and politicians’ names are often most recognized and respected to journalists, who we need to publish our calls to action and other writings, and those who may fund our future and present projects.
I also don’t necessarily like the casual atmosphere of NGOs because although that is nice, I prefer a more original and orderly work environment. This leads me to believe that I am much more interested in working for governmental bodies and/or with the legal aspects of international relations. In my work, I have found myself most interested in reading about governmental intervention and appeals in our endeavors as well as the legal aspect of what we are doing and what we can do to help with human security.
From my studies at Pitt, I thought I would be more suited to work for an NGO, but now that I actually have experience in this work-field, I feel much more comfortable knowing that I have a concrete idea in what I am interested in – and that I am on the right track academically to follow my professional aspirations.
Although I may be more interested in a less casual work environment, I am forever grateful to have been able to meet the people in my office this summer because they are all so friendly and welcoming! This past weekend, I was invited on a trip to Normandy with some of my friends from the office and I had such a great time! Hopefully, I will still be able to make great friends in a workplace I am more interested in professionally.
I hope everyone is doing well and having a great time! 🙂