NGOs/ HALO Trust etc

Discussion in 'Jobs (Discussion)' started by Charlie_Cong, Sep 8, 2005.

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  1. Having left recently after my SSC I'm looking at NGO/ Not-for-Profit organisations.

    I've applied to HALO Trust and the Mines Advisory Group. Also met a girl while climbing who works for OSCE and says that ex-Army officers are attractive candidates for quite a few NGOs.

    Anyone got advice/ experiences to share ?

    Would be much appreciated
  2. I have heard they are quite difficult to get into, although it may be different for ex officers. I do know that Birmingham University offers a masters course in regneration and relief of poverty (something like that). ´There are two quite similar but one offers 3 months working with an NGO so could be a good way into it. Its the route I will most probably take.
  3. Hmmm where to start? I am an ex-Gunner Capt now working for the UN in Kosovo (and earning approx EUR110,000 per annum, all allowances included). The problem with a lot of NGOs is that some actively dislike Army types (they prefer guardian reading lefties), a greater problem is that you are British: many international NGOs have unnoficial quotas of the number of Brits, Yanks and Scandanavians that they will employ at any one time. Why? Because the French, Greeks, Spaniards, Italians do not want to be shown for the lazy buggers they are.

    Many people you will meet in an operational area (i.e. Kosovo, Aceh, Sri Lanka, etc) will have their own agenda that has nothing to do with improving the lives of the people they are supposed to be helping (the French and the Germans are worst for this). You could say that this is because they have a different culture and work ethic and a different ethos, but it would be missing a perfect opportunity to slag them off! Many people you meet will also be doing all they can to extend their contract. This leads to "short-termism"; a policy where they only undertake minor projects and missions that can show a concrete results in 4-5 months (for when their contract renews), rather than them starting a major project that will take 1-2 years to bear fruit, but actually make a much more positive difference to the local situation.

    I would break down the percentages of the types of people as follows:

    People trying to make a positive impact (may still be a nobber): Voluteers 100%, Salaried people: 35%
    Complete cnuts: 30% (of which 30% will also be actively corrupt and dishonest)
    Lazy_Bastards: 10%
    Really decent guys, working hard and good to have a beer with: 25%

    For a UN mission in Africa the above percentages change to:
    Complete Cnuts: 98% (of which 100% will also be actively corrupt)
    Decent guys (Brit, Scandanavian or Yank): 2%

    Some outfits are a lot better than others. The UN (who I work for) are useless and driven more by petty politics and bureaucracy than by any desire to get things done. 80% of the fcukers seem to just there for the money and to renew their contracts. Corruption (as seen in news Oil for Food etc, is a real problem. They love employing black lesbians from little african toilet countries and turning a blind eye to corruption. Complain that they are incompetent and if you are Brit or Yank then you will get accused of racism.

    Same can be said of UNDP, UNHCR etc, but these cnuts are even more left wing, forcing their own tatty politics and social engineering ideas on unsuspecting locals. I hate them.

    IOM: Pots of cash and good guys. American lead (funny that) and they go by results and want results fast. One of the only UN affiliates that actually puts its money where its mouth is and does something. Very hard to get into though.

    For all of the above it helps (enormously) if you have AT LEAST a good degree and 3-5 years experience in the field being recruited. To progress beyond 2-3 years with any of them you will need a Masters Degree.

    NGOs. There are millions of these little cochroaches underfoot. They go from well known, well established and rich to one man and his dog in a landrover, and they interfere (err... assist) in every aspect of an operation. The best ones are neutral, the worst are the religeous and biased ones (we will only build houses in Albanian areas next to Serb areas because we are Muslim and we hate the Serbs etc).

    You mentioned 2 of the most respected NGOs in your post: HALO Trust and MAG. I have seen both in operation, and was almost foolish enough to join HALO in 2001! The interview is fun (it was at their offices in the middle of nowhere in Scotland), as all the members currently there pile into the room and fire questions at you. The founder of the Trust is one of the sharpest and most intense people you will ever meet. He controls over 3,000 people around the world with an HQ staff of about 4 (some Brit and Yank Comds take note!).

    If you pass the interview they will speak to your previous commanders and should they still like you (i.e. you didnt try and 'Walt' them), then they will offer you a job. The initial 6 months or so will be in a stable country learning demining (was Cambodia, might have changed). After you have gained your Class 1 deminer qualification you will then go to one of their more 'active' countries and for 6 months you will shadow the expat in charge there. Then he will leave and you will be on your own with up to 600 locals.

    Anyone who works with the HALO trust has my respect (and I think they are mad). They do not tend to work in the 'easy' countries, but go where no other demining NGO will go. They were first into Eritrea, and until the last bombing round (Dec 2001?) they had over 800 people in Afghanistan as well as central african countries. You can be a couple of days drive from the next white man or restuarant, and living conditions are hard. Takes a very rare sort of person to work with HALO for more than 2 years. Did I mention that you will also be kept working 18 hours a day for all that time? They are pushed hard.

    Pay is not good. In 2001 a new employee would be paid about GBP22k per annum gross (but tax free). All meals in camp are provided, but if you want anything other than road-kill and rice then you pay for it. I cannot remember the number of flights per year you get or time off. I just remember thinking that it wasnt near enough (but then they want people motivated by the desire to achieve something, rather than by cash - after all they are a charity).
    • Show again braincell Show again braincell x 1
  4. Interesting write up. Not surprised there are a lot of short timers after the cash, thats a pretty fat pay packet there!
  5. Thanks Dread, much appreciated.

    I've yet to go up to Dumfries to see Guy but hope to do so soon. Appreciate your points about HALO - sounds like they do work damn hard. Waiting for a response from MAG. From their website etc the two organisations look pretty similar - in your experience are they equally as hardcore? Have to say I've a great deal of respect for the responsibility and dedication of HALO but it requires a lot of commitment. Still I suppose breaking in to a field of work is always difficult.

    Apologies - but what is IOM?
    Aside from them are there any orgs which are ex-Army friendly? As you mentioned there do seem to be a lot of ex-SOAS MA graduates fighting to get in.

  6. You catch me as I am going on leave for a week, so I will be very brief now, but will PM with you a full reply on my return.

    IOM is the International Organisation of Migration. They do so much more than their name suggests (building projects, capability creation, training, funding, etc).

    HALO is hard core, but if you did 2 years with them then you would be able to get a job in any demining company/organisation in the world (at a much higher salary), and even if you didnt want to be a deminer, having that on your CV would get you an interview to almost any job you applied. The deminer in my office (ex RE EOD) was looking for work and was approached by an oil company. Not to demine sites in sunny places, but to lay a minefield to dissuade the locals from coming close to the facilities!! (country was Equatorial Guinea). Funnily enough he said no!

    I will get together a small list of (what I perceive) friendly NGOs. My list will not be exhaustive however (lack of experience and theatres on my part).
    • Show again braincell Show again braincell x 1
  7. International Organization For Migration...

    They help people to emigrate if they have no chance of making it in their own former War torn Country, they also help re-job former warring factions etc.

    Usually take on a local capacity i.e. Doctors and Staff and normally run by an International Head of Mission (Swiss, American, Canadian etc.)
  8. Dread, would you be able to give me a little advice of what type of work experience will be good to get on with a good NGO or such like. Unlike Charlie I do not have officer experience but am in my final year of a law degree specialing in International law, human rights and armed conflict.
  9. Jest,

    Don't fret, honestly. I've got more to fear in competing with people like you with relevant degrees than you have to fear my little experience!
  10. I too am working for the UN and have been for the past 11 years.

    All that Dread says is true, although there are a lot of good people in the system, but the system is what really needs overhaulling.

    If anyone has any specific questions they can pm me if they like.
  11. I doubt it, law degrees are two a penny these days (have 600 people in my year alone and thats just one uni) and the amount of people wanting to go into this from all different degree backgrounds is unbelieveable. I think experience is a lot more valuable than a degree.

    I really want to get some work experience in where I can, but I think it will be very difficult to get.
  12. All interesting valuable stuff, especially Dread's input.

    How do non graduates or ex ORs (with lots of experience) fare when competing against graduates and/or ex officers for employment with NGOs/UN etc?
  13. Jest, have you looked at contract employment with the FCO? They cut back a lot on the number of people they sponsor for OSCE, especially in the Balkans, but I believe they are now in the process of extending their list to include potential EU missions in the future. There is a lot of competition for this kind of work but my experience is, when they need you, they need you.
  14. I checked out their site and it doesn't really seem to be what I am after, a lot seems to be based in the Uk and is more about promotion of Britain than anything else.

    I did look into the work experience they offer but unfortunately if you're a white, British origin female you can't have one as you don't fit into a minority catergory.
  15. Try looking at the UN website at Trust me the UN in well into gender discrimination. In any case where two candidates are of equal merit, the female will be picked. If not the selector has to give an explanation in writing as to why they are so sexist as to select a male.

    If you fancy mission service, be it Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan etc they are always crying out for women to apply, if your are from any sort of minority it also helps, as they must be seen to be applying geographic and gender spread.

    PM me if you have specific questions.