Getting started in a human rights career is exciting, but it can be tricky to find early work experience. There are always internships and volunteering opportunities, but at some point, you want to find a job. Here are five organizations that offer entry-level and early career vacancies:
This international NGO extends into 40+ countries in response to human rights crisis. Their work includes resettling refugees, providing financial aid, assisting health workers in sick communities, and offering access to education. The IRC helps all members of a community with a special focus on problems facing women and girls. Many positions with the IRC are open to employees just starting in their career. An Officer position requires a minimum of two years of relevant work experience, while the org also offers internships and fellowships.
For over a century, this Virginia-based NGO has provided social and legal services for refugees and immigrants. Their work includes advocacy in the United States and abroad; their mission is to protect the rights of refugees and immigrants worldwide. Every year, they release a report – The World Refugee Survey – that examines the position of refugees, asylum seekers, and internally-displaced people country-by-country. There are opportunities for managers and assistants in the USCRI that don’t require many years of experience. The role of an Administrative Assistant, who reports to the Program Director and often handles confidential projects, requires a minimum of just two years in an administrative support role.
A highly-regarded organization, the ICRC has won three Nobel Peace Prizes. It currently operates in nearly 100 countries as part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent movement. Its work includes organizing nursing and health care for those injured in war, supervising the treatment of POWs, protecting civil populations, and so on. For those starting out in human rights, the ICRC offers “traineeships,” which are designed for recent graduates eager to dip their toe in international work. These paid opportunities are all based in Geneva, the ICRC’s headquarters, and last between 6-12 months.
Founded in 1987, this international NGO focuses on advancing democratic rights and good governance. This work includes assisting election officials, research that can help the process, and encouraging people to participate and vote. It currently has programs in over 30 countries and provides assistance for 145 countries. Associate and assistant jobs at IFES often require very little experience; for example, the Program Associate requires 0-2 years of experience, though internships are a bonus. This junior position can be found in multiple countries where IFES works.
This specialized agency of the UN consists of five programs: education, natural sciences, human/social sciences, culture, and communication/information. In practice, the work includes teacher training programs, promotion of freedom of the press, cultural history projects, translations of world literature, and more. Associate positions with UNESCO usually require an advanced university degree, but are considered entry-level, so a minimum of two years is all that’s required. For example, the Associate Program Specialist job asks for two years of work experience in “the field of culture, including at the international level.”
Find out more about human rights jobs.