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Josef Korbel School of International Studies Humanitarian Assistance Program

Josef Korbel building

Alumni Profile

Jeff Franklin

2005 Graduate of the Josef Korbel School of International Studies
MA International Development

JKSIS Alumnus Jeff Franklin

Jeff gave a Career Path Discussion highlighting his extensive international experience in the humanitarian field to students at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies this November.


What is your career background?

I volunteered for the Red Cross in Vietnam before graduating from Korbel with a degree in International Development in 2005. In between, I interned at the Ministry of Housing, Construction and Sanitation in Peru with a national water program under World Bank funding. Following Korbel, I acted as Technical Officer for CARE on the rural Vietnam/Cambodia border. I then became Program Manager for CARE in Aceh, Indonesia in the tsunami zone. By 2008, I was Head of Office for Mercy Corps in post-conflict Maluku, Indonesia, and in 2009 acted as Director of Programs for Mercy Corps in post-earthquake Sichuan, China. Most recently, I acted as Emergency Team Leader for CARE International (global) with deployments in Laos and then back in Vietnam in 2012.

JKSIS Alumnus Jeff FranklinAny words of wisdom for students interested in humanitarian assistance?

Do an internship or volunteer in a remote, challenging environment to make sure you'll like it. It is not for everyone, but it is a super rewarding and fun career path if you get on it. Be willing to start small and low on the totem pole: agencies don't often take risks on people they don't know, so give them time to see your mettle and commitment. Build as many skills as you can, whether in a subject specialty like nutrition/food security, WASH, housing, economic recovery or in logistics/operations, communications, etc. Starting out in a particular specialty can often lead to a more generalist management career a few years down the road once you have 3-5 years of full-time professional management experience under your belt. Lastly, having a great heart and meaning well only goes so far in this work. When push comes to shove, you need technical and management skills, courage and focus under fire, thick skin and strong networking ability to succeed in this career field... just like many other lines of work.

To read more about Jeff and his recent visit to Korbel, please check out our
Fall 2013 Newsletter.