You Just Can’t Get Abroad, What Can You Do?

To obtain an international job in government, it is often imperative to have abroad experience; however, this may not be possible for some individuals.

If you cannot get abroad, there are still several things that you can do to help diversify your experience and put yourself in a position to work in foreign policy. Some of these things you should do even if you have gone abroad, as they will further foster your development in the field. Below is a list of six things that you can do to better position yourself for a career in international relations:

  1. Learn a language. It is much easier to travel abroad and get a job in the field if you know the language.
  2. Spend time with students from the international community. Most undergraduate and graduate schools have large groups of international students. These students are almost always very excited to meet and hang out with American students. Through them you will not only learn about their country and culture, but you might also learn about opportunities to travel to their native country.
  3. Participate in international activities in undergraduate and graduate school. Join clubs, go to cultural events, and reach out to interesting international affairs professors. The more people you meet and befriend, the more likely you are to connect with someone who may be the key to accessing a fantastic opportunity.
  4. Find internships with an international focus. The organization does not have to be located outside the country, they just need to be focused in the international realm. While you are an intern, meet as many people as you can that live or work abroad. Find out how they got where they did.
  5. Think internationally. Read foreign publications and stay up-to-date on major events in places that interest you. It is essential to gain a global perspective. You will want to be prepared for the moment you meet someone that you need to impress to get your foot in the door.
  6. Volunteer to host foreign exchange students, or even (if you're comfortable with it) couch surfers. Making as many international connections as possible is the name of the international employment game.
  7. Work with refugee assistance or an immigration advocacy organization. You don’t have to travel to another country to help a foreign neighbor in need. Many organizations are dedicated to helping foreign nationals when they arrive on U.S. soil. These types of jobs are rewarding and position you well for opportunities in their native countries.

To learn more about how to obtain an international job in government, check out our "Guide to International Jobs in Government."

What Do You Think?

Can you think of anything else that young professionals can do to better position themselves for a career in international relations?

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