Hey Travelers! Recently, I was invited to speak at undergraduate students at Harvard University’s Women In Foreign Policy Undergraduate chapter. Speaking to Harvard’s IR students was truly an honor. Thank you so much to the wonderful women in Harvard University’s Women In Foreign Policy Undergraduate chapter for having me!
One of the main things I shared with the students was my unlikely story of becoming a U.S. diplomat. The students ranged from being freshmen to seniors who were about to graduate. When I shared with the students my story, I had flashbacks of me being a student at their age. I could envision myself sitting in their seats. When I was I was sitting in their seats, I had no idea what life would mean for me after graduating from college. For me, the journey to become a diplomat was not meticulously planned. It happened by saying yes to opportunities, taking risks, and betting on myself. And so far, it has seemed to work out.
In addition to my story, I shared practical tips to land a job international relations. If you’re a student looking to get into international affairs, whether that be diplomacy, or something else. Here is what you can do:
Gaining experience is critical to work in international affairs. As a student, a great way to get your foot in the door of this competitive career is to volunteer and do internships at organizations. I wholeheartedly advocate for paid internships and paid work experiences. If you have the option of doing a paid internship over unpaid one, definitely do it. I also know that not everyone can afford to take an unpaid internship. However, I understand that those unpaid positions, as cringe as they are, can get your foot in the door and lead to paid opportunities.
Don’t just think of networking as a dreadful process to find a job. Think of networking as an opportunity to build relationships within the industry you want to enter. When you network, you meet people in your field. Meeting people not only builds your circle, but you gain insider career knowledge which can be invaluable while looking and applying for jobs. You never know what will come out of networking.
Study abroad was the spark that led me to pursue a career in international affairs. Without a doubt, I know if I didn’t study in India, I would not be where I am today. If you are in college or even grad school, consider studying overseas.
For me, it provided clarity to my life’s purpose. It opened my eyes to opportunities I did not know existed.
Studying abroad gives you the international experience employers are looking for. When you are studying overseas you learn skills future employers look for such as adaptability, problem-solving, time management, and communication. You might even have the opportunity to hone in on foreign language skills, depending on the country you go to.
If you study abroad, see how you can take full advantage of the opportunity. Look for programs that may allow you to do an internship or volunteer within the local community. When I studied in India, I interned at a women’s rights organization. One of my duties was writing case reports for women who experienced domestic violence. This internship gave me a nuanced look at Indian life and culture. The experiences I had were priceless and it was something I could talk about during future interviews.
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