I often meet students who are studying international affairs or other liberal arts programs, and many aspire to work as diplomats. The main obstacle for breaking into this field is the incredible amount of competition involved. The good news, however, is that there are literally hundreds of related positions which require the same type of training and education as diplomacy. If you are a keen internationalist with strong grades, consider researching positions within the following related areas: academia, associations, banking/finance, public service (federal & state/provincial), communications & government relations, conflict resolution, environmental policy & management, gender, human rights & human security, intelligence, international development, international law, international organizations & the United Nations, non-governmental organizations, Parliament Hill, private sector & consultancies, research, social policy, trade, etc.
The first step in finding a job in one of these areas is to target the positions that most interest you and then begin envisioning yourself performing the associated duties. Study individual job descriptions to get an idea of the ins and outs of various positions. I recommend visiting the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, The (NPSIA) Works: Career Futures site. NPSIA is Canada’s leading international affairs school and it has put together a list of approximately 60 job descriptions being performed by its alumni. In reading these jobs descriptions, you’ll discover the wide range of jobs available to those with international affairs training and be able to identify the types of international affairs positions that interest you. This site is highly recommended for both Americans and Canadians. You might also look at Positions in International Development (for registered users) for general ideas.
Best wishes for your international career. You have many options to choose from!
I am finishing a double major in history and international affairs. I have always been interested in becoming a diplomat, but what other career options do I have if this does not work out?
Nick, 21, Chicago, IL