Career development

Your academic studies will expose you to complex movers and thinkers across the discipline of International Studies, while dedicated exploration through professional placements will better orient you to work that suits you, as you begin to build your career outside of the university setting.

Your degree is itself a big step that you are taking towards building your career. Throughout school, students also take on additional applied (that is, “out of the classroom") career building opportunities — often referred to as professional development. Whether it’s through a research fellowship, a volunteer contract, an internship, further skills training, or entry-level work with a reputable organization, pursuing Professional Development during your studies benefits you in two major ways:

  1. Standing apart from other applicants means doing more than just your degree, whether at the undergraduate or master’s level. Professional development allows you to gather practical experience which demonstrates to prospective employers that you hold a breadth of skills and the ability to apply your learning in the “real world.”
  2. There is no better way to know what kind of work you would want to keep doing than to try it out, sampling shorter and therefore more manageable commitments. Professional development placements will give you tangible, lived evidence from which you can narrow down the kinds of work you’d like to go on to pursue, suiting it to your values, lifestyle, and aspirations.


This workshop series runs according to the academic year, with each topic coming up once a year (unless otherwise advertised). Workshops are open to all IS masters students, and declared IS major students in their 3rd, 4th, or 5th year. Some workshops are also open to students in the first and second year of their undergraduate degree and, if so, the event’s promotional information will mention this.

Careers in International Studies

Gain exposure to professionals within various industries which link to International Studies through the Careers in International Studies series. These events commonly feature guest alumni, friends of the School, and contacts within SFU’s wider network.

Select Topics/Field of Work:

  • Indigenous Relations
  • Foreign Service
  • United Nations and IGOs
  • Non-profits, local and international

Career Readiness

Gain relevant, in-demand skills which commonly feature within the listed qualifications on job postings across Canada’s non-profit, government, and private sectors. These events are facilitated by SIS staff, or else staff from associated SFU offices and services.

Select topics:

  • Networking Strategically
  • Project Management
  • Writing Grant Applications
  • Utilizing Informational Interviews

United Nations International Internship Programme for Students 

We are delighted to share an exclusive opportunity for our students. Starting in the summer of 2024, we have partnered with the United Nations Association in Canada to offer the United Nations International Internship Programme for Students (IIPS). This program offers a remarkable chance for students to gain valuable work experience within the United Nations system.  

The IIPS is open to Canadian citizens, permanent residents, and international students who are in the undergraduate (major or honours) or graduate program at the School for International Studies. Ideal candidates are those approaching the final stages of their Bachelor's (third or fourth year) or Master’s degrees. Candidates are assessed based on their enthusiasm for international affairs, excellent academic performance, and pertinent research and work experiences. 

The internships, spanning 6 to 8 months, places successful candidates within a UN Office as a Junior Professional Consultant (JPCs). UNA-Canada is committed to offering meaningful, SDG-focused positions within the United Nations Agencies, allowing students to grow in a field that is relevant to their studies and career aspirations. JPCs are recruited, trained, and supported through their internship. The experience equips students with tools to enhance their critical thinking and problem-solving skills in the workplace.  

For more information on the IIPS, please visit IIPS Program Details

Students may also choose to supplement their studies with hand-on experience on the job. Co-op is an optional program where students can explore career possibilities by alternating between study semesters and paid work in real-world organizations. To learn more about how to qualify and apply to Co-op, please check out the FASS Co-op Program or else book an appointment with one of their advisors. Co-op offers a wealth of opportunities, here in Vancouver, the rest of Canada, and abroad.

Please note: International students will not be able to access jobs within the Canadian government, as these require either a Canadian citizenship or permanent residency status. Applying for Co-op is not an effective method around this restriction, which stands regardless of an applicant’s program of study in Canada.

Previous placements

Here are some of the organizations where International Studies students have worked thanks to co-op placements:

  • Global Affairs Canada
  • Natural Resources Canada
  • Consulate General of the United States
  • Consulate General of Mexico
  • Government of Spain
  • BC Ministry of Jobs, Trade and Technology
  • BC Ministry of Education

  • Chinese Ecosystem Research Network
  • Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada
  • Tata Institute of Social Sciences
  • Grameen Bank
  • Open Media
  • Foundation for Agrarian Studies
  • Korean Broadcasting System

Student Testimonials

Diana Cardenas Pinzon

Research Intern, Open Media via the Mitacs Accelerate Program

"What excites me most about this program is its two components, part-time internship and part-time research project. In this way, it allows me to put into practice academic knowledge applied to a research project, and at the same time to be able to exercise professional skills through the general tasks of the internship. Therefore, learning will be twofold as a professional and as a researcher. I am also excited to know that the results of this project can have a significant impact on the proposal of laws and regulations regarding the use of digital platforms and their impact on citizens."

Michelle Nguyen

Student Economist/Policy Analyst, Western Diversification Canada

"I am excited to gain a deeper understanding of the social, political and economic priorities of the federal government that are specific to BC. I’m also hoping to learn more about the process decision-makers take to choose which policies should be pursued, developed and implemented."

SFU's Career & Professional Development Services for Students

SFU provides an abundance of career and professional development services to its students. This is a compilation of the services we believe are most useful for students in International Studies. Whether you are an undergraduate or graduate student, or a domestic or international student, you will find resources to help you.

Professional Development Advisor

Catalina Bobadilla Sandoval

Coordinator, Academic Advising & Professional Development Services

Harbour Centre 7233

Gain assistance with:

  • Goal setting and constructing a plan for career exploration
  • Accessing opportunities that exist currently – at the local, national, and international levels
  • Preparing for work with individualized coaching on applications, resumes, interviews, etc.
  • Workshops and skills training on topics in:
    1. Career Readiness and
    2. Areas of IS-associated work, with guest speakers

Book an appointment