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Launching a Career in International Affairs

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University of California San Diego,
School of Global Policy and Strategy

Good news: Employment rates for the UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy (GPS) class of 2016 are the highest seen in at least a decade: Ninety-six percent of graduates have found relevant employment, reports David Robertson, director of career services.

Such success is no surprise, given students’ strong analytical skills and understanding of public policy, management, and international interactions. But now, students are preparing for new challenges from budget cutbacks at the U.S. State Department, USAID, the Environmental Protection Agency, and other federal agencies,as well as potential visa restrictions for international students.

The school’s long-established Master of International Affairs (MIA) program focuses on the Americas and Asia and attracts students from the U.S. and around the world. In searching for internships and jobs, students can draw on an alumni network spanning more than 80 countries.

“Anything having to do with data analysis is going to see continued demand no matter what else happens in employment markets.” – David Robertson, Director of Career Services, School of Global Policy and Strategy (GPS), UC San Diego

The Master of Public Policy (MPP) program focuses on U.S. policymaking within a global context. Thus it goes beyond the U.S.-centric view while providing rigorous training and analysis of public policy. Graduates are well positioned for careers in state, local, and federal government as well as the private and nonprofit sectors. Specialization options are tied with areas of growing demand, such as environmental policy, business, health, and security.

“Best-practice approaches to public policy problems now require analysis through a global lens,” says Peter F. Cowhey, interim executive vice chancellor for academic affairs at UC San Diego.

GPS graduates find employment opportunities in state, county, and local government—mostly in the West, especially in California, and particularly in positions involving renewable energy or environmental policy.

Helen Liu, a 2016 graduate of the UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy, did her summer internship at the American Chamber of Commerce in China.

Students who seek public sector careers in international development increasingly look to government contractors in the private sector. Booz Allen Hamilton, for example, is one of several consulting companies that hire GPS graduates.

But technology remains the largest sector for hiring of GPS graduates, thanks to the school’s West Coast location. Openings range from business to economics to policy positions, but opportunities are strongest for jobs involving data analysis.

“Anything having to do with data analysis is going see continued demand no matter what else happens in employment markets,” says Robertson. He also foresees growing demand for expertise in global health, including biotechnology as well as mobile health. From remote areas in Africa to Indian reservations in the United States, mobile broadband technologies can provide access to information, connect people with their health care providers, and help lower health care costs.

UCSD GPS alumni employed by Qualcomm in San Diego

Students take advantage of the 3,000-plus network of GPS alumni by contacting them for informational interviews and by building ongoing relationships with members of the school’s Alumni Mentor Program. In the school’s Alumni-in-Residence program, selected alumni spend an academic quarter on campus and keep office hours so that students can meet regularly with alumni working in their area of interest.

GPS leads visits to Southern California–based organizations and offers annual student trips to San Francisco; New York City; Washington, D.C.; Sacramento, Calif.; and other cities, where alumni often host group visits with their employers.

For more information see the Program Directory