Archive for October, 2008

Networking through a mid-career crisis

Monday, October 6th, 2008

I think it’s true that we often view networking as a bottom-up proposition and not the other way around. That is, us younger people often ask our older, more experienced colleagues for their advice, their help, and their contacts, but those older colleagues (at least in my mind) would never come to us kids for any kind of assistance. A week and a half ago, I discovered this to be most decidedly not the case.

I had coffee with a colleague who is twenty years my senior. I met this colleague a few years ago when I was working with the National Council for International Visitors. At that time, he had been working for a large and well-known international exchange and development organization in DC for nearly 15 years. Though our paths crossed several times—at NCIV conferences, at joint advocacy meetings on the Hill during we which we argued gamely, and unsuccessfully, for more funds to be devoted to international exchange—when I left NCIV for Georgetown a year and a half ago, we weren’t exactly close.


Then, you write

Saturday, October 4th, 2008

My friend Brian, also a writer, texted me late last night, apropos of nothing:

The most important part is that you must believe that someone out there needs to hear something you have to say. Then, you write.

His comment captures, I think, what Sherry and I hope this blog will be about and why we started it in the first place: as a means to create a space for honest and dynamic discourse about building careers in the increasingly vital fields of international education, exchange, and development, done in the belief that there are many people out there that need to hear something that we have to say—and have much to say in return.

The World: We’re On It!

Friday, October 3rd, 2008

Last week I had the opportunity to meet with a group of college students in Jacksonville, Florida. Like many students across the country, they were passionate about international education, exchange, and development, and had many interesting questions about the diversity of organizations involved in this field and where they could get involved.

This week, I am at the Wingspread Conference Center in Racine, Wisconsin attending a summit on citizen diplomacy, also attended by thirty-nine other leaders from various sectors. This conference exemplifies the diversity of organizations that have a hand in international fields. Leaders are present from Sister Cities International, the Citizens Network for Foreign Affairs, the Alliance for Peacebuilding, Americans for Informed Democracy, the Alliance for International Educational and Cultural Exchange, Rotary International, AARP, several law firms, consulting firms, and universities, and many others. One participant, Charles MacCormack, President, Save the Children, is actually profiled in Working World. Our focus at this summit is building coalitions between these organizations. The diversity of organizations that play a role in international fields is truly stunning. By focusing on each organization’s strengths, we can build enormous synergy with the potential to really get things done in the world.

If I could speak again with the students in Florida, I would share with them the excitement at this conference. Right now, the most exciting jobs in the field of international education, exchange, and development are the ones that are forging these coalitions between organizations, using one another’s resources, histories, and visions to create a more robust future in this field.

Our first shout-out

Thursday, October 2nd, 2008

An interview with me about the Working World blog is up on the Georgetown University Digital Commons. Many thanks to Renata Marchione for taking the time to talk with me, as well as to Rob Pongsajapan and the great team at CNDLS for their help in developing and hosting our blog.


Thursday, October 2nd, 2008

Career blogger Lindsey Pollak and Atlantic blogger Megan McArdle share their advice for finding a job in the rough and tumble world of today’s economy. Their tips aren’t internationally focused—rather on careers in general and coming as reactions to the Wall Street collapse—but I think their thoughts ring true for all sectors. After the jump, two things from their posts that struck me as particularly pertinent.


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

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

I struggle with Sherry’s assertion that sometimes it’s better to settle. She is correct to point out that the difficulties of our current economy are the grim truth, even though that truth, in the words of one 23-year old international job seeker I know, “kind of makes me want to kill myself.” So he was being a bit dramatic, but still, the comment is telling. Yet, despite these economic difficulties, I’m still not sure that the right advice is: “Take whatever you can get.”

I’ve struggled with this question for a while, even before it came out that the country, apparently, has no money. When I was searching for my first job out of grad school in 2005, I interviewed for a program assistant position at a well-known international education organization. I was concerned that the position might not be what I was looking for and that I was overqualified for it, but I figured I should go ahead and give it a shot. I came out of the interview, however, certain that it wasn’t the job for me, that I was overqualified for this entry-level position, and that what I actually wanted was the position of one of my interviewers, the program associate who was at the next level up.