Career Paths – Where will the IR degree lead?

On 26 March the first event in our „Career Paths” lecture series was organized by our college for advanced studies, in which we talked about our career opportunities within the IR studies. Our invited lecturers were Andrea Koszti event organizer and communication consultant, also former president of our college, Péter Wagner Senior Researcher at the Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Ambassador Balázs Bokor, former consul-general of Hungary in Los Angeles. The moderator role was filled by our mentor, Máté Szalai, Researcher at the Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade and assistant professor at Corvinus University of Budapest.

Our lecturers had different opinions about the knowledge they acquired during their university studies. Balázs Bokor said that the education should be more tangible. In contrast, Andrea Koszti claimed that there is no need for more practicality, instead, the education should be more dialogue-centred. In her opinion, one of the most important parts of anyone’s academic studies is the active participation in the student life and professional programs. Péter Wagner, as a university professor, believes that lectures are not that effective, as he sees it, writing and reading are the most important.

All three guests agreed on the importance of self-education. Balázs Bokor emphasized that continuity is the key, because if we don’t educate ourselves, we will get stuck on a certain level. He and Peter Wagner believe that the cultivation of reading, writing and the consciousness, openness are essential, because within the diplomacy obtaining information is fundamental. Andrea also mentioned the significance of self-education to build relations with those around us and to get to know ourselves better, to be able to identify the tasks we are good at and enjoy.

Another question our lecturers agreed on was the next: “How hard is to find employment in a non-governmental sphere?”. One of the basic requirements of the IR is the knowledge of foreign languages, adding a degree to this will open several doors before us. Andrea Koszti also said that this speciality can give us opportunities in the areas of PR and Public Affairs as well.

When the balance between career and private life was discussed, there was once again a consensus among the experts. Balázs Bokor, with 28 years of experience behind his back, said that those who work in diplomacy do not have as many opportunities in private life and free time as for example researchers, because it is not always easy for the family to integrate into their new environment. Andrea, having her own enterprise, often finds it hard to reconcile these two. Peter Wagner highlighted, that one of the greatest elements of being a researcher is the flexible schedule, which makes it easier to harmonize family and work.

At the end of the discussion, the audience got the chance to ask their questions. The most popular questions were related to the importance of language and MA studies, also to the work opportunities alongside the university. All three lecturers agreed on the great role of foreign language skills in the public and private sector as well, therefore it is necessary to pay more attention to this in the education.They think we should consider languages that are rarely spoken, and whether we would like to live in the target country in the future or not. Péter Wagner’s opinion is that working while studying at the university can be useful, but we have to be careful because the work must not affect our studies negatively.

As the last thought, we heard advice for the future. Andrea Koszti believes that during our years in the university we should join student organizations and colleges. Péter Wagner suggested to the audience to be open-minded, to travel, to gain memories and experience. Eventually, Ambassador Balázs Bokor advised us to trust ourselves and to do everything to reach our goals.

Herewith, we would like to thank our experts for accepting our invitation, and all those who participated in the event for coming. We hope to see you on our next “Career Paths” lecture too!