ASPIRE Program Frequently Asked Questions

The ASPIRE Program is a unique opportunity for individuals who seek to transform their passion for relief and development work into a career with Catholic Relief Services. Through this structured field-based learning program, ASPIRE participants build skills in key areas of programming and operations while working alongside experienced staff and supporting critical programs. ASPIRE participants benefit from strong supervision, mentoring and regional networking as they prepare for positions of greater responsibility with CRS.

Please review our detailed FAQ for more information on the program. Click [+] to open each FAQ menu.

Program Eligibility

The ASPIRE Program is offered in Kenya, Uganda, Somalia, Ethiopia, the Philippines, India, and Cambodia at this time. Only nationals of these countries can apply. ASPIRE participants will be hired to work in their home countries for this position.

A bachelor’s degree conferred between October 2021 and October 2023 is required in all locations. Degrees in all fields that are relevant to international relief and development are accepted (e.g. international development, non-profit management, communications, public health, agriculture, logistics, social work).

Candidates must have strong speaking and writing skills in English. Proficiency in the following languages is a preferred qualification:

  • Cambodia: Khmer
  • India: Hindi, other regional languages a plus
  • Philippines: Tagalog
  • East Africa: Any local language

No. CRS carries out the commitment of the Bishops of the United States to assist the poor and vulnerable overseas. We welcome as a part of our staff and as partners people of all faiths and secular traditions who share our values and our commitment to serving those in need. Our Catholic identity is at the heart of our mission and operations.

Application & Selection Process

The online application collects basic information on your skills and experience. To get to know you better, we have also included short-answer questions and a video interview. To complete the application, you will be required to upload your motivation letter and CV/resume. Please review our motivation letter requirements below.

We recommend completing the online application via computer. Although you can access and complete much of the online application from a mobile device, you can only upload your motivation letter and CV/resume from a computer. Applications are only considered complete when these documents are included.

The video interview is part of the online application. It is like an in-person interview, but it is not live. You will see the interview question appear on your screen and a CRS staff member asking the question. You will have a few moments to reflect on your response. Then, you will have the opportunity to record your short response to each question (no more than 2 minutes long).

Before the video interview begins, you will be able answer a practice question to test that your sound and video are working. The online application also provides some helpful tips and advice for video interviewing.

You will need a computer with audio and camera, and an internet connection to complete the video interview. The application platform will check your internet connection, microphone, and camera before starting the video interview. If your internet connection is not strong enough, you will be asked to try again later. You can start & stop the application anytime, picking up where you left off.

It is possible to complete the video interview portion of the application with a mobile device (e.g. phone or tablet). However, you will need to upload your CV and motivation letter to complete the application, and the upload can only be done via computer. We recommend completing the entire application from a computer, if possible.

We estimate that it will take 30 minutes to complete the short answer questions and video interview, which are the primary components of the online application. This does not include the time needed to prepare your motivation letter and CV. Please review our motivation letter requirements below.

In your motivation letter, please address this prompt:

Tell us about a leader who has inspired you and why. How do their accomplishments or example align with your aspirations?

You may include other information in your motivation letter, if desired, but it is not required. Your response may be no longer than 500 words.

Applications for the ASPIRE Program in East Africa will be accepted through June 30, 2023. Strong candidates will be invited to an in-person interview in August. CRS will extend offers to the finalists in September, after conducting background and reference checks.

Due to the high volume of applications and rolling basis of the review, candidates will only be contacted if and when they advance to the next stage of the selection process.

With this program, CRS seeks to recruit, train and retain talented individuals. As such, the number of ASPIRE participants is carefully evaluated each year and may be different from country to country. In 2023, CRS anticipates hiring 1-2 ASPIRE participants in each participating country.

The ASPIRE Program in East Africa will begin in November 2023. The program in Asia will begin at a later date.

The core training program is based on a 12-month timeframe. However, ASPIRE participants may have the option to continue in the role for up to 24 months, based on their area of specialization and career objectives.

Professional Development & Career

Under the supervision of an experienced staff member and in collaboration with CRS partners, the ASPIRE participant will support programming and operations as follows:

Project Management

  • Support implementation of current projects (e.g. participate in planning/review workshops, support activity implementation in the field)
  • Support appropriate management of cash and in-kind resources (e.g. monitor/analyze spending on project budgets, prepare cash forecasts, participate in financial reporting to donors, support commodity management).
  • Support timely and accurate reporting (e.g. review/synthesize data to report on project indicators, draft/edit narrative reports).
  • Support communication-related activities for country program and projects (e.g. draft program summaries, annual reports, partnership newsletters, social media content and webpage updates).

Project Design and Proposal Development

  • Support project design (e.g. participate in needs assessments and problem identification, stakeholder analysis, development of concept notes)
  • Support proposal development (e.g. participate in design workshops, draft sections of technical narratives and budgets, package/edit proposals for submission).

Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability and Learning (MEAL)

Support MEAL activities in:

  • Project design (e.g. support data collection, needs assessments, gender analysis, gap analysis, development of results frameworks, Proframes, theories of change, evaluation plans, performance management plans).
  • Project start-up (e.g. support baseline assessments, development of MEAL manuals and accountability mechanisms)
  • Project implementation (e.g. prepare survey instruments using ICT4D, support collection of monitoring data, prepare donor reports, organize learning events, document learning)
  • Project close-out (e.g. draft final reports, support final evaluations and knowledge management activities).

Partnership & Capacity Strengthening

  • Support CRS partners with project management, project design and MEAL
  • Support partnership strengthening and capacity building (e.g. participate in partnership reflection workshops, partner assessments and monitoring visits).

Finance, Supply Chain, HR, Compliance

  • Support strong financial management by analyzing budgets, monitoring & forecasting spending, reviewing supporting documentation for financial transactions by CRS and sub-recipients.
  • Support supply chain and procurement by assisting with inventory counts, data collection, bid analysis and vendor selection, contracting, receipt and warehousing of goods.
  • Support human resources by preparing job descriptions, reviewing applications/shortlisting candidates.
  • Support audit and compliance by reviewing internal controls, systems for fraud prevention, studying CRS policies and donor regulations.
  • Support staff safety by reviewing security protocols and manuals, updating as needed.

ASPIRE participants may increase their knowledge of some specific programming sectors while completing the core foundational training, but that is not a focus or guarantee of this program.

With the ASPIRE Program, CRS seeks to recruit individuals who can grow into a variety of roles with CRS. With this objective, we place most emphasis on our core learning areas in programming and operations. ASPIRE participants will build their knowledge and hone skills in project management, monitoring, evaluation, accountability and learning, project design and proposal development, partnership and capacity strengthening, communications, and operations (human resources, supply chain, finance, security, etc).

In addition to this foundational training, ASPIRE participants will have the opportunity to specialize in a specific area that relates to their individual career goals. The specialization is an opportunity to gain further experience in one of the core learning areas and help prepare the participant for onward positions with CRS.

There are many career paths within CRS. Members of our global team, of more than 7,000 staff, advance their careers in a wide range of areas. Some staff pursue a management path, focused on managing teams that deliver programs and services that change the lives of the people we serve (advancing in levels of responsibility and moving between different sectors/departments). Other staff choose a more technical path, providing technical assistance to those teams and programs and building their technical expertise in areas such as health, agriculture, etc. The ASPIRE Program is designed for individuals who seek to develop a long-term career with CRS managing relief and development programs.

At CRS, you will find extensive learning resources and opportunities for professional development and career growth. With coaching from experienced supervisors, staff are empowered to develop career and learning goals. To support staff development, CRS provides a variety of learning resources from leading content providers, managerial and leadership courses, and more. Staff can also learn through internal trainings and short-term assignments. CRS offers online training in some languages such as English, French and Spanish after six months of service.

Work Location & Pay

Most ASPIRE participants will be based in the capital city or where CRS has its primary office in the country, with regular travel to sub-offices and field locations. However, some may be based in field offices full-time depending on the distribution of learning opportunities within the country program.

No. CRS’ top priority is staff safety. ASPIRE participants will not be based in high-risk locations. CRS continuously monitors safety and security risks in all locations and has protocols in place to mitigate risk and respond to security issues (if needed). ASPIRE participants will receive security briefings for their location and will be required to follow CRS’ security protocols.

Yes. This is an entry-level salaried position with benefits. This position is competitively compensated in respect to the local labor market.

For more information, please join an information session or contact us via email.

ASPIRE in East Africa: [email protected]
ASPIRE in Asia: [email protected]