Archive for December, 2008

A redistribution to international affairs?

Thursday, December 4th, 2008

I’ll continue to crush on The Atlantic.  Henry Blodget’s cover story in the latest issue made me pensive:

Bubbles and their aftermaths aren’t all bad: the tech and Internet bubble, for example, helped fund the development of a global medium that will eventually be as central to society as electricity. Likewise, the latest bust will almost certainly lead to a smaller, poorer financial industry, meaning that many talented workers will go instead into other careers—that’s probably a healthy rebalancing for the economy as a whole.

It seems we should hope that some (or many) of these now-jobless, talented people will redirect their careers into international affairs, thus providing a boost to our work and catalyzing growth in the fields—although it occurs to me that those currently searching for a job in the fields would not necessarily welcome a new influx of talented job seekers to compete with. But before you despair, consider this from an interview by James Fallows of Gao Xiqing, “the man who oversees $200 billion of China’s $2 trillion in dollar holdings.” Gao says, when talking about Wall Street jobs and the possible rebalancing of wealth as a result of so many lost jobs:

I have to say it: you have to do something about pay in the financial system. People in this field have way too much money. And this is not right….

Individually, everyone needs to be compensated. But collectively, this directs the resources of the country. It distorts the talents of the country. The best and brightest minds go to lawyering, go to M.B.A.s. And that affects our country, too! Many of the brightest youngsters come to me and say, “Okay, I want to go to the U.S. and get into business school, or law school.” I say, “Why? Why not science and engineering?” They say, “Look at some of my primary-school classmates. Their IQ is half of mine, but they’re in finance and now they’re making all this money.”

Perhaps what Gao’s suggesting is that the current economic crisis will help (I’ll say it at the risk of sounding socialist) “spread the wealth,” or, more specifically, shift some resources from those fields that have typically been lousy with them (banking, finance, law, etc.) to those that have always been thirsty for them, namely nonprofits and international affairs organizations.

So is it possible that the economic crisis will result in both an influx of new talent and new resources for international affairs (and other underfunded sectors)? You may disagree, and you would probably be right in doing so, as my thoughts on financial matters are about as credible and coherent as Nicolas Fehn’s political commentary.  But anyway.

Learning Abroad Professionals group on LinkedIn

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008

I just stumbled across and became a member of of the Learning Abroad Professionals group on

This is a group for professionals from around the world involved in the international educational exchange of students and scholars through study, work, internships, teaching and volunteering abroad.

Seems like a worthwhile resource to make connections in the field.  You might think about joining the group (and joining LinkedIn, if you haven’t already—it’s a powerful networking tool).

The Protege is dead

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008

In Working World, I argue that the terminology of “mentor” and “protege” is archaic and not up-to-speed with my generation, the younger generation, the “on-demand” generation.  I even go so far as to suggest that the whole idea of a mentor taking a protege under his or her wing is dead.

So it’s ironic that I’ve found myself, in the presentations Sherry and I have been giving in connection with Working World, more or less reversing course and admitting that I have indeed benefited from the counsel of mentors throughout my career (Sherry being a prime one) and thus I am, in fact, a protege.  I still firmly believe that the terminology of “mentor-protege relationship” is outdated and stuffy and you won’t find me readily throwing around these terms.  But I’ve found that once you get past any generational or personal bias against the terms, you’ll find that mentors are in no way dead for the on-demand generation.

It’s also kind of ironic then, given my aversion to these terms, that for the past seven years, I’ve been driving a Mazda Protege. It might also be ironic (it was certainly dismaying and the main reason blogging for me has been nonexistent in the past several days), since I have argued that the protege is dead only to realize that the protege is really alive, that my trusty Protege is now in fact dead. I know this is all a bit of stretch, but I wanted to be able to eulogize my car and so needed a way to relate it to careers in international affairs.  It’s a pretty good effort, I think.

The Protege and I were in an accident on Sunday on the way home from Thanksgiving.  Nothing too serious, just a hard rear-ender really.  Everyone was fine and at first glance at the damage on the exterior, I figured the Protege would pull through just fine.  Turns out the damage underneath was a bit more extensive than anyone imagined, repair costs began to exceed Kelly Blue Book values, and the Protege is no more.

It was a great car. The Protege stuck with me through the best and worst—through long, stinky road trips in college, through my time abroad while it waited patiently in my parents’ driveway, through the series of cavernous potholes that DC calls roads.

RIP, trusty green Protege. I hope I was a worthy Mentor for you.