For someone considering a career in international relations, it’s never too early to get the ball rolling. Since for many of these types of careers you’ll need to be on track pretty quickly after starting college, it’s advisable to start getting things worked out early and take some first steps to help you realize your dream. With that in mind, here are five things you can do starting in high school to help launch your future career.
Read up on the different career paths
Believe it or not, international relations is a massive field, and you should read about all the different types of jobs to decide what kind of track you might want to get on in university. There are careers in diplomacy, the United Nations, intelligence agencies, foreign aid, and the private sector, among others. Some of these require a pretty well-defined track in university and proper internships in order to get your foot in the door. Don’t miss your chance!
Join the Model UN Club
One of the best ways to gain some early experience, especially if you’re considering the United Nations path, is to join your school’s Model United Nations club (or related leadership ambassador programs if Model UN is not available). Model UN has students role-play delegates to the UN and tries to simulate different UN committees in an effort to get students educated about what goes on at the UN and get them reading and forming opinions about critical international affairs.
There are conferences from the local level all the way up to the national level where you get the chance to represent a particular nation and debate on different topics relevant to current international affairs. These kinds of debates force you to become more educated about world issues, which is also something that will help you in your university courses when you have to apply that knowledge.
Take AP Courses
Advanced Placement (AP) courses are a great way to get an early start in high school if your school offers them. Some of the best courses to take for careers in international relations are AP U.S. Government, AP Comparative Politics, AP World History, and AP Geography. You can earn college credits by passing the AP test at the end of the school year, and many colleges and universities in the US will honor those credits.
Going abroad is the absolute best way to learn about different cultures. The longer you go, the more benefit you get out of it. Just taking a one-week trip might not be enough, but if you can do a volunteering experience or stay overseas for summer holiday or something, that would be an amazing experience.
Actually living abroad for an extended period of time forces you to adapt to and learn about a different culture. That experience can have a profound effect on your mindset, possibly even changing the way you think about certain things permanently. Such an understanding and acceptance of cultural differences is also crucial to a career in international relations, where you’ll be handling these kinds of issues on a daily basis.
If you’re considering a career in international relations, you have to know what’s going on in the world, and it’s never too early to start getting informed. Since what’s going on right now could affect international discussions for decades to come, it’s important to be in the know.
If you haven’t already, find a political/news podcast or TV news program you really like and start watching or listening regularly. You can also get started just by picking up Mom or Dad’s newspaper when they’re done with it and giving it a read.
Contributed by Nick Bartholomew