Archive for February, 2009

I’d email you, but then I’d have to kill you

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

If you are considering a career as a State Department diplomat because of the glamour and excitement you percieve the job brings—what with all the intrigue, deception, spying, lavish dinner parties, and late night flights to exotic locations that are undoubtedly a part of the diplomat’s daily world—then let me sweeten the pot even more. Become a diplomat and so enter the shady world of email espionage.

Should I stay or should I go now?

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

My friend from grad school, Susie Caramanica, makes some very worthwhile comments on this post exploring the tricky question for young professionals of how long we should look to stay in any particular job:

In regard to the dilemma, of course it all depends. Remember your dad comes from the generation (no offense, Mr. Overmann) where companies were more paternalistic and people felt a mutual relationship, and made a career with their long-time company. But I would say that in more recent years, people have often made their careers just as much by jumping to another job, rather than sticking it out. When I came out of undergrad, I had 3 jobs in about 4 years, and I got the same speeches. But I was trying to figure it out, and didn’t see the point of investing myself in something if (1) I was bored to death, (2) I had no long term interest in it / not motivated in the bigger scheme, and (3) I didn’t see it going anywhere.

Now that I’m at a different point in my life, there are a lot more factors, like flexibility in schedule, amount of travel, etc. Sometimes you have to go with your gut and seize those open door opportunities when you find them, even if it seems risky. You’re so young and should not be expected to have any job at this point be a career job yet. You’re just taking another step up on the escalator. One metaphor a mentor told me that I always remember is about the 3 legged stool and keeping on balance (you can balance on 2 out of 3, but not 1). I’m rambling but I hope you know what I mean…

I’m not totally sure I get the whole 3-legged stool situation, but we’ll give you a pass, Susie, since the rest of your comment was so good.

The power of the Fulbright program

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

An op-ed by Col. David Tohn, an Iraq war veteran and National Security Fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, appeared in yesterday’s Miami Herald.  Col. Tohn argues for increased support and funding for soft power and international exchange programs, relaying the story of a potential jihadist turned Fulbright Scholar to support his case.

Fulbright is indeed a powerful program, in its capacity to both bring foreign scholars to the U.S. and to send U.S. students and scholars abroad. If you’re looking for an opportunity to gain valuable experience abroad, definitely check out Fulbright, here and here.

Three exchange orgs and the WEST Program

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

Starting a new job is always an exciting experience, if also slightly odd. It’s especially weird when there is no real buffer or transition between one job and the next—you go to work on Friday as usual, enjoy your weekend as usual, and then wake up for work on Monday as usual, only to go a completely different place. This quote from Ta-Nehisi Coates, in his book The Beautiful Struggle, sums up quite nicely the refractory, almost out of body experience that can come with starting a new job:

Just when you master the geometry of one world, it slips away, and suddenly again, you’re swarmed by strange shapes and impossible angles.

That all said, my first day at the Alliance for International Educational and Cultural Exchange was a pretty successful one, I think, and I’m very gratified to be there. Among a few other places, my first eight hours on the job took me to the Foreign Press Center on 14th Street for a press conference announcing the introduction of the new Work, English Study and Travel (WEST) Program, a partnership between the U.S. and Korean governments that will allow “qualifying [Korean] university students and recent university graduates to enter the United States for a period of up to 18 months on J-1 exchange visitor visas that will allow them to study English, participate in professional-level internships, and travel independently.”

The three sponsoring organizations of the WEST Program are international nonprofits certainly worth checking out for those interested in the fields of international education and exchange:

The Association for International Practical Training (AIPT) (based in Bethesda, MD): provides educational and professional exchange experiences that enhance cultural awareness, develop global competencies, mutual understanding, and international cooperation.

The Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) (based in Portland, ME): helps people gain understanding, acquire knowledge, and develop skills for living in a globally interdependent and culturally diverse world.

The Intrax Cultural Exchange (based in San Francisco, CA): provides both international students and U.S. host families with a unique and personal exchange opportunity that increases cultural understanding, and inspires mutual respect and personal growth.

Online job search resources

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

I met yesterday with a family friend who just finished up a stint interning and is now on the job search in DC. She’s doing all the right things—talking with everyone she knows, getting the word out that she’s looking for a job. You know, networking. But she’s also not exactly sure what she wants to do or where she might want to work. She has ideas, she has passions, but where she’d like to end up is much harder for her to visualize right now.

I suggested she try searching to better be able to visualize. What I meant is: spend some time on and other large job search engines, just searching. “Seeing what is out there,” for lack of less hackneyed phrase. It is much easier to visualize how you can turn your interests and passions into an actual job if you have a heightened awareness of what jobs and organizations exist that you might want to do or join.

Joanne Tay gave an idea of how to do this in her comment to a previous post: she found the Working World blog, along with other international exchange resources, by Googling [international education and exchange + blog]. She’s got the right idea. Try any number of different search term combos in Google or, based on what you’re interested in and might want to do, and see what comes up. You never know what you might find.

The downside of this kind of blind searching is that you’ll be forced to sift through a lot of crap, and that it’s easy to become overwhelmed very quickly. However, the upside is that you’ll probably discover interesting organizations and positions you had no idea existed—and you might actually get a job (I found my job at Georgetown, the one I’m leaving tomorrow [single tear], by this kind of random searching on, hence my fondness for this particular search engine).

Check out this post on JibberJobber for ten of the best job search resources where you might give “seeing what’s out there” a try.

Moving on from Georgetown to the Alliance

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

I’ll first make clear that I’m not leaving my position as Director of College Communications at Georgetown because I daydream of punching small animals, or any of the other reasons in this hilarious Career Builder ad aired during the Super Bowl:

But I am indeed moving on from Georgetown. I recently accepted the position of Assistant Director and Senior Policy Specialist at the Alliance for International Educational and Cultural Exchange, a job I’ll be starting next Monday. The Alliance is an association of NGOs in the international education and cultural exchange community and works to formulate and promote public policies that support the growth and well-being of international exchange links between the U.S. and other nations. I’m excited to be moving back more directly into the world of international ed. and exchange, as well as to be working for an organization that has such a direct and influential impact on the exchange and education community.

At the same time, it is a bittersweet moment, as it is difficult to leave my colleagues here at Georgetown. They have taught me so much over the past two years, and Georgetown provided me with a wonderful home where I’ve been able to grow and thrive, both professionally and personally. I’ll take just a quick moment to thank everyone here at Georgetown for the kindness, generosity, and idealism they have invariably extended my way.

In addition to the excitement and uncertainty that always comes with a career change, this move to the Alliance—my third job since I finished grad school in 2005—has caused made me to ponder this question: how long should I, at this point in my career, stay in a particular job or with a particular organization, from a career trajectory perspective? Perhaps better phrased: at what point in my career should I take seriously the idea that it’s in my best interest to stay with the same organization for longer than two years?


I love me some flattery

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

From Garrett Kuk, who comments on this post, saying he believes my fears are unfounded and Working World is not adding to the “clogosphere:”

I can only imagine this field will grow in popularity as the cultural, linguistic, and communication barriers continue to fall. Finding an untapped segment of conversation and stepping boldly in to fill the void meets a need and adds tremendous value where there was none, as shown by the previous comment.

I appreciate Garrett’s belief that we’re bringing something valuable here. Sherry and I will just keep plugging away under our shared belief that the fields are extremely important ones, now and for the future, and that charting a successful career in them is a topic worth discussing.

As an added bonus, Garrett passed along some tips on how to make your blog stand out and worth reading.


Monday, February 2nd, 2009

Joanne Tay, an intern at NCIV a few years back, told me about this concept awhile ago, but I’ve neglected to post on it until now. Couchsurfing is, as Joanne explains it, “a Web 2.0 magnum opus:” “The concept is simple: search for a host in a country you’re travelling to, live with them for a few days and learn the local culture, do what the locals do. I have been on Couchsurfing for only two weeks and have already met a wonderful array of people from Europe, Asia and Australia. Strangers became friends.”

More about couchsurfing and how to become a couchsurfer here. This seems like an adventurous way to travel on the cheap, and to find good people to drink local beer with along the way. It also might have a higher purpose, as Joanne explains on her blog:

I believe Couchsurfing represents an opportunity for shared and personal growth, not a promise for a perfect world. The little steps we as citizens and as everyday people take to befriend others both in our countries and those incoming has created possibilities of friendship. I do not wish to essentialise culture and i know that many users see themselves as nomads and citizens-of-the-world, but i also believe that we bring with us backgrounds shaped by our environments. Not every couch shared will be pleasant, not every relationship built will last, but the commitment to explore, experience and discover keeps our honest sense of wonder alive, and hopefully establishes a space where peace prevails.

[PS—thanks, Joanne, for the Working World shout-out.]