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economy sank into recession in the early 1990s, but bounced back into the longest running expansion in the country’s history followed by an economic slowdown and adjustments in the technology and telecommunications sectors. Business cycles will continue to occur in market-based economies. Nonetheless, the job outlook for well trained college graduates remains positive. Entrepreneurial activity continues to be important to job growth, but there are still more jobs in existing firms. You should also note that education and continual training are becoming even more important for job placement and economic well-being in our ever more interdependent world.
Knowledge of foreign languages and cultures as well as intercultural experiences at home and abroad are also increasingly valued by all sectors of the economy.
THE MECHANICS OF JOB PLACEMENT
University of Kansas www.ukans.edu/~uces University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill http://careers.unc.edu Purdue University www.cco.purdue.edu University of Utah http://careers.utah.edu/main/students/ Career_Services/students.htm
International CareersPOSSIBLE CAREERS
Staff director, Senate Foreign Relations Committee; Peace Corps volunteer; broadcaster,Voice of America; assistant U.S. Trade Representative for congressional affairs; minister for development;
bank vice president, international division; analyst, Central Intelligence Agency; assistant secretary for consular affairs, U.S. State Department; international research specialist; foreign service officer; principal secretary to prime minister; press officer, U.S. embassy; strategic planning specialist, U.S. Army; translator, United Nations; teacher, Department of Defense school; vice president, international marketing, Microsoft; senior director, African Affairs, National Security Council; policy analyst, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce; director, international affairs, AFL-CIO; policy analyst, Center for Strategic and International Studies; lobbyist, International Automobile Manufacturers Association;Washington bureau chief, La Nacion; field staff, Save the Children; chief, research division, Export-Import Bank; agent, international bureau, FBI; consultant to multinational corporations; international correspondent, Los Angeles Times; public affairs, International Monetary Fund; budget analyst, World Health Organization; Internet content writer or editor.
THE NATURE OF THE CAREER
In recent years, both the opportunities and the demand have grown enormously for qualified people who wish to work in international business, banking, international nongovernmental organizations (INGOs), and intergovernmental organizations (IGOs). The range of careers available within international corporations and organizations is quite large. There are growing international employment opportunities for persons trained in political science, because so many social and economic problems require political intervention in the forms of public policies, outlays of public funds, and regulations enacted and enforced by political and governmental bodies. In addition, the skills you may learn as a political science graduate—particularly if you Careers in Political Science have had some methodological training—are in high demand by companies and organizations working in the international sphere.
Worldwide demands for assistance are increasing on government-supported international bodies such as the United Nations Organization (and its subsidiary agencies such as UNESCO, WHO, and UNICEF), the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the Export-Import Bank. This means that they need more employees. (A list of NGOs affiliated with the United Nations can be found at www.ngo.org/index2.htm.) Private organizations operate internationally in areas such as health, education, social services, cultural affairs, and community development. Private nonprofit organizations, which are funded by individual donors, foundations, corporations, and government agencies, offer a variety of opportunities, both paid and unpaid, for the specialist and the generalist. Jobs run the gamut from management and finance to writing and community organization. Examples of large, private, nonprofit organizations with international components include The Academy for Educational Development, the AFL-CIO, the American Field Service, the American Friends Service Committee, CARE, Catholic Relief Services, East-West Center, Red Cross, Experiment in International Living, Save the Children Federation, Sierra Club, Greenpeace, U.S. Committee for UNICEF, and Youth for Understanding. (Many NGOs working on health issues may be found at: www.ngonetworks.org, and see www.uia.org for a list of more than 12,000 INGOs and IGOs.) International business, banking, and finance offer a great diversity of opportunities to those with undergraduate and graduate degrees in political science. Business and banking enterprises have become so globalized that the successes of their ventures are vitally dependent on a better understanding of the international political, regulatory, and economic environments in which they operate. Graduates should investigate careers with investment banks and the international departments of commercial banks; American businesses that either deal with imports and exports, or that have established overseas operations; foundations with foreign components;
the international departments of trade unions; colleges and universities that have overseas branches; the federal government, and state and local governments with economic development programs to attract foreign investors and promote local exports; contractors that provide services to the federal government in foreign countries; international governmental agencies that have offices and operations in the United States; and consulting firms that are called upon by national and overseas clients to deal with problems of economic and political development. There are positions for those with the most specialized backgrounds, as well as openings for generalists. Indeed, lack of experience is not necessarily a drawback. Some corporations and many banks prefer to do their own training.
PREPARATION FOR A CAREER IN INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONSA liberal arts education is still the single best preparation for most international jobs.
Undergraduate training in political science, combined with courses or degrees in areas such as law, economics, public health, engineering, area studies, and business administration will produce the kind of “profile” that agencies in both the public and the private sectors will find attractive. Students who major in political science should include some courses in comparative politics, international relations and organizations, political development, and interest group politics. Also, students should take some courses in basic economics, statistics, calculus, computer science, and international trade.
Compared to the United States, many foreign countries are highly “mercantilist,” which means that the nexus between government and business is very close. The existence, for example, of national, regional, or local industrial and economic development policies brings public authorities into continuous relationships with the world of business—not just as regulators or as taxing authorities, but actually as partners. An understanding of how these systems work is increasingly essential to those who promote investment in countries as dissimilar as Japan and India, Germany and Brazil, and Malaysia and Poland. Consequently, studies in comparative politics with a focus on specific regions or countries may be very useful for careers with international businesses or organizations.
Many, if not most jobs in this highly competitive market, however, go to candidates with graduate degrees—particularly the master’s degree. Graduate degrees— especially with foci in subjects such as economic development, comparative Fluency in lesser known governments, regional studies, and political languages such as analysis—are useful in international busiChinese or Russian, as ness. Those with backgrounds in engineering, well as widely spoken computer sciences, and business administralanguages such as Spanish tion are also in high demand. Foreignand French, are highly language proficiency is a requirement for marketable skills.
most overseas jobs and an advantage for obtaining U.S.-based jobs with international organizations. Fluency in lesser known languages such as Chinese or Russian, as well as widely spoken languages such as Spanish and French, are highly marketable skills. Nonetheless, graduate programs welcome applications from college graduates who have a record with work and/or service experience. You also may want to consider pursuing a graduate degree after working for a few years or performing service such as with the Peace Corps or CARE.
Careers in Political Science Among your extracurricular activities, you should become involved in international clubs, perhaps live in an international house or dormitory, attend lunch time language tables where everyone agrees to speak a specific language over lunch once a week, participate in the model United Nations or model Arab League, and you should definitely spend a summer or semester abroad. If you are a work-study student, you ought to seek out a job on campus that has international overtones such as working in the study abroad office, working for international programs, tutoring students whose first language is not English, or working in a language lab on campus.
A good internship will strengthen the resume of a political science graduate seeking an entry-level job in an international organization. It is important to choose an internship with the same care that you would use in choosing full-time employment. Ideally, the internship should allow you to explore your interests, while gaining some specialized experience. In many instances, banks, volunteer associations, nonprofit enterprises, international relief organizations, and intergovernmental organizations themselves will provide internships for potential employees.
Internship programs allow these groups to peruse potential candidates; they also provide in-house training in the mission and the work ways of each of these organizations. Check the web sites of the organizations for which you would like to work to see if they have internships. Other international internship programs may be found at CDS International (for mostly German-based internships) www.cdsintl.org/ interns.html; Intern Abroad www.internabroad.com; the Global Services Corps (for internships in Africa and Latin America) www.globalservicecorps.org;
and many others.
Some experiences analogous to organizational internships include:
Participation in organizations such as Amnesty International, the League of Women Voters, or the Foreign Policy Association’s Great Decisions program The Peace Corps www.peacecorps.gov and a number of religious groups that provide opportunities for qualified persons to live and work abroad The YMCA www.ymca.net and www.ymcaworldservice.org, which sponsors a program that allows college students and others to serve as camp counselors around the world The Rotary Foundation, which offers many opportunities and funding for travel and humanitarian or educational work abroad www.rotary.org/foundation Study-abroad programs, which may lay a good foundation for future international careers, especially if they aid in the development of language skills. Most colleges and universities have access to these programs, so ask your professors, dean, or international programs office.
THE JOB MARKET IN INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONSThe U.S. government employs a large number of Americans through the Agency for International Development, the Peace Corps, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Departments of Agriculture and Commerce, the International Trade Commission, and other agencies. Government contractors, which are often large domestic or international businesses, may provide an indirect way to work overseas for the government as two-thirds of U.S. foreign aid is funneled through U.S.-based organizations, both for profit and not for profit. Of course, you should consider becoming a foreign service officer at the State Department. Alternatively, U.S. industries, banks, and financing institutions employ many more people overseas than does the U.S.
government. The number of persons working internationally for the private sector of the national economy has been growing steadily in the past decade, although the growth rates vary considerably by occupation. It is reasonable to expect that in the next decade this trend will continue. Persons willing to make the commitment to learn or to be trained in the special skills necessary for these careers should be reasonably optimistic about their prospects for finding jobs.
In the last few years, Congress has greatly expanded its role in foreign relations and international trade. This translates into job opportunities on congressional committees and the staffs of members of the House and Senate for political science graduates who are familiar with international politics, defense, and trade issues.
States, counties, and local governments have become highly active in courting international trade and international ties ranging from “sister city” agreements to local political exchanges. They need to hire more people for jobs related to international issues. There are opportunities for extensive international travel, although most of these jobs are based in the United States.
THE MECHANICS OF JOB PLACEMENT