Hello, my name is Paule and I graduated from a 1-year MA programme in IR in 2020. After graduation, I joined the British Embassy in Lithuania but soon decided to dive into the humanitarian field. I currently work at the INGO – Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development – in Ukraine with project development.
Before joining the CEU, I worked in the diplomatic sector. Although it gave flexibility, I wasn’t sure what were my precise specialties. CEU enabled me to approach social and international realities in non-mainstream and critical ways that left me wanting more and explore the unexplored. After graduation, I came back to diplomacy because it was hard to land jobs that I was after. Nonetheless, it is important to remember that regardless of your first job after graduation, you can still learn and develop skills that will prove valuable for your next position. My short period at the British Embassy was a very enriching experience that strengthened and even developed new skills in project management.
For those who feel stuck in a professional limbo – it is OK not to have answers to hard-hitting questions about your self-realisation. If you haven’t figured out what you want to do and end up taking a different job than anticipated, believe me, you’re not alone, and it’s fine. Not having a clear vision for your professional future can become beneficial for you. For instance, after seven months at the Embassy, I got a project development position in INGO, providing humanitarian relief assistance in the war-zone in Ukraine. Whilst packing my luggage and worrying whether it will be a good shot in my career, this experience is not a bad use of time – it will help me realise in which sector and what kind of job I want to take in the future. Most importantly, it will allow me to acquire new skills and knowledge.
Even though you have gained various or unrelated experiences in different sectors, weave a compelling narrative in your CV corresponding to your profile (one of the best advices I got from Jamie, CEU Career Services). For example, I am very interested in the socio-political and regional politics in the Post-soviet space; nonetheless, I still have no idea whether I want to work on analysis, programme management or human rights. Even before joining the CEU, I had some opportunities to study and work in Moldova, Ukraine and Russia. Still, it only spurred my curiosity in conflicts and development assistance in the region. Therefore, knowing at least your geographical preference or particular skill might help you to start with something.
Did you know?
It is OK if you don’t get a job that you wanted straight away – it took me two months to get a job after graduation. Be patient and persistent no matter what. I also prefer quality over quantity – modifying your CV and cover letter for each position is imperative to get the job you want. Also, I recommend engaging with the fantastic CEU Career Services team during your studies and after graduation – they will help to polish your CV or cover letter and assist in future career development. Last but not least, admire your achievements – you have endured the toughest admissions circle – and don’t be afraid to show the heaps of knowledge that you acquired throughout your CEU experience.
Job hunting is hard in itself and you are doing it in unprecedented and unfortunate times of COVID. Whilst COVID has impacted our way of life, the systemic modus operandi we live in has not changed. The millennial ‘being successful at 25’ narrative and fast-paced labour market leave us in a paradoxical situation – we are told to have a kaleidoscope of opportunity, but sometimes getting the dream opportunity (or even a decent one) takes so much effort that might result in desperation and self-doubt (the popular ‘you’re not good enough’ discourse in your head). Even though you will put your best efforts, remember that it is not about you or lack of experience; it is a matter of luck or circumstances you cannot control. Remember to take it step by step - every opportunity can provide knowledge and open new horizons (not only in building your network but also in your self-realisation journey). Also, never give up – if you haven’t got a specific job or traineeship, apply again and again. It is better to know that you have tried.
I wish you all the best of luck and patience. May your way along to self-discovery and realisation will be enriching!