Where are all the entry-level jobs?


Maybe you noticed my absence. Well, I can’t say that I had a good reason for it; after all there’s always a lot going on that deserves some writing about. After saying goodbye to New York (for now…), I was job-hunting – a term that sounds much more active than it feels, considering that in reality most of it is passive waiting for response – and worrying about the future, which is actually much more energy- and time-consuming than I anticipated.

As a side job – just for fun (and to be sure to know every detail about the applications I sent out when in rare cases contacted months later by some HR person) – I kept a personal record of my applications. Obviously, those records, which cover four months of intense job search and three months during which I job-hunted “at the side,” are not representative at all. Back in Germany – and having found a job – I wanted to leave this whole time behind me. However, a lot of my friends are currently in the same position as I was a couple of months ago, which brought me back to writing this post after all. It will probably not be the most rigid analysis of the matter and is largely based on my own experiences, but I’ll try to draw some broader lines and questions which I think are relevant to the topic. In general, it is more of a contribution to a growing body of material that’s out there, and which helped me personally a lot during my time of ‘job-hunting’ just by providing the feeling that we’re not alone in this – and that exactly that is actually the (systemic part of the) problem.

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NGOs that do nothing and other absurdities

“Anyone working in international development for non-governmental organizations (NGOs) over the past few years has likely had the following experience:

Working for or interacting with NGOs (such a broad category that it encompasses all manner of organizations) that serve no apparent purpose”. (africasacountry.com)

The introductory sentences are from an article featuring a new TV-series about an “NGO that does nothing”. In an interview, published on the blog “Africa is a country”, whose philosophy is about empowering the continent from within[1], the director announces the subject of the first season being about the NGO applying for a huge grant. In episode 2 they are looking for an acronym before having decided about the project’s topic.

Since this is a comedy series, it is of course highly exaggerated, but nevertheless the abovementioned quote is picking on some weak points, rubbing salt in the wounds, (or whatever you want to call it) of the critique on NGOs and foreign (humanitarian) intervention(s).

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