Grads Give Back brings the IE Community together to discuss the world of work. In the latest edition, three of our graduates shared their advice for getting started in international affairs.

In international relations, you don’t have time to lose.” Of the many topics discussed at the latest edition of Grads Give Back, the resounding message was that aspiring international affairs professionals must be proactive. It’s a high-stakes industry with high-level competition—but fortunately, our engaging graduates were on hand to offer top tips for getting ahead.

Grads Give Back: What is it?

Grads Give Back is a series of exciting, interactive webinars featuring successful IE University graduates who give back to the IE Community by sharing their professional experiences and insights with current students.

Hosted by Associate Director of Undergraduate Alumni Alexina Clements, this year’s panel featured IE University alumni Mariam Katsanashvili, Lupita Prada Jiménez, and Elise El Nouchi, three dynamic professionals in the field of IR.

While the enlightening event covered many topics about the professional arena, we’ve distilled them into five key takeaways. Check them out!

Key sector insights from IE University graduates

1.    Getting your foot in the door

Starting from zero can seem daunting—but as our graduates reminded us, every single person starts out with no experience. To get a head start, summer internships are a good route into the sector. These are offered by major organizations, and openings are frequently advertised in weekly bulletins sent out by IE Talent & Careers.

2.    The secret to successful networking

While we all know that networking is important, there’s less understanding about how you actually do it. Lupita had an effective answer: networking is making sure that you stay on people’s radar—and that doesn’t just mean building a bank of connections on LinkedIn. It’s also useful to publish your achievements across different social media, using these platforms to maintain active ties to your contacts.

The panelists also recommended using your contacts in the IE Community. Stay connected to your classmates and reach out to alumni if you’re interested in their work. On the other hand, help out others when you can—you never know when the favor might come back around!

3.    Soft skills are in demand

No matter the role, the world of international affairs requires masterful communication and high emotional intelligence. Our graduates were quick to emphasize the importance of being good with people, learning new languages, and having a solid knowledge of history. Coworkers are likely to respond well to a rounded understanding of the events that shaped today’s world.

Joining extracurricular clubs is a great way to build a desirable skill set for international affairs. In particular, the panelists recommended anything that helps you with reasoning and writing skills—be it the university newspaper, debate club, or joining a political think tank.

4.    Further education is advisable—but don’t rush it!

According to our grads, getting your master’s is a good way to go for a career in international affairs. However, there’s no harm in giving it some time—in fact, it can be even more ideal to take a year or two out of the academic study and get some work experience. That way, you’ll have the opportunity to experience life in the field of international affairs and figure out where you might want to specialize.

5.    Leverage IE University’s career resources

Looking back on their time at IE University, each of our graduates highlighted the range of career guidance available to students. Their advice was simple: make the most of it! Whether it’s personalized guidance, interview prep, career fairs or the job portal, it’s vital to leverage the full scope of support available.

Empowering our community

In preparing for the future, our communities are often the greatest asset we have. We’d like to thank our graduates for their guidance and support, and look forward to seeing what they go on to accomplish.