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2021 In-Demand Careers in International Affairs

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University of Kent, Brussels School of International Studies

A Journey for Students to Discover Their Ideal Job

In addition to their academic coursework, students at the University of Kent’s Brussels School of International Studies (BSIS) are engaged in a more personal learning experience, to discover what they want to do professionally.

From their earliest days on campus, students are encouraged to think about their ideal job, says Alastair Ross, head of operations for Europe for the University of Kent. This process can only be done effectively when the students are actively studying the issues involved and beginning to understand the nuances of the possible options.

An analogy, Ross says, is a person standing on the bank of a river, looking at logs go by. If the person does not jump in and hop from log to log, they will miss opportunities.

“It’s a journey about them learning what they want to do in the world,’’ Ross says. “It’s very important that they do this reflection and don’t jump into a career that their undergraduate self thinks would be right.”

“It’s very important that they do this reflection and don’t jump into a career that their undergraduate self thinks would be right.” –Alastair Ross, Head of Operations, Europe, Brussels School of International Studies, University of Kent

Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, BSIS is seeing some shifts in employment trends for its graduates. The immediate impact is positive: Graduates don’t have to move to the location of their new employer to start a job. “That opens up considerably more opportunities,” Ross says.

However, it is uncertain whether this type of virtual arrangement will continue after the pandemic, since starting a new job involves some socialization that can be lost when it occurs virtually, Ross says.

To help its graduates find jobs during the pandemic, BSIS continues to provide internships—but virtually—with international organizations based or represented in Brussels, ranging from the Red Cross and embassies, to the European Parliament and NATO. Students also can help with the school’s European Union Rights Clinic, which offers legal advice to refugees in EU member countries.

BSIS provides its students with two types of career training. Students take specific courses to prepare for certain careers, such as in human rights or EU diplomacy. In addition, the school provides general career training in skills such as the art of networking and preparation for an interview.

For instance, BSIS traditionally hosts an annual networking event with European Parliament staff for students to learn how to get an internship and hear what the jobs are like. BSIS has continued this event in a virtual format, but hopes to return to the typical happy hour format, which is more beneficial for students, Ross says.

“These networking opportunities really are at the heart of their voyage of discovery,” he says.

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