Disclosure: Human Rights Careers may be compensated by course providers.
Magazine

Learning Path: Working for NGOs and International Organizations

Online Courses are an accessible way to learn more about human rights and develop some of the essential skills and knowledge required to work in the human rights sector. For this purpose, we have identified several courses that will be especially useful when you aim to work for International Organizations and NGOs. The courses are free to try or audit. You can choose to opt-in for a paid verified certificate for an extra fee for each course. If you plan to follow through with several of the courses listed below, consider Coursera plus, which will give you access to all courses in this list including the certified credentials.

Get Access To All Courses

1 Learn about the basics of human rights and related disciplines

To work in the human rights sector, you need to understand the basics. What are human rights laws? Who makes and enforces them? Who protects them? What is the role of states, international organizations, local NGOs and individuals? How do human rights courts work and what are complaint procedures to report human rights violations? What other frameworks exist that connect, build upon or intersect with human rights such as the UN SDGs, social justice and humanitarian action? The courses below will provide you with the basics.

  • Human Rights for Open Societies (University of Utrecht)
  • Children’s Human Rights (Geneva University)
  • The Sustainable Development Goals (University of Copenhagen)
  • Feminism and Social Justice (University of California, SC)
  • Narratives of Nonviolence in the American Civil Rights Movement (Emory University)
  • International Humanitarian Law in Theory and Practice (University Leiden)

2 Learn how NGOs and International Organizations work

NGOs and international organizations are key players in the global human rights regime. They create change in various ways including research, advocacy, campaigning, lobbying, education and more. NGOs and international organizations are complex and varied. Understanding how they work will give you insights about the inner mechanics and systems before joining them. In the courses below you can learn the basics about the ways how international organizations and NGOs work.

  • International Leadership and Organizational Behavior (University Bocconi)
  • Transforming Communities (University of Colorado Boulder)
  • International Organizations Management (University of Geneva)
  • Global Diplomacy: the United Nations in the World (SOAS, University of London)
  • Healthcare Organization Operations Specialization (Rutgers University)

3 Build resilience to work under pressure

Resilience is not just an asset, it is essential for human rights professionals. Knowing how to build resilience despite working under difficult conditions and establishing routines for self-care and well-being is crucial to work in the human rights sector. Burnout and depression are not uncommon and you need to protect yourself first before you can help others sustainably and effectively. The courses below will help you to build the resilience you need.

  • Build personal resilience (Macquarie University)
  • Resilience Skills in a Time of Uncertainty (University of Pennsylvania)
  • Resilience in Children Exposed to Trauma, Disaster and War (Minnesota University)
  • Positive Psychology: Resilience Skills (University of Pennsylvania)
  • The Science of Well-Being (Yale University)

4 Develop in-demand job skills

Human Rights NGOs are different from companies and business, but they also have a lot in common. One thing they share is that NGOs need employees who excel in skills such as digital marketing, instructional design, legal litigation, diversity management and more. Below are some suggestions that are especially helpful for early career professionals.

  • Forecasting Skills: See the Future Before it Happens (Institute for the Future)
  • Social Media Marketing Specialization (Northwestern University)
  • Successful Negotiation: Essential Strategies and Skills (University of Michigan)
  • Graphic Design Specialization (University of California)
  • New Learning: Principles and Patterns of Pedagogy (University of Illinois)
  • Digital Marketing Specialization (University of Illinois)
  • Applied Data Science with Python Specialization (University of Michigan)

5 Assess and utilize power dynamics  

Human Rights are about power. Understanding how to assess the power dynamics in a society will give you an advantage when creating theories for change and developing your strategies to create positive impact. Courses that deal with power dynamics can help shape your thinking and can enable you to find solutions to challenges more effectively.

  • Becoming a changemaker: Introduction to Social Innovation (University of Cape Town)
  • Inequality and Democracy (Utrecht University)
  • Understanding International Relations Theory (Higher School of Economics)
  • Global Health Diplomacy (State University of New York)
  • Community Organizing for Social Justice (University of Michigan)

6 Optimize your job application materials

Human Rights Jobs are in demand. Doing good and getting paid for it is a dream of many people. To get a human rights job being passionate and skilled is not always enough. Your job application materials also need to be of high quality. In the courses below you will learn to create a CV, write a compelling cover letter and prepare yourself for interviews.

  • Career Success Specialization (University of California)
  • How To Land the Job You Want (University of Maryland)
  • English for Career Development (University of Pennsylvania)
  • Career planning: resume/CV, cover letter, interview (Tomsk State University)
  • Writing Winning Resumes and Cover Letters (University of Maryland)

7 Become an inclusive leader

Leaders do not always work in leadership positions. They are found at all organizational levels and tremendously contribute to the success of their organizations. In the courses below you will learn what makes a good leader, how to empower others and how to embrace and leverage diversity.

  • Leading People and Teams Specialization (University of Michigan)
  • Social Impact Strategy: Tools for Entrepreneurs and Innovators (University of Pennsylvania)
  • Queering Identities: LGBTQ+ Sexuality and Gender Identity (University of Colorado System)
  • Speaking to persuade: Motivating audiences with solid arguments and moving language (University of Washington)
  • Culture-Driven Team Building Specialization (University of Pennsylvania)
  • Managing Talent (University of Michigan)
  • Coaching Practices (University of California)

Get Access To All Courses

About the author

blank

Human Rights Careers

Human Rights Careers (HRC) aims to help human rights students, recent graduates and young professionals to pursue a career in the highly competitive field of human rights.