Watch your language… and wallet

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The past weeks I have been busy with work and some personal writing. And in the coming ones I will be, like some of you, job-hunting! Do you have some tips for me this time?

Here’s some reading to munch on over the weekend…


Remember when I wrote about learning and including the jargons in the area and sector in your statement of interest, which I termed bureaucratese. The New York Times recently featured a study on how the World Bank’s use of language has evolved, from using precise words to more amorphous language like cooperation and more recently, governance. Here’s an example:

“Countries in the region are emerging as key players on issues of global concern, and the Bank’s role has been to support their efforts by partnering through innovative platforms for an enlightened dialogue and action on the ground, as well as by supporting South–South cooperation.”

Now let me go back to mainstreaming the graduation model into the global development agenda. Moving forward…


On a related note, here’s 10 tricks to appear smart during meetings in your development organization.


One of the reasons people are attracted to working in development is the cushy compensation. Do you really know how much expats earn? My eyes went O_O the first time I heard about out some years back. A local aid worker asks whether this is justified given similar (or at times, better) skill set of the national staff than the international hire. Don’t forget to browse the comments section.


I consider myself mostly lucky when it comes to my career. What role does luck play in landing awesome jobs and getting ahead in life? A big one, apparently. Just something to keep in mind when the going gets tough and that dream job application falls through. And I’m saying this based on personal experience.


I had a good chat via Skype with one reader from Bangalore who’s now interning for a research institute. Among other topics we discussed, he asked me about my day to day tasks in my previous and current work, which I hope to write more about in the future.


Have a good weekend!

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Aid and altruism

Some months ago, a friend and I met up with someone visiting DC who is also working in international development. We had dinner and went to my favorite dive bar to discuss what has been keeping us busy these past years. Our conversation later focused on the altruistic part of international development work or its waning presence. Maybe for some professionals, this is a major component for taking up this career.

I was reminded of this encounter as I followed an online debate  in the New York Times about whether to maintain or cut down US foreign aid. Three days later, The Washington Post published a front page story about the progress of reconstruction work after the earthquake disaster in Haiti. Both pieces’ seem to tackle the altruistic nature of aid or ‘official development assistance’ as it is know in bureaucratic jargon. This is more apparent in one side of the argument of the Times debate: money ‘given’ to developing countries should be spent in the US instead. While the Times debate set a short-sighted tone of the debate on foreign aid versus federal budget at the outset, the comments drove down to the purpose of foreign aid as a foreign policy tool or soft power, and by following the money, on whose hands majority of the money ends up.

Does altruism still have a place in international development? I guess the answer is yes and no. The Times discussion put into perspective its other political if not non-altruistic uses. The Post article brought to light the ‘good’ part of aid (if it’s a PR piece is another story)- putting a roof on people’s heads, food on their table, and a new lease on life.