Life after UW-Whitewater: What do IS majors do after graduation?
International Studies majors have secured positions in business (e.g. supply chain management), government (FBI, Peace Corps), international education, non-governmental organizations, international law, and policy-related organizations, foreign language teaching and ESL programs. They have also pursued graduate degrees in development, human rights, international law, international affairs, public administration, and business.
Testimonials from International Studies Graduates
My biggest piece of advice to students is to be flexible. Work, Life, and Dreams can change over time. You may be put into a situation where you are asked to do something new. Having the flexibility to take on new challenges, or to change your current situation will take you far. Your first job may not be your dream role, or even the market you thought you'd work in. But this willingness to adapt will help you grow as a person and in your career. I was lucky enough to be in a situation that required great flexibility, as I had countless hats to wear at my company. This lead to a chance to move abroad, which again I was tested as I need to move to two different countries within a one year span. Each opportunity, though challenging and scary at first, has reaped rewards I could not of fathomed prior. Looking back I am happy I took that leap of faith. I am very happy with my current role / life, however I am still remaining flexible to all new challenges / opportunities that come my way. - Alex Daniel Misialek, 2012 Graduate
When I chose International Studies as my double major, I didn't know I was going to have so many employment options. The major is designed to give you the tools and exposure to different aspects of international jobs. However, as an undergraduate student I didn't understand that I could use the skills and tools I learned during my first job right after graduation to boost my resume and look for the dreamed job with more confidence. My advice is to not turn down any job opportunity because it is not the ideal job or what you think your college experience told you. Apply for the job with the mindset that you will be able to boost your resume and look for that dreamed job.
- Monica N Los, 2010 Graduate
My degree in International Studies, as well as my participation in many on campus opportunities and student organizations, gave me a well-rounded educational experience that helped prepare me for a fast-paced career that requires a variety of skills. While I am not working internationally, my courses in political science, communications, geography and anthropology helped shape a comprehensive understanding of the world around me and helped me prepare to work in my current field — environmental advocacy at a statewide level.
- Cassandra Steiner, 2015 Graduate
Often times people would ask me what I would do with my degree, I told people that I honestly did not know. However, what I did know was that I loved what I was studying and knowing that sufficient to feel like I was on the right path, and I was.
- Erika Rosales, 2009 Graduate
"A Person's Perspective Shapes Her Reality: Reflections on my UWW courses ten years into my career"
International and Area Studies is about more than learning a foreign language or political history and having a global adventure. International Studies is a more expansive experience. Students will test their thinking and problem-solving skills, cultural knowledge, and assumptions about the world. In 2001 I was a student at UW-Whitewater, with a plan to complete my studies in international business. I had the romantic notion of working in a Fortune 500 company while travelling the world. Two weeks into my first semester, tragedy hit. September 11, 2001 started off like any regular fall day but ended up altering the world for countless people. There was so much confusion. So many questions. Once many of the basic questions were answered, there was one looming unanswered one: WHY? Why were these people motivated to commit such a devastating act? There were many theories and a strong suspicion. While processing the events of that day I came to two realizations. The first was that personal motivation is influenced by a person's perspective. The second was that a person's perspective on the world shapes his reality. This led me to alter my course of study. Initially enrolled in the College of Business & Economics, I decided to shift gears and take courses in the College of Letters & Sciences and major in International Studies. I needed to know how a person's perspective shaped her reality. What perspective would someone from China bring to a business transaction with an American business partner? Why would certain areas of the world condemn and hinder education for females? How do religions shape a person's worldview? International Studies classes helped me seek answers to these questions. Some people assume that a degree in International Studies leads to specific careers -- in human rights, politics, global sales, or language translation. It will--and it does. But, I have learned that employers in a broad range of career fields find the transferrable skills learned during the course of an IS major invaluable. Critical thinking, analysis, writing, problem solving, cultural knowledge and foreign language are all skills necessary for success. Even though I did not pursue a career in an international field, I have found these skills essential for my positions in logistics, real estate, and account sales.
"What kinds of jobs can I get with an International Studies major?" This is a question I hear often, sometimes three or four times a day. The good news is that there are many types of jobs for which International Studies students are qualified. The bad news is that there are so many career paths from which to choose that the process can appear overwhelming. To give you a sense of the choices involved, I consulted the 2008 edition of Georgetown University Press's Careers in International Affairs. It has chapters covering careers with the US government, international organizations, businesses, business-related organizations, consulting firms, international development and relief organizations, nonprofits, and educational organizations. It also includes a chapter on graduate school options. Co-editor Maria Punto Carland assures us, "As a new international affairs professional, you are in demand!" What makes an international studies degree marketable?
International Studies students have demonstrated competence in 4-5 disciplines, including a foreign language, and have studied abroad.
Carland: "Agencies, corporations, nonprofit groups and international or- ganizations around the world now expect the new hire to have not only cross-cultural experience but also cross-disciplinary skills. ... Cross-cultural competence is the critical new human resource requirement created by the global environment."
International Studies students usually have good communication skills and are interested in becoming better communicators.
Carland: "The ability to communicate is the essence of international relations. It is the capacity to resolve communication difficulties among specialists that distinguishes the international policymaker."
International Studies students are risk takers: they are open to new ideas, new people, new environments.
Carland: "Studies reveal that employers place the highest value on skills not usually associated with specific training: generic cognitive skills and social skills. These include: poise, humor, imagination, compassion, intellectual curiosity, judgment, and openness to new ideas." The various emphases in the major include courses that suggest different career paths. A major who chooses a business emphasis is likely planning to go into business, whereas one who chooses a public diplomacy emphasis could be most interested in a public relations-type job. In fact, the individual who chooses a public diplomacy emphasis may pursue a career in business or diplomacy. Employers in many sectors place a premium on foreign language training, especially in the more difficult languages. An emphasis in foreign language and area studies, leading to fluency in Chinese, Arabic, or Spanish, could land an IS student a job in business- over a business undergraduate without language skills. It is important to understand that the choice of an emphasis does not close any doors. Few graduates follow a linear career path; the norm is to hold several types of jobs over a number of years, often in different sectors.