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2021 In-Demand Careers in International Affairs

Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies

Students Leverage Virtual Events, Create Professional Networks for the Future

Although the COVID-19 pandemic closed borders and classrooms around the world, upending the traditional graduate school environment, it also opened up more ways to thrive—both on campus and in the job market.

“I have been very impressed to see the way our students have shifted their approach to landing a job after graduation,” says Andrew Mertha, director of SAIS China and the George and Sadie Hyman Professor of China Studies at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. “Students are entrepreneurial in their career search and are taking full advantage of virtual networking opportunities to expand their reach with employers and alumni. Fortunately, the job market continues to be robust for our graduates, which was one of the few positive surprises of this period.”

Recent graduates of Johns Hopkins SAIS are seeing employment trends that are only slightly below pre-2020 levels, demonstrating the continued relevance of a graduate degree in international affairs.

“Around the world, this pandemic has shifted the way we work, but the nature of the work remains the same,” Mertha says. “As we begin to imagine a post-COVID-19 vision for our future, our new normal will allow us to explore new ways to connect and conduct business.”

Nearly every aspect of the student learning experience was recalibrated when courses and programming moved online last spring. One of the students’ biggest concerns was that no in-person meetings would lead to fewer networking opportunities with prestigious alumni and other professionals who could help with their job search. To meet that need, Johns Hopkins SAIS began hosting remote networking opportunities, such as virtual happy hours and online chats, to allow students and recent graduates to connect with more established alumni.

“I remind them that they’re the COVID-19 generation, and that itself will be a selling point as they’re job searching.” –Andrew Mertha, Director of SAIS China and the George and Sadie Hyman Professor of China Studies, School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University

For example, the school’s annual “Perfect Pitch” workshop, normally held on the school’s main campus in Washington, DC, connects students with accomplished alumni working in fields including international finance, international development, national security, climate, and energy. In 2021, the workshop shifted to an online format, allowing for a record number of alumni to participate and give students valuable feedback and career advice.

During the pandemic, these connections don’t depend on in-person meetings. Therefore, there are more opportunities for students to create a far-reaching professional network for the future.

“I remind them that they’re the COVID-19 generation, and that itself will be a selling point as they’re job searching,” Mertha says. “Being able to pivot from a rigorous in-person program to fully remote learning—amidst a global pandemic—illustrates that our graduates will succeed in the most challenging circumstances.”

Contact
sais.jhu.edu/student-experience/career-services
sais.dc.careers@jhu.edu
+1 202-663-5710