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I majored in International Studies....

....Now what?

Follow the steps and explore the resources below to gain helpful insight into developing your career path. Please also join the Program in International and Comparative Studies (PICS) LinkedIn group to connect with PICS alumni and current students to learn what they are doing in their professional careers!

First, you need to focus your interests

Where do I want to work?

  • Do I want to work overseas with a local organization/community/government?
  • Do I want to work overseas with an international organization/cooperation/State Department?
  • Do I want to work In the U.S with individuals from other countries (i.e., refugees etc.)?
  • Do I want to work in the U.S for foreign affairs?

What type of work am I interested in?

  • Foreign service
  • NGO/ Non-profit
  • Corporate

Second, you need to develop and market your skill set

What is expected?

  • Organizations will expect you to speak the* language* of the country you wish to travel to or the population you wish to work with
  • How have you transferred theory into practice?
  • What practical experience do you have? How does that relate to your future goals?
  • Going into another community without hard skills or knowledge of the culture is insulting to the community, culturally insensitive and potentially detrimental to the work being done. Unfortunately, wanting to help and having good intentions is not enough. So it is necessary to develop skills related to the issue or area you wish to work—be that corporate or non-profit.

How do I get my foot in the door?

  • Americorps and Peacecorps are excellent ways to gain experience in positions that you may otherwise not be qualified for—or at least unable to compete for the positions against more experienced individuals.
  • Many organizations expect at least three years of on the ground overseas experience. If Peacecorps doesn’t appeal, look for other faith based or long term volunteer positions that provide stipends.
  • If you are interested in working in a lesser developed country, begin by working internationally in a more developed country because they generally require less skills in the beginning.
  • Network. The University of Michigan has one of the largest alumni networks in the country. Check in with career services and connect with individuals who are working in the field you are interested in. Most are very willing to reach out and guide other Michigan grads through their search process.
  • Professors also have a wealth of knowledge and connections. Talk to them, learn from them, apply for research positions.
  • Internships Internships Internships!
  • Be ok with entry level positions. You will not start out with your dream job or probably the most glamorous position.
  • Again having proficiency in another LANGUAGE is one of the most valuable skills you can have.
  • Many individuals interested in the field of international studies will end up pursuing a graduate education at some point. Graduate programs will look to see what kind of interesting field, internship, and volunteer experience you have that makes you unique to others.

Next Steps

  • Update your resume
  • Begin researching—it is important to understand what type of job you would enjoy and excel at as well as marketing yourself
  • The International Center has many ties to organizations and information about international careers.
  • Visit the U-M Career Center
  • Helpful job search websites

Graduate Programs in International Affairs

Are you considering a career in international and public affairs? This information is for students who are considering to apply to graduate schools offering advanced degrees in the field of International Affairs.  

Columbia University - School of International and Public Affairs

Georgetown University - The Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service

Johns Hopkins University - The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies

Princeton University - The Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs

Tufts University - The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy


Information about prestigious and competitive Fellowship Programs:

 PickeringRangel, and Public Policy and International Affairs (PPIA)


For additional information, please see the Importance of a Graduate Degree in International Affairs.