If you love learning about other cultures, want to travel often, and care about building equitable access to resources and technology for communities around the world, international policy may be a career path you want to consider. A hugely diverse and growing field that encompasses global poverty, conflict, security, social and gender inequality, sustainability, and education, there is no limit to what you can do in international policy, making it a great option for students of any major or skill set.
International policy is a highly competitive field, so making sure that your application stands out in a large candidate pool is essential to getting a job. To do this, it helps to have an area of expertise, or a “niche”. This specialty focus allows you to offer employers a skillset that no one else has, and provide a unique perspective on relevant issues. Though it may seem a bit counterintuitive to intentionally narrow the focus of your work and study in a field that is, by nature, global, think of it in terms of breadth of knowledge versus depth. Breadth of knowledge means you know a little about a lot, while having a deeper understanding of a specific area allows you to draw more precise, well-reasoned conclusions about that subject. It’s much easier to transfer extensive knowledge of one area to another than it is to build expertise from scratch.
Many international policy or international development graduate programs offer the option to work or do research in your region of interest, and can help you develop a professional network in international policy. However, there are many different types of graduate programs in this area, so you need to take your time and do your research to find the program that best suits your long-term career goals. It’s very common in this field to take a gap year (or more) after graduating from UW-Madison before starting a graduate degree. Having post-grad experience will help you develop professional skills, figure out what type of policy work you want to pursue, and make you a stronger candidate once you finish your graduate degree! SuccessWorks can help you figure out what type of entry-level work would suit your needs, and help you start your career in international policy.