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Careers in International Relations

There is no single path for an IR major to follow, but that is actually one of the hidden advantages of the IR major: a wide array of opportunities after graduation. In this era of globalization, there is a great demand for people who possess knowledge of international affairs as well as the research, writing, and analytical skills needed to evaluate changes in the world. These skills are needed in business, government, academia, and a host of other fields at home and abroad, and these are precisely the skills you will possess after completing your degree.

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Useful Skills within the International Relations Field
  • Ability to Communicate - Present ideas clearly in writing and orally; Turn data into useable information; Argue and debate effectively; Negotiate and mediate conflicts; Listen critically
  • Methods and Research - Interpret and analyze data; Perform basic quantitative analysis; Effectively employ a variety of research sources, including the Internet; Design research; Summarize findings; Test theories and hypotheses
  • Analytical Ability - Understand components of complex problems; Synthesize themes from complex issues; Think "outside the box;" Think internationally; Assess policy and propose options; Analyze and solve problems systematically and logically
  • Planning and Development - Organize information; Conceptualize problems; Implement strategies; Make effective decisions; Demonstrate leadership
  • Group Skills - Develop consensus; Interact effectively within a diverse environment; Work in a team and individually
Career Options

To identify what education or training is typical for careers within the public administration field, use the O*Net hyperlinks below and click on "Job Zone."

As with all majors, the education you receive serves as a foundation of knowledge that prepares you for what you may face in the professional world. The career field you chose may require additional education or experience.

Getting Started: Internships

Gaining real-life experience is an ideal way to start a new career. The career services website has an extensive list of internships and fellowships. Browse through the internships; they are organized by interest or by federal program.

There are government-organized internship programs which provide students or recent graduates the opportunity to gain real-life experience. Many require students to maintain either a half-time or full-time student status. The best ways to identify potential opportunities such as these is to contact branch offices directly, to search, or to look at the agencies' career portals. Keep in mind that these positions are not always posted online, so direct contact with the agency is key.


The Pathways Program is a federal initiative that offers internship programs for current students and training and career development opportunities for recent graduates. Recent graduates must apply within two years of degree or certificate completion (except for veterans, due to their military service obligation, will have up to six years to apply).The internship program for current students replaces the former Student Career Experience Program (SCEP) and Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP).

The Presidential Management Fellows Program (PMF)

PMF is designed to attract to federal service outstanding men and women from a wide variety of academic disciplines who have a clear interest in, and commitment to, a career in the analysis and management of public policies and programs. To be eligible for nomination, an individual must be a graduate student completing or expected to complete, during the current academic year, an advanced degree from a qualifying college or university.

The Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP)

WRP is coordinated by the Office of Disability Employment Policy and the U.S. Department of Defense, and aims to provide summer work experience, and in some cases full-time employment, to college students with disabilities. The program develops partnerships with other federal agencies, each of whom makes a commitment to provide summer jobs and a staff recruiter. Each year, recruiters interview about 1,500 students with disabilities at college and university campuses across the nation, and develop a database listing the qualifications of each student.

Getting Hired: Government Agencies, Organizations, and Search Engines

There are several government agencies and organizations that seek candidates with degrees in international relations. The list below provides a few places one might find employment specific to this degree.

Keeping Current: Professional Organizations and Associations

Involvement in professional organizations is a great way to stay up-to-date on new technology, tools, and best practices in your field. Professional organizations are also a great networking opportunity. Below are a few professional organizations you may be interested in as an international relations major.

Get Connected: Social Media
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