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What type of career paths do graduates with an International Relations/Affairs follow?

I am a high school freshman, and am always encouraged to do more research into what I want to do once I graduate high school. I have always found International Relations/Affairs and International/Global Studies to be fields I want to venture into, but struggle finding what these people really do for a living. So reaching out to those out there with a similar degree: What is your job, and what do you do everyday as part of that career?

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angie’s Answer

Hello, Emily -

What a great question - my 17-year-old son is also interested in international relations. We've been talking and learning a lot about what he might want to do. First, it starts with you. What are you passionate about? How do you like to work with and play with others? Is it going to be fun and rewarding? Notice what you liked as a young child....there are clues there as to what you will continue to enjoy as an adult. I like to meditate and ask myself questions with my eyes closed and soft music playing with a candle lit. It helps me get out of my head and what I "should" do, and into my heart and what I would love to be doing. Then I write down the answers I hear inside....some will be funny, fantastic, and crazy ideas and others more attainable - but it's all worth looking at and exploring!

The information below is from AI - I use AI in my writing as an editor - not as a creator. So if you use AI for writing papers, remember your unique take on everything is what is needed in the world - not a generated AI answer.

Have fun and go for it all!
AI says:
Graduates with degrees in International Relations/Affairs or International/Global Studies have a wide range of career opportunities available to them. These fields provide a solid foundation in understanding global politics, economics, cultures, and international issues, which can be applied to various professions. Here are some common career paths that graduates often pursue:

Diplomacy and Foreign Service: Graduates can work as diplomats, foreign service officers, or ambassadors, representing their home country's interests in foreign countries. Their tasks may include negotiating treaties, handling diplomatic relations, and promoting international cooperation.

International Organizations: Many graduates find roles in international organizations like the United Nations, World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Trade Organization (WTO), and various non-governmental organizations (NGOs). These organizations work on global issues such as peacekeeping, development, human rights, and humanitarian assistance.

Government and Policy Analysis: Graduates can work for government agencies, think tanks, and policy research organizations. They analyze global trends, contribute to policy formulation, and provide recommendations on international relations issues.

Security and Intelligence Analysis: Some graduates work in the field of national security and intelligence, where they assess threats, analyze geopolitical situations, and contribute to strategies for maintaining national security.

Journalism and Media: Graduates can become international journalists, foreign correspondents, or multimedia producers, reporting on global events, conflicts, and international issues.

Business and Trade: Graduates can work in international business and trade roles, such as international business development, trade analysis, global supply chain management, and international marketing.

NGO and Humanitarian Work: Many graduates find rewarding careers in NGOs and humanitarian organizations, working on projects related to human rights, disaster relief, healthcare, education, and development.

International Law: Graduates interested in law can specialize in international law, working on cases related to international disputes, human rights, and international trade.

Academia and Research: Some graduates pursue academic careers, becoming professors or researchers in the field of international relations, contributing to the academic understanding of global affairs.

Cultural Exchange and Education: Graduates can work in roles related to cultural exchange programs, international education, and language teaching, promoting cross-cultural understanding.

Multinational Corporations: International companies often hire graduates with an understanding of global affairs to manage international operations, navigate cross-border regulations, and conduct market research.

It's important to note that within each of these career paths, the specific responsibilities and tasks can vary widely based on the organization, location, and the graduate's specialization. Some professionals might focus more on research and analysis, while others may engage in negotiations, advocacy, or direct fieldwork.

As a high school freshman interested in these fields, consider exploring internships, attending conferences, joining clubs related to international relations, and seeking out mentors who can provide insight and guidance. As you progress in your education, your interests and understanding of these career paths may evolve, so it's a good idea to keep an open mind and continue researching and learning about the options available to you.
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Ed’s Answer


I was a career Air Force officer and worked overseas in the International Relations field, even though my degrees were all in Foreign Languages (Russian, French, Spanish). I flew treaty verification missions into Russia as part of the OPEN SKIES Treaty, I trained with the French Air Force, and I was on exchange to the Argentine Air Force for a year.

I also worked in US Embassies and Air Force Operations Centers that put me in direct daily contact with my foreign counterparts. What I saw was that if you had an appreciation and understanding of foreign cultures (especially if you can speak their language), then you could have an outsized impact with your foreign counterparts. Understanding cultures and knowing languages draws you closer to the people you're working with, it breaks down walls.

The single largest employer of International Affairs majors is probably the US Government. My background was as a military officer where my international expertise and fluency in foreign languages put me in a great position to work directly with foreign militaries. I was also able to work in US Embassies overseas, where I saw that the majority of our Foreign Service Officers were either International Affairs or Political Science majors. ALL branches and agencies in the US Government have positions for International Affairs and Global Studies majors.

Any multinational company (Bechtel, Shell, Exxon, MicroSoft, etc) will have need for International Relations majors, especially if you are willing to live and work in overseas locations. If you can enhance that major with a minor or a second major in a complementary field like finance, security studies, a regional specialization, or foreign languages. Figure out what other areas within International Relations really interest you, then tailor your education to set you up for that career.

Good luck!


Ed recommends the following next steps:

Pick a language and learn it well in high school
participate in a foreign exchange (through school, Rotary, Lions Club, etc) to a country that speaks the language you're studying
Learn a second foreign language in college
Do a semester or school year abroad in college
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Jacob’s Answer

It's fantastic that you're thinking ahead and exploring potential career paths early on! International Relations/Affairs and International/Global Studies are versatile fields that can lead to a wide range of career opportunities. Graduates often find themselves in roles that involve:

1. **Diplomacy and Foreign Service**: Working as diplomats, foreign service officers, or ambassadors for their respective countries. They engage in international negotiations, promote diplomacy, and represent their nation's interests abroad.

2. **International Organizations**: Many graduates join international organizations like the United Nations, World Bank, or World Health Organization. They work on global issues such as peacekeeping, development, and public health.

3. **Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)**: NGOs like Amnesty International, Doctors Without Borders, and Oxfam hire professionals to address humanitarian, environmental, and social issues worldwide.

4. **Government Agencies**: Graduates may work in various government agencies, such as the U.S. State Department, Department of Defense, or intelligence agencies, specializing in international affairs and national security.

5. **International Business**: In multinational corporations, individuals with this background can work in international marketing, trade, logistics, or management, navigating the complexities of global markets.

6. **Intelligence and Security**: Some choose careers in intelligence analysis, focusing on national security and global threats.

7. **Journalism and Media**: International correspondents and journalists report on global events, while media analysts provide expert commentary on international issues.

8. **Research and Academia**: Graduates interested in academia pursue careers as professors, researchers, or analysts in universities, think tanks, or research institutions.

9. **Consulting**: International relations professionals often work in consulting firms, offering expertise in international trade, policy analysis, or risk assessment to clients.

10. **International Law**: Becoming international lawyers, they deal with legal issues related to cross-border disputes, human rights, trade, and more.

11. **Global Health**: Focusing on health issues worldwide, they may work with organizations like the World Health Organization or engage in health policy and advocacy.

12. **Humanitarian Aid**: Joining organizations like the Red Cross, they provide relief and support during crises and natural disasters.

As you can see, the career options are diverse, and they often involve tasks such as policy analysis, research, negotiation, advocacy, and international travel. It's important to explore your interests within this field, possibly through internships, study abroad programs, or informational interviews with professionals in these areas. This will help you gain a clearer understanding of which specific career path aligns best with your passions and skills as you progress through your academic journey.