Archive for May, 2009

Career resources at the U.S. Center for Citizen Diplomacy

Saturday, May 16th, 2009

Via David Comp, the U.S. Center for Citizen Diplomacy has a nice compilation of internship, fellowship, and job resources for the international career seeker, especially recent graduates.

[The U.S. Center is located in Des Moines, IA and "promotes opportunity for all Americans to be citizen diplomats and affirms the indispensable value of citizen involvement in international relations."]

Finding a do-gooding job in ‘this economy’

Saturday, May 16th, 2009

with the added energy and opportunities as a result of the Serve America Act, recently signed by President Obama

If you’re able to consider shorter-term positions that allow you to gain invaluable experience for very little pay, then this is a great time to look at national service programs such as AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps.

I would usually wholeheartedly agree that volunteer work abroad is a great way to accrue international/intercultural experience beneficial to an international career, and I still do, though at the moment with a much more reflective and critical eye than usual. More on what I mean and on the merits of international volunteerism very soon. [I'm also a little puzzled that the Stonesfiers consider the Peace Corps a "shorter term" opportunity, as the minimum committment is 27 months, a fact they note later in the article. Two-plus years hardly strikes me as shorter term.]

Anyway, also notable is the “follow the money”:

That’s right, even today’s nonprofit sector, with its belt tightening and consolidation, has significant activity that results in new job openings for the right candidates. So follow the philanthropic news. Set up an RSS feed or follow a site that aggregates the top nonprofit news, such as this one, to help you sort out what and who is giving and getting new grants…

Track USAID’s grants and contracts (a lot of their dollars go to U.S.-based organizations working overseas) via their press releases and other news feeds. If you see a new leader announced for a nonprofit you love, a merger announced between two nonprofits, a new strategy declared by a leader in your field, or any other news that might indicate a change in “business as usual,” then get going! They may need new qualified folks to get the job done.

Sister Cities International recently got a large new grant, and with it came a slew of new job openings. I think this and the Stonesfiers’ idea to track new grants at organizations where you might want to work qualifies as a practical example of how job searching in these fields (or any fields) is not simply about browsing open positions, but also paying attention to and being immersed in the broader events and issues of the sector.

Hat tip: reader Andrew Farrand at Georgetown SFS

New resource: Jobs for Change

Friday, May 15th, 2009

Michael Kleinman at Humanitarian Relief introduces a new resource at, Jobs for Change, which he helpfully describes:

The goal is to help recruit a new generation of leaders into the nonprofit, government, and social enterprise sectors.

Jobs for Change includes not only job listings, but also career advisors and answers to frequently-asked job questions.

Brand new, but it already looks like a well-fleshed out site. Definitely check it out.

From his post on the launch of Jobs for Change, I share Michael’s thoughts that getting overseas isn’t easy and doesn’t always come right away and a job that doesn’t send you overseas isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because it could be a building block that leads you to the job that does.  Also, be a nag:

As with almost everything, the key is persistence.  It took me almost a year to find my first job in the field; a year of unreturned emails and phone calls, not to mention a rather brutal number of rejections…Someone, somewhere, is always hiring.

[Thank to Michael for his plugs of Working World in this and other posts.]

Don’t forget too about Michael’s counterpart, Alanna Shaikh, at Global Health. Alanna reminds me that she posts every Wednesday about careers in, you guessed it, global health (and international development in general, too).

“Study abroad is like spring training for this century”

Friday, May 15th, 2009

I wanted to take a second to return to the Hillary speech at NYU’s commencement that I alluded to yesterday. I took the time to listen to it in full today and…wow. I want to meet the person who is writing this stuff and buy him/her a beer. Even though I’ve been accused of being overly earnest from time to time, and despite the fact that I’m guilty of using the phrase “follow your passion” on more than one occasion in this space, I’m generally more of a sarcastic cynic and not one who is typically prone to idealistic cheese. But listening to this stuff, I can’t help but admit that I’m inspired:

My message to you today is this: Be the special envoys of your ideals; use the communication tools at your disposal to advance the interests of our nation and humanity everywhere; be citizen ambassadors using your personal and professional lives to forge global partnerships, build on a common commitment to solving our planet’s common problems. By creating your own networks, you can extend the power of governments to meet the needs of this and future generations. You can help lay the groundwork for the kind of global cooperation that is essential if we wish, in our time, to end hunger and defeat disease, to combat climate change, and to give every child the chance to live up to his or her God-given potential. (Applause.)

This starts with opportunities for educational exchanges, the kind of dorm room and classroom diplomacy that NYU is leading on. I want to commend my friend, your president, the trustees of this great university, for understanding and believing in the importance of educational exchanges.

You know, study abroad is like spring training for this century. It helps you develop the fundamentals, the teamwork, and the determination to succeed. And we want more American students to have that opportunity. That’s why we are increasing funding for Gilman scholarships by more than 40 percent. More than 400 New Yorkers have used Gilman scholarships to spend a semester abroad, including nine students from NYU last year.

Now, of course, study abroad is a two-way street, and we should bring more qualified students from other countries to study here. NYU provides a prime example of what international students can bring to a campus and how they can benefit themselves and their countries. Over 700,000 international students came to the United States last year, and NYU had the second largest number of any school in the country.

Now, the benefits from such exchanges are so great that I am committed to streamline the visa process – (applause) – particularly for science and technology students so that even more qualified students will come to our campuses in the future. We’re also doing more to marry technology with global service. That’s why today I am pleased to announce that over the next year the State Department will be creating Virtual Student Foreign Service Internships to harness the energy of a rising generation of citizen diplomats. Working from college and university campuses, American students will partner with our embassies abroad to conduct digital diplomacy that reflects the realities of the networked world.

Government jobs now on

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

Something I came across awhile back but neglected to post amidst the hub-bub of creating the new site: government agencies can now post jobs, internships, volunteer opportunities, events, and programs on Not sure if this will help overcome the Internet Black Void of Wasted Time and Energy and make applying for a government job easier, but one can hope.

Make the most of your emails

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

Garrett Kuk at Focused Communication provides some very useful tips on making your email communication with a potential employer or contact as effective as possible:

Make it easy to say yes. If you’re asking for a favor or advice, limit their options.  I recently requested advice on an upcoming presentation, provided my rough outline, and asked if I had omitted any big points.  When asking a question, use a direct phrase and end with a question mark.  “Can you put me in touch with your regional representative?” sticks out more than “I was wondering if I could get the name of your regional representative.”  Don’t be passive.

New jobs at State and USAID

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

We’ve been talking a decent amount (for starters, here) about how new resources are hopefully headed into the Foreign Service and USAID, resources that will create new positions and new jobs. At a hearing today in front of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Jack Lew, the Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources, confirmed our talk. In his testimony about the Obama administration’s international affairs budget, he stated:

The FY 2010 budget requests $283 million to support adding 740 new Foreign Service personnel at the Department of State, a significant step toward achieving a 25 percent increase in State Foreign Service personnel over four years.

And then he said:

The FY 2010 request includes a 45 percent increase in USAID operations to support adding an additional 350 new permanent USAID Foreign Service Officers.

This is good news all around, but particularly good news if you have ambitions to be in the Foreign Service, either State or USAID.

UPDATE: I missed this on DipNote, from a few weeks ago: “Secretary Clinton announced today on that Congress recently approved funding for the State Department that will allow us to hire over 1,000 new employees during the next few years. So now, we’re stepping up our recruitment efforts. We’re looking for smart people from diverse backgrounds who can help us perform our key mission here at the State Department—to strengthen our relationships with other nations and work toward peace and prosperity for all people, by using what we call “smart power,” the full range of diplomatic tools at our disposal.”

UPDATE #2: RE: Lauren’s comment below, Clinton’s speech from NYU announcing the creation of Virtual Student Foreign Service Internships, “to harness the energy of a rising generation of citizen diplomats.”  She also mentions that the Foreign Service is looking for good, young people: “Our State Department personnel are skilled, dedicated, passionate, and effective. And for those of you still looking for jobs, we are hiring a new generation of diplomats.”

UPDATE #3: Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA), chair of the House Foreign Relations Committee, introduced the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 2010 and 2011 on May 15, which: 1) authorizes hiring 1,500 additional Foreign Service Officers over the next two years; and 2) supports the Administration’s plan to double the size of the Peace Corps.

Welcome to the new Working World!

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

Welcome to the new! You’ll notice that except for a few design tweaks here and there, our blog remains more or less the same—except of course for our great new URL, What also remains is the informative, provocative, and oh-so-witty content you’ve grown accustomed to. Be sure to update your bookmarks and RSS feeds accordingly.

As we embark on our new site, Sherry and I would like to take a minute to thank Rob Pongsajapan and the team at the Georgetown Digital Commons project for their assistance and support and for providing a great home for Working World for the past nine months.

And now, on with the Working World…

Five career mistakes & landing a job in global health

Monday, May 11th, 2009

Again, apologies for the lag in posts—this transition to the new Working World site has taken more time than anticipated (though when you see that the new site looks pretty much the same as the old, other than the URL, you’ll probably wonder what’s taken so long, to which I would respond, “I’m not entirely sure.”)

Technological bellyaching aside, I’ve got a lot in the hopper that will come out in due time, hopefully on the new site. For now, a few interesting career posts from Alanna Shaikh and Jessica Pickett writing on the Global Health blog at (you know Alanna from Blood and Milk too). Alanna reflects on her top five career mistakes, the most interesting and forthcoming of which has to be “I had a baby.” She also posits a few other items that I would wholeheartedly agree with, including advocate for yourself and your salary, worry less about the title than who you’re working for and what you’re actually doing, and “I want work I enjoy that has meaning for me, at an organization that values innovation. Beyond that, I take life as it comes.” Indeed.

Her fellow Global Health blogger Jessica explores the big question of “how do you actually land a job” in global health and international development. Two salient points: informational interviews are good, and it never hurts to get in touch with an organization you’d love to work at even if they don’t have job openings just right now. (Those two points are related, in case that wasn’t clear.)

Finally, Jessica follows up her first post on how to land a job with a second one. A juicy tidbit from the comments section, in which a reader advises: “choose jobs you can build on,” which is eerily similar to Sherry’s mantra that each job and step you take in your career is, and should be viewed as, a building block. You might not necessarily know exactly where it’s going to take you, but if it is moving in a direction that suits you and is providing you experience/teaching you skills you didn’t have before, then it’s a good thing.

Who still uses a phone?

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

My boss Michael emailed me yesterday saying he’d gotten the scoop on a bit of information that we’d been waiting to hear. I responded immediately saying, “Great to hear. Where’d you see that, out of curiosity?” I was, of course, expecting him to forward me a web link with the relevant information, a link that I’d somehow not yet come across. But his response, I’ll admit, kind of surprised me:

An old fashioned instrument—the telephone. Spoke with an old contact who filled me in.

I guess not everything comes streaming in via my Google reader. I responded: “Holy crap. I couldn’t even get my phone to work this morning…” (which was true—for whatever reason I was having a heckuva time getting my phone to give me an outside line). Michael felt vindicated in his “old-fashioned” approach:

There’s still a place for us old folks…

I agreed:

There’s still a lot to learn for us young ‘uns…

[The fact that this whole exchange took place via email despite the fact that we sit in adjoining offices not seven feet away calls for an entirely separate discussion....]