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Department of Sociology and Anthropology

International and Global Studies BS - Career Opportunities

Trade Associations

Practically every industry in the United States is represented in Washington, D.C. by a trade association that has the unique mission of advancing the interests of its member companies before U.S. government policy makers, regulators, and members of Congress.  In addition to their government lobbying functions, trade associations also enhance their industries' commercial interests through annual trade shows and product expositions, continuing education and professional and training programs for their members, national industry marketing programs as well as research and development in broad areas such as the setting of national standards.

Association staff members are skilled in a broad range of abilities ranging from communication, lobbying, and law to organizing conferences, trade shows, and education programs for company members.  They come from a variety of educational backgrounds and workplace experiences.  Because of the overall political tone that drives the existence of an influential organization, many staff members have been previously employed in congressional offices, have worked in a presidential administration, or have a major interest in the political process.

Career-minded university students can also find trade association positions that deal with international studies.  The scope of the organization's international programs rests on the international interests of its members.  For example, the Motion Picture Association must deal with major international copyright issues in licensing and protecting from illegal uses the films and television programming that its movie studio members produce and distribute around the world.  The same holds true for the Recording Industry Association of America and the Association of American Publishers, whose members have a vital stake in the protection of intellectual property rights worldwide.  These organizations participate intensively in the deliberations of the World Trade Organization, in negotiations of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, as well as other U.S. government agencies that can assist them in the protected distribution of their products and services.

Trade associations can offer challenging and stimulating career opportunities for individuals who are interested in the American political process and in representing a particular industry on a partisan basis either before the U.S. government or in a commercial context through the facilitation of meetings, conferences, trade shows, and expositions.  Given the political emphasis and raison d'etre of a trade association, however, a prospective employee should research carefully the international activities of an association to see if it matches his or her passion and political convictions.

CareerKey: general search site for jobs in trade associations: scholarly and academic, business, government, private, non-profit

Advanced Medical Technological Association: health industries manufacturers' association, AdvaMed is the world's largest medical technology association representing manufacturers of medical devices, diagnostic products and medical information systems. AdvaMed’s more than 1,300 members and subsidiaries manufacture nearly 90 percent of the $80 billion of health care technology purchased annually in the United States and more than 50 percent of the $175 billion purchased annually around the world. AdvaMed members range from the largest to the smallest medical technology innovators and companies. The association provides its members with the advocacy, information, education and tangible solutions necessary for success in a world of increasingly complex medical regulations. It represents industry interests in key overseas markets, work to ease regulatory burdens at the state, national and international levels and pave the way for innovation in health care technology. It works for responsible legislation to address industry concerns on Capitol Hill and for appropriate administrative policies affecting the industry in agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), formerly the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA), by using all the tools of modern political advocacy. The association's mission goal is to advocate a legal, regulatory and economic climate that advances global health care by assuring patients can have access to the benefits of medical technology.

Aerospace Industries Association: the Aerospace Industries Association represents the nation's leading manufacturers and suppliers of civil, military, and business aircraft, helicopters, UAVs, space systems, aircraft engines, missiles, materiel and related components, equipment, services, and information technology.

American Bankers Association: Founded in 1875 and now based in Washington, DC, the American Bankers Association represents banks of all sizes on issues of national importance for financial institutions and their customers. The ABA, on behalf of the more than two million men and women who work in the nation's banks, brings together all categories of banking institutions to best represent the interests of this rapidly changing industry. Its membership -- which includes community, regional and money center banks and holding companies, as well as savings associations, trust companies and savings banks -- makes ABA the largest banking trade association in the country. The ABA brings together all elements of the banking community to promote the strength and profitability of the industry. It does this by providing effective leadership in government relations, building strong industry consensus, consistently listening to its membership, and responding to their needs through innovative products and services, public affairs support and legal services. The mission of the American Bankers Association is to serve its members by enhancing the role of financial services institutions as the preeminent providers of financial services. This mission is accomplished through federal legislative and regulatory activities, legal action, communication and consumer education, research, and products and services that promote, educate, train, inform and support members. The association has a staff of more than 350 professionals, some of whom work in its international relations division.

AeA (formerly American Electronics Association): is a nationwide non-profit trade association that represents all segments of the technology industry and is dedicated solely to helping our members’ top line and bottom line.  The association does this in partnership with our small, medium, and large member companies by lobbying governments at the state, federal, and international levels; provides access to capital and business opportunities; and offers select business services and networking programs. AeA is the only high-tech trade association with public policy professionals working at every level of government to help its members achieve their operational and strategic business goals. The association has eighteen regional U.S. councils and offices in Brussels and Beijing. AeA offers a comprehensive and generous employee benefits program and exciting opportunities for challenging work in a fast-paced and team-oriented environment.

American Forest & Paper Association: is the national trade association of the forest, pulp, paper, and wood products industry.  The association represents more than 200 member companies and related trade associations that grow, harvest, and process wood and wood fiber; manufacture pulp, paper, and paperboard products from both virgin and recovered fiber; and produce engineered and traditional wood products.  The association's international activities include influencing trade policy at the state, federal, international, and multilateral levels; monitoring international trade developments; collecting, analyzing, and disseminating statistics on the international forest products trade; and promoting exports of U.S. forest products.  Its international staff members have varied backgrounds, with experience in economics, environment, trade policy, law, and/or languages.

American Iron and Steel Institute: a nonprofit trade association of North American companies engaged in the iron and steel industry, including integrated, electric furnace, and reconstituted mills.  It comprises more than thirty-seven associate member companies who are suppliers to or customers of the industry. The mission of the institute is to promote steel as the material of choice and to enhance the competitiveness of its members and the North American steel industry. The international trade section monitors legislative and executive actions in import and export trade in steel, organizes research and symposia of North American and global trade law and steel trade practices, maintains contacts with government officials concerned with international trade, makes recommendations for action to the institute's governing bodies, and engages in public advocacy of AISI's positions.

American Petroleum Institute: founded in 1919, it is the U.S. oil and natural gas industry's primary trade association.  Its membership consists of a broad cross-section of oil, gas, and allied companies in exploration, production, transportation, refining, and marketing.  The institute is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and is represented in thirty-three state capitals east of the Rocky Mountains.  In other states, the institute works in conjunction with regional and state oil and gas associations. As the primary trade association of that industry, API represents more than 400 members involved in all aspects of the oil and natural gas industry.  The association draws on the experience and expertise of our members and staff to support a strong and viable oil and natural gas industry. The institute staff consists of approximately 275 professionals with a broad variety of backgrounds.

The Conference Board: a nonprofit association that creates and disseminates knowledge about management and the marketplace to help businesses strengthen their performance and better serve society. Working as a global, independent membership organization in the public interest, it conducts research, convenes conferences, makes forecasts, assesses trends, publishes information and analysis, and brings executives together to learn from one another. The Conference Board is a global organization with international offices and a global network. The international branches are located in Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and North America, brining critical insight and counsel to the Board’s planning and development enterprise. When hiring for international offices, the Conference Board looks for individuals who have an international outlook and three to four years of experience in sales, conference programming, or administration, depending on the position.

Consumer Electronics Association: represents U.S. companies involved in the design, development, manufacturing, and distribution of audio, video, mobile electronics, communications, information technology multimedia, and accessory products, as well as related services, which are sold through consumer channels.  The association's mission is to support and expand the consumer electronics industry.  Its vision is to be a vibrant, entrepreneurial trade association promoting industry growth and leading the consumer technology industry in events, business development, strategic relationships, and technology policy.  The association manages and sponsors the International CES, the annual consumer electronics industry forum that expands, strengthens, drives, and grows the consumer technology industry.

Council of the Americas: a trade association dedicated to the advocacy of the interests of its international corporate members doing business in Latin America.  The Council seeks to promote the understanding of the political, economic, and cultural issues that define and challenge the Americas today, from the Arctic Circle to the southernmost tip of Argentina; it believes that innovative artistic expression is vital to free societies and provides an invaluable window on the ever-evolving reality of our Hemisphere. Understanding the people and societies of the region is essential to promoting its agenda of democracy, the rule of law, and free trade. As a not-for-profit institution, the Americas Society is financed by membership dues and contributions from corporations, foundations, individuals, and public agencies.  Consensus and viewpoints are communicated to Latin American government officials and U.S. policy makers as well as to the domestic Latin American private sector.  Applicants should have and undergraduate or graduate degree in international studies, international business, economics, finance, or related fields.  Language capabilities are also encouraged.

Council on Competitiveness: founded in 1986 to serve as a focal point for leadership efforts aimed at improving the competitive position of the United States in global markets. The council's core agenda is built around four interrelated and interdependent issues: capital formation and investment policies, science and technology; international economics and trade; and human resources.  Recent graduates from college usually enter at the position of council associate, which is comparable to that of a research assistant.  For these positions, the council seeks master degree candidates with a concentration in international trade, business, economics, public policy, and/or technology. Work experience in other associations or think tanks specializing in these issues or experience on Capitol Hill is preferred.

European-American Business Council:  a Trans-Atlantic Alliance of major US and EU-based global companies.  Company executives are linked by a Trans-Atlantic EABC Committee.  The work of the Council is focused on the world’s richest, most advanced market, forging Trans-Atlantic Association Alliances - all aimed at member company operational success. The council offices are in Washington, D.C.  It has a staff of four, all of which speak at least one foreign language.  New recruits typically possess graduate degrees in international studies, political science, and/or have a public policy background as well as overseas experience.

International Business-Government Counselors, Inc.: a Washington, D.C. based international government relations firm that assists companies in international government relations activities affecting their global operations. IBC's clients include major multinational companies based in the U.S., Asia and Europe. Established in 1972, IBC is the oldest and most prominent international government relations firm in the United States. IBC welcomes inquiries from qualified individuals seeking employment.  It provides a fast-paced international affairs environment and offers excellent employee benefits.  Current employment openings are posted on the website.  Internship positions are also available.

Japan External Trade Organization: JETRO, or the Japan External Trade Organization, is a government-related organization that works to promote mutual trade and investment between Japan and the rest of the world. Originally established in 1958 to promote Japanese exports abroad, JETRO's core focus in the 21st century has shifted toward promoting foreign direct investment into Japan and helping small to medium size Japanese firms maximize their global export potential.  It recruits new hires on a regular basis, some for positions in its overseas offices.  Japanese language proficiency required.

Motion Picture Association of America: Today, U.S. films are shown in more than 150 countries worldwide and American television programs are broadcast in over 125 international markets. The U.S. film industry provides the majority of prerecorded cassettes seen in millions of homes throughout the world. This complex audiovisual industry is represented globally by the Motion Picture Association. Today, these associations represent not only the world of theatrical film, but serve as leader and advocate for major producers and distributors of entertainment programming for television, cable, home video and future delivery systems not yet imagined.

National Association of Manufacturers: The NAM’s mission is to enhance the competitiveness of manufacturers by shaping a legislative and regulatory environment conducive to U.S. economic growth and to increase understanding among policymakers, the media and the general public about the vital role of manufacturing to America’s economic future and living standards. The NAM is the nation’s largest industrial trade association, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the NAM has 10 additional offices across the country. The mission of NAM is to improve the ability of U.S. manufacturers to compete in the global marketplace.  Its international activities focus on developing policy that achieves the mission of the organization, focusing on trade, tariffs, sanctions, border security, exchange rates, and dollar valuation, plus other issues of significance to its members.  Its staff regularly interacts with members of Congress, the administration, the Commerce Department, member companies with international operations, and the media. Internship opportunities are available.

The United States Council for International Business: Originally founded in 1945 to promote free trade and help represent business in the newly-formed United Nations, USCIB has built a global network of industry affiliations and a reputation for reliable policy advice.  This enables our members to bring their collective views to bear on regulatory issues and business practices around the world. By helping shape international regulation and expand market access for U.S. products and services, USCIB members can lower the costs of doing business abroad and enhance their long-term profitability. Moreover, USCIB works on a variety of fronts to smooth the way for American commerce abroad, promoting practical business services such as international commercial arbitration to resolve disputes swiftly and the ATA Carnet for temporary duty-free imports of many goods.  The council has career opportunities for individuals with backgrounds in international studies, business, law, and related areas.  Experience with international economic policy issues and advocacy is particularly desirable, as is foreign language proficiency (especially French).  Entry-level administrative and support staff positions generally require a bachelor's degree and some work experience.  Basic computer proficiency is required for all positions.

US-China Business Council: The US-China Business Council is a private, non-profit, non-partisan, membership association for US corporations engaged in business relations with the People's Republic of China. Founded in 1973, the Council originally served the early efforts of United States business in China in the absence of formal diplomatic relations between the two countries. With the massive growth of US-China economic engagement since the late 1970s, the Council has continued to assist firms entering the field for the first time, and, increasingly, the bulk of its work has served the interests and needs of US firms with well-established commercial relationships in China. The Council also publishes the leading US magazine on China trade, The China Business Review, and takes an active role on US policy issues relating to China and international trade.  Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the council maintains offices in Beijing and Shanghai.  The present staff includes professionals with backgrounds in Chinese, East Asian Studies, business administration, and government.


(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.)