Job transitions are weird and somewhat stressful times for people no matter what kind of work they do, but I’m beginning to think that global humanitarian and development professionals may have it worse than most. On top of the usual uncertainty and stress of changing jobs, the results of our interviews may mean that we may end up in any one of several different countries, even different regions of the world. Take me for example. In the next couple of months, I’ll be transitioning out my current job and into another. I’ve got five active applications out there for jobs based in the following locations: Lusaka, Zambia; Colombo, Sri Lanka; Islamabad, Pakistan; Washington D.C., USA; and Nicosia, Cyprus. Maybe if Antarctica were an option, I would have a more diverse array of location options.
The work in each location is, of course, varied, but it’s the diversity of locations that has my family and me a bit unhinged. Having a bit of uncertainly around what exactly I’ll be doing is not a big deal – it’s all related and within the range of my professional competency. But, I’ve got a wife and two young children, and the uncertainty around how we will live for the next three years looms rather large. So many variables in play: language, food, culture, security, weather, topography, availability of international schools, even simple details like the ability to drink wine or hold my wife’s hand in public. Changing jobs in this sector is not just about changing what you do for a living, but changing the way you and your family live.