Career Pathways

Taking Charge

At the School for International Studies, we understand that students are seeking guidance to make sure your time at university meets your longer-term goals. We know that students face a lot of uncertainty, particularly when it comes to career planning. We embrace career guidance approaches that view uncertainty as an opportunity for growth. This perspective helps students envision diverse career pathways and develop a positive attitude towards uncertainty, reducing anxiety and building confidence.

We work to engage students in professional development and career-related activities, access university resources, and connect with faculty and alumni. We are here to help you figure out how to use your time in university wisely, preparing you for your future.

Possible Career Pathways

Learn about the work our former students are doing in each of these categories below.

What can you expect from your degree?

During your time at the School for International Studies, you will have the opportunity to cultivate and refine skills essential for effectively meeting the demands of your post-university life and career path. The International Studies (IS) degree equips students with knowledge about the world’s complex problems and enables individuals to analyze these realities through an interdisciplinary lens. In IS courses and through our many extracurricular opportunities (in Canada and abroad), students gain in-depth understandings and crucial skills in addressing real-world problems and multiple audiences. Learning from instructors who are active in policy and research around the world, and with peers from diverse backgrounds, IS students gain rich insights to make informed decisions about how to pursue their career goals.  


Explore some of the key skills you will develop through your IS degree and how they will prove valuable: 

Analysis, Problem-solving, and Research

Enhancing these skills empowers students to analyze complex problems, synthesize information from various sources, and evaluate data critically. With these skills, students will become adept at identifying key issues, understanding their underlying causes, and proposing evidence-based solutions. 

Decision-making and Implementation

Refining these skills equips students to make informed decisions, develop and evaluate policies, negotiate effectively, and execute plans with precision. These skills are crucial for implementing strategies, managing projects, and driving positive change. 

Communication and Presentation

Nurturing these skills enables students to articulate ideas effectively, present research findings, and engage in meaningful discussions. Strong communication skills enable students to elucidate complex concepts clearly and persuasively, facilitating effective connections with diverse audiences across various settings. 

Teamwork and Networking

Cultivating these skills enables students to collaborate fruitfully within diverse teams, lead initiatives, support team members, and achieve common goals. Further, networking skills enable students to build valuable professional relationships, establish connections, and create promising opportunities. 

Experiential Learning

The School for International Studies encourages students to engage in experiential learning to enrich your firsthand learning and practice of skills. Engaging in experiential learning opportunities entails applying knowledge and skills in practical contexts. Learning through experience, reflection, and active engagement with real-world situations or tasks enriches students’ academic experience and contributes to their preparation for future careers and future projects. 

IS 497 Field Practice Course

This course is available to all IS Major and IS Honours students. Students earn credits by participating in local or international volunteer or work placements (including co-op). Students reflect on their experiences through written assignments and small group discussions, relating their insights to topics and issues studied in their academic program.

United Nations International Internship Programme for Students 

The School has 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 positions within the United Nations Agencies, allowing students to grow in a field that is relevant to their studies and career aspirations. JPCs are trained and supported through their internships. 


Students may also choose to supplement their studies with hands-on work experience. Co-op is an optional program where students can explore career possibilities by alternating between study semesters and paid work in 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.

Our International Studies Majors have held co-op positions with organizations such as:

  • 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

Field Schools

SFU Field Schools offer students an immersive educational experience. Led by SFU instructors, these programs integrate coursework, assignments, and field studies, blending learning with the local context. These experiences allow students to explore diverse destinations, build global networks, learn experientially, gain international insights, and develop global competencies.

Customize and Expand Your Learning 

Students can customize their learning through multiple avenues — it all depends on where your interests lie! 

The IS degree is structured to allow students to take elective courses from across the university, in addition to our IS courses that focus on compelling themes and diverse regions of the world. Students can also consider joining the IS Honours program, or pursue our accelerated Master's degree program. You can also consider joining the IS Honours program to experience mentorship in research and writing. 

You may also want to consider taking a semester of study abroad. You can read one of our student’s story and learn more about this option through SFU. There are also exchanges through organizations such as Youth Challenge International, which help fund cross-cultural fellowship programs for Canadian students. You can learn about an IS student's experience here.

For more local opportunities, consider joining special initiatives such as the DREAM lab (Defence Resources Exploring Alternatives to Militarism). Or join fellow students in activities such as the Hybrid Warfare Student Competition. 

If you are thinking of going abroad, then consider applying for the Simons Foundation International Travel Grant which is exclusively offered to IS students.   

Academic Advising and Career Planning

In the dynamic landscape of education and employment, students need up-to-date, accessible, and practical academic advising and career planning. At the School for International Studies, a dedicated advisor offers guidance and support to students as they navigate your educational and professional paths. The advisor works together with students (in small groups, large workshops, and one-to-one counselling) to create strategies for academic success and career advancement.

You benefit the most when you consult early and consistently, thus taking a proactive approach to planning and problem-solving. The advisor can help you in various ways, including with choosing courses, exploring internship opportunities, discussing potential steps after graduation, exploring career goals and aspirations, connecting with alumni and other key contacts, and identifying strategies to enhance your employability. The advisor serves as a guide, helping students focus their goals and navigate the complexities of higher education and beyond.  

Professional Development Advisor

Catalina Bobadilla Sandoval

Harbour Centre Campus, suite 7233

To book a meeting, please use Advisor Link.

Cata offers one-on-one advising to help students with:

  • Goal setting
  • Career exploration
  • Job searching
  • Approaches to resumes and cover letters
  • Getting ready for interviews

Cata shares relevant information about events and organizes career development workshops for students at different stages of their degree.