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Parents' Guide to Career Support

Housed within the School of International Service, the SIS Office of Career Development supports the school's juniors, seniors, graduate students, and alumni through all stages of career development. Our mission is to create innovative, collaborative, and effective opportunities for career education and mentorship to prepare students for life after college. Below we’ve shared answers to some questions you and your student may have. We look forward to meeting your student and working together to achieve his/her/their career goals!

SIS undergraduate students have access to both the AU Career Center and the SIS Office of Career Development. In their first and second years, they can participate in events and meet with an advisor to explore different majors and career options through the university’s central career center. Then, when they become juniors, SIS majors receive additional, tailored support from the SIS Office of Career Development. SIS career services include career coaching, drop-in advising hours, a full calendar of events and programs, industry insight, networking opportunities, online career resources, career e-newsletters, and résumé and cover letter reviews.

Students may schedule a one-on-one appointment with a career advisor through Handshake, the university's online career platform, at any point and as often as they’d like during their time at AU. When it comes to career advising, we want to see students early and often. From discussing career goals to offering advice on networking, and from first résumé review to job search strategy setting, we provide personalized support to help students pursue a career that meets their goals, even as those goals change over time.

Well-written résumés, CVs, and cover letters open the door for students to meet and interview with employers. We strongly encourage students to work with our advisors to create polished application materials that will catch the attention of recruiters and hiring managers. To help you get started, we offer templates and advice on the SIS Career Resource Library, an online library of self-service career resources available to current students and alumni (email siscareer@american.edu for password).

Training in international studies prepares students to solve problems through diplomacy, defense, and development work. The interdisciplinary nature of our degree programs enables graduates to enter a wide variety of fields based on their interests and goals. You can learn more about possible career paths and graduation outcomes of recent alumni on the SIS Career Resource Library and the university’s We Know Success website, respectively. We also recommend looking at the APSIA Career Guide online and the book Careers in International Affairs, Ninth Edition, which is available through the AU library system.

According to a survey of employers conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), the following attributes are most highly desired: critical thinking, teamwork/collaboration, professionalism/work ethic, oral/written communications, and global/intercultural fluency. Students should also review our industry one-sheets, available on the SIS Career Resource Library, which include lists of the top skills needed for particular fields in international affairs.

In addition to their coursework, we recommend that all SIS students pursue opportunities for experiential learning, such as internships, volunteering, service learning, undergraduate research, campus leadership and involvement, study abroad, and part-time jobs.

We suggest starting with Handshake, where current students and alumni can search and apply for thousands of internships and jobs posted by employers. We’ve also compiled a list of our favorite internship and job search websites organized by interest/field on the SIS Career Resource Library.

The impact of COVID-19 on the job market has been mixed. Some employers have cancelled internships and implemented hiring freezes while other organizations have successfully moved internships online and continue to grow their workforce. We encourage students to meet with an advisor to discuss the current state of hiring in their target fields.

The best way to contact us is by email at siscareer@american.edu. During our normal business hours (Monday-Friday, 9-5 Eastern), we try to respond within 48 hours. Evenings, weekends, and holidays will take us a little bit longer. In the meantime, for general questions, our website is a great place to start.

We Know Success

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