Where can your nontraditional background take you?

By Kelli Rogers 28 July 2015

Jake Harriman, founder and CEO of Nuru International, explains why more development organizations need to embrace nontraditional skills.

Jake Harriman left his career in the Marine Corps and enrolled at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business to build an organization that could help rid the world of extreme poverty — and to fight terrorism and insurgency from another angle.

Harriman has now blazed a trail for other veterans to pursue development work, and Nuru International’s projects in Africa attract a steady flow of special operations unit veterans.

The first thing that those with little to no development experience are told is to get field experience any way they can, which is extremely important, the founder and CEO of Nuru explained to Devex. But he also encourages people to consider how the skills they already have can transfer — and how they could end up being more powerful than a traditional background.

“There are a lot of nontraditional skills undervalued when organizations are looking to hire,” Harriman said. “I think we need to push our thinking a bit.”

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About the author

Kelli Rogers@kellierin

In her role as associate editor, Kelli Rogers helps to shape Devex content around leadership, professional growth and careers for professionals in international development, humanitarian aid and global health. As the manager of Doing Good, one of Devex's highest-circulation publications, she is constantly on the lookout for the latest staffing changes, hiring trends and tricks for recruiting skilled local and international staff for aid projects that make a difference. Kelli has studied or worked in Spain, Costa Rica and Kenya.

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