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Department of Sociology and Anthropology

International and Global Studies BS - Career Opportunities

International Organizations

Careers in international organizations like the United Nations are specifically geared to international studies graduates.  The United Nations, its affiliated agencies, and other international organizations open up professional opportunities in virtually every field.  The ones that most immediately come to mind are in the fields of diplomacy, human rights and humanitarian affairs, peacekeeping, development, and environmental issues.  In addition to area and language expertise, international organizations also seek expertise in a wide range of functional areas, including logistics, personnel management, international business, information technology, and science and technology.

Most professional posts within the United Nations require an advanced degree and a significant amount of recent, relevant, and specialized work experience.  For that reason, it is often difficult to begin a career straight out of college at the UN headquarters in New York or other capitals for the specialized agencies: Rome (Food and Agriculture Organization and World Food Council); Geneva (World Health Organization, UN High Commission for Refugees, International labor Organization); or Vienna and Nairobi.  One way to start a career at the UN is to apply for field operation positions in, for example, peacekeeping or humanitarian interventions.  It is during these initial periods of intervention when there are the most opportunities for employment and, perhaps most importantly, to contribute to peace, security, or humanitarian relief.  It is a valuable experience for a career in international organizations and other related fields.

But other international organizations specifically recruit from the pool of college graduates and offer internal training programs.  For those interested in a career in international studies, the United Nations and other international organizations offer many rewarding opportunities. 

African Development Bank:  The African Development Bank is a regional multilateral development bank, engaged in promoting the economic development and social progress of its Regional Member Countries (RMCs) in Africa.  (see link under "opportunities")

Asian Development Bank: a multilateral development finance institution dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific.

Center for Strategic and International and Global Studies, Washington DC: dedicated to providing world leaders with strategic insights on and policy solutions to current and emerging global issues; addresses the full spectrum of new challenges to national and international security; maintains resident experts on all of the world's major geographical regions; committed to helping to develop new methods of governance for the global age; assesses political risk, analyzes regional affairs, and monitors international security and stability; to this end, CSIS has programs on technology and public policy, international trade and finance, energy, health, security, and regional politics. Check out its programs and job opportunities.

Caribbean Development Bank: the leading Caribbean development finance institution, working in an efficient, responsive and collaborative manner with our borrowing members, towards the systematic reduction of poverty in their countries, through social and economic development.  (see "job opportunities")

European Union: is a union of democratic European countries, committed to working together for peace and prosperity. It is not a State intended to replace existing states, but it is more than any other international organization. The EU is, in fact, unique. Its Member States have set up common institutions to which they delegate some of their sovereignty so that decisions on specific matters of joint interest can be made democratically at European level. This pooling of sovereignty is also called "European integration".

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: leads international efforts to defeat hunger. Serving both developed and developing countries, FAO acts as a neutral forum where all nations meet as equals to negotiate agreements and debate policy. FAO is also a source of knowledge and information. It helps developing countries and countries in transition modernize and improve agriculture, forestry and fisheries practices and ensure good nutrition for all. Since its founding in 1945, it has focused special attention on developing rural areas, home to 70 percent of the world's poor and hungry people. FAO's activities comprise four main areas: putting information within reach; sharing policy expertise; providing a meeting place for nations.Besides central administrative functions, such as human resources, finance, and information technology, FAO hires experts in the fields of agriculture, fisheries, forestry, and related areas.

Human Rights positions: job board with global postings, including in the United States. You can search by organization, area, language, and other factors.

International Agricultural Research, Consultative Group:  “enhance and promote the quality, relevance and impact of science in the CGIAR, to advise the group on strategic scientific issues of importance to its goals and to mobilize and harness the best of international science for addressing the goals of the international agricultural research community”.  The group has multiple research centers in different parts of the world.  Click on "research centers", select one, and then click on "careers", "jobs", or "internships", depending on the website.

Inter-American Development Bank: is the oldest and largest regional development bank. It is the main source of multilateral financing for economic, social and institutional development projects as well as trade and regional integration programs in Latin America and the Caribbean. Seeks to hire and retain bright and dedicated professionals from its 47 member countries to work at its Washington headquarters and in its 28 country offices in Latin America, the Caribbean, France and Japan. Its employment opportunities include junior professionals, for those with a Master's, ''Licenciatura" or equivalent, summer internship and winter internships, and diversity internship programs for graduate students, and both summer and winter employee, as well as the diversity employee program for undergraduate students. The diversity programs are for Afro-descendants and indigenous peoples.  Fluency in at least two of the Bank’s four official languages—English, Spanish, Portuguese and French--is required for most positions.

International Atomic Energy Agency: The IAEA is the world's center of cooperation in the nuclear field. It was set up as the world's "Atoms for Peace" organization in 1957 within the United Nations family. The Agency works with its Member States and multiple partners worldwide to promote safe, secure and peaceful nuclear technologies.  For professional positions, the IAEA follows a policy of rotation. This means that appointments typically are for an initial three-year period with no expectation or right to extension, renewal, or conversion to another type of appointment. Based on program requirements and work performance, the Agency may offer an extension for a period of two years, bringing the total service to five years. As a rule, five years constitute the maximum period a staff member can expect to be employed by the IAEA. In terms of language backgrounds and skills, IAEA staff is typically multi-lingual. Agency business is usually conducted in English, but knowledge of other official languages (Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian, or Spanish) is an advantage. At Agency headquarters in Vienna, knowledge of German is an additional asset, both for working contacts and for life outside of office hours.

International Organization Affairs, U.S. Department of State, Bureau of: assists citizens interested in employment opportunities with international organizations. The U.S. Government encourages qualified U.S. citizens to apply for professional positions with the United Nations and other international organizations. While pursuing a rewarding and challenging career, international civil servants can make a difference by contributing their knowledge and skills to the needs of the world community. The U.S. Department of State assists Americans interested in such employment opportunities and makes every effort to promote American representation in these agencies.

International Telecommunications Union: a specialized agency of the United Nations; a worldwide organization that brings governments and industry together to coordinate the establishment and operation of global telecommunication networks and services.  When staff members are recruited for ITU, an attempt is made to ensure that nationals of as many countries as possible are represented. The goal is to integrate diverse perspectives, skills and languages within ITU, something which we consider to be essential for a globally active international organization.

North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO):  is a defense alliance consisting of twenty-six sovereign nations in Europe and North America.  Its objectives, as stated in the Washington Treaty of 1949, are to safeguard the freedom, common heritage, and civilization of their peoples based on democracy, civil liberty, and rule of law; promote stability; unite efforts for collective defense; and preserve peace and security.  Seeks managerial and professional staff, linguistic (language) specialists, secretarial and clerical staff, manual, and technical staff.  Good command of English and French. (check "recruitment" for jobs)

Organization of American States: brings together the countries of the Western Hemisphere to strengthen cooperation and advance common interests. It is the region’s premier forum for multilateral dialogue and concerted action. At the core of the OAS mission is an unequivocal commitment to democracy, as expressed in the Inter-American Democratic Charter: “The peoples of the Americas have a right to democracy and their governments have an obligation to promote and defend it.” Building on this foundation, the OAS works to promote good governance, strengthen human rights, foster peace and security, expand trade, and address the complex problems caused by poverty, drugs and corruption. Through decisions made by its political bodies and programs carried out by its General Secretariat, the OAS promotes greater inter-American cooperation and understanding. See "job opportunities", "fellowships", and "internships".

Pan American Health Organization: works to promote and protect the health of the peoples in the western hemisphere. All applicants must meet the minimum requirements of the advertised position or of the job category. You should be aware of the following additional general requirements. Technical skills: good command of commonly used computer software and quantitative skills are required. Personal qualities: good communication and interpersonal skills are essential, as are diplomacy, tact, and the ability to work well in a team. Medical clearance: offers of appointment are contingent upon the candidate passing a pre-employment medical examination. Language: Most of PAHO's position required that the candidate must be bilingual (English and Spanish). See "job opportunities" and "internships" below.

United Nations: diplomacy, human rights, humanitarian affairs, logistics, information technology, personnel management.  The "vacancies" page also contains job listings in other international organizations.

United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF): devoted exclusively to the promotion of the needs of children and their families.  Hires permanent and short-term staff.  Graduate degree desired, language proficiency in English and another UN language.

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development:  created at the request of developing nations for the establishment of a forum in which they could have a larger voice and would consider international economic issues with particular attention to the impact on those countries and upon the development process.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA):

United Nations Development Program:  UN’s global development network, UNDP is at the forefront of today's development dialogue in championing the poor and disadvantaged. Its focus is on providing developing countries with knowledge-based consulting services and building national, regional and global coalitions for change. With a strong history of inclusion and consensus-building, UNDP has earned the trust and partnership of leaders across the developing world; hiring a new generation of expert practitioners who want to contribute to those partnerships by offering strategic approaches to long-standing problems; seeking individuals who can communicate advice and new ideas across cultures and all strata of society. UNP has a wide range of international opportunities at various levels; competitive salaries offered commensurate with experience.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO): promotes the human dimension of development in an era of globalization; promotes collaboration among member states in the fields of education, science, and culture.  Its programs are organized into five departments: education, science, social sciences/humanities, culture, and communication and information.  Check under "services": employments and internships.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees:  providing international protection of all refugees; provision of interim care for displaced persons, search for permanent solutions, provision of legal services as regards, for example, difficulties with the granting of asylum or forced repatriation. Job candidates require a high degree of mobility, willingness to take up assignments on short notice, live in remote areas for periods of time where living conditions are difficult.  Applicants need a certain degree of idealism in working for humanitarian issues. See "careers" and "internships", and "junior professional program".

United Nations Industrial Development Organization: Fighting poverty and marginalization through sustainable industrial development.

United Nations Institute for Training and Research: its mandate is to enhance the effectiveness of the United Nations in achieving the maintenance of peace and security and the promotion of economic and social development. See "vacancy announcements".

United Nations Population Fund:  helps developing countries to find solutions to their population problems; largest international source of population assistance: reproductive health, including family planning and sexual health; population and development strategies; advocacy.  For employment, an advanced degree in a study pertinent to the program (demography, public health, or population studies) and some experience in a developing country are prerequisites.

United Nations Relief and Works Agency: provides education, health, and welfare services to more than 3 million registered Palestinian refugees living in the Middle East; runs schools, training centers, and health centers. Educational qualifications and related work experience required.

United Nations Secretariat:  carries out the administrative work of the United Nations; headquarters in New York, and offices in Geneva, Vienna, and Nairobi.  Employment opportunities available in the following areas: administration, economics, finance, internet technology, language and related work, legal, library, social development, and statistics.

United Nations University:  an international community of scholars that generates knowledge and builds capacities in areas relevant to the global problems of human security and development.  Current research and capacity building activities focus on peace and security, governance, development, science, technology and society, and the environment.

USAID(United States Agency for International Development): administers the foreign economic and humanitarian assistance programs o the U.S. government; field missions and representatives in developing countries in Africa, Asia, the Near East, Europe and Eurasia, Latin America, and the Caribbean.  Assistance covers many sectors, including (but not limited to) the environment, agriculture, economic growth, strengthening democracy, health and family planning, education, disaster preparedness, and humanitarian assistance.  Candidates should have background in one or more of the following: political science, economics, government, international development, business administration, finance, agriculture, anthropology, fisheries, food science, natural resource management, resource economics, rural sociology, international affairs, public health, medicine, social/behavioral science, material management, and marketing.

World Bank Group: works to help developing countries reduce poverty and promote sustainable development.  See "resources" for "Job seekers" near the bottom of the main page.,,contentMDK:20522507~menuPK:64262363~pagePK:64262408~piPK:64262191~theSitePK:1058433,00.html

World Intellectual Property Organization:  an international organization dedicated to promoting the use and protection of intellectual property in the world, through cooperation among states: administers treaties; assists governments, organizations, and the private sector; monitors developments in the field; and harmonizes and simplifies relevant rules and practices. See employment and internship programs.

World Trade Organization: seeks to liberate and expand world trade.  Headquarters are based in Geneva.  Recruitment standards are high and competition is keen. Candidates need strong academic backgrounds, work experience in economics and international trade policy, and proficiency in two of the official languages (English, French, and Spanish).


(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.)