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10 human rights organizations offering entry level NGO jobs

Landing a human rights job in an international non-governmental organization (NGO) is not easy. For many, the career path involves years of working for a local NGO before applying for a senior position with a global impact.

Nevertheless, many international human rights organizations offer amazing entry level jobs on a regular basis. This means that these large organizations, too, look forward to hiring early career human rights professionals so that they can use their knowledge, skills, and ambition to make significant changes in our societies.

Here are 10 international human rights organization that regularly look for early career professionals.

International Rescue Committee (IRC)

International Rescue Committee (IRC) is an international NGO which respond to some of the gravest human rights crisis in the world, helping countries and societies stabilize, rebuilding communities, and resettling refugees. It offers a range of human rights and humanitarian entry level jobs in more than 40 countries around the world. For example, working as an Officer for IRC usually requires prospective candidates to have only two or more years of relevant work experience.

In addition to these positions, it is also possible to join IRC as an intern or a fellow, both in the U.S. and internationally. Some of these vacancies are advertised on the official job board, while others are reserved for specific institutions such as Princeton and Harvard.

Front Line Defenders

Front Line Defenders is a human rights organization originally established in Dublin, Ireland, with the goal of protecting human rights advocates. Over the years, the organization has opened offices in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and the Americas, in addition to the EU office in Brussels.

The organization regularly advertises entry level positions as well as fellowships for new human rights professionals on its website. Paid fellowships, which last up to a year, are envisaged as training programs for early career professionals who can have little or no experience working for human rights organizations. Other full-time positions, such as Project Coordinator for instance, typically require a minimum of three years of relevant work experience.

Save the Children

Save the Children is a leading international organization when it comes to child protection and children’s rights, working in dozens of countries across the globe. The organization’s online portals list a variety of job opportunities, including internships and entry level vacancies. Candidates can search for the most suitable positions through Save the Children’s US and international websites.

Positions such as Project Assistant or Human Rights Assistant require merely two years of work experience. Save the Children employs both national and international staff in countries where the organization has a presence. Typically, there are several entry level positions advertised at any given moment.

Occasionally, Save the Children also advertises paid internships, which typically last for 12 months. To be eligible, candidates should possess a relevant Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree, in which case no professional experience is necessary.

Oxfam

One of the organizations leading the movement for worldwide change is Oxfam. This international organization cooperates with thousands of partner organizations to fight world poverty and injustice. Candidates can apply for a job within the International Secretariat, which could place them in Oxford, the US, Brussels, and several other locations. The online job board allows the candidates to choose an appropriate job level and type, such as internships or entry level; however, such vacancies are limited.

On the other hand, candidates are encouraged to search for human rights jobs with Oxfam affiliates – that is, regional and national Oxfam offices – which offer many more entry level positions. For instance, Oxfam affiliates regularly look for new human rights professionals to fill in positions such as Project Assistant, which can require as little as one year of relevant work experience, in a variety of crisis areas in the world.

Human Rights Watch

Another organization known for its inspiring human rights-related work, Human Rights Watch, employs thousands of people in its global offices. The organization broadly defines its vacancies as Professional/Managerial, Early Career, Fellowship, and Internship/Volunteering. That said, on the online job board, early career human rights professionals can easily single out available vacancies suitable for their professional experience. Typically, Human Rights Watch offers several entry level vacancies on a regular basis. For example, the requirements for Associate positions, which employ local or national staff, require a relevant bachelor’s degree and a minimum of one or two years of professional experience.

Each year, Human Rights Watch also offers a number of fellowship programs which aim to train new human rights professionals and provide them with valuable hands-on experience.

Human Rights First

Human Rights First is a US-founded advocacy and action organization dedicated to inspiring meaningful changes for the betterment of human rights. Renowned for its work with refugees and migrants, this non-governmental organization regularly recruits interns and early career professionals to work on Refugee Protection, Refugee Representation, Communications, and other areas. Legal Fellows, required to have some related professional experience, are frequently needed to assist Human Rights First across the United States. These and other exciting positions are posted on the organization’s website.

Amnesty International

Amnesty International has one of the most global and vocal presences of all international human rights organizations, monitoring human rights records and causing effective advances in the sphere of human rights in dozens of countries. This organizations regularly employs human rights professionals to work in one of its multiple international offices. Vacancies are typically categorized as Global Fundraising and Engagement, Global Operations, International Law and Policy, People and Services, and Research. That said, early career human rights professionals can join as Campaigners, Researchers, Communication officers, or Coordinators with as little as a couple of years of related experience. Amnesty International is known for not enlisting a specific number of years of work experience necessary for a particular position, but it is more interested in finding a candidate with the right set of skills to conduct most efficient human rights work. On the job board, human rights practitioners can regularly find a number of entry level positions.

Freedom House

One of the world’s most famous organizations supporting democratic values and change, Freedom House recruits human rights professionals both domestically, in its New York or Washington, DC offices, and internationally, in places such as Ukraine and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Interested candidates can support the work of the organization in various ways, joining as Assistants, Monitoring and Evaluations Specialists, Proposal Coordinators, or Program Associates. Entry level positions such as Project Assistant, for example, require the employee to have a Bachelor’s degree and desirable two years of relevant work experience. Sometimes, Freedom House advertises jobs for which even less work experience is necessary, such as for instance Proposal Coordinator position, for which a minimum of six months of related work experience would be sufficient. Domestic and international early career opportunities are advertised on Freedom House’s job board.

The Association of Women’s Rights in Development (AWID)

AWID is a prominent international women’s rights organization which has worked tirelessly towards achieving gender equality and sustainable development for decades. The organization conducts meaningful human rights work both in North America, in the U.S. and Canada, and internationally. Prospective candidates can apply for different positions which involve working on the field, doing monitoring and evaluation, campaigning, or legal work. While some more advanced positions require a substantial amount of related work experience, AWID also regularly looks for Coordinators and Officers who have some prior work experience in the field and a working understanding of the area they will be working in, which opens doors for many early career professionals. AWID also offers paid internships for candidates who have a minimum of one year professional experience.

These jobs, advertised on AWID’s website, are often a part of joint projects with organizations such as IRC.

Open Society Foundations

For decades, the Open Society Foundations (OSF) have started and supported hundreds of initiatives to create more tolerant societies and accountable, democratic government around the world. Working on nearly all imaginable human rights issues – from minority rights to public health and justice – the OSF has built a strong presence in nearly every region in the world. Known as one of the most giving foundations, the OSF regularly employs early career professionals as Legal Assistants, Communication Officers, Project Assistants and others who can join the foundations after only a couple of years of relevant work experience. In addition to jobs, the OSF also supports early career professionals who share its values through fellowships. Fellowships can include working on an own project or a paid placement in one of the international offices.

About the author

Maja Davidovic

Maja Davidovic is a Serbian-born independent researcher and Human Rights graduate. She holds her M.A. degree from Central European University in Budapest, and had previously lived and worked in Greece, Turkey and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Maja mostly researches about women’s rights, child protection and transitional justice, and has been involved with organizations such as MSF and OSCE, as well grassroots initiatives. You may follow her on her newly-made Twitter profile @MajaADavidovic, where she aspires to open discussions on a variety of human rights-related issues.