Graduate school is not for everyone – and that is fine. But whenever a recession hits, you will find plenty of articles lambasting graduate school as a waste of money. However, at least for international relations related jobs, that could not be further from the truth. Whether you want to work for the United Nations or kick-start your own organization, a graduate degree can help you achieve your career goals. Here is why:
Most advanced job positions still require one
Most advanced positions in international organizations still require a graduate degree. Many young people find themselves pigeonholed too early in their careers, even when they already have the experience, just because they do not have the requirements to apply for management or coordination jobs.
When choosing a graduate degree, do not just think about the job you will have right after leaving university, but check out the job descriptions for positions that you would like to hold in your mid-career.
For example, many early-career positions for young people stress social media and communication skills. But unless you want to become a Communications or Media Officer, a graduate degree in this area will not be all that useful in the long term. But if you want to manage Sexual and Gender-Based Violence related projects, a Women’s Studies graduate degree might help you advance.
It shows you are committed to a specific field
Many young people have the yearning to work for international organizations, but some are not quite sure which issues they want to prioritize. Is it the environment, migration, trade, or energy? You can start off as a generalist, but when you advance in your career, you need to be an expert about something in particular.
Going to graduate school and studying specific subjects can demonstrate to employers your commitment to learning more about an area and increase your expertise. Many young people will experiment with different organizations and areas in their early careers, but a graduate degree demonstrates that you are serious about devoting your life’s work to a certain area.
It allows you to understand your area better and be sure that it is what you want to work on
Discovering yourself and your priorities are not only accomplished during an undergraduate degree. Going to graduate school can make you aware of the complexities of a specific area and sector and understand whether or not it fits with your profile and life goals. You may also find out that your skills are better suited for a researcher and not a practitioner, for example.
By the time you are in graduate school, you are no longer a young freshman looking for answers. You already know more or less where you are going, and what can help you get there. Therefore, studying the subjects you are passionate about can be a good test about whether or not you’d like to work in that area and in what capacity.
It’s great for networking
Graduate school is where the experts, thinkers, and practitioners meet. It is also where students tend to develop more well-structured and complex personal and professional projects.
Relationships between professors and students are also different in graduate school. Because you are already committed to working or researching in a specific area, professors know you will be involved more seriously and might connect you with experienced professionals to develop common projects and so on.
Plus, the graduate student body has a diversity of experiences and backgrounds which can really help you understand better the make-up of the sector you want to work on, and who will be the key players in the future.
In short, if you are planning on going to graduate school, do not let op-eds discourage you. A graduate degree might be exactly what you need to advance in your career.