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Department of Sociology and Anthropology

International and Global Studies BS - Career Opportunities

U.S. Government

In the current political climate, public service is making an impressive comeback.  Human resource specialists at numerous agencies, including the Central Intelligence Agency, the Department of Defense, State, Health and Human Services, and the Homeland Security office, among others, offer promising career opportunities to graduates in International and Global Studies.  Careers in the U.S. government are a form of public service: the sense of commitment to a larger entity and a strong motivation to serve one's fellow citizens.  To work for the U.S. government means working on core issues like poverty, homelessness, AIDS, education, foreign policy, and security, and being a direct participant in the policy debates central to the nation's idea of itself and its future.

The federal workforce is becoming one of the most diverse in the United States, specifically because the government is taking proactive steps to enhance the representation of historically underrepresented minority groups.  In this sense, the federal government is striving to be a progressive employer that ensures diversity and representation in its workforce.  Yet despite a formal anti-discrimination regime, there is evidence to suggest that promotional opportunities for women and men of color are still unequal.  Many agencies, including the U.S. Postal Service, the U.S. Coast Guard, the National Institute of Health, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and many others, are currently working to more fully integrate diversity objectives into their basic operating structure.

There is the common notion that government work is severely under compensated.  But in fact, pay and compensation for federal employees is only slightly lower than in the private sector organizations, specifically for entry-level jobs.  The advantage in government is that young professionals have the opportunity to enter what personnel managers call "career ladders": a series of promotions that occur over a period of time, and sometimes as rapidly as once every year.  While you might begin with an annual base salary of around $34,000, within five to ten years (depending on the speed of your promotions) your base salary will be $83,000.  In addition, the federal government offers a comprehensive package of benefits, including health care and retirement plans.  Finally, many federal agencies have instituted programs of continuous learning to ensure that its employees stay at the cutting edge of knowledge and skills.

International and Global Studies positions in government do not just exist in agencies as the Department of State and the Agency for International Development.  Indeed, just about every federal department and agency maintains an international affairs division.  The United States is committed to a policy of engagement with many countries around the world and works through many international forums to influence the global debate and to protect American interests.

Public service is an important calling, particularly in a democracy.  The federal government, now more than ever, needs smart, motivated young men and women to take on challenging positions of leadership and trust.  If you are interested in serving your country, having an impact on public policy, making a positive difference in the lives of your fellow citizens, then you should seriously consider a career with the U.S. government.

Agriculture, United States Department of(USDA): leads the Federal anti-hunger effort with the Food Stamp, School Lunch, School Breakfast, and the WIC Programs; is the steward of our nation's 192 million acres of national forests and rangelands; is the country's largest conservation agency, encouraging voluntary efforts to protect soil, water, and wildlife on the 70 percent of America's lands that are in private hands; brings housing, modern telecommunications, and safe drinking water to rural America; is responsible for the safety of meat, poultry, and egg products; is a research leader in everything from human nutrition to new crop technologies that allow us to grow more food and fiber using less water and pesticides; helps ensure open markets for U.S. agricultural products and provides food aid to needy people overseas.  The department of agriculture also offers internship opportunities.!ut/p/_s.7_0_A/7_0_1OB?navid=INTERN_SCHOLAR

The Census, Bureau of: the Census Bureau serves as the leading source of quality data about the nation's people and economy. It honors privacy, protects confidentiality, shares its expertise globally, and conducts its work openly.

Citizenship and Immigration Service (formerly Immigration and Naturalization Service), U.S.:  administers federal laws covering the admission, exclusion, deportation, and naturalization of aliens in the United States; adjudicates refugee applicants; the service maintains liaison with federal, state, local, and foreign offices (embassies and consulates around the world). Key categories of recruitment: border patrol, investigations, detention and deportation, adjudications, asylum, inspections, and intelligence.

Commerce, U.S. Department of: its mission is to create the conditions for economic growth and opportunity by promoting innovation, entrepreneurship, competitiveness, and stewardship; to provide the information and tools to maximize U.S. competitiveness and enable economic growth for American industries, workers, and consumers; to foster science and technological leadership by protecting intellectual property, enhancing technical standards, and advancing measurement science; to observe, protect, and manage the earth’s resources to promote environmental management.

Communications Commission (Federal), International Bureau of the: telecommunications policy; develops, administers, and recommends policies, standards, procedures and programs for the development of international telecommunications facilities and services and the licensing of satellite facilities under its jurisdiction; representational role for commission activities in international organizations; research and studies concerning international regulatory trends, as well as their implications for U.S. policy.

Congressional Research Service: the Congressional Research Service provides members of Congress with nonpartisan research, analysis, and information which they need to make informed decisions on behalf of the American people; it is committed to providing the Congress, throughout the legislative process, comprehensive and reliable analysis, research and information services that are timely, objective, nonpartisan, and confidential, thereby contributing to an informed national legislature.

Council of Economic Advisors: provides the President with objective economic analysis and advice on the development and implementation of a wide range of domestic and international economic policy issues; to develop and recommend to the President national economic policies to foster and promote free competitive enterprise, to avoid economic fluctuations or to diminish the effects thereof, and to maintain employment, production, and purchasing power; offers full-time internships during spring and fall semesters, in January, and during the summer. Part-time applicants who can commit to at least 30 hours a week will be considered during the spring and fall semester. Interns at the CEA are responsible for assisting the staff in researching a wide range of macroeconomic, microeconomic, and international issues, providing assistance in making charts and analyzing data. Administrative duties to support the work of the Council are also involved.

Defense, U.S. Department of: Washington Headquarters Service.  The Department of Defense offers a variety of opportunities to pursue careers in military, strategic, and intelligence activities.  Although many positions are filled by military personnel, most of the offices and agencies related to the defense establishment also require civilian employees.  In general, all the offices seek candidates with broad-based academic training.  International and Global Studies majors with a strong background in history and applied economics and an understanding of defense issues make attractive candidates.

Energy, U.S. Department of: develops national energy policy, administers energy research and development, international energy activities, international emergency issues, national security, international cooperation in science and technology.  See "DOE careers" and "Teachers and Students" (first link).

Environmental Protection Agency, U.S.: its mission is to protect human health and the environment. Seeks job applicants trained in international studies, environmental issues, and management with the ability to work on policy and technical issues.

Education, U.S. Department of: its mission is to ensure equal access to education and to promote educational excellence throughout the nation. It is dedicated to establishing policies on federal financial aid for education, and distributing as well as monitoring those funds; collecting data on America's schools and disseminating research; focusing national attention on key educational issues; prohibiting discrimination and ensuring equal access to education.

Export-Import Bank: export financing of U.S. goods and services, commercial financing, overseas markets; careers in accounting, computer science, economics, financial analysis, law, marketing, international and public affairs.

FBI: Federal Bureau of Investigation has the responsibility for investigating violations of federal laws and civil matters, provides executive branch with information relating to national security, interacts with foreign police and security services; applicants must be citizens; four entrance programs: The Law program (requires law degree); the Accounting program (accounting degree); the Language program (fluency in a foreign language); Diversified program (any academic program).  Also, the intelligence critical skill has been expanded to include those candidates who possess undergraduate or advanced degrees in international studies, international finance, or a closely related discipline.

Federal Maritime Commission:  regulates the ocean-borne foreign commerce of the Unite States, assures that U.S. international trade is open to all nations on a reciprocal basis, and protects against unauthorized activities in U.S. ocean-borne commerce. Areas: law, transportation, business administration, and economics.

Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of: principal agency for protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services. It consists of eleven divisions: the National Institute of Health, the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, the Indian Health Service, the Health Resources and Services Administration, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Administration for Children and Families, and the Administration on Aging.  The Office of Global Health Affairs (part of the Center for Disease Control) is specifically responsible for reducing disparities in global health, and works with international agencies, organizations, and the private sector on international and refugee health issues.

Interior, U.S. Department of the: the nation's principal conservation agency, responsible for nationally owned public lands and natural resources; includes the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Geological Survey, the Bureaus of Land Management, Reclamation, and Indian Affairs, the Minerals management Service, and the Office of Surface Mining Reclamations and Enforcement.

The Office of Policy Analysis employs the departments International Affairs staff.

International Trade Commission:  studies and makes recommendations on international trade and tariffs to the president, Congress, and government agencies; analysis of possible effects of imported products on U.S. industries; studies of international trade, commerce, policies.  Areas of recruitment: international economics, statistics, international trade analysts, investigatory economics, marketing, international law, international trade, business administration, and regional studies.

International Labor Affairs, Bureau of (division of the U.S. Department of Labor): responsibilities include helping formulate international economic and trade policies; overseas technical assistance projects; administration of NAALC and NAFTA; reports on international child labor exploitation; trade union exchanges; furnishing directions to U.S. labor attaches at embassies abroad; assisting with trade negotiations and in various international organizations; evaluating U.S. immigration policy.  Divided into three offices: foreign relations, international economic affairs, and international organizations.Hiring in area studies, international organizations, and comparative politics.

Peace Corps: seeks to promote peace and friendship, to help people of other countries meet their needs for trained manpower, and to promote mutual understanding and cooperation between Americans and other peoples.  It principally trains volunteers (first link), but also has permanent staff (second link).

National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration: research conducted primarily through the NOAA Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, drives the NOAA environmental products and services that protect life and property and promote sustainable economic growth. Research, conducted by in-house laboratories and by extramural programs, focuses on enhancing the understanding of environmental phenomena such as tornadoes, hurricanes, climate variability, solar flares, changes in the ozone, El Niņo/La Niņa events, fisheries productivity, ocean currents, deep sea thermal vents and coastal ecosystem health. NOAA research also develops innovative technologies and observing systems. All divisions of NOAA conduct research in their respective disciplines. Sixty countries, the European Commission and more than 40 international organizations are supporting the development of a global Earth Observation System that, over the next decade, will revolutionize the understanding of Earth and how it works. With benefits as broad as the planet itself, the U.S.-led initiative promises to make people and economies around the globe healthier, safer and better equipped to manage basic daily needs. The aim is to make 21st century technology as interrelated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects, providing the science on which sound policy and decision-making must be built.

Postal Service, United States: mail processing and delivery services to U.S. and foreign destinations. It operates an International Postal Affairs function that is responsible for coordinating relations and activities with foreign postal administrations, international postal organizations ad with U.S. government agencies concerning international postal issues.  Degrees in international studies and international relations constitute the most relevant background for a career in IPA.  Fluency in foreign languages, particularly French and Spanish, is extremely useful.

Science and Technology Policy, U.S. Office of:  serves as a source of input for the president on issues of science and technology policy; involved in areas of national concern, including the economy, national security, and foreign policy; frequently deals with such issues as export controls, arms control, information technology, technology transfer, foreign aid, transborder data flows, and ocean policies (check "site map" for "opportunities": jobs and internships).

Security and Cooperation in Europe, U.S. Helsinki Commission, Commission on: an independent agency of the U.S. government charged with monitoring and encouraging compliance with the Helsinki Final Act; be a part of one of Washington, DC's most respected organizations which provides a blend of international relations, human rights, and Capitol Hill experience. The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe is seeking highly-motivated, self-starting individuals for its internship program. Interns for the Helsinki Commission research Helsinki Final Act-related issues on human rights, religious liberties, corruption and rule of law, and free media; communicate with House and Senate offices regarding pending foreign policy initiatives; assist staff advisors with hearings and briefings; assist the communications director with media coordination and press conferences; compile press clippings of articles on developments in the OSCE region; maintain awareness of NGO activities; and conduct standard office duties. (See "internships".)

State, U.S. Department of:foreign service officers advocate American foreign policy, protect American citizens, and promote American business interests throughout the world.  They staff embassies, consulates, and other diplomatic missions devoted to strengthening peace, stability, and prosperity.  Employment opportunities exist in administrative, economic, consular, political, and public diplomacy offices.

General Search Sites:

USAjobs: central federal employment resource; official job site of the United States federal government; government job listings; provides links to thousands of job openings worldwide

FirstGov: the central portal to the U.S. federal government and job openings

America's Job Bank: the nation's largest online employment exchange, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor collaborative effort between U.S. government and the higher education community which provides detailed information on jobs available to students


(Acknowledgment: our information is based on Careers in International Affairs, 7th ed., edited by Maria Pinto Carland and Lisa A. Gihring; Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 2003; the descriptions of and links to the different entries have been updated and corrected based on our review of each entry.)