International Relations IR Careers Political Science Careers

Staying Local in 2021

remote work

2020 was a year of anxiety and getting used to a new normal. We never thought the concepts of “social distancing” and “herd immunity” would dominate our lives. 2021 is then a year of continued uncertainty and a need to reframe our priorities. For International Relations students and professionals, this may mean looking strategically at local opportunities for the time being. 

Local jobs that are also “international”

Depending on where you live, there can be many local opportunities fitting for IR professionals. Whether in foreign embassies, think-tanks, NGOs devoted to international development or human rights advocacy, there are many ways you can have a grip on international events and policymaking without actually leaving your home country.

IR does not exist only in New York or Geneva. There are many different entities involved in relevant IR policy areas. Are you interested in climate change? Taking part in the work of green NGOs in your hometown will shed light on specific local challenges, which become valuable for understanding global environmental management. Do you want to explore a career in technology policy? Work or volunteer at a community center that teaches computer literacy to seniors and other disadvantaged groups. As you see, the most important consideration is how that maps onto your career goals.

The Rise of Remote Work

Many organizations and companies in 2021 are onboarding new hires remotely. For example, IR research jobs – such as monitoring international events and geopolitics based on news or publications – can be done from virtually anywhere in the world. Increasingly, positions related to communication for IR-related organizations are also moving online, as well as other administrative tasks.

One caveat however is that many people are not used to organizing a remote team. If you are a young professional, you will need more direction and interaction. And as the organization scrambles to understand how remote work fits into their practices, you might find yourself a bit left out and without any guidance about how you can evolve in your profession. 

There are definite pros and cons of remote work. You know your limits best – so if remote work leaves you exhausted, disrupts your work-life balance, and feeling alienated, then it is better to find a local alternative.

Are people ready to work internationally?

Young graduates might seem eager to enroll in an adventure abroad, but many who have spent the past year building roots in a community might wonder whether they are ready to leave everything behind for a job – especially if you find remote work appealing (then you can be anywhere, right?). Of course, this does not apply to any professionals who work in direct services or need to conduct field research.

Folks in 2021 are seeking a bit of stability. That is why many people opt to invest in a diplomatic career or work as public servants of international multilateral organizations, such as the United Nations or the World Bank, which have good salaries and provide a more stable professional environment. For those applying to competitive international jobs, the salary and benefits will have to exceed expectations in order to support a move abroad during more tumultuous times. 

As vaccine distribution increases across the globe, the physical and psychological barriers to working internationally will lift. For now, exploring local opportunities that support your career path is a fantastic option.  

Interviewing for a job or want to discuss careers at the local level? Our Ilkmade Experts are here to help. From deciding on which roles are aligned with your goals to application review and interview prep, we’ve got you covered. Learn more here to see how we can support you through the tough decisions.


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