Entry level jobs for FEMA, the red cross or an ESL position in South America?
April 20, 2012 9:40 AM   Subscribe

I want to travel, one way I have heard to do this is through organizations such as FEMA and the red cross. I am graduating with a Bachelors in English in 3 weeks and am 24 years old. There are no entry level jobs that I saw available on their websites, am I doing something wrong? Does anyone know where I can find entry level positions? I had thought about teaching English in a Spanish speaking country, does anyone know of some reputable programs for someone wish bare-bones Spanish knowledge looking to improve?
posted by Nighthawk3729 to Work & Money (13 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Wait, so Peace Corps isn't an option?
posted by RolandOfEld at 9:41 AM on April 20, 2012

It's really hard to get jobs with FEMA and the Red Cross without some specific skill sets. Basic-level EMT training is pretty much a must for working with international Red Cross disaster teams, for instance.

Looking at the Red Cross national website, it doesn't seem like there are a lot of entry-level jobs available, but there was at least one position in DC and one in Germany that I saw on a quick scan. The interface is a bit complicated.

There certainly aren't a lot of entry-level FEMA jobs on the USA Jobs site, but it may be that with all the government cutbacks people already in the GS civil service system are moving laterally from their agencies to FEMA before jobs are posted externally.

Try Idealist.org, maybe? Also your state's Emergency Management Agency?
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:52 AM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

The Peace Corps acceptance rate is less than 25%, and the process takes at least six months, so that's not a viable short term solution. (Peace Corps is an incredible experience; do it if you possibly can!)
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:54 AM on April 20, 2012

It is very expensive for Red Cross to send volunteers/staff overseas, and tends not to be a wise use of donor dollars when there are local experts who could do the work better and cheaper, so - sorry to say - but I wouldn't pin hopes on that path. I've worked in disaster management with Red Cross, and what we tell our new volunteers is that international deployments are rare but possible, but only after years of experience with the organization, and generally only for people with very specialized skills: counsellors, doctors/nurses, logisticians, ex-military, ex-police, etc. Basically, we will only send a volunteer (or staff) internationally if there are no locals who are able and qualified to do the job. A few members on my team have deployed from Canada to the US (there's a special relationship between those two RCs that makes this easier) but no one that I know of has deployed further than that.
posted by arcticwoman at 9:55 AM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Rereading your question - teaching ESL might be the best way to go. I have plenty of friends who have taught ESL in countries where they initially spoke none of the local language, and they got along just fine. You'll learn as you go.
posted by arcticwoman at 9:57 AM on April 20, 2012

Response by poster: @arcticwoman, any programs in particular you can remember?

As for FEMA and red cross responders, there are no specialized positions available? Nothing I can learn along the way? No training?
posted by Nighthawk3729 at 10:03 AM on April 20, 2012

Nothing I can learn along the way? No training?
Well, you could enter into a program to learn these skills, but in general, there's no OJT for recent grads. You could try contacting the FEMA office in your area to find out what they need in Disaster Assistance Employees.
posted by Ideefixe at 10:09 AM on April 20, 2012

I do know two people who went from the US to international Red Cross disaster area deployments; they both pursued training and work as EMTs (one got an additional certificate in phlebotomy) and had done significant volunteer work within the US with the Red Cross before even applying.

As Ideefixe says, they don't do OJT for recent grads, because they have so many more experienced folks who want to work for them, even in entry-level positions, that they don't need to.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:19 AM on April 20, 2012

I recommend googling "Teaching Assistants in [spanish-speaking country]." I lived and taught English in France for 8 months last year (and did a LOT of traveling during vacations) through the Teaching Assistant program (I knew very little French at the outset). I'm pretty sure the same program exists in Spanish-speaking countries. It was run through the French Embassy website.
posted by la_rousse at 10:57 AM on April 20, 2012

You could try contacting the FEMA office in your area to find out what they need in Disaster Assistance Employees.

DAEs are basically disaster support workers. While you do it, you do get treated as a full-time government employee, but then when the locals and others are able to take over, you'd be sent home and pay would obviously stop. So you would not be called up unless there was a disaster AND if they didn't already have a crap ton of DAEs already reporting. I am not sure about this, but it may also be a "seniority" type set-up as well, unless you have an extremely desirable skill. You could get some experience out of this, but it's contingent on disasters.
posted by foxhat10 at 11:18 AM on April 20, 2012

Forgot to add, you don't necessarily NEED to have a skill to be a DAE, but what you end up doing as a DAE may range from stacking water bottles, data input or something of that sort - basically wherever you would be needed.
posted by foxhat10 at 11:21 AM on April 20, 2012

I have a friend who works for FEMA and I did a ton of work with the phone company in disaster recovery after Katrina.

Working in this environment is pretty much the WORST way to travel and see the world. It's absolutely miserable work. It takes a very strong person with lots of real world experience to really be effective.

I second the Teaching ESL overseas.

Another option is to get a teaching certificate and get a job with Abu Dhabi teaching English. I looked into it and it's incredibly lucrative. As a Jewish person, it turns out I'm not all that keen to go to the Middle East, but man, if I was single, fresh out of school, I would certainly consider it. I saw a House Hunters International where a teacher from Canada was given a stipend that allowed her to get a 3 bedroom apartment in a luxury high rise.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:54 PM on April 20, 2012

Adressing the ESL/EFL part of the question, there are a number of 'programs' out there, mostly focussed on particular countries. You could also go it alone, get qualified and get a job; I did that because I wanted to travel over a decade ago and, though I've moved on from classroom teaching, it's built me a great career. Other people just do it for a few years and then move on to something else.

It would be useful to know what your priorities are - particular countries, a specific length of time, a certain degree of support etc.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 2:45 AM on April 26, 2012

« Older If I don't know what the future looks like, how...   |   Where to Kayak and Canoe in between Massachusetts... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.