Evan McCaffrey, IBEI alumni 2018-19
1. Why did you choose IBEI Master’s?
I chose the Master’s in International Relations because I realized that I was occupying a lot of my time with reading and studying about international affairs and politics. So, I figured that I might as well make a career out of my interests. I was living in Barcelona at the time, and I was doing freelance journalism. A lot was happening in the city then, including the Catalan independence protests and other political events. The defining moment that led me to pursue this Master’s, was my reporting on the Las Ramblas terrorist attack. I realized quite clearly at that moment, that we as individuals cannot ignore international politics and issues, regardless if we want to or not. It was clear that we live in a highly globalized world that is relying on a fragile peace, that can be disrupted if we do not make a unified effort internationally. I believe that I contacted IBEI the following day to schedule a tour of the university.
2. What is your experience at IBEI?
I really enjoyed my time at IBEI. It offers a unique environment of diversity and backgrounds that I do not believe I could have found in my home country. The teaching staff were very engaging and passionate about the subjects and were always available to offer additional assistance and knowledge. The small nature of the school allows for more engagement with the teachers and visiting experts. Despite its small size, there was surprisingly a large array of subjects available when choosing classes.
3. Describe your career path since graduating from the IBEI
Shortly after graduating, I took part in an internship at UN-Habitat as part of the communications team. This internship offered a great introduction to the UN system and how international development projects function. During this time, I also began volunteering at the Red Cross. I offered communications support for the Centre for the Cooperation in the Mediterranean of Cruz Roja and I am an ongoing volunteer with Creu Roja in my town. Currently, I am working as a communications consultant for the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law. This organization defends civil society, philanthropy, and civic space globally, which all have become increasingly threatened, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent emergency measures.
4. How did the master programme prepare you for the work you're doing now?
The Master’s programs provided a basis for the knowledge needed to work for international organizations. My previous experiences in communications could only help in a limited capacity to prepare me for my current career. IBEI provided me with the knowledge and skills that were necessary to understand the broader context of the required work. It also opened many doors and provided me with choices for a career path that I did not have previously.
5. Is this more or less what you pictured yourself doing after the master programme?
Being able to take part in a UN internship and to currently be working for an international rights organization, were not possible opportunities I would have had without this master’s programme. During my studies, I contemplated an array of career paths but settled that I would be most passionate working in the humanitarian, development, and human rights fields. So far, I have been successful in working towards this goal.
6. What advice would you give to current students who want to follow this career path? / Some advice to future IBEI students?
Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer. In addition to looking good on a CV, volunteering provides you with first-hand knowledge and training for your career. It can provide you with the opportunity to see those in the positions you are aiming for and help you to decide if that is the career path you actually want. Furthermore, volunteering requires you to interact with diverse individuals and communities, while introducing you to the reality and complexities of the issues that you may have only studied and read about previously.
In the communications field, many jobs look for previous journalism experience. Now is the best time to start. Press credentials can be accessed for students by joining an international journalism union. Get your pen and camera and go report on the stories around you. You will be surprised where this might lead you.
7. What do you miss most about IBEI?
Having the opportunity to talk about international issues almost every day and being around those that shared the same enthusiasm for international relations.