Do you want a career that can expand outside of the United States? Do you tend to think about international relations and how other countries interact with each other? Are you passionate about another culture and/or language? If so, you might want to consider a career path in international affairs.

International affairs careers can be found across all sectors, private, public, or government. There are also many think tanks and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) devoted to international relations.

Jinsuh Cho ’18 interns at UN Refugee Agency
Jinsuh Cho ’18 interns at UN Refugee Agency

Explore Careers

Public (government)

  • Capitol Hill: Employment on the Hill generally refers to positions available in one of the 535 Congressional offices (100 Senate and 435 House of Representatives) or 300 committees and subcommittees.
  • Federal Government: Interested in a career in the Foreign Service? Check out DOSCareers, an app by the Department of State. International affairs positions in government do not just exist in agencies such as the Department of State and the Agency for International Development, almost every federal department and agency maintains an international affairs division.

Private

  • Management Consulting: Typically, consultants conduct research, analyze data, prepare reports, and present findings; less frequently a management consultant will become involved in the actual implementation of the plan.
  • International Business: Multinational corporations, joint ventures, financial institutions, law firms, consulting firms, and manufacturers of both goods and services cater to an international clientele.
  • Journalism: Journalists report on current affairs and other events for print and web publications or for broadcast on radio or television; news reporters may specialize in fields such as politics, foreign affairs, business, arts, sports, health, or science.
  • Political Risk Analysis: Typically, political risk analysts gather information on an area or a country, determine the causes and sources of any related risks, and forward their findings to those making investment decisions.

Non-profit/NGO

  • Associations: Approximately 22,300 multinational, binational, and non-U.S.national associations operate internationally. The majority of associations in the US are headquartered in Washington, DC, New York, or Chicago.
  • Foundations: A foundation is a non-governmental, nonprofit organization with its own funds (usually from a single source, either an individual, family, or corporation) and program managed by its own trustees and directors established to maintain or aid educational, social, charitable, religious, or other activities serving the common welfare, primarily by making grants to other nonprofit organizations (Foundation Center).

For more information, visit: http://www.apsia.org/

For more career options visit: spotlightoncareers.org/career/international-affairs-2/employer-job-options (for username and password, please contact Career Services)

These organizations can be great places to make connections, learn more about the field, and search openings. Many have discounted student memberships.

Foreign Policy Association

International Studies Association

Society for International Development

Young Professionals in Foreign Policy

Young Professionals in International Affairs

Prepare for Jobs and Internships

Information, tips, and strategies to help prepare you as an undergraduate.

  • Describe your international experiences as they relate to this position.
  • How has your study abroad experience contributed to your candidacy?
  • Describe an experience dealing with a cultural difference and barrier. How did you react/handle the situation?
  • Describe a current global issue that matters to you.
  • Are you willing to travel to countries without western amenities as part of your job?
  • Tell me about a time when you completed a research project?
  • Tell me about a time when you managed a project?

Knowledge of industry news can give you a sense of the culture and make you a better interview candidate. Social media can be a great tool to stay current:

Follow each organization, office, and agency on multiple social media outlets for job postings, updates, and other resources

Some possible graduate degrees:

  • Master of Arts in International Affairs (M.A.I.A.)
  • Master of Arts in International Communication (M.A.I.C.)
  • Master of Arts in International Development (M.A.I.D.)
  • Master of Science in Development Management (M.S.D.M.)
  • Master of Arts in International Peace and Conflict Resolution (MAIPCR)
  • Master of Arts in Law & Diplomacy (MALD)
  • Global Master of Arts Program (GMAP)
  • Master in International Business (MIB)
  • Master of Laws in International Law (LLM)
  • Master of International Service (M.I.S.)
  • Master of Science in International Affairs (MSINTA)
  • Ph.D. in International Relations (Ph.D.)

Graduate School Resources

Alumni Advice

Advice from alumni who work in this industry.

Stephen Matzie

Stephen Matzie '02

Current Title and Organization: Director of Project Finance, U.S International Development Finance Corporation (DFC)

Major at Colgate: Economics and International Relations

Advanced Degrees: Masters in Development Economics and International Relations; Masters in Finance, Johns Hopkins University

What led you to pursue your current role?

It combines many different interests including international affairs, economics and finance, public service, and travel. I value work that is challenging but very rewarding when it improves the lives of other people.

What activities on campus were most helpful to your transition into your industry? 

Study abroad on the London Economics Program, plus my double major in economics and international relations. I volunteered through various campus organizations, including the Newman Community.

What values do you look for in a company?

Mission-oriented, good team dynamics, positive and inclusive work environment, supports professional development, challenging and increasing job responsibilities, innovative and hardworking atmosphere.

What was the most challenging aspect of the graduate school application process?

Finding the program that is the right fit with your interests and experience, which then makes the application flow more naturally; reach out to students and staff in the program to network; standardized tests.

How would you advise students to approach the possibility of graduate school during their time at Colgate and after graduation?

Understanding what you would like to pursue professionally should be a prerequisite to attending graduate school because of the time, money, and challenging coursework. There is not a right answer for attending graduate school right away or waiting. It just depends on the field of study, professional requirements, and where you are personally.

Did you take a gap year?

I did not but would have equally benefited from a few years of job experience first.

Find Opportunities

Public: Most government-based positions will hire well in advance, particularly if clearance is required. Begin your search roughly 6-12 months before your anticipated start date.

Private: Business, finance, and consulting tend to hire in the fall. Communications typically conducts its recruitment in spring.

Nonprofit: Nonprofit predominantly hires on an as-needed basis. Internships and entry-level positions will typically become available mid-late spring.

Capitol Hill

Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

Consulting

International Human Rights Associations

International Business

International Culture / Education / Health Organizations

International Development

International Policy Analysis / International Diplomacy

Peace and Conflict Management

Think Tanks

 

Firsthand is a platform that offers resources for your specific career path, including job search tips, opportunities, and information on employers within your industry of choice. Simply log in with LinkedIn or create an account using your Colgate email address.

Job search sites:

Find opportunities through social media:

  • “Careers in Foreign Affairs” Facebook Group to connect with others and learn about updates, jobs, internships, and career fairs
  • Careers in Diplomacy: LinkedIn Group for discussions, members, and jobs
  • US Department of State Twitter: @doscareers

Colgate Handshake Opportunities

Check Colgate Handshake, Colgate's internship and job database, for opportunities that may interest you in this field.

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