What to do with a degree in International Relations

A Professor in one of Nigeria’s top federal universities; University of Jos, said the most sought after course of study by prospective students in the 2019/2020 session is “History and International Relations”. While I do not know the exact reason why many applicants want this course, I genuinely hope it’s not for the wrong reasons. By wrong reasons I mean..

  • I hope they’re not applying for it because they think it’s an easy course to study or
  • They think it’s extremely lucrative or perhaps it just reflects the dieing desire of Nigerians wanting to leave the country.

Whatever the reason for the high applications for this course, one thing I know for sure is this course is actually lucrative for those who know what they are doing. To be capable of navigating and sustaining a career in International Relations, one must have the following skills

  • Great knowledge and passion for world politics and economic development.
  • Great language skills
  • Knowledge and exposure to various cultures around the world.

Like most degrees, a start to a promising career begins from the activities done while in school. For example, many Nigerian students do not even have LinkedIn profiles while they are still undergraduates, they wait till they graduate to start “job hunting” and then end up complaining that Organizations are seeking for experience. The truth is that experience can be gained before graduation. There are several paid internship opportunities for high performing Nigerian students on a daily basis. These opportunities are shared on http://www.opportunitiesforafricans.com

In addition to paid Internships, many NGOs and INGOs are present in various states across Nigeria and they always welcome volunteers (even if you’re a student). For example, International Red Cross is present across Nigeria’s 36 states and the FCT. As a student volunteer, you can go whenever you have free time or on holiday. Volunteering is a great way to gain valuable work experience.

Several short language courses can be taken online for free to boost the chances of employability after acquiring this degree.  That being said, International relations graduates can work in a wide range of career areas in the commercial, public and charity sectors. Typical employers include:

  • IGOs, such as the UN, UNICEF and The World Bank
  • NGOs, such as Oxfam, Greenpeace and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)
  • charities
  • local and national government
  • media companies
  • law firms
  • banks
  • international businesses.
  • Education

Many of these International NGOs are present in Nigeria today and their recruitments are usually very transparent but highly competitive. Using a degree in International Relations in Education seems very lucrative now that it’s in high demand. So gear up and acquire the skills necessary for being on top of your career.

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