How to Land Your Dream Job in Diplomacy
Who hasn’t dreamt about wanting to work for the United Nations or becoming a diplomat travelling around the world. Perhaps you've thought about being a researcher for the most powerful people in the world. Well, you aren’t the only one. In fact, social sciences are studied by approximately 170,000 students in the United Kingdom alone, making it the fourth largest degree area in higher education. Unfortunately, only 51% of social science graduates get into full-time positions with less than 4% entering jobs that is relevant to their degree of aspiration.
What students don’t see when thinking up of their dream job is the gruelling work behind it. Very often, civil servants, even at UN level, become deflated with the lack of innovation provided to them in their career, simply because it doesn’t exist. Diplomacy is more than just being a diplomat and representing your country. Diplomacy is trade. Diplomacy is bringing in hard cash for the survival of your country against all odds. If you can’t sell yourself early on in this field, it is unlikely you will sell anything successfully.
Luckily, there are many ways to get involved in the field of international relations without the traditional route of joining the Foreign Service. Unfortunately, most universities are not equipped to provide students with tailour-made advice that takes into account each individual people’s ambitions, desires and personal experiences. Surely, the decision of your chosen career path is worth more than just fifteen minutes of generic coaching, right? Grassroot Diplomat thinks so, which is why we want to offer you the best start to your chosen career in international relations.
Here are a few steps to consider on how to land your dream job in international relations and diplomacy.
1. Consider choosing a Technical degree
Who said you needed a degree in politics to become a politician, so why would need a degree in international relations in diplomacy? Studying International Relations may sound like the perfect fit in retrospect but degrees in the social sciences won’t provide you with the useful technical skills you’ll need on the ground. Engineering, economy, and science graduates are the most sought after candidates by top UN agencies. But don’t sweat, social sciences – Grassroot Diplomat can help
2. Short Course it all the way
A course in diplomacy can teach you more skills than a 4-year degree can, minus the debt and time investment. Short courses are great because they add bulk to your education and refresh your skills in an area of interest. Don’t forget, learning is forever, and by keeping your skills fresh, you make for a more valuable candidate.
3. All experience is relevant experience
Did you know that your experience as a bar tender can be relevant to the field of diplomacy? You can manage a rowdy crowd on a Saturday night, then chances are you have the base skills needed to deal with conflict resolution in the field. Try to think about your work experience from a different point of view and put yourself in the shoes of someone on your chosen career path. This will help you see how relevant your skills really are without selling yourself short.
4. Be a Generalist, not a Specialist
Unless you want to specialise in something specific like carbon emission management, chances are you are better off being a generalist than a specialist. Diplomats, by their very nature, are generalists who move from being in charge of press matters in one mission, to trade relations in the next. It is better to be jack-of-all-trades who dabbles in everything while also keeping in mind that there is room for growth in your well of knowledge.
5. But I love Human Rights issue...
Many students are passionate about a very particular subject area within foreign policy. Human rights is one of the most popular policy areas, but the subject matter can become overwhelming very quickly when trying to tackle this very complex and fragmented subject in one shot. For instance, human rights could be mean: freedom of speech, discrimination, LGBT rights, elderly rights, women and children’s rights, religious freedom and practice of faith – you get the picture. Once you fragment the subject, consider picking three top areas of human rights to specialise in and read, read, read (oh, did we mention ‘read’?). That way, you are not pigeon-holing yourself in one area and still have freedom to move should one subject not be your thing.
6. Network, network, network
It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Truer words were never spoken, especially in diplomacy. Diplomacy is a field of communication. People talk. Word spreads. Business is done face-to-face, not email-to-email. By connecting with likeminded people, you are more likely to open doors for yourself instead of reading about the subject and trying to outsmart people in a conversation. No-one likes doing business with a grouch, particularly someone who thinks they understand the world better than them. Having charisma will work in your favour so use it well. But know that there is a difference between being yourself and being fake. The minute you pretend to be someone else, you will lose credibility fast. Much like wearing your finest suit or dress, be sure to wear your charisma loud and proud!
7. Learn to talk to people
As a generation that has grown up with the internet, it is becoming more common for young people to text talk instead of ‘talk’ talk. Diplomacy is a very traditional business that relies upon old fashion communication. If you are afraid to pick up the phone or walk up to someone to introduce yourself, this might not be the right business for you. Diplomats are nervous to do this too, which is why it is so important to train yourself to be confident in business. Considering joining the Diplomatic Leadership Training for a one-week intensive course on communication and the art of storytelling. You will thank yourself later.
8. Get someone to show you your options
Never underestimate the importance of investing in yourself. If you have already invested the last four years of your life to studying, the least you can do is invest a few good hours thinking about your current career aspects. Landing a job in international relations and diplomacy is tricky business, with only 3 percent of applicants getting in. If you don’t know what you are doing wrong or why you have failed to get a job within six months, something isn’t right, but we can help. Let Grassroot Diplomat show you where your talent lies and how to strengthen your weaknesses. We will even consider giving you remote work experience for two months in an area best suited to your skills to help you understand the world of international relations and diplomacy better. We work directly with top diplomats and politicians and can provide you with a window of opportunity that your universities might lack. You have nothing to lose but everything to gain.