Cate van Kessel, alumna of the Master's in Conflict Resolution and Governance, tells about her career path.
I studied Conflict Resolution and Governance (CRG) at the UvA after completing my bachelor in Interdisciplinary Social Sciences (UvA) and the master Law and Politics of International Security at the Vrije Universiteit (VU).
During my undergrad, a guest lecture on conflict mediation and negotiation sparked my interest. This lecture inspired me because of the different disciplines that are part of conflict studies, such as political science, sociology, anthropology and law. The main take away from that lecture: dealing with the parties in armed conflicts could be challenging because of all the formal and informal developments, dynamics, backgrounds and perspectives. I believe the interdisciplinary approach of CRG really helped me get a career in the field of conflict resolution.
As extracurricular activities, I was involved in different policy committees at the UvA and I interned at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I gained experience in policy development and international diplomacy. At the same time, CRG educated me in negotiations, the practice of mediation and using dialogue as a method of conflict resolution. All these experiences helped me get my positions at Dialogue Advisory Group, an NGO facilitating political dialogue in armed conflict, and later on at the Political Science department at the UvA as a lecturer in conflict studies.
Currently, I work at Institute Clingendael as a Training and Research fellow. On a daily basis I design and teach trainings on diplomatic practice, international skills and conflict resolution. Because of this, I have interesting discussions with diplomats, mediators and other professionals working in the field of international relations from all over the world. Also, I use concepts and theories I acquired during CRG and I regularly contact former lecturers and fellow CRG alumni to share ideas. Not only back then, but still today I benefit from studying CRG because it helps me improve my trainings and seminars at Clingendael.
The commonalities between my study experiences and professional practices: networking, mingling and chatting with different people over coffees. This really helped me achieve what I now enthusiastically do for a living, actually working in the field of conflict, mediation and diplomacy. As illustration, after some informal chats with Clingendael staff, I successfully applied for a position. What I suggest to students: pick a study that fits your passion and reach out to interesting people that can help you achieve what you want to achieve.