Archive for September, 2008

Why is it so hard to get a job in international affairs? Sherry’s take

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

In promoting Working World, we have participated in a number of round table discussions, often with interns at international nonprofits over sandwiches and soda. It has been striking to note that all too often the first question raised in these sessions is, “Why is it so hard to get a job in international affairs?” Today, Sherry gives her take on that question, followed by Mark tomorrow.

To answer this question, we have to start with the reality that the volume of jobs lost in the current economy affects every industry. The uncertain financial situation makes many people in most sectors cautious. For managers there is a temptation to postpone filling positions until revenue estimates are more predicable.

There is also tremendous competition for even entry level jobs because millennials, the current generation, are — thankfully — idealistic, and grasp the challenges of living in a world Tom Friedman describes as “hot, flat, and crowded.” And because they comprehend the gravity of these challenges, many have a well-developed desire to make a difference in that world. They are drawn to the type of careers we talk about in Working World.


Welcome to the Working World

Monday, September 29th, 2008

We are pleased to make our inaugural post on the Working World: Careers in International Education, Exchange, and Development blog. We look forward to discussing with you important topics related to your search for a job and charting of a career in the fields of international education, exchange, and development.

While many websites and blogs examine careers in a general context, very few deal specifically with the details of careers in the international arena. As an ever-growing number of professionals — whether they be recent college graduates, those looking to make a mid-career change, or retirees searching for a second career — look to be involved in work with an international focus, a forum for examining the issues that surround careers in international relations is needed. Working World is that place.

We also examine in this blog intergenerational issues as they relate to working in international affairs, as well as in a broader context. When writing our book, Working World: Careers in International Education, Exchange, and Development (Georgetown University Press, 2008), we discovered that Sherry, a 25-year veteran of the fields of international exchange and education, often had a very different perspective on many issues than Mark, a young professional only a handful of years removed from college. Sometimes these differences were a matter of personality or working style, but in many cases, they were a generation thing.

But in our collaboration process, we also discovered that our intergenerational interaction helped each of us to challenge our assumptions and to develop our ideas with even greater rigor. Discussing the generation gap between us helped us better understand the value of our respective approaches. We came to appreciate that, in a way, our collaboration is just what has to happen in workplaces across the country and around the world as leaders work to tap the institutional memory and experience of older employees and blend it with the fresh approach and technological dexterity of their younger colleagues. The Working World blog is a continuation of this intergenerational conversation on careers in international education, exchange, and development that we began in the Working World book.

We look forward to your questions, comments, and participation as we discuss “the working world”: the important, exciting, and ever-growing fields of international education, exchange, and development.