Joseph Bouchard | Graduating class of 2021 | LinkedIn
Why did you choose to study IR at UBC and what did you enjoy most about it?
I wanted a change of scenery and environments, wanting to be exposed to different points of view and perspectives, and UBC IR provided that. I was most often positively surprised by the quality of the faculty and student body in the IR department. Most students clearly want to improve their countries, regions, and the world, and care deeply about issues. The faculty in the IR department is world class, and so are its course offerings. I most enjoyed the lively debates held during and outside classes. I made friendships which will be probably last a lifetime. UBC IR also allowed me to find my path and specific career and academic interest while also making me more curious, inquisitive, and questioning.
What was one significant learning moment that happened during your degree?
I entered without a specific regional or disciplinary focus, and left with a focus in security studies in the Americas/Latin America. Still, I was able to learn about politics and society in Russia, China, Africa, Asia, and beyond on multiple occasions.
What are you most looking forward to after graduation?
Finding meaningful and relevant work in which I can make a difference in a discipline and field I care about deeply.
A piece of advice for current/incoming IR students?
Find your focus and what you’re good at. Learn the languages of the region(s) you’re interested in, and travel to that/those region(s). Don’t be afraid of changing your mind on issues. Read Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs, The Economist, The Diplomat, or another practitioner-oriented magazine on international affairs. Find as much volunteer and/or paid work opportunities in the field as you can during undergrad.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to your professors for advice, career opportunities, or even just to discuss issues you’re curious about. Also, always try to understand perspectives you disagree with, no matter how reprehensible you might perceive them to be. Don’t fall for clichés, and don’t become one. Finally, get out of your ideological bubble as often as you can. To do so, attend as many speaker series events as you can, especially if you disagree with the speaker, and make friends of varied ideological traditions and backgrounds.
“I most enjoyed the lively debates held during and outside classes. I made friendships which will be probably last a lifetime. UBC IR also allowed me to find my path and specific career and academic interest while also making me more curious, inquisitive, and questioning.”