Aug420094:51 pm

Preparing for a career in public diplomacy

Matt Armstrong at MountainRunner points to a lengthy, online discussion from this past June among the well-known and respected “old guard” of U.S. government public diplomacy (mainly retired foreign and civil service officers from the now-gone U.S. Information Agency). Take some time and read the whole exchange if you’re particularly interested in the discipline of public diplomacy and the debate behind PD in theory versus PD in practice. 

For some careers in public diplomacy related insights, scroll down to the very bottom of the comments. Matt picks up a question from a recent college grad looking to work in public diplomacy:

As someone who is intensely interested culture and not necessarily policy, I have found the idea of graduate school incredibly daunting. In today’s climate, it is extremely difficult for a recent graduate to enter their chosen career path, and more and more jobs require at least a master’s degree if not many years of work experience. What sort of educational programs would be beneficial for those wishing to enter the field? I agree that academia is not the only component in PD, but for those of us looking to get our foot in the door, the degree can weigh more than our skills.

Another commenter answers:

There are many ways to enter and gain experience in the field of public diplomacy, so don’t despair. In terms of preparation, I’ve found my academic and practical experience equally valuable. I studied international relations and journalism as an undergrad, and hold a master’s in international relations, which provided a valuable theoretical grounding. Having a solid understanding of the culture and language in which you are working is also extraordinarily valuable, and there is certainly an academic component to that. However, it’s hard for academic experience to substitute for time actually doing public diplomacy work.


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