IR Society and ACU Politics Career Panel
Irby said that international relations professionals struggle to keep a healthy work-life balance
Students interested in a future in the International relations field should diversify themselves with internships and field work, according to Powell
Manley recommends studying mathematics and computer science
Ciobanu encourages students to take any opportunity they can find in the initial years after graduation
Establishing relationships with IR professors can help students create connections in the industry
The IR Society and the Asian Cultural Union (ACU) joined together on April 3 for an expert panel on careers in international relations. The visiting panelists included Ian Manley, associate at Morgan Stanley and NYU alumnus; David Powell, principal agent at Interpol; Rebecca Irby, founding partner, president, and CEO of the PEAC Institute — a non-profit advocating for education, art, and nuclear proliferation — and Christian Ciobanu, deputy director and UN Representative of the PEAC Institute. Together, the four represent a diverse selection of possible opportunities in international relations.
Asked about their average workday looks like, all spoke to the difficulties of the long hours and rigorous schedule that come with the average international relations career. Irby, who constantly searches for funding and meets with heads of other organizations, stressed the importance of establishing a healthy work-life balance. Ciobanu frequently works with PEAC interns, bringing them onto the UN floor to work with diplomats and other NGO workers. Powell’s work is two-fold — he meets with government representatives and UN entities; in addition, he investigates international crime, details of which are classified. Manley’s work involves constantly deriving economic signals from current international events.
International relations majors often struggle to find a clear career direction, so many don’t know what skills they should acquire for their future field. Manley encouraged students to study finance, as he discovered how deeply it shapes international discussions. He also recommended studying math and computer science. Powell noted that any career in international law enforcement requires a diverse background of field work, academic and practical knowledge, and proficient critical thinking. Ciobanu said students should seize any opportunity possible in the early year and develop an aggressive work ethic. Irby urged students to create their own space if no previous space exists for their passion.
The panelists agreed on the importance of studying abroad and acquiring a diverse portfolio of skills. Powell encouraged students to opt for unconventional study abroad locations. Irby mentioned the importance of communication skills — an obvious but often forgotten necessity in establishing industry connections. Ciobanu stressed the importance of learning highly-applicable foreign languages, such as Arabic and Farsi. Manley, who graduated from NYU in 2015, noted the average NYU student’s underutilization of office hours.
All the panelists agreed that establishing a relationship with an international relations professors is an important step in getting one’s foot in the door.
Audience questions generally concerned how anxious students can start the process of building a resume in international relations. Internships seem to be a near universal starting point for establishing connections within the industry. Field work shows employers that one understands and has experience with the gravity of many decisions made by career professionals. In short, IR majors should diversify themselves, build skills in foreign languages, computer science, and mathematics, and follow their passion. The variety of the fields represented in the panel show that there is no one clear path into the field of international relations, so students are best off when they remember why they care about the field and follow those instincts.
This report was compiled by Danny Hegberg on April 11, 2019, and edited by Jamin Chen.