Advancing disability rights and leadership globally®

People with Disabilities are Needed in Global Careers


MIUSA CEO Susan Sygall encourages people with disabilities to launch a dream career by exploring and applying for jobs in international development, humanitarian assistance, and international exchange.

For me, it was a dream come true.

As a proud wheelchair rider many years ago, perhaps the only way to be a leader in the fields of international development and international exchange was to do what I did, which was to co-found my own organization combining my passions for disability rights and leadership globally.

As the CEO, I have spent much of my career attending international development or international exchange conferences in places like Washington, DC, Paris, Madrid, Costa Rica, Vietnam, and more. In these spaces, I network with professionals, deliver presentations, and advocate for the inclusion and leadership of people with disabilities.

But in these spaces, I often wondered: Where are all the other people with disabilities?

As a wheelchair rider, I rarely encountered other conference attendees with visible disabilities, although there may have been people with non-apparent disabilities in attendance. It seemed that people with disabilities were not well-represented in these spaces, and it was my dream to see this situation change.

Virtual Career Fair

Thankfully, there are those who support my dream! More than ever, I am encountering organizations in the international development and exchange fields which are committed to recruiting people with disabilities in a variety of jobs and internship positions – and taking the steps necessary to do so.

Several such organizations recently participated in MIUSA’s Virtual Career Fair, where they presented short “lightning” pitches in front of an audience of job-seekers with disabilities. They described the organization’s mission, what makes it a great place to work, some current job openings and other career opportunities. These organizations included:

  • Global Communities
  • Solidarity Center
  • CIEE
  • World Learning
  • Institute of International Education (IIE)
  • American Councils
  • Save the Children
  • United States Institutes of Peace (USIP)

It was incredible to have these organizations share their excitement, passion and dedication to recruit more people are disabilities both in the US and abroad for staff positions, internships, fellowships, consultancies, Board of Directors positions, and more.

Watch the recording of the Virtual Career Fair on YouTube or below! The recording is in English, American Sign Language, and International Sign. English captions are available.

Apply, Apply Apply!

As I listened to their presentations, I imagined that if I were just starting in my career, I would immediately apply for every possible opportunity! My advice to other people with disabilities exploring global careers is to explore the career pages of these and other organizations, read the criteria for various positions, and apply, apply, apply!

Don’t worry so much about whether an opportunity is exactly the right fit. You may not be the right person for that particular job – but then again, maybe you are!

For careers in international development / humanitarian assistance and international exchange/ international education, desirable skills in job candidates often include:

  • knowledge of more than one language
  • experience living or working in another country, and
  • intercultural competence.

So if you possess these skills, be sure to demonstrate them in your application! If you do not yet possess these skills, contact the National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange (NCDE) to learn about how people with disabilities can participate in the broad range of international exchange opportunities between the U.S. and other countries.

Decide Your Impact

I’m very passionate about building the pathway for people with all types of disabilities to be in these life-changing fields of international exchange or international development, which often allow you to meet people from other cultures. Whether you want to use your career to further the global disability justice movement or not, all options are valuable. It’s up to you what you decide to do with your life and the impact you want to make in the world!

I am so grateful to have friends and colleagues throughout the world and to have had the ability to travel and network with other people who want to make this world more equitable. I have had a very meaningful and fun-filled life, and my sincere desire is that these opportunities are also available to people with disabilities throughout the world who might have a similar passion as I do.

To job-seekers with disabilities: If MIUSA’s Virtual Career Fair or the related resources played a role your getting a job, internship or consultant position with an international development or international exchange organization, please share this wonderful news with us so we may celebrate your success!

Susan Sygall

Watch the Recording of the Virtual Career Fair

Author: Admin

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