Valentina Baccianella, ‘20
Position: Trade & Investment Associate, Creative Industries & Digital Media Sector for the UK Department for International Trade
Employer: British Consulate General, Los Angeles
I majored in International Relations at LMU because I knew during my high school years that I wanted to work in something international; what exactly though, I didn’t know. My international work and study abroad experience would not have been possible without the opportunities that the LMU IR program laid out for me. Those opportunities heavily impacted where I am today. A year after graduation, I have my dream job! My undergraduate IR experience has helped me tremendously in my role working for a foreign government. Having taken UK/Eurocentric politics and history courses, I came into the job comfortable with my knowledge of how their government is structured and operates. On top of that, my college internship experiences in the UK made me even more knowledgeable of the UK’s priorities in international business.
My advice to current IR majors at LMU would be: take any opportunity you can to study or work abroad. Your knowledge, skills and work experience become so broadly expanded that, in turn, you become so much more desirable on a resume to a future employer. LMU’s IR program does a fantastic job of giving students a broad spectrum of courses, internship opportunities, and other resources to expand their worldview.
Andrew Gonzalez, ‘18
Position: Strategy Director, research on disinformation and digital influence operations
Position: Associate for emerging technology, US-China national security trends
Employer: One Defense
I have always been attracted to the opportunities a career in global issues could offer, namely the ability to travel and learn about new cultures, people, and countries. I also wanted a career where my actions could have a measurable and positive impact on as many people as possible, international relations was a natural fit for that mission. My undergraduate coursework provided opportunities to do semester-long dives into a specific region or issue I thought was slightly interesting. I never thought security issues in sub-Saharan Africa or conflict resolution in Northern Ireland would be immensely fascinating to me!
In terms of applying my undergraduate knowledge to my work now, the core competencies developed in the IR curriculum form the foundation of my knowledge base from which I draw my insights. I believe the value of an IR background lies in the breadth and depth of the issues you choose to study and the flexibility you have to become a generalist or specialized expert. My IR coursework at LMU provided a strong introduction into a multitude of subject areas, many of which overlap and interlace to contextualize complex global issues. For example, while my current work is not focused on peacebuilding in Northern Ireland, studies on this topic inform my understanding of in-group dynamics, historical context, and qualitative research methods.
Advice for current IR students: Develop your research and writing skills to highest possible caliber. These skills are by far the most important in my career—alongside oral presentation—and are typically more valued than technical skills like coding or speaking another language. I would highly encourage undergraduate IR students to do at least one independent research project while at LMU. Research experience garners significant attention from graduate schools and employers alike. Take advantage of the close-knit community and amazing faculty to guide you when navigating unfamiliar territory because their knowledge and experience is invaluable.