Jessica Ringeisen graduated from SMU in 2010. She majored in International Studies and minored in Modern European History, Anthropology, and German. She is currently working to become a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. State Department, after working in London. Jessica is pictured below during some of her European travels.
I would describe International Studies as a major without compromise. It gives you guidelines, but it's up to you to decide what you do with them.
In the beginning, I struggled to choose a major; there were so many things I wanted to do, places I wanted to go, and experiences I wanted to try. That struggle is what ultimately led me to major in International Studies. You can easily combine it as a double major with other social sciences or even add it as a minor to a business or communications major, for example, with great success. The combinations are endless—the IS major is ultimately what you make of it.
Because Europe was my focus area, I combined my IS major with minors in modern European history, anthropology and German, and a year studying abroad—and I still graduated a semester early.
I found that the key is to approach your studies with a global perspective and cultural sensitivity. In my experience in intercultural communication, an awareness of what's going on in the international community, and broad base of knowledge in the social sciences, is the common thread that has opened various career opportunities for me.
So far I have worked for a cargo airline where one of my highlights was meeting the Russian crew of an Antonov An-124, an absolutely giant four engine cargo plane. It was amusing to see a helicopter in the belly of the plane along with an ordinary shipment of oilfield equipment. I have also worked in London where I took advantage of proximity to Europe to travel frequently. I also gained experience working with many high profile clients, even getting to meet soccer players David Beckham and Petr Čech.
I am currently preparing high school students for college and volunteering at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, where I lead tours, including for international guests. I am also currently halfway through the selection process to become a Foreign Service Officer with the US State Department, a career path I initially discovered by attending an informational session while at SMU.
The IS major will give you the preparation to be able to hit the ground running anywhere in the world. The major is for someone who wants to go out and explore, who is intellectually curious, who is open-minded and feels that an understanding of the interconnectedness of world is important. The IS major has been the academic backbone for what is and certainly will continue to be an interesting life.