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What job or status can a degree in International Business secure?

I'm considering in majoring in International Business, but I'm unsure of the career choices available with this degree. I'm plan to use this degree to obtain a job with the United Nations; specifically to work in the Middle East. However, I'm not entirely sure what job I can obtain and the obligations of such a position if available. #international-business

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Adam’s Answer

Hello, Kalkidan! One of my degrees is in international business, so I think I'm in a position to advise you in this area.


Firstly, it is very difficult to secure a full-time job with the United Nations. People who work for them usually start as a contractor, and often after many years of experience. Often their fields are in areas like economics, organizational management, or also specific fields like medicine or engineering in which the UN actually manages projects. Other organizations do similar projects, such as the "multilateral development banks." These are large organizations that loan money to developing countries to help them build their economies, often with help from experts. These include the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the Asian Development Bank (which I believe also includes the Middle East).


Another suggestion I have would be to not go for a degree in international business. Many young people have these degrees, but it's very hard to get jobs with them, especially in areas like Washington, DC where the degrees are very popular. Instead, study a field like economics or business, and learn principles of economics and/or business that apply no matter where you are. (You would use the same tools to figure out whether to launch a new product line in the United States or the Middle East, for example.) Be sure to get experience, if you can, in college with managing organizations and budgets (for example, for a club or group). This will help you get the experience for the first jobs you will have in the field, which will likely involve a lot of research, budgeting, and project management.


I hope this helps, and good luck!

Thank you comment icon Thank you so much for your response. I found it very informative and eye-opening. I agree that with a degree in International Business it will be difficult to find a job. So I have been considering Finance, economics or general business. Which of these three suggestions would be best beneficial for securing a position in the UN? Also, is another major aside from the ones that I mentioned that would be beneficial as well? Kalkidan
Thank you comment icon Hi Kalkidan, a degree in international business can open several doors to you. But is very broad. Adam's point is the if you want to pursue a career in the UN, it is best if you look for more specialized degrees. But also all the network you construct around that goal, places you volunteer, school you will attend, can help you in that direction. Ligia Martins
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Lucy’s Answer

My degree was in international studies from a top 10 university. To be honest, I pursued the degree because I was interested in the classes and the breadth of study. I wasn’t thinking enough about gaining employment after school. It was a lot of economics, foreign language, history, sociology, and political theory. I think the breadth of the degree positioned me really well for a career in business, BUT I didn’t pursue a dual degree or a minor, which I think was a missed opportunity. The primary skills I used starting out in my post-undergrad research / consulting job were writing and critical thinking. If you’re open to consulting or business services after school, I think you’ll run into a lot of classmates and people with international studies degrees in your job. That said, after about 5 years in my consulting job I did pursue and earn my MBA. I think I lacked the accounting and finance skills to really round out my business acumen. Really focusing on the economics and finance of your degree will definitely help you get that first paying job out of undergrad. I’d also suggest leveraging your career services office at school to talk to a counselor about your options.
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Ryan’s Answer

Hey Kalkidan,

Great question!

I got a finance degree and had a concentration in International Business. I use a lot of the skills I learned from those courses every single day as an Account Executive for an international tech company. Having a more general degree like international business can definitely be helpful in securing employment but it is even more valuable to have relevant experience.

Start reaching out to people that have the job you want and start asking about internships and work experience opportunities. Be persistent! People appreciate when you follow up and don't be scared to be told no.

You will do great in your career and finding a job you care about if you continue to be persistent and don't quit until you reach your goals.

Best of luck!
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