Are you thinking about getting a degree in international relations because this field sounds so attractive, broad and versatile at the same time? Well, international relations is truly one of the most popular study fields today, especially in the light of the increasing number of global events that have an echo in the economic, social, political and cultural life.
Pursuing a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in international relations will provide you with great insights on political affairs, public policies, economic trends, social issues, laws – all linked together and forming the big picture. But what are your career prospects once you complete your degree in international relations? The most hunted careers in international relations are: diplomats, lobbyists (activists), political analysts, international lawyersand intelligence specialists.
However, many employers are impressed by international relations graduates due to their extensive knowledge and skills in many fields, and in particular, due to their exceptional language and communication abilities. This means you can apply to several other types of jobs from economists, journalists to market research analysts.
1. Politics and government – work as a diplomat, intelligence specialist or political analyst
A degree in international relations can help you achieve your dream of pursuing a career in the government sector. At national level, you can take into consideration foreign services career. This will involve you working with top and esteemed government organizations of your country. If you have knowledge about other countries, their culture, language, and so on, you can also consider the option of joining intelligence, security or diplomacy department.
A diplomat has to represent and protect a nation’s interests abroad in terms of politics, trade and consular services. A diplomat will have to spend usually around three years in a foreign country along with the family, and most diplomats will serve in at least one developing country, where there are higher rates of disease, harsh climates, or social conflicts. Diplomats can reside and travel in places where tourists can’t go such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti or Chad.
Mainly, a diplomat has to collect and report all the information he/she can that would affect the nation’ interests and keeps a close contact with government officials and politicians of the country he/she temporarily resides. The diplomat will have to discuss, negotiate and mediate with the local government issues in regards to peace and war, trade, commerce, economics, as well as social and cultural aspects. Additionally, the diplomat is responsible for giving advice and providing information about how the local country should react with the nation he/she is representing in various situations that have an impact on international relations.
As an intelligence specialist, you can find work opportunities in the military, the navy, the security department or almost any state department of the national government agencies. An intelligence specialist is the person responsible for data and information accuracy in a certain mission.
The main duties of an intelligence specialist are:
- collect and analyse operational intelligence data;
- conduct mission reports, using data, maps and charts;
- evaluate results and prepare reports, statistics and graphics;
- maintain intelligence databases, libraries and files.
Generally, a political analyst is employed by the government, but you can also find work opportunities within media companies or research institutes.
A political analyst will have to:
- inform, analyse and interpret various political issues, political parties;
- analyse laws, public policies, government decisions;
- consult with and advise government officials, political parties, the media;
- identify various political issues for research and analysis;
- forecast political elections and political trends;
- provide media commentary related to public policy and political issues.
Sometimes, a political analyst may be requested to advise national leaders about a foreign government’s goals and their implication for the nation; the analyst will have to conduct a thorough research and present the political leader a full report containing historical documents and statistics.
2. Business and law – work as a lobbyist or an international lawyer
As a lobbyist, you can make sure government officials hear and understand both sides of the story and as an international lawyer, you can assist companies in trade regulations, global implementation of human resource policies and so on.
Lobbyists are usually hired by an association, corporation, non-profit organisations to convince government members to make a decision that would benefit the organisation or company they are representing. For instance, a lobbyist representing a health agency will have to work to convince education minister to introduce healthier lunches in schools as a way to combat childhood obesity.
A good lobbyist has to be very persuasive, have excellent people skills and communication abilities.
A lobbyist will perform tasks like:
- monitor, research and analyse legislation;
- attend congressional hearings;
- reach out to government policy makers;
- use communication tools to promote your ideas to the public.
An international lawyer can pursue careers in the government, corporations or the non-profit sectors (international organisations such as Amnesty International, Care International, etc.).
Most times, international lawyers will have to manage and mediate the relationship between private individuals, associations, commercial organisations from different countries. Sometimes, international lawyers can even participate and mediate disputes between countries.
International lawyers will have to deal with issues that can include trade law, finance and banking, so they have to be experts in each country’s laws and policies, as well as govern trade and business law.
3. Non-profit – work as an international relations/international communication specialist and more
A degree in international relations can also help you in working for the welfare of the society. You can join non-profit organisations that operate on an international level. This will give you the chance to shape your career in a local office that has a global reach and also increases your chances of travelling to other countries. Non-profit agencies like World Vision and Red Cross provide such global service but there are many other options too.
Find your perfect degree in international relations and start developing the required skills
If you already know in what area you would like to perform a job as an international relations specialist, you can apply to those study programmes that focus on that specific area. For instance, you can find degrees in international relations that have a curriculum based mostly on law studies. However, any type of degree in international relations will prepare you for a career in this wide and extensive field.
During your study, remember to do your best in developing the rights skills, such as learning usually at least two foreign languages, level-up your communication skills, persuasion and negotiation abilities, creativity and problem-solving skills.
Good communication skills are also important. Improve your English speaking by attending an English language school abroad.