Do economists make good ambassadors?

The Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development program is looking for economists. Details over the fold.

In terms of world social welfare, there’s probably no better place for young economists to be devoting their energies than international development, so if you’re open to the possibility of living in a developing country for a while, do check it out.


Assignments for Intake 21 of the Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development (AYAD) Program are online from 31st August – 5th October at

The AYAD Program sends young Australians aged 18-30 on short term assignments (3-12 months) through Asia and the Pacific. The Program provides support to cover the costs of volunteering overseas including pre-departure medicals, insurance, travel, in-country allowance, and the support of in-country management services. Further information is available on our website.

The following is an example of the range of  Economic related assignments available. A detailed position description for these positions and over 60 other positions are available on the website.
Tonga: Economist, Ministry of Finance and National Planning.
Tonga:  Research Economist, Ministry of Finance and National Planning
Vanuata: Economic Research Officer, United Nations Development Program
Applications close October 5, 2007.

Please visit for position description and application details.

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4 Responses to Do economists make good ambassadors?

  1. Alistair says:

    I have long looked at AYAD as one of my long time goals, and have read up on it quite a bit. I am taking a GAP year after my IB Diploma next year, and looking at volunteering for an NGO in a developing country. What are the chances that a non graduate is accepted into a program like this?


  2. Dean says:

    Hey Alistair,

    AYAD only accepts graduates.

    There are other volunteer programs around the place, although they often seem to cost a lot of money. I haven’t had any experience of these.

    However, keep trying. You’re doing the right thing by asking around. It seems that these kind of things really do come down to who you know.

  3. Alistair says:

    Hi Dean,

    Thanks for your info, I will have to try and find another program to apply for, but it seems a hell of a lot of them are not really helping people but just money making opportunities. I have a dream to work with an NGO concerning NK, after going there this summer, but Mainland China might be a more feasible option.


  4. Adrian says:

    I am a current AYAD, on assignment in the People’s Democratic Republic of Lao (a.k.a. Laos). I work for a local microfinance institution and am 6 months into my assignment.

    Andrew, I am a long time reader of your blog and was interested to see you mention the AYAD program. I think the program description you describe would be very interesting. One of the main challenges of entering an economic research department of a developing country is getting the government to listen to your advice and findings. I suspect this might be true for developed countries too though.

    An AYAD in my intake in Laos works for the Lao National Economic Research Institute. He seems to enjoy his work and find the local people that he works with pretty smart and motivated.

    Alistair, you do not necessarily need a univeristy degree for the AYAD program, although most placements require one. Go to the AYAD website and read the placement descriptions and requirements. You need to apply for specific placements, like the one Andrew has posted, not just to the program in general.

    From my intake to Laos I believe 16 out of 18 people have university degrees, and the 2 that didn’t have TAFE qualifications and are working in sports coaching.

    I would say just try applying if you see something that’s of interest. I don’t know what an IB diploma is but it might be enough to make you the most qualified applicant for a position. The worse than can happen is you’ll get knocked back, which would have happened anyway if you didn’t try in the first place. Positions also pop up at the last minute that may not be advertised, and if they already have your details they may select you for one of them.

    Good luck. I’ve really enjoyed my AYAD placement so far and would recommend it as a excellent way to spend a gap year. You can also try the VIDA program for volunteer placements, which covers all age groups and not just those under 30.

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