Working as a consultant can be very appealing to global development professionals at different stages in their career. The flexible nature of consultancy work means that during or in between projects you can pursue studies, take care of family, or travel. For professionals transitioning from another sector or simply looking to get their foot in the door with the employer of their choice, consultancy roles can be a way to gain the relevant experience that could eventually lead to a staff position.
Multilaterals, aid organizations and NGOs across the sector rely on consultants for project-specific expertise, and some often work with consultants on an ongoing basis. Many international organizations use short-term technical consultants, explains Katja Juvonen, senior strategy officer with the African Development Bank Group. But most of the them, including the AfDB and International Fund for Agricultural Development, also hire many long-term consultants. Contracts can range from six months up to a year. They rarely exceed a year term as consultancy funds are often decided on an annual basis, but they can be extended. Juvonen, who is based at AfDB’s headquarters in Abidjan, previously worked as a senior strategy consultant for over two years with the bank. She says most departments or divisions within the institution are working with at least one consultant at any given time, and often more.
“There is no right or wrong career path,” says Juvonen, but working first as a consultant can help better position you to land a staff position down the line. Here are some additional tips from global development professionals on making the move from consultant to staffer.
If you have been in your current position for a few years, you may be feeling restless and ready for a new challenge. It can be difficult to see where your career is leading you and to know next steps to prepare for your next position. Here are seven tips to help you leap to the next level of your career.
Work toward your career goal
Set yourself clear career goals and look for roles that will help you get there. While any work experience can of course be beneficial on your CV, if you want to work in a particular region or with an organization focusing on certain issues, look for consultancy gigs, which will allow you to gain hands-on experience in these specific areas.