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Request for advice re International Affairs career

Mongo

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My friend's son, a recent graduate of Carleton University with a Bachelor's degree in Political Science, would like to enter a career in foreign service with the federal government. I have a few questions about what he should do to make this happen, and would very much appreciate any replies I get here.

1. Is a Bachelor's degree enough? If he wants to go for a Master's degree, is it possible to work towards one while still working out of country, for example through correspondence / online courses? Does the federal government offer programs to do so while working for them?

2. Does the federal government have programs set up to recruit and guide new people into their international affairs career tracks?

3. If he is sent out of country, can provision be made for his long-time girlfriend to accompany him?

I welcome advice from career international affairs people about how to start a career in foreign relations for the government, and advice about what to expect during his career.
 

DSC

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My friend's son, a recent graduate of Carleton University with a Bachelor's degree in Political Science, would like to enter a career in foreign service with the federal government. I have a few questions about what he should do to make this happen, and would very much appreciate any replies I get here.

1. Is a Bachelor's degree enough? If he wants to go for a Master's degree, is it possible to work towards one while still working out of country, for example through correspondence / online courses? Does the federal government offer programs to do so while working for them?

2. Does the federal government have programs set up to recruit and guide new people into their international affairs career tracks?

3. If he is sent out of country, can provision be made for his long-time girlfriend to accompany him?

I welcome advice from career international affairs people about how to start a career in foreign relations for the government, and advice about what to expect during his career.
Look at: http://www.international.gc.ca/development-developpement/jobs-emplois/index.aspx?lang=eng
 

Admiral Beez

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This reminds me of myself. In 1994 I graduated from Carleton U. with PolySci majored in International Relations. At the time I was working as a part time customs officer at Pearson in the summers, as part of the gov't student employement program. I wrote the LSAT and gov't and foreign service exams, considered applying to CSIS like some of my mates, and applied to be a full time customs officer. As a Brit-born Canuck I considered going to London to do my MA at the LSE. However I needed to get to work, so the MA was out, and I couldn't get a government job, besides customs, which is a career of monotonous shiftwork I didn't want. So, I ended up doing a Post Diploma in Int'l Biz at GBC, and through my co-op placement ended up in freight forwarding (first job paid $26K in 1996, I though I was rich, lol!), then onto international sales, where I got to work with trade commissioners across the world, including joining Paul Martin on a Team Canada mission to China in 2005. During my career I realized I dodged bullet, since those gov't jobs were not the right fit for me at all, low pay, tons of slow bureaucracy - though the DB pension would have been nice now that I'm 45 and 20 years into my career.

One path I almost explored after grad from Carleton was RMC, or direct recruitment right then, as BA guarantees you a commission via the Direct Entry Program. I had been involved in both Navy and Army Cadets through my teens, and often considered joining the forces, likely the navy. Had I not been in a longterm relationship which led to my marriage and family, I would have likely have gone that route. An education in international relations would be useful in the military, and it would be much more exciting than a foreign trade desk or taking minutes in Brussels, etc.
 
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kEiThZ

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Old post. But I know some Foreign Service officers. So I'll relate a few answers based on their experience, in case anyone is looking this up....

1. Is a Bachelor's degree enough?
Technically yes. Realistically, probably not. Lot's of applicants with graduate degrees these days.

2. Does the federal government have programs set up to recruit and guide new people into their international affairs career tracks?
Yes. Look online.

3. If he is sent out of country, can provision be made for his long-time girlfriend to accompany him?
This is very much country dependent. I just got back from a military exchange in the US. The US will not recognize any non-status dependent. Have to be common law as a minimum. There are countries that are more liberal. There are many more that are less liberal. And when serving, it's Canada's interests that come above yours. Can't go overseas because you have a girlfriend? Kiss your career goodbye.

I welcome advice from career international affairs people about how to start a career in foreign relations for the government, and advice about what to expect during his career.
The days of fancy dinners in Paris are over. Mostly likely postings are to developing countries and emerging markets. And these are the places where the action is so to speak. These are the places that get you promoted. Also, assisting the military during deployed ops (Afghanistan, Iraq, etc.).

. An education in international relations would be useful in the military
Not as much these days. The military is all about STEM these days. They may take in someone with an arts degree, but most of the sponsored postgrads and staff jobs are tech related in some capacity. The guy who can code and lead a software development team is probably going to get promoted faster and further than the guy/gal with the IR degree.
 

Admiral Beez

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If I was joining the forces today that last thing I’d want is a desk job in front of a pc. Might as well do that in the private sector. I’d probably try to find some stream that gets me on-board a ship.... yes there’s desks there too I suppose.
 

kEiThZ

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If I was joining the forces today that last thing I’d want is a desk job in front of a pc.
Careers don't work like that. You alternate between "field tours" on a ship, at a squadron or a regiment, and then a staff tour at your service headquarters (Winnipeg for the air force, Kingston for the Army, Halifax for the Navy), or a training establishment, or at national headquarters (Ottawa). And then back to the field after.

If the military wasn't like this, none of the technical and organizational work would get done. And there'd be no training pipeline.
 
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