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How to Become a Diplomat and Build a Career in Foreign Relations
by Rachel Nel


It’s a fact that most young people are dreaming about having a chance to travel the world while working. There is no better option for that than being a diplomat.

While representing your country abroad and building great relationships with foreign countries, you can enjoy all the perks of living and working abroad including great financial perks and a positive reputation (especially if you are serving in an embassy located in a country that has a special love towards your country).


But how do you really become a diplomat? How can you start preparing for a diplomatic career?


  • Find out the criteria to become a diplomat in your country. Contact the government body that handles international relations. In the United States, it is the Department of State. In France, it is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In most other countries, Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be able to provide you further guidance. When you contact them, ask them about academic requirements, like professional degrees, preferred fields of study and if you must become proficient in other languages. Also, it’s important to ask them further details such as: if you must meet certain age requirements, other specific requirements like military service or membership in political organizations. Take note of this information and prepare your plan of action.
  • Complete the necessary formal course work at an accredited university. Universities in some countries offer special programs that prepare you to become a diplomat. Examples are the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University in the United States, the Department of Politics and International Relations at Oxford University in the United Kingdom, and Diplomatic Academy of Vienna in Austria.
  • Start learning foreign languages now. It’s obvious why fluency in English is a must. In addition to English, you should be fluent in at least one more language, preferably French, Mandarin, Russian, Spanish or Arabic. In addition to those, it would be ideal for your competitiveness to know one other language. You can choose a language that you really like, for example Greek, German, Swedish or Japanese. Also, start thinking about obtaining language certifications for each language you are comfortable taking a test for. Those formal language certificates will be very useful later on when you apply to diplomatic programs and opportunities.
  • Consider applying to international organizations. Almost all major international organizations, such as the United Nations, have internship and young professional programs, which is another opportunity to launch your diplomatic career without going through your own country. To that end, the experience that is available from such international organizations will help you if you ever decide to become involved in your country’s diplomatic service. Here is how to never miss any of those internships or jobs at international organisations.

Good luck and enjoy travelling the world! :-)


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