Many ambitious students enroll in International Relations courses hoping to go on to a career as a Foreign Service Officer (also known as a diplomat). It’s easy to understand why. For anyone interested in traveling the world and immersing themselves into other cultures, having a tangible and direct influence on global affairs, and constantly being shaped by and learning from different international perspectives, diplomacy can be an ideal career path.
Read on to find out more about this challenging and rewarding frontline position in international relations and whether it might be right for you.
How Does a Foreign Service Officer Put Their International Relations Skills To Use?
Broadly speaking, the role of a diplomat is to represent their country abroad, though how exactly they go about doing so can vary greatly, depending on the particular career track they’ve chosen, as well as the particular post to which they’ve been stationed. Diplomats in an economic track might monitor and analyze social and political events, keeping an eye on how local developments could impact their own nation’s interests. Those in a public diplomacy track might promote their country’s policies and values to the public or media, while those in the political track might attempt to influence foreign governments. Diplomats in other tracks might help distressed citizens abroad, pursue opportunities for new agreements or treaties, or take a lead on important negotiations between countries. Although focused on one particular career track, diplomats typically take on a wide variety of responsibilities and portfolios throughout their careers, making the broad base of knowledge gained from International Relations courses particularly useful.
International Relations courses provide a broad base of knowledge for aspiring diplomats
Foreign Service Officers Travel All Over the World
While a diplomat can select the track they want to pursue based on their own abilities and interests, the exact location and responsibilities of their postings are assigned to them without their input and can’t be turned down. Postings generally last anywhere between six months and four years, and Foreign Service Officers could find themselves working anywhere in the world, including unstable, war-torn, or developing regions. Wherever they’re posted, diplomats get to see the world, and by working closely with local governments, citizens and businesses, diplomacy sets itself apart even among international relations careers for the level of insight that it can offer into other cultures. For this reason, a diplomatic career requires and rewards a certain level of adventurousness.
Diplomats work with governments and international organizations like the WTO all over the world
An MBA in International Relations Can Provide You with the Skills You Need
The selection procedures for aspiring diplomats can be highly competitive, typically involving several rounds of assessments. You’ll need to prove you have a solid grasp of history, politics, world cultures, and global affairs. An advanced knowledge of business and economics is usually helpful, as well, as is the ability to speak several languages at an advanced level.
Given the extremely high levels of competition that exist for these rewarding positions, applicants need to be able to set themselves apart. An advanced degree in a relevant discipline can offer a major advantage over other candidates, and graduates with an MBA in International Relations are particularly well-equipped with the tools and skills needed for the job, including cross-cultural communication, an understanding of global trade and international institutions, and an awareness of major trends in geopolitics.
Are you interested in a career as a Foreign Service Officer?
Contact Geneva Business School to find out more about our MBA in International Relations.