I came across international development consultancy in the 1990s, and spent the latter half of my consultancy recruitment career hiring in this sector.
If it’s of interest: you’re not alone in wanting to move into international development consultancy. It seems to be the current career path of choice for Millenials.
But you’ll need more on your CV than just a gap year digging a well in an African village.
Having a Masters in development economics, development studies or similar is pretty much the basic entry requirement. Look at the courses offered by LSE, SOAS, Nottingham, Birmingham, Sussex in the UK, but there are others – eg John Hopkins in the US.
Switching straight out of industry isn’t recommended. Most of the work you’ll be doing is with foreign governments, so central government experience is better. Or coming from a UN graduate programme. Or out of a heavyweight development charity. Or a mainstream consultancy which offers development work (eg Accenture, ATOS.)
There are plenty of international development consultancies operating from London, attracted here for a share of the UK’s international development budget. Take a look at DFID’s website for the various programmes, and the consultancies on its suppliers’ list. Some of them hire at a junior level. Try approaching them and see what they make of you. You might be lucky. Or investigate the ODI Fellowship scheme, or Tony Blair’s AGI, or the Dalberg Foundation.
Before pressing the send button, however, consider:
Salaries are lower than mainstream management consultancy.
Projects are in ’fragile and post-conflict states’.
If those drawbacks are not dealbreakers for you, then I think you’ll find international development consultancy personally and professionally rewarding. And there are long-term career prospects in a sector which, sadly, will only get bigger.