A degree in International Studies requires a wide-ranging and rigorous academic program. Students must take classes in political science, economics, history and a foreign language. Graduates may find they need to pursue an advanced degree in order to get the jobs they want. But the good news is that jobs related to international studies are some of the most fascinating in the world.
Foreign Service Officer
The United States government posts foreign service officers at each of its 265 embassies, missions and consulates. These are the people who run the embassies, work on economic partnerships, analyze political events and work as diplomats. In order to be hired you have to pass the difficult Foreign Service exam. Proficiency in another language is encouraged.
Communications specialists play an important role in creating and preserving good relations with foreign communities. They might work for banks, non-profit organizations or the U.S. government. Writing and editing skills are important for this job, as are good public relations skills and an understanding of foreign culture. A degree in communications can be combined with one in international studies.
Peace Corps Volunteer
If you're interested in foreign cultures and helping the international community, you can apply to be a Peace Corps volunteer. Inspired by President John F. Kennedy's 1960 call for students to give two years of their lives to help people in the developing world, the Peace Corps has since sent more than 200,000 volunteers to 139 countries. Peace Corps volunteers teach, farm, work on business plans and help with health education. Most applicants have bachelor's degrees. Facility with language is helpful. The application process takes from six to 12 months. Although the position is unpaid, Peace Corps volunteers get medical benefits, housing and possible deferment of student loans.
Law firms and non-profit organizations need people to research and write reports about foreign countries. A law firm involved in litigation on a human rights case, for example, might need someone to review interviews, do research on human rights values in a particular country, oversee translation services, and assist attorneys. Candidates for such a job should be detail-oriented and knowledgeable about international relations. Travel might be involved. A bachelor's degree would be required.
The Central Intelligence Agency seeks people to work as clandestine service officers, or spies. The job involves collecting information on topics important to national security, such as weapons development or terrorism. The CIA expects its employees to have strong academic backgrounds, problem-solving capabilities, overseas experience and discretion. Interested college graduates can apply for the professional trainee program.
The United Nations is a large international organization committed to maintaining world peace and security. Although headquartered in New York, the UN has a major offices in Geneva, Nairobi, Addis Ababa, and many other cities throughout the world. The Secretariat, which does the day to day work of the UN, employs 40,000 people, many of them with backgrounds in international studies. Job openings include positions in administration, economic affairs, human rights, information management. Most jobs require advanced degrees.
Banking is a global business. Major banks send promising junior bankers to foreign offices to get experience working abroad. A starting banker might be involved in accumulating data, charting currency fluctuations and making up foreign currency cash flow charts. An important element of the job would be learning to work in a foreign culture. Other international business jobs involve wealth management, currency trading and accounting.
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