What is the Global Studies major?

Even before you begin your job search, you will be asked by family and friends: What exactly is the Global Studies major? Here is a good answer:

It’s a relatively new major, only available at schools with a lot of strong departments. The idea is that globalization is changing the world and that many important issues now facing the world can’t be addressed by just one department or discipline. The Global Studies major is different from traditional majors. It is an interdisciplinary program. That means, students take global classes from professors in almost a dozen departments so they can better understand and manage the impact of globalization. A Global Studies major can contribute to almost any organization or business.

If you need a really fast answer for an elevator conversation:

Global Studies majors take classes on the impact of globalization from almost a dozen different departments so they can understand and manage global changes.

What do you do with the Global Studies major?

You will be asked: What do you do with the Global Studies major? Some college majors seem to define their career paths. Accounting majors become accountants. Architecture majors become architects. But do all those Psychology majors become psychologists? Political Science majors become political scientists? Do International Relations students become international relationists? Do Global Studies students become global studiers? How do you answer the question: What do you do with a Global Studies major?

The Answer

I will give the quick answer right up front and then give you more detail for your own job search. You will want to memorize this quick answer though so you can repeat it to parents, aunts, uncles and all the people who went to college before Global Studies evolved! But here is your quick answer:

Because globalization has changed every field, every field needs graduates who understand globalization. I am interested in ____________ so I will be applying for global positions at places like _______________ and ___________. I won’t necessarily have to work abroad, though I might want to, but I will be dealing with global and international issues.

Then, Fill in the Blanks

If you have passions, here’s how easy the blanks become:

I am interested in sports so I will be applying for global positions at places like the NBA, the MLB, and FIFA.

I am interested in international travel so I will be applying for global positions at places like travel agencies, hotels and English-language teaching schools.

Making Your Choice

Since every field has been affected by globalization, every field has need of people who can understand and manage globalization. We list some of the amazing career opportunities below. The hard part for many Global Studies majors? They have many interests and cannot decide.

Trying to decide among many paths? Here is a two-page Careers document that helps students start the process of choosing what they will do with the Global Studies major.

Highlighting Your Strengths

You should emphasize that the relatively new Global Studies major sets you apart from other candidates. Your major is interdisciplinary, you should say, because global changes cannot be understood by one disciplines.

Through your Global Studies education, you can do many things. Depending on the job you are seeking, you should emphasize different strengths in your cover letter and resume.

Global Studies students, for example, can say they obtain a strong grounding in global affairs which teaches them how to engage in problem-solving across boundaries and cultures, and how to critically evaluate information from a comparative perspective.  This training also involves learning how to become an effective communicator which includes learning how to argue and defend complex views before a variety of global audiences. Students gain  global competency.

You want to emphasize the benefits of your global experience, even for non-global jobs. For example, you can say that study abroad was not “backpacking through Europe” but an opportunity to succeed in unfamiliar situations with co-workers from different backgrounds and cultures. During your time abroad, you engaged in research and problem solving in new situations and with people from different cultures. Many jobs today require exactly that.

Here are tips for highlighting your Study Abroad experience and other global activities on your resume:
Resume tips (PDF).

And for those getting ready for that job search, here is a sample resume for a graduate of Global Studies. You can see how your global understanding and experience will be of use to numerous companies and organizations. A Global Studies major also offers excellent preparation for graduate school and law school.

Useful Links
Career Pathways: Understanding & Articulating the Skills you Gained Abroad
How to Sell Your Overseas Experience to Employers
Packaging Your International Experience
Lehigh University Career Services
Becoming an Abroad Ambassador
Marketing Your Study Abroad Experience
Translating Your Study Abroad Experience into Marketable Skills
Fall 2011 Event Flier

Possible Career Paths in Global Studies

Global Culture Industries: music, film, sports, – MTV, Disney, the NBA, Coca Cola
Global Environment: World Wildlife Fund, Greenpeace, Sierra International
Global Health: World Health Org (WHO), Ctr for Disease Control (CDC)
Global Marketing Agencies: BBDO, DDB, J. Walter Thompson, Leo Burnett
Human Justice Organizations: Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch
International Governing Agencies: UN, World Bank, IMF
International Service Agencies: Red Cross, CARE, UNICEF, Peace Corps
International Development Agencies: U.S.A.I.D, relief funds
International Businesses: Sony, Microsoft, Apple, medicine and pharmaceuticals
Mass Communication: CNN, ESPN, Rodale Int., foreign correspondence
Travel & Tourism: travel agencies, global tours, cruise lines
U.S. Government Offices & Agencies: Foreign Service, State Department

Gain the Global Studies Advantage

This Career Workshop Packet (PDF) was prepared by UC Santa Barbara to help students assess the benefits that can be gained through studying abroad including job search strategies. If you have any other suggestions, or would like to share your experiences and advice related to studying abroad, learning a foreign language and being involved with the LU-UN Partnship, feel free to share your thoughts with us and we would be happy to pass this along to your fellow students. 

Lehigh University Career Services
We recommend that you take the time to familiarize yourself with the services and resources that are available to you on campus through the LU Career Services office.  This office maintains a library of resources, to help students develop the skills needed in order to find a job, such as how to write a proper resume, and how to take the steps that will help you figure out how to develop your job search strategies.

Other Useful Job Searching Skill Links
Americorp Resume Place
Resume and Cover Letter Center
The Riley Guide (comprehensive guide to finding and obtaining international employment)

Dr. Jack Lule, Director of Global Studies │ │ Phone: (610) 758-4177 │ Fax: (610) 758-6198
Globalization & Social Change Initiative │ Lehigh University │ 33 Coppee Drive, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA 18015