Students graduating from college with international and area studies expertise can seek employment with an array of governmental agencies such as the Foreign Service, the U. S. Agency for International Development, the U.S. Peace Corps, and U.S. intelligence agencies, to mention a few. In addition to governmental opportunities, graduates may want to pursue a career overseas working for a non-governmental organization such as CARE International or the Red Cross. Others may wish to pursue a career in higher education after completing their graduate studies and become faculty members at a college or university. Finally, a myriad of private sector, not-for profit and for-profit opportunities exist for graduates with international and area studies training. These are a few career options that await after the academic training.
This article offers suggestions about what students should look for when choosing a graduate school program that will prepare them for an exciting international-oriented career. The article also highlights the questions students should be concerned about as they prepare for obtaining the international and area expertise that they will need to be successful in the job market. One place to begin is the U.S. Department of Education (ED) Web site that provides a comprehensive annotated list of the 124 currently funded Title VI National Resource Centers and Foreign Language and Area Studies Programs (http://www.ed.gov/programs/iegpsnrc/awards.html). These centers and programs provide a useful starting point for learning about institutions in the United States that offer the training and expertise that students will need to embark on an internationally-oriented career.
The desirable components of a high-quality institution and program includes but are not limited to: (1) a rich and broad offering of area studies courses in the geographic or thematic areas of interest; (2) diverse foreign language offerings (particularly in the less commonly taught languages); (3) outstanding faculty mentoring and advising; (4) opportunities for pre-dissertation research; and, (5) strong support for the preparation of research proposals for dissertation research. These are five key components that lead to successful graduate training and preparation for a career in international and area studies.