Life in the Canadian Foreign Ministry

David Olson and his wife

David Olson (MA International Relations and Politics, 2000) tells how his studies at Lancaster led to a fulfilling role in the Foreign Ministry in his home country within six months of graduating from the course.

"I decided to study for my MA in International Relations and Politics due to the depth of the faculty, their experience and exposure to the subject matter outside of academia as well as for the extra-curricular opportunities the program offered (international negotiation simulation, a workshop at the British Foreign and Commonwealth office, 3-day visit to NATO-HQ in Brussels, visit to Sellafield Nuclear Laboratory Headquarters). I was not disappointed. The faculty was very well connected in their field of expertise which offered a wonderful opportunity for the students to learn both inside and outside the classroom. Furthermore, the diversity of international students meant for a broad range of views and opinions during class discussions and debates, thus offering a more global perspective on many topics and an enhanced learning environment. I was well prepared in my career after graduation from Lancaster and I was able to find employment in my Foreign Ministry within six months of graduation.

My academic experience allowed me to enter the field of international politics with a solid understanding of the both the theoretical underpinnings and practical applications of what I learned inside and outside the classroom. My analytical and writing skills were honed while at Lancaster and were at the required level for my work in the Foreign Ministry. I have been able to move easily between assignments at the Foreign Ministry, including the field of human rights, disarmament and intelligence and security. This is due, in part, to my diverse experience at Lancaster and exposure to the many different topics that address the variety of issues that are the responsibilities of a Foreign Ministry.

I have also had the opportunity to travel extensively during my time there (Afghanistan, China, Colombia, France, Greece, Switzerland (UN-Geneva), Turkey, Trinidad & Tobago, the UK, and Venezuela just to name a few.) During my travels I have met a few graduates of Lancaster each of whom extols the virtues of this wonderful university and who credit the school with preparing them for their careers in the arena of international relations and politics.

In addition, I met my wife at Lancaster while she was also studying International Relations and Politics. She was able to secure a job at the UNDP (United Nations Development Program) in New York within six months of graduation undoubtedly due to her degree from Lancaster and its high academic standards.

All in all, Lancaster is a world class university that applies the necessary academic rigour to ensure that its graduates are well prepared for the world beyond academia, and which enables them to enter the workforce and to excel in their chosen fields. Attending Lancaster was one of the best decisions of my life and I am very proud to be a graduate of this exceptional university."

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