Working in the international diplomacy field requires a set of skills, training, and interest in relevant subjects. It is a field that is broad as it encompasses such sub-sectors as international humanitarian law, peace and security, international development, humanitarian affairs, international economics, governance, and democracy, as well as human rights – to mention only some.
The foregoing therefore presupposes the need to build relevant skills and competencies that will hold a professional in good stead for a career that can be rewarding for its ability to transform lives, alleviate or altogether eradicate human suffering, end wars and violent conflict, restore and rebuild broken societies, protect lives and human dignity, and also shape the future.
I have listed below a few tips that can be useful in preparing for a rewarding experience in the field of international diplomacy:
Acquire the Right Education: The international diplomacy field requires a good knowledge of the social phenomenon and a good understanding of socio-political and cultural dynamics and nuances. Acquiring good education in relevant courses such as Political Science, History, International Relations, Economics, Philosophy, Sociology, Law, Development Studies and other related courses in the humanities will hold a potential professional in good stead. I must add that in more recent times, it will not suffice to stop at the first-degree level. Due to the increasing complexity of problems that require resolution, possessing a postgraduate degree or special education will be important and will likely make a candidate stand out in an increasingly crowded professional space. This is not to say that people who have studied courses other than those listed above cannot work in international diplomacy. The point is that it helps to have the requisite academic training.
Training Through Internships and Volunteering: In this part of the world, there is a lot of fixation on paper qualifications. The average job applicant typically possesses the right degrees and training but has zero or little work experience at the point of graduation. This limits opportunities for the job seeker and the international diplomacy field is one that is so specialized that it requires you to be able to solve problems from the get-go. While acquiring those degrees, seek internship opportunities and volunteering jobs that can and will enrich your CV. It is not the time to seek paid employment as the benefits that will accrue to you interning or volunteering cannot be quantified in monetary terms. A significant percentage of volunteers or interns have gone on to be employed at the end of what should have been a brief stint. The pecuniary gains will come sooner or later. At this point, what is of utmost importance is to build a good CV. You will have a lifetime to make money. Build your CV and acquire the skills that will be paid for later.
Do not Be Fixated on the Financial Rewards: If your primary motive is to make money, you are better off in other sectors- perhaps banking, stock market trading or even becoming a contractor. This field is rewarding mainly for the opportunities that it confers to transform humanity, to travel the world, to solve global problems, as well as the prestige and recognition that comes with it. Certainly, working for leading NGOs, the United Nations, the African Union, the European Union, ECOWAS, the Foreign Affairs Ministry, etc. confers a special status on a professional and access to opportunities for travel and intellectual stimulation that may not be readily available in other fields. If making money is your primary motive, you are in the wrong business. While humanitarian workers and diplomats are generally well-paid, the financial remuneration that competes with other lucrative sectors comes only later.
Prepare to Manage the Traumas of Being Exposed to Human Suffering: Attempting to change the world or transform human suffering, you will be exposed to traumatic experiences and the worst effects of war, starvation, disease, and poverty. These things change the way we see the world and they may lead to some psychosocial problems such as depression, anxiety, trauma and oftentimes extreme tendencies such as suicidal thoughts. Remember that you are in it to solve the problems and you must, therefore, guard your heart and mind in the process. Being spiritually-grounded certainly helps and a good work-life balance will go a long way to preserve the professional’s well-being. This is not the most elegant aspect of the career path under discussion but it is a reality that we must bear in mind.
Acquire Language Skills and Read, Read and Read: Surely helps to acquire language skills that will be required to communicate with the rest of the world. Being able to read this write-up implies that you already speak and can read the English language. Learn other languages- French, Spanish, Arabic, Portuguese and even German. It opens up a new world of opportunities to work in various places on the planet. Also, read as widely as possible. It broadens the mind and gives the inspiration to solve problems. Also, understanding the culture of the societies that you seek to assist will require some studying of their sociological make-up.
Having worked in the field of international diplomacy for the past fifteen years, I can tell you that it is well worth the efforts and sacrifice. Being able to prevent violent conflict from occurring, being able to end human suffering, the ability to help mend broken societies and make former enemies become friends- not much in this world is as rewarding. Remember that you will travel the world, you will become a global citizen, your intellectual horizon will be broadened and you will enjoy certain perks and benefits that are hard to come by in other fields.
Enjoy a rewarding career in the international diplomacy field. Change your world. Lending to nations is not just about money, your ideas are a part of it.