Finding the Right Fit
International relations is a challenge. Though the promise of new adventures is alluring, and cultural exposure and travel sound like exciting ways to live, we must also confront the destabilising threats at regional and grassroots level. As we watch national economies respond to debt, terrorism, refugee issues and instability, the reality of an interdependent world crashes into us every day. Therefore, we must equip ourselves with the right skills and right mental fortitude to fully engage with critical issues that may disrupt pockets of peace, even in our own neighbourhoods.
Balancing priorities between work and home becomes more complex over time. For many practitioners, the challenge isn’t only about performing well at work, but also about being a good parent, a good relative, a good spouse and a good role model, simultaneously. Canadian Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland echoed a typical concern when she said, “Sometimes who is going to be taking care of all of my kids on any given day is more complicated than any trade agreement” (The Globe and Mail, 2016). Therefore, your personal life can benefit hugely when you examine your professional options.
International relations is no longer just an abstraction that societies of various sizes can ignore. The field is so vast and interconnected that choosing a particular subject to focus on may be extremely difficult. The good news is that one does not have to move abroad to gain international expertise, or spend years at a university or internship programme that offers little practical experience. You can do more good helping refugees settle in your country. You can help them open bank accounts and find them affordable homes.
What you want to achieve in your personal life will impact your professional life. Personal motivations will steer your decisions towards jobs that allow flexibility, and more financial security. This sureness of the niche you want to specialise in can help you carve a strategic and conscious career path full of vision, purpose and clarity. This means not only dovetailing your personal and professional needs, but also taking a closer look at the region you want to work in, and in terms of communication, your modus operandi when there. To be an expert, you must effectively schmooze with the natives and easily interact with foreign government officials.
The chapter “Fitting a Global Profession” will help you consider your lifelong goals and understand which areas to specialise in accordance with your skills and interests. By the end of the chapter, you will have a much clearer picture of what subfield is your true path.
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