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Career prospects

Conflict Resolution and Governance (MSc)

An education in the social sciences will impart a broad range of skills that easily translate into a multitude of careers.

Specific career examples from alumni of the Conflict Resolution and Governance programme are:

  • Development expert in Fragile States
  • Business Development Manager at Cordaid Urban Matters
  • Lecturer, tutor and thesis supervisor at UvA’s College of Social Sciences
  • Assistant at Stichting Bescherming Burgerrechten, a civil rights organisation

Alumni views

An education in the social sciences will impart a broad range of skills that easily translate into a multitude of careers. Below you can read about the career paths of a number of alumni in the MSc Conflict Resolution and Governance.

Swaan van Iterson

What does this mean in everyday practice?

I have always had a great interest in social tensions, (ethnic) conflicts and nationalism. For my Bachelor's thesis (Interdisciplinary Social Sciences) I studied the identification of highly educated students in Hungary with the far right. Together with Folia Magazine (the UvA platform for journalism) I made a documentary on the same topic. Friends regularly asked me: "Don't you find it hard to focus on these kinds of heavy topics? Strangely enough, I never experienced it in that way. I was – and still am – very interested in the dynamics that underlie social tensions. In this regard, the title of my current position suits me perfectly: "advisor on social tensions and radicalization".

  • Read more from Swaan van Iterson

    Two years ago I started as an advisor at the Center of Expertise for Social Stability (ESS) at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment. At ESS we offer advice and (practical) tools to municipalities, professionals and social groups on how to deal with social tensions. In our work, we cover numerous topics: think about tensions around the issue of Black Pete, dilemmas in the prevention of radicalization among youngsters, the rising appeal of the extreme right, or tensions between different Turkish communities.

    When I started at ESS, I immediately noticed that the knowledge acquired during my Master's degree in Conflict Resolution and Governance was very useful: I had gained a lot of relevant theoretical knowledge (for example on conflict and identity), but I had also acquired specific skills that I could apply very concretely (for example making a conflict analysis). The greatest added value of CRG, however, was the connection between theory, policy and practice we explored during the master’s degree. At ESS, I am involved in different research projects, and find it essential to ask myself the following question: ‘What does this mean in everyday practice?’

    My education has thus made a major contribution to my development. The various activities that I undertook myself, however, were also enormously important. I wrote various (scientific) articles as a result of my thesis, worked at the international department of the Anne Frank House for several years, became involved in the European Commission's Radicalization Awareness Network, and followed a training in international relations and diplomacy at the Clingendael Institute. All these activities allowed me to become acquainted with the broad field of work that my studies prepared me for.

    I find it hard to give a specific recommendation for prospective students, precisely because it is such a personal choice. Perhaps what I would like to advise more generally is: don’t allow yourself to be too rushed by the current-day study pressure, but choose your own pace and path. If your finances do not allow you to do an internship alongside your studies, for example, create some time and space to "explore" the work field in a different way. Taking enough time to explore yourself and your interests is so important: the search itself is really the most important training!

Rosa Dinissen

Embrace the unexpected

You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.

This passage comes from a speech by Steve Jobs at Stanford University in 2005. His words have always stayed with me. When asked how I got a job at the renowned Clingendael Institute and later European Parliament, people always expect me to come up with an extensive systematic strategy that I developed fresh out of high school. Actually, the opposite is true.

  • Read more from Rosa Dinissen

    The choice for my study and my first career years as a political scientist and strategic advisor are the result of the accidental course of events, some luck and, mainly, hard work. I am a strong believer in serendipity. With an open mind-set and the enthusiasm to seize every opportunity, you can rise to great heights. 

    Coming from a family of anthropologists, I have always been interested in the world around me. To get a better understanding of this world, I decided to study Political Science. My passion for interpersonal relations and different cultures made me especially interested in international relations and diplomacy. My goal: make a modest contribution to our society.

    While on exchange in Buenos Aires, I signed up for the MSc. Conflict Resolution and Governance on the recommendation of friends. A great year followed, in which I got the chance to study with bright students from over 10 countries and meet high-level scholars and experts. Especially the negotiation workshops were very valuable, as they provided me with a hands-on skill set. I still benefit from these network and negotiation skills on a daily basis. And I am still in touch with my fellow students, who are now dispatched throughout the world. The only criticism I could have was that it was too short. In my view, a two-year Master programme should be the standard.

    In 2012, I graduated in the midst of the financial crisis. Jobs were scarce, so I decided to apply for an internship at the Clingendael Institute. As a recent graduate, they hired me immediately. Three months later, the person that had hired me, left. Thanks to my dedicated work, they offered me a job. What I learned from this experience is that you should never wait for the perfect position, but just start. An in-between job may prove to be the link to that perfect job.

    In 2015, my contract ended. Aware of the importance of the European Union, I wanted to have a personal experience in the EU bubble. However, it is a challenge to get yourself a spot in the high-level environment of Brussels. Just like back in 2012, I decided not to wait for the perfect position, but to move to Brussels and find a temporary job at a start-up. Five months and many coffee dates later, I got a job as a political advisor in the political arena of Europe: the European Parliament. Here, I work and negotiate with people from all kinds of backgrounds. Together we work on solutions to the challenges of today. A complex task that I enjoy and learn from, every single day.

    During my studies, I could have never imagined ending up at the European Parliament. Looking back, trying to connect the dots, it all seems to make perfect sense. So please trust your gut, it will also work out for you as long as you embrace the unexpected, seize every opportunity and drink lots of coffee with inspiring people who might be able to help you in your career.

Cate van Kessel

Being attracted to conflicts

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).

  • Read more from Cate van Kessel

    Benefits of interdisciplinarity

    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.

    Institute Clingendael

    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.

    Chatting over coffee

    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.

Cory Fletcher

Bridge the gap

I chose to study the Master of Science in Conflict Resolution and Governance at the University of Amsterdam because the programme promised both an academic and practical approach to learning and is delivered under the auspices of the Graduate School of Social Sciences, which is consistently ranked as number one in Continental Europe.

  • Read more from Cory Fletcher

    Studying the Conflict and Resolution programme was an unforgettable experience thanks to the dynamic teaching methods employed by the lecturers. We learned the art of negotiating and conflict resolution through a series of workshops where we applied our theoretical knowledge in practice within a set of scenarios. With the presence of several practitioners already working in fields such as mediation, negotiation and conflict resolution at these workshops, we were able to bridge the gap, as students, between the world of study and the world of employment.

    The multidimensional nature of the study empowered me with exactly the sort of confidence needed to gain employment in the field of politics. It can sometimes be daunting when facing a panel of interviewers who want to know how your studies translate into practicable skills in the work place. Being able to demonstrate that my master’s studies have endowed me with intellectual skills as well as practical skills is something that now sets me apart from other eligible candidates.

    After my studies, I was looking for a position working in the field of politics, which was internationally diverse and high-paced. While I experienced a lot of rejection, with perseverance I gained a position at the European Parliament working as an intern in the office of a politician. Thanks to the skills I acquired during my studies, I progressed rapidly and was entrusted with tasks above my rank, which is where I gained my first experience of political negotiation.

    I now work as a parliamentary assistant to Member of the European Parliament Molly Scott Cato, who represents the Southwest of England and Gibraltar. I assist her on her work in the Economics and Monetary affairs committee, particularly in the areas of sustainable finance and tax justice. I love my job because it requires me to understand people, their objectives and how we come to an agreement. For me, this is the essence of conflict resolution. This is a principle which helps me to carry out my work from understanding citizens’ concerns and how they translate into policy to navigating the cultural and political differences present in an international work environment.

    My advice to prospective students would be to appreciate the holistic nature of this programme, because the academic study and the practical study are inextricably linked. Reading is just as important as turning up to classes and resilience in this high-paced programme; all are necessary components to fully profit from this multi-faceted educational opportunity.

Stefanie Wesch

Choose a field that you are fiercely passionate about

Having studied International Relations abroad and having lived and worked in Latin America after the completion of my undergraduate degree, I knew exactly what I was looking for in a Master’s Degree. I wanted a renowned program with an international outlook, and a group of fellow students that would be as diverse as the topics and places I would be studying. In addition, I wanted to pursue a higher degree without selling my future to loan institutions in the form of debt. Hence, the UvA’s Conflict Resolution and Governance programme under Dr. David Laws was my first choice.

  • Read more from Stefanie Wesch

    The group of students I was honored to call my classmates came from a plethora of diverse backgrounds, including political science, social psychology and even neuroscience. All had valuable insights to contribute to our classes. Topics we studied were equally diverse, ranging from social movement theory, to peacebuilding/keeping, to organizational learning and change. Reading assignments included both very theoretical papers as well as more practical, hands-on approaches.

    One of the highlights of the year was the week-long negotiation workshop in January. Additionally, almost every week a practitioner from our field came to talk to us in order to introduce their organization and share what a practical application of the skills we were learning in class could potentially look like.

    I was excited to have graduated after a year, and despite having heard of other people’s troubles finding a job in our field, was optimistic that my dream-job was right around the corner. However, the job hunt proved to be rather grueling. Rejection in the form of “unfortunately we had to go with another candidate”-emails was part of my daily routine. It does not take long for that to wear one down and suck out the optimism that one starts out with. Therefore, my advice to prospective students would be to choose a field that you are fiercely passionate about. Only when a career prospect truly excites you, are you able to weather the potential wave of rejections (and history, political science and international relations graduates seem to be particularly vulnerable to this) and persevere.

    Luckily the perseverance paid off in my case, and I am now working at a renowned research institute on the climate change-conflict-migration-nexus. I recently was able to undertake my very own fieldwork in the Sahel-region, which is not only sure to look good on my resume but, more importantly, expands my outlook on life and teaches me some of the most valuable lessons. That being said, I would choose UvA and the Conflict Resolution and Governance programme again, if I had the chance to do it over again. I am thankful to my professors and am excited to see what the future holds in store.

Career support

To support you in your career goals, the University offers a variety of resources:

GSSS Career Event 

Twice a year the GSSS hosts a Career Event, where you can meet organisation representatives and alumni, and receive helpful tips and feedback about searching for a job as a graduate.

UvA Careers Centre (LAC)

The career advisers at the UvA Student Careers Centre can help students with information, workshops and individual vocational counselling to find out what you want, get insight into your capabilities and competencies, make choices and improve your application skills in order to achieve your goals.