How to start a career in the NGO industry (By Jennifer Onubi)

NGOs are non-governmental organizations that are set up as not for profit.. NGOs are voluntary citizens groups organized locally, nationally or internationally. Non-governmental organizations play an increasingly important role in international development. They serve as a funnel for development funds from  donors to recipients. Non-governmental organizations play important roles, often filling gaps which the government is unable to while complementing existing government activities. Some are organized for specific functions like:

  • Human Rights
  • Environment
  • Health
  • Develop communities
  • Promote education
  • Microfinance
  • Agricultural development
  • Encourage social responsibility

Pros and Cons of Working in an NGO


  • Good salary with benefits especially with INGOs
  • Frequent travel
  •  Make positive impact


  • Frequent travels (especially for mums)
  • Jobs/roles are dependent on donor funding

NGOs operate just like any other business; they have people working in accounting, management, HR, fundraising, operations, etc

Ask yourself the following questions

  • What do I want to achieve?
  • What am I passionate about?
  • Do I want to do this long term or short term?
  • What is my skill and experience level
  • Am I willing to relocate
  • Am I willing to live in challenging environments eg the northern part of Nigeria
  • Do I have the language skills
  • Are you open minded and respectful of peoples cultures and rights and orientations

How to enter into the industry


To learn about the NGO universe, talk to people who are working in the field; connect with people you know in the industry, use social media especially Linkedin to network with  those you don’t know and people you consider mentors , post relevant topics and make comments on the posts of your mentors. Getting a job generally is highly dependent on how well you can network. Talk with your peers who already are working in an NGO so they give you an insider tip to available openings either with their own NGO or somewhere else.

Invest in your future by developing professional skills that are relevant and in demand for the role and organization you want to work for. Some of the most valuable skills that can enhance your NGO career prospects are outlined below:

  • Speak other languages
  • Certifications
  • Work experience
  • IT skills/data analysis skills

By far the most common method of gaining suitable experience for work in an NGO is simply by volunteering for one. Even just a few hours a week can make a big impact on you over a short term, helping you to understand your skills and enhance your CV

How to take advantage while volunteering

  1.  Be present and offer value:
  2. Watch out for job openings.
  3. Network with your colleagues and peers in other NGOs:
  4. Update your CV to showcase your skills
  5. Learn everything about the project you work for even offer to help in other units
  6. Be prepared for the job interview


My advise when you get a job

  • Start a business/side hustle
  • Save and invest
  • Professional development

Jennifer Onubi is a wife and mom to 2 beautiful girls.

She has a bachelor’s and masters degree in agricultural economics.

She has worked in different capacities in the development sector and currently works as a procurement and operations associate with an NGO

She is passionate about touching lives and making impact.

You can connect with her on IG:


2 Replies to “How to start a career in the NGO industry (By Jennifer Onubi)”

  1. Thanks so much for the insight. I would love to work in an NGO as a volunteer because I love to impact positively in people’s lives .it gives me great joy whenever I help the people the best way I can. Please I would like to know if there are any NGOs you know in Abuja that I can link to.Thany

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