Careers in International Relations –  10 Advantages and How to Start 

As we study the interaction of nation-states as well as some non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in various fields like business activity, politics, security, and even economics, we come across this important area. The international relations professionals, therefore, have to work in academics to teach the subject and do research, they are in government quarters, they work with NGOs, etc. for developing several types of cooperative exchanges between nations benefitting commerce, security matters, enhancing the quality of life and even the environment. This way, the scope of the subject is wide, promising, and demanding. With the passage of time, matters have surpassed national boundaries as the world is well connected where nations interact with each other needing professionals with a rich skill set in various areas.

In general, careers in international affairs do exist across three major sectors: public, private, and non-profit/NGO. Various governments, a lot many international organizations, various multinational companies together with development consulting firms, and NGOs/think tanks are the typical employers in the international relations field. We can give some tips to help the curious on the lookout for international relations professions.

Top 10 Advantages of a Career in International Relations

The subject area is demanding starting from politics taking a break at economics or commerce and involves security in various areas including sports, the employment prospects for professionals are multifaceted. This way choosing international relations is not enough one has to target a specific field to work with and excel with the passage of time.

1. Develops Soft Skills

One can survive with a well-balanced approach but as we can see that vast scope can be better addressed with a degree in International Relations. Proper education will definitely be emphasizing clarity both in speech and writing, involving analytical skills and also a detailed knowledge regarding the impact of world politics strengthens the person for the career paths leading towards journalism, law, government and NGOs, doing international business together with and teaching and research in educational setups.

2. Variety Of Sub-Fields

We see that people usually know the use of international relations in joining a country’s diplomatic quarters. This way country’s foreign service becomes one of the top choices for the newcomers employing thousands of people in different embassies and allied offices in different capacities. This is usually done by passing very strict examinations and screening and in reality, the chances of selection become very slim in reality. There is usually no specific requirement but those who attain good grades are allowed to proceed further with other steps. People from all walks of life can play different roles in politics, economy, financials, engineering, health, or even sports.

3. Better Chances Of Employment With Other Government Agencies

Though Foreign Service is not the only sector for the subject matter, there are other areas too. There is a defense department in its military and civil capacity together with allied areas like intelligence and departments related to national security. These people in military and civil areas are not altogether in the fighting forces.

4. Possibility To Work At United Nations

For a job hunter, the United Nations or UN is well known to be a fascinating employer to work with. The UN-based jobs in the permanent staff category are assigned on the basis of quotas allocated to different countries or nations at certain percentages to avoid monopoly situations.

5. Employment Possibility With Private Sector

A large number of research groups in the private sector mostly depend on contracts from the government. There could also be some pressure groups managed by every political stripe in large cities having foreign affairs interests.

6. International Business In Private Sector

Multinational corporations play a prominent role in present international affairs but at present, there has been a change in this trend, although different corporations have their own policies. Corporations in international business tend to hire local expertise for their ventures reducing the failure rate. Manpower having a particular skill set has become a trend in the private sector. There are many companies who plan to re-develop international assignments using their selected fast-track managers as their foreign market has its importance. The skill itself and the foreign language fluency becomes important for getting such a job.

7. Private Sector: Non-Profit

We all come across hundreds of private, NGOs and NPOs working in international affairs being their main interest. Such organizations usually, do not have direct government control or humanitarian issues as a general concern. These setups overlap somewhat with organizations doing private advocacy like Amnesty International. Such organizations have a small number of permanent staff and the hiring is usually contract-based or based on assignments. They prefer experienced people for hiring or consider at least having similar competency to work on their projects. In general, people find working for them rewarding.

8. Academic Teaching And Research

Large universities are also having international expertise. Their faculty is assigned to work within departments, around the major disciplines like economics, political science, engineering, and even history. Such jobs are for teaching communication skills and practical knowledge to their students together with research being the new knowledge for their students. This way, university teachers typically have great freedom to select what they will be teaching and researching. This enables them the development specialized knowledge addressing vast areas.

9. Great Internships Opportunities

Formally involved in internships is a somewhat critical supplement to any type of educational background for getting international affairs-related jobs. Understandably besides informal hiring processes, good personal contacts also play a pivotal role in getting jobs. Besides the contacts, internships are a major boost to getting a job offer, so this should not be underestimated. Students practically learn for themselves their synergy for a certain job posting if they have passed through an internship in the same area. Quite often, depending on their individual performance, they are likely to be considered for the job during internship too. One should consider a rule for an internship, anything to get is far better than getting nothing.

10. Working For Peace Corps

The Peace Corps is one of the agencies of the government that sends people, typically for two years to third-world areas. This initiative is to help the people of those countries for social and economic growth. An internship at a sizable good organization is extremely useful, but such an internship Is not the same as having experience abroad while such experience carries a lot of weight in getting jobs. However, we should be aware of several available options too. The students may spend a semester abroad during their studies in practically any country they might choose.

5 Steps To Start Your Career In International Relations

1. Start By Getting An Undergraduate Degree In International Relations

An undergraduate degree becomes a great tool in international affairs as the recruiters prefer their new hires to have cross-cultural experience together with cross-disciplinary skills and multilingual expertise. This way, a degree in International Relations becomes the most relevant, that helps students both the skills and necessary experience. This being a multidisciplinary program, it opens the path to quite a wide range of careers within international relations. It allows students to gain expertise across multidisciplinary areas including languages, economics, humanities, politics and business, and the like.

If you are taking a postgraduate course, try a degree that has a professional placement part of it. This will give you a chance to get a job as soon as you graduate. Search for the best universities in your area that offer the degree. On the other hand, Use Google searches to its best to get all information related to Local and International Scholarships. A few times, it’s from the organizations like UNICEF or United Nations, or a few Universities offer it as well. Spend some time on the internet and gather information and start preparing a minimum of 6 to 9 months before the date of application submission.

2. Find International Relations Internships

Being a starter, you can begin with internships or even volunteer work with some related organization to make a good start as these internships offer many advantages giving you insights into and also the understanding of a specific career field. You can also form a network for your own future job search to enhance your visibility and have access to several unadvertised job opportunities.

Use LinkedIn to see which organizations are offering internships or you can also start emailing the relevant organizations to inquire about their internship application process. Draft a sample email and inquire about the duration of the internship, departments in which you can apply, and even if they offer a stipend.

3. Do Some International Relations Career Research

International relations have a vast horizon having differing focuses and very interesting specializations offered by universities, it will be really helpful to do in-depth research ahead of sending out an application. Basically, career research should be done earlier than program research, because choosing a program resonating with your interests and life goals forms a crucial part of your career strategy. This approach is going to accelerate your own professional development.

To research in detail, look out for professionals on LinkedIn and pay attention to their career journey. You will get to know what sort of courses and specializations they have done in their academics. Maybe connecting with them over social media will give you a chance for an insightful session with them. Try your luck- maybe they reply!

4. Gain Professional Experience And Try Learning A Foreign Language

Besides the technical skills, employers also look for an international experience together with language skills and cross-cultural awareness. The beginner should be able to work well with a cross-cultural team, that provides evidence of an international mindset, and field experience in while working developing countries. Having fluency in a foreign language is always helpful in your search for a career in international relations.

For professional experience, don’t hesitate to volunteer or do multiple internships during your degree. Getting knowledge of multiple departments and organizations will broaden your exposure and you will be able to choose your specialized field more easily. For this, you can also request your professors to write you a recommendation letter for your job placement.

5. Use Your Networking Skills

If you choose to pursue a career in International Relations, then do networking with your teachers and professors; those who are the best practitioners in the sector have the ability to help you get the first job. This will be a good beginning along your way to mastering a career in international relations. Networking today with LinkedIn is an easier way and requires less effort from both ends.  Checkout if industry leaders are having some meets-up sessions or training seminars, you can join that too!

To network well, your communication skills will come in handy and you can get in touch with different professionals in the field. They can guide you with relevant information. Be confident and open about your experience and passion relevant to the field.

Top 5 Essential Skills For International Relations Career

1. Language Translation

 One should have command over a few common languages that are widely spoken throughout the world. To translate, one needs to accurately convert written content from one language into another. There are several areas that require assistance like Law, Finance, Business, Medicine, Education, and News agencies.

2. Political Research Skills

With a proper approach to politics, one can be a political consultant to support and manage the work and public images of politicians as well as government officials.

3. Management And Analytical Skills

With a typical analytical and management approach one can be an analyst for international benefits working for international organizations creating and implementing employees using some industry knowledge for their analysis and employment etc.

4. Marketing Skills

To serve in the media sector, these skills are required for public figures to maintain their image in the market. The specialists oversee the global marketing and activities of an employer.

5. Communication Skills

 This is an essential skill for any role in International Relations, despite any sector that you choose. Make sure that you have command over the language in both verbal and written format because you will be constantly in touch with foreign officials and diplomats.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Is International Relations Only Limited To Career In NGO?

International relations (IR) is about studying relationships between countries, together with the roles of states, IGOs or inter-governmental organizations, INGOs or international nongovernmental organizations, NGOs or non-governmental organizations, and MNCs or multinational corporations. This is an academic as well as public policy field and may be either normative or positive as its target is to analyze and formulate the foreign policy of specific states.

2. What Are The Biggest Employers Of International Relations Professionals?

It is the mixture of the government sector and policymakers that hire the most graduates of the industry. They include:

  • NATO
  • US State Department,
  • World Trade Organization,
  • Central Intelligence Agency,
  • United Nations,
  • Feeding America,
  • Red Cross,
  • International Development Agency and
  • National Security Agency.

3. What Is The Role Of International Relations In Today’s Civil Wars?

 International politics play an important role in civil wars like:

  • Gives detailed background information related to civil war-like cross-border information to understand the mechanism,
  • Helps in understanding new theories related to civil wars and how seriously it needs to be catered to,
  • Helps in mechanisms of civil wars and how their impact can be measured by certain abilities of the profession.

4. Which Sector Hires The Most Graduates Of International Relations In The US?

Every year, the Government sector takes more than 60% of the fresh graduates from universities all across the globe. Next hiring is by a multilateral organization which makes around 15%. Other sectors including foreign government, Military, and Development sectors range from 1% to 10% on average.

5. What Is The Average Salary For An International Relations Worker?

On average, it’s between $54,000 to $100,000. It depends on the sector you have chosen to work in.


International relations rise up as one of the important areas being the international backbone supporting the activity. This way need is to spread the knowledge and awareness to involve more and more people in international relations. Emphasis should be given to let the new lot of students to chose this area as their target. This again is because the international scenario is changing because of an international movement. Construction, languages, and manufacturing, all have crossed national boundaries. A typical example is the Mercedes car manufacturing is the most loved vehicle all over the world. It is a German car having its gigantic manufacturing facility in China and then used almost in every country. The environment has also become a global subject, maybe because of global warming, addressed in almost all countries while the environment is all free from international boundaries. It is the time we tell our younger generation how well they can prepare themselves for the upcoming challenges and try to adopt international relations as their pet selected subject of studies. This step will help them for getting engaged in various working areas of international relations.

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