A common belief held by society is that to succeed in any political science field, one does not need brains, merely cunning and egocentricity. However, I disagree, particularly when it comes to the field of international relations. This field requires writing, communication, and critical analysis, and becomes increasingly important as we develop relationships with foreign countries. Furthermore, it is a broad field which appeals to people of all kinds and presents the pursuer with numerous opportunities to benefit the world.
Of all possibilities in political science, international relations is one of the biggest subfields and the most variable. Essentially, it focuses on foreign countries and their relationships with the United States. This field works to understand and improve these relationships by focusing on international law, trade, economics, and warfare. In this field, one could be employed by numerous types of places, ranging from the government to international companies to non-profit organizations. No matter what path one may choose, the possibilities and opportunities are endless.
Being as diverse as it is, the international relations side of politics is one that attracts all types of people. According to Edward Guernica, a political science teacher at Winona State University, this field appeals to “cold, calculating businesspeople with a profit motive,” as well as “idealist[s] who just want to improve the world.” Personally, I’m opting for the latter of the two. However, no matter which way one sways, these are people who want to focus on the connections between the different areas of the world we live in; hopefully trying to improve them. These connections are key, and therefore a thorough understanding and appreciation of other cultures is essential. Therefore, studying abroad as well as learning a foreign language are also essential parts of this major. These further solidify and deepen the student’s appreciation for other cultures, which can bring him or her to wherever they want to go in the world.
Along with being able to travel the world and master a foreign language, an international relations student is presented with many great opportunities to help the world. As Professor Guernica puts it, it is a field where he sees “real and gainful experience,” and will continue to be important as long as we interact with other countries. Personally, I find this to be very true, as I see our country becoming further intertwined in the trade as well as cultures of other countries. Because of this, those who study international relations often focus on human rights in countries that need it. If the student hopes to secure a strong job in the future, it helps to invest a year a two volunteering their time and skills in these, often third-world, countries. However, getting into these aid programs is just as competitive as trying to land a job. According to the University Of Kent website, the VSO (Voluntary Services Overseas) receives nearly 40,000 applications a year, to hire a mere 1,000 of them. Although the need is great in these countries, these organizations find that few are suitable for the job, and ready to take on the challenges that it presents. Personally, I think these volunteering opportunities should be just as competitive as job opportunities. They are not easy, and one must be up to the challenge of working in the unfamiliar. For example, according to this website 60% of volunteers go into the education field. Let’s say that someone choose to work with elementary school children. He or she may begin their day by arriving at a roofless, one-room schoolhouse. Or perhaps there will be no classroom at all, just an open area outdoors. An article by the Give Well Organization states that these “classrooms” often lack the most basic of school supplies such as blackboards, textbooks, seating, or desks. Obviously, this definitely adds to the challenge of the volunteer teacher. However, the teacher must work around these barriers as their most important goal is to show the children that their education can bring them opportunities, and hopefully out of poverty. No matter what area one chooses to focus on within international relations, he or she will be presented with opportunities to change the world.
Overall, the study of international relations is a variable field which leaves a student with many options to grow as well as opportunities to embrace. The impact that one person can have on the world is immense, and studying a topic as this allows them to make the strongest impact possible.