Tell me about Law/Human Rights/International Development Careers

I have a B.A. in Spanish.

I have struggled for years over what to do with my life.

As an undergraduate, I studied everything from Creative Writing to Philosophy before settling on Spanish. During my final year I co-authored a social psychology meta-analysis, volunteered as a teacher of ESL, took a STATS course, and wrote a Spanish research paper on NAFTA’s impact on Mexican economy.

I love studying immigration. I love speaking to people in Spanish. I love volunteering. I am raptly fascinated by discussions of U.S. foreign policy and its impact on Mexico, and Mexican economy, and emigration in Mexico, and immigration here. I spent two months in Mexico asking so many questions, I was accused of being a spy. Man, I just eat that stuff up. The reason I like to study it, is because ideally, I’d like to find a solution, and, you know, save the world.

So I was all set to apply to graduate school for a dual Masters in Social Work: Latinos/Masters in Liberal Studies: Community Interpretation, when my Step-mother-in-law looked and me suspiciously and said, ‘‘I don’t think you’re certain that’s what you want to do with your life.’’

‘‘Of course not,’’ says I, ‘‘My whole life is one perpetual painful experience of not knowing what I want to do with my life. It’s maddening.’’

‘‘You can do absolutely anything in the world you want to,’’ she said.

‘‘Exactly. It’s a curse.’’

‘‘Close your eyes. Pretend there are no barriers. You have all the skills, all the education, whatever. You wake up tomorrow and you’re living your dream job. What is it?’’

‘‘Something big. Something global. Affecting immigration and economy on a macro level. Research and policy. Conflict resolution? Mediation? Diplomacy?’’

Then she starts talking about U.S. Diplomacy, foreign policy, government, politics, public policy, law.

Things I have no experience with whatsoever. Things that used to make me scream like a little girl and run and cower in fear, but that seem to be getting more and more relevant to my field of interest as time goes on. I don’t even know what these jobs would entail. I’ve spent the last several years reading Gabriel García Márquez and writing papers on how the hurricane in the novel Dos horas de sol is a metaphor for Free Trade.

What can one do with a law degree, or a human rights degree, or an international development degree, when one cares about solving problems on a global level? If I go for a dual degree, what would be the best combination of these things? I guess I always assumed people with law degrees became lawyers. What ELSE do people do with law degrees?

I am looking for something that will give me career options, but won’t make me feel like I’m just putting a band-aid on a larger social issue. I need to feel I am working at the root of the problem, from a humanitarian perspective, but that I am doing it in an intellectually rigorous way. I don’t care about pay. I just have to be able to use Spanish at least 50% of the time. I’m married, so although travel isn’t out of the question, it should be limited to frequent short trips or occasional long trips.

I really appreciate the advice. I know you Dopers come from a diverse range of fields that I know little about. If you think your career might even be tangentially related to something I might want to do, please tell me all about it. Thanks bunches.