The Microfinance Hustle: An Unconventional Job Search
When I arrived in India on a family vacation, I knew I wasn’t going back to New York. After spending the greater part of the previous 5 years following the microfinance industry with what can only be describe as a mild obsession, writing a thesis on the topic, and designing my major as an undergraduate around the subject, I was determined to find a job. “Give us a call when you get here,” I would hear from skeptical employers who did not believe my interest in moving abroad for a job or internship. Eventually, I decided my only option was to move to India and find a job in the microfinance sector once I was there.
Before arriving in India, I learned about an economic development conference. I contacted the organizers, asked to attend, and they graciously agreed. Once at the conference, I knew I needed to use that opportunity to network, meet people in microfinance, and then see if I could volunteer or intern with their organization.
At the conference, I made and effort to me everyone in the microfinance space. When I met Rangan Varadan, CEO of Micrograam, we had a brief, candid conversation about our opinions of microfinance. The for-profit business model resonated with me and I immediately knew I wanted to work for the organization. We both agreed that micro-credit organizations need to bring a greater diversity of financial services to every level of income, and this is the driving force behind the organization that makes me excited to come to work everyday.
Although I could have never planned this unlikely series of fortunate events, there are a few things that I wish I had know while looking for a job in microfinance:
Three job hunting tips I wish I knew:
Use your network: Yes, everyone says to use your network but how do you use your contacts when nobody has heard of your dream job? At first, I didn’t believe that anyone in my network knew contacts in the microfinance industry. I had an internship in the past at a microfinance organization in the US, but they had a different regional focus and I was interested in working in India. This was a foolish decision because once I did reach out to my contacts in India, I was invited to the conference were I found my job!
Go to where you want to be: I knew I wanted to work abroad but I wanted a job before moving there. This was an unrealistic expectation because very few employers (outside of fellowships) are willing to sponsor an employment visa or take a chance on somebody that they have never met before. Moving to India to find a job was the best decision I’ve ever made. The determination that I had to work in microfinance at the time, embolden me to do things I would have never done before.
- Use Twitter: While job hunting in the US, I thought that Twitter and other forms of social media were a distraction. However, if I started using Twitter then, I would have known more about the whole ecosystem that microfinance/micro-lending organizations exists within. And as a result, I would have known about the jobs available in companies that support micro-lending and economic development; for example: social enterprise incubators, impact investing firms, and foundations. Although I knew these organizations were related, I had such narrowed my search so much that I was out of touch with the reality of microfinance- that it does not operate in isolation from other supporting industries.
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The following article is from one of our external contributors. It does not represent the opinion of Benzinga and has not been edited.