If there is any one charity organization most people have heard of, it might very well be the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Conceived in 2000, the B&MGF is widely considered one of the largest private foundations in the world. It is known for its robust endowment, its thorough transparency and its unwavering commitment to creating and sustaining a high quality of life in some of the world’s worst conditions, especially in Africa, the Middle East and India. Its celebrity-business-magnate-co-chair, Bill Gates, is pretty well known, too.
All of this makes for an attractive working environment; employees relentlessly fight against poverty and have the opportunity to work alongside driven and accomplished coworkers. These jobs, however, are difficult ones to land. Here is some advice geared toward the future Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation employee.
Know your potential position, inside and out
It is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the job’s perks – the designated quiet areas, the spacious atrium, the walls made of whiteboards and carefully crafted environment – but it is even more important to understand your place within the B&MGF process and why it is so critical. Whether you want a communications job advocating and publicizing policy or a vaccines job administering lifesaving shots in Africa, know why you would be integral to the larger picture. This deepened understanding will enable you to recognize the skills and passions you possess that are job-relevant. It will also test your commitment; are you really devoted to the B&MGF project, or do you just really like luxurious atriums? “Both” is an acceptable answer.
Don’t think of it as a nine to five gig
While there is a huge variety of workweek schedules among Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation jobs, it is best to partially ignore the logistics, placing extra emphasis on the organization’s humanitarian vision. There may be tasks to complete and mundane paperwork to file, but the fight against global inequality and extreme poverty is not something relegated to eight hours on weekdays. During “off-hours,” for example, problem solving, studying and teaching can be accomplished to fuel workday endeavors. Anyone dedicated enough to relieving global poverty to work tirelessly for the B&MGF might consider such activities perfectly typical anyway.
Know the issues
Working for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation requires that your passion for global poverty reduction has led you to a deep understanding of the issues. It takes accumulated knowledge and a commitment to continued learning.
“It is work that not only relies upon candidates with solid educations and related experience,” begins some advice found on the B&MGF website, “but also a rare dedication to the greater good that exceeds the importance of a specific title.” As is additionally noted on the site, one needs to demonstrate experience, discipline and humility before being seriously considered for the job. Fortunately for you, hanging around The Borgen Project, getting familiar with points of concern and topics of interest, is a great way to build the vocabulary and the mental framework necessary to talk fluently about global poverty and its eradication. You are already on your way.
— Adam Kaminski