March 1, 2021
Given the change of course that has happened in the world, we wanted to provide expert opinions on what aspiring graduates can do to start off their careers in an uncertain economic climate. We wanted to know what skills will be more important, where the economy is doing relatively well, and if there will be any lasting effects on the job market.
Companies are looking for candidates that can handle the new responsibilities of the job market. Recent graduates actually have an advantage because they are comfortable using newer technologies and have been communicating virtually their whole lives. They can take what they've learned and apply it immediately.
We spoke to professors and experts from several universities and companies to get their opinions on where the job market for recent graduates is heading, as well as how young graduates entering the industry can be adequately prepared. Here are their thoughts.
University of Miami
European Union CenterWebsite
Dr. Melanie Goergmaier Ph.D.: The coronavirus pandemic has had a large impact on employment overall, and some residual effects in employment will last into the foreseeable future. The economic slowdown that has accompanied the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed hiring in the economy overall. This in turn, has made it more difficult for graduates in nearly all fields, not exclusively International Relations, to find employment opportunities. There are some outlier industries such as healthcare and essential retailers where demand for employment will likely not see the same downturn. The shift from in person towards remote working is a change that will continue into the future. Virtual interviews have become a norm allowing employers to more conveniently interview more candidates. Some positions have allowed employees to skip the commute and work from home. This could have long lasting impacts such as positions entirely remotely, less work-related travel obligation, and a decreased necessity for employers to have large office spaces.
Right now, the job market is tough due to hiring freezes and cut backs. However, we may experience a strong rebound, when we have reached a substantial threshold of vaccination rates. When people feel comfortable going out again, there will be a lot of spending coming from a new COVID relief bill and a high degree of savings. In government and private fields that relate to international relations, the field will start performing better and add jobs with the addition to a slower transition back to in-person meetings. The job market in this field will look similar to what it was before the pandemic over time. Remote-work will become the new norm for the global workforce as a whole as an accelerated transition to fully online/remote jobs that might decrease companies' and organizations' expenses.
As a result, this will create more opportunities within the International Relations industry, for individuals will now be able to communicate/work more effectively with others globally without the requirement of travel. Conversely, travel is fairly essential in the International Relations industry for it allows individuals to gain an in-depth, firsthand perspective and immerse themselves within the various cultures and environments they are conducting work with. Therefore, there will be a sudden stunt in this ability to conduct firsthand research, due to global travel restrictions. However, the supplement of remote working will increase productivity and communication. Additionally, due to political changes - such as the appointment of the new Director General of the WTO and the new U.S. President, there will be an increase in desire and need for jobs in international affairs.
The change in the world due to Covid-19 will change many things within international relations, including ways of communication, analysis of the political and international climate, and the weight placed on different jobs within the sector. We are in a world climate that hasn't been seen before, and once the pandemic starts to subside, analysis of both policies and economics will play a huge part of scholarly research and planning for future emergencies for states. Political economy will see increased attention with jobs within analytics and research. In the past year, states have interacted with the financial field and market more than before with relief packages and emergency funds being used more than ever before and tracking the payoff and return to a normal state will be important. Lastly, international relations jobs that focus on health, economic recovery and growth, I do not believe that the pandemic will alter the distribution and balance of power from a systemic view, but I do believe that the pandemic will cause the market of international studies to shift towards a focus on economic resilience, health and hygiene, and welfare for citizens.
Dr. Melanie Goergmaier Ph.D.: Technical skills necessary for the international relations field include standard computer programs such as Microsoft Word and Excel. However, with current remote working trends, graduates must now also be familiar with technologies such as Zoom, Google Hangout, etc. Soft skills such as communication, critical thinking, reading, and adaptability are also very important to this profession in addition to computer-related skills, social media savvy, proper email etiquette, and, certainly, research-related skills (i.e. source checking), besides evident multiculturalism, adaptability, and time-management.
Strong communication, analytical/critical-thinking, and language skills are a necessity for the International Relations Industry. Employers also seek out candidates who are well-versed in at least one world language and are highly creative. Candidates must also be highly proficient in Excel, Social Media, and understand foreign policies in a multidisciplinary approach.
With remote working continuing to be the primary working environment, the ability to communicate and analyze effectively through technology will be very important. As an analyst for example, possessing a good grasp on a statistical software increases the likelihood of landing a job. As institutions and companies begin to realize the positives of permanent remote employees, transnational job searches are easier to find. Therefore, possession of multiple languages may also be a plus. Knowledge of Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, French, or Portuguese in addition to English is a boost to any graduate's resume.
The increased prevalence of video communications and remote work has cemented computer literacy as a necessity in the modern job market. Every professional career today requires the ability to comprehensively use computers and related technology. By extension, knowledge in areas such as cybersecurity and IT will likely stand out as an asset to potential employers. Technology will play a much larger role than it did in the past. In case of the International Studies majors, knowledge and expertise in digital diplomacy may be a great asset. Digital diplomacy or e-diplomacy refers to new methods of conducting diplomacy and international relations with the help of the internet and information and communication technologies. Anything that might add value to our digital interconnection would be beneficial to top diplomatic jobs listing in the market.
Dr. Melanie Goergmaier Ph.D.: Because the international relations field is broad and can include everything from the UN to NGOs to government service and more, salary ranges vary greatly. Government jobs remain a stable source of income for many; however, there are great variations in income level depending on experience and job type.
According to data from the University of Miami's Topple career center, median income for an International Studies graduate was $42,842 six months out from graduation. For graduates in May of 2015 this figure was $47,500 for the graduating class of 2019 this was $58,000 suggesting an upward trend in the field. In the overall field most international studies graduates were earning between $50,000 and $55,000 according to www.internationalrelationsedu.org.
Salaries have steadily increased within the past several years within the International Relations Industry. In 2008, International relations majors earned an average starting salary of $40,900 a year. Compared to other social sciences, international relations majors had higher starting salaries than students who majored in psychology, sociology and anthropology. They earned less than economics majors, who averaged more than $50,000 a year, and about the same as political science majors, who averaged $40,800 a year. In 2008, the salary for individuals with a bachelor's degree in International Relations averaged Mid-Career earnings of $80,000 a year.
Individuals with international relations degrees can expect to see their earnings increase as they grow in their careers and garner more experience and knowledge. The Wall Street Journal reported that international relations majors had average mid-career salaries of $80,900 a year. Compared to other academic disciplines, international relations majors' earnings continued to trail those of students who majored in economics and engineering fields, but exceeded those earned by majors in many humanities and social science fields, including history, sociology, English, psychology and political science. Currently, the majority of individuals within the industry report earning between $50,000 and $95,000 per year depending on the job, education and experience level. Thus, the industry average has been steadily increasing.
The lowest jobs reported had a yearly salary of about $29,000, while the highest paid salaries are about $150,000 a year. Salaries ultimately keep rising every year as long as inflation is within our economies. However, in International Relations fields, is it inevitable to mention that salaries do depend on nationalities. For example, an American is not paid the same to represent the US in International affairs than a Moroccan representing Moroccan interest in the same affairs. Secondly, in some cases, salaries may be positively correlated to the amount of hours per week. More hours, higher paycheck. And in other cases, salaries are negatively correlated or in other words, they may depend on the quality of work provided rather than the quantity.
Overall, salaries have certainly not increased at the same proportion as living costs, particularly in cities that are considered to be hubs for individuals in the area of international relations.