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The Job Search after a Master’s degree in International Relations: Coffee Conversations Episode 3

Rebecca Chen: Hi. I’m Rebecca Chen and welcome to Ilkmade Careers Coffee Conversation, a show where we speak to various guests in the political space at different stages in their education and careers, digging deep to uncover the insight they’ve gained.

In this episode, we’re discussing job search strategies after a getting a Master’s degree in International Relations with Elisa Hicks in France, a delegate success manager at the Women’s Forum and a recent graduate with a Master’s in International Public Management from Sciences Po Paris. And Ramiar Jamal, a teacher in Iraq and a recent graduate from the University of Milan with a Master’s in International Relations. And Santana Muthoni, an Africa-China specialist from Kenya, who completed an interdisciplinary program in Chinese studies at Yenching Academy in Peking University.

We’ll discuss their thoughts and challenges in finding a job in International Relations, what resources they had and felt that they didn’t have, and what they discovered about the job search process along the way.

What was your job search strategy after your Master’s degree in International Relations?

Santana Muthoni: My job search strategy was majorly done on LinkedIn. And what I also used to do was going out for lots of career events that would be hosted in my University and in Beijing. And also, really consulting with the Career Office of the Yenching Academy. They used to organize career workshops with different experts around the city, and they’d also bring in experts from the government to advise us on how to navigate the Work Visa and such arrangements.

Rebecca Chen: Ramiar, let’s hear from you. What have your job search strategies been during and following your Master’s degree in International Relations?

Ramir Jamal: Basically, my strategy was an online strategy; applying for jobs from Iraq to Italy. All right? Finding jobs there. I mainly used Monster.com website. I also used LinkedIn, but not a lot. I also used a website in Iraq that’s very popular. And as I said, it was mainly online. Sometimes I was called for interviews from Italy, but I would not just attend. I asked to do the interviews online, but then they did not accept it. So I ended up finding out that it’s not a good idea to apply for jobs online.

Rebecca Chen: Yeah, thank you so much. I think a lot of us feel like online resources these days are the only thing available. And to take things offline, is really something that is a skillset that we often don’t have very much of, and when I say offline, it’s networking. It’s really talking to people, and that does take travel time. That does take time out of your day.

And so Elisa, please kind of describe your thoughts and ideas around the job search, and for you, what types of strategies you employed.

Elisa Hicks: The job hunt started off rather aimlessly. I was really going to every single career fair I could go to, and applying to a lot of the LinkedIn job suggestions that were popping up in my feed. And it wasn’t until second semester that I started feeling a little bit fed up with how discouraged I was feeling, and feeling like I wasn’t qualified enough. And I sort of had a realization that I really was qualified for a lot of the jobs in a way that other applicants weren’t necessarily qualified in the same way.

Realizing my own qualifications and changing my mindset really started helping me filter my job options and weeding out the ones that didn’t necessarily interest me.

What piece of advice would you give to a job seeker?

Elisa Hicks: For me, I think a lot of my peers felt discouraged and maybe not confident enough to really lean on the support systems that they did have. So that includes reaching out to professors, like I was mentioning before. And you shouldn’t hesitate reaching out to them for any doubts that you might have in terms of your CV or feeling embarrassed about not having enough qualifications. They’ll help you reflect your strengths, and I think that’s a big factor that some people underestimate, because these are trained professionals who are there to help you whether it’s professors or the Career Center, even your own peers; talking to people who have had experiences in the field that you want to pursue.

And even reaching out to people that you don’t know, like on Ilkmade, but reaching out to people who are maybe a bit older than you, have more experience.

Rebecca Chen: Great, great. Santana, how about yourself? What do you think would be something you would tell someone in the same position?

Santana Muthoni: So I think what I’d do, I’d advise someone who’s in the same state to start the job search quite early. So I started mine as soon as I got to Beijing, so I was already on the lookout. I was like, “Whoa, what’s happening here?”

Rebecca Chen: That’s amazing that you started your job search right when you started your Master’s.
Santana Muthoni: Yeah.

Rebecca Chen: I think that’s a strategy. I like that, I like that.

Santana Muthoni: Yeah. And I’d also advise people to look for internships. So as Elisa mentioned, you find the Career Offices always have companies reaching out to them to find out, “Oh, who are your best students? Who would you recommend to come and work for us?”

Ramir Jamal: I’d advise people to be very specific. They should be very specific about the jobs they apply for, the location they apply for. They should make network during their final stage of doing, let’s say, their thesis in the country they’re studying. They should start making network and apply for jobs. And they should not expect a lot. They should not expect just because they have a Master’s degree, they can apply for whatever job they want, or wherever they want.

Of course, work permit today makes it like it’s a huge issue, here.

Rebecca Chen: Well, I really want to thank all of our guests. And I think with the job search comes a lot of emotional and psychological health, as well, to maintain positivity. And I think given en your dynamic CVs and having very diverse backgrounds and skillsets, it often times falls on that hurdle for you to build that confidence.

So I really want to thank you for sharing your thoughts about how to network better, how to use your resources better, when to start, and how to think about pursuing the best job for yourself.

Thank you all for joining us, and we’re looking forward to having you back on for another cup of coffee soon.
We hope you enjoyed today’s conversation. If you did, please share. And if you haven’t already, subscribe or join our email list to stay in the loop about future episodes and new features.
Until next time.

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