5 things to anticipate at the Devex career fair in Nairobi

Aerial view of downtown Nairobi. The Nairobi career fair is well on its way as far as exhibitor capacity goes, with 44 representatives of NGOs, donor agencies and consulting firms from around the world. The event will shed light on localization and country ownership, especially its importance and impact on the international development community. Photo by: DEMOSH / CC BY

A few months ago, Devex announced plans to host its first-ever international development career fair in Nairobi. We have hosted successful career fairs in development hubs like Washington, London and Brussels. While these remain important cities for global development activity, more and more employers are looking for talent in the field and hiring local professionals whenever possible.

Now just a week out, I am happy to share that we have reached capacity, with 44 exhibitors representing internationals NGOs, consulting firms and donor agencies from around the world. The Rockefeller Foundation, our global supporter, RTI International, our premier sponsor, as well as sponsors The British Council, Catholic Relief Services, Deloitte, Engility, ICF International, Management Sciences for Health and World Vision have all been contributing to ongoing conversations on the Devex platform about the importance of localization and its impact on global development careers and business.

There is still time to apply to attend, but registration will close this Friday, Oct. 11.

For those of you attending the career fair, here are five things to look forward to at the event.

1. Get informed on hiring trends in East Africa

The career fair will kick off with a high-level plenary panel on hiring trends in East Africa. You will hear directly from recruitment and human resource leaders on what sectors, skills and functional areas are in demand, where they see opportunities in East Africa heading and advice on what you need to do to stand out as a job seeker. The panel will consist of Rolf Schaller, UNICEF’s chief of recruitment, John Ruyter, vice president of human resources at Abt Associates, Marionne Tucker, director of people and culture at World Vision, and Helen Kongongo, regional director of human resources for RTI International.

The panel will represent a diverse range of views from the NGO, consulting firm and donor agency perspective. A moderated discussion focused on providing practical guidance and advice will also include time for Q&A. So come prepared with thoughtful questions and a pen and paper to jot down all of the useful insights we hope you’ll glean.

2. Meet face to face with 45 exhibiting organizations

In international development, it is not often that you get to meet hiring managers from around the globe in person. Skype, video interviews and social media make it easier than ever for employers and candidates to connect virtually. But nothing can replace the experience of meeting someone in person.

Recruiters and job seekers alike often say this is their favorite part of attending a Devex career fair. Connecting in person allows you to present your knowledge, personality and soft skills that a CV or cover letter can never quite capture in the same way. It also allows you to get a better sense of an organization’s culture and values — qualities that are hard to fully grasp based on reading a website alone. 

3. Learn how to be a social entrepreneur

Social innovation and entrepreneurship is a quickly growing field in international development. Many aspiring aid workers are eschewing a traditional aid job like working for the United Nations or an international NGO and are instead launching their own social enterprises to tackle issues like global poverty.

Our global supporter, the Rockefeller Foundation, will host a breakout session during the career fair on social entrepreneurship. Learn how the NGO and others support future leaders and innovations that are impacting the way we solve complex development issues and perhaps get inspired to launch an idea of your own.

4. Network with other professionals

An overlooked benefit of attending a Devex career fair is the value in networking with the other attendees. Yes, they may be competition for your dream job, but they could also be a potential referral, mentor or business partner.

The career fair will close with a networking reception and cocktail hour, which is a great opportunity to continue the conversation with recruiters in a more casual setting, but to also expand you network of global development colleagues in East Africa. Come prepared with business cards. And if you are like many who loathe networking, brush up on some coping techniques with this webinar on networking for people who dread networking.

5. Continue the conversation

While it has happened in the past, do not expect to be offered a job on the spot. Rather, you are developing a relationship that will continue beyond the career fair. Be sure to follow up with everyone you meet after the event. You do not need to follow up the next day; in fact, it can often be better to wait a week to allow the employers to regroup after being out of the office for a couple of days.

However, be sure to follow up and include a few details about your conversation to help them remember you. Also include a few of your key skills and experience and why, based on your conversation, you think you would be valuable to the employer. It is also good to include an electronic copy of your CV for easy reference.

Read more about the trend of aid “going local” as well as the Devex Partnerships Forum & Career Fair in Nairobi.

For more tips on how to prepare or get the most out of the event, watch this webinar on maximizing your presence at a Devex career fair or check out this article on how to ace an international development career fair.

About the author

  • Warren kate 1

    Kate Warren

    Kate Warren is Executive Vice President and resident talent and careers guru at Devex. With 15 years of global development recruitment experience advising international NGOs, consulting firms, and donor agencies, she has a finger on the pulse of hiring trends across the industry and insider knowledge on what it takes to break in.