International Studies Major Flummoxed By Career Options

Tiffany writes:
I am an international studies major with a minor in Spanish and I am also gettingIntlFlags
an international business certificate (which indicates that I took a few business courses). I’m getting ready to graduate and I’ve been looking all over the Internet for jobs and there don’t seem to be any for liberal-arts majors. Employers seem to want people who are highly skilled in one area. I’m slightly skilled in only a few areas. What should I do? Do I have to go back to school and start all over in a different field. I don’t have the money to take any more classes or I would.


The Career Doctor responds:
I think one of the greatest mistakes colleges and universities make is not
preparing students for the job market – and international studies and international business programs are some of the worst offenders because while they seem
focused – you have an interest in international affairs or business – these majors
are really very unfocused. And being unfocused on the job market is really the
kiss of death in terms of finding meaningful employment.

You obviously have an interest in international affairs and you have some
skills in Spanish. You should start there. What is it about international
studies that excites you and got you interested in the field? Do you like the
idea of traveling abroad? Working in a foreign country? Spend some time
identifying the various aspects of your education that you enjoyed. Did you
have one or more internships or other work experiences? Did you travel
abroad while in college?

In the end the dirty secret of an international studies major is that you can
really go into any number of career fields though some may require an
advanced degree. Your strengths lie in the skills you acquired while getting
your degree: the ability to understand and appreciate different cultures
economies and political systems; the ability to communicate in two languages;
the ability to analyze and see the world from a broader prospective.
The key for you is to marry your interests with your skills then find jobs that
use that combination of interests and skills and then find employers hiring
people in those jobs.

I suggest you also take the time to read my latest article published on
Quintessential Careers: 10 Tips for Landing a Job Overseas.

One final piece of advice. While there are some good job sites for people
with “international” skills such as job-hunting on the Net should only be a VERY small part of your overall job search.

I think you’ll benefit greatly from spending some time in a free tutorial we have on Quintessential Careers: Job Search 101.
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