Archive for the ‘Sherry and Mark’ Category

A second edition is in the works!

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

Has it really been almost three years since I last posted in this space? It’s amazing how real life can get in the way of even the best intentions.

I’m resurfacing, though — at least for now — to share the happy news that Sherry and I are hard at work on a second edition of Working World: Careers in International Education, Exchange, and Development! This second edition will again be published by our wonderful colleagues at Georgetown University Press, with plans for a 2014 release.

This second edition will feature the same philosophy you came to love in the first Working World book — namely, pushing international job seekers to challenge their assumptions about what it means to pursue a career in international relations and to recognize that the path to career success is rarely straight. We’ll also be adding lots of exciting new content, including:

  • New and updated profiles of fascinating professionals in these fields — you can learn so much from their diverse career paths and excellent career insights;
  • New and updated international job hunting and career resources — much has changed since the last edition was published, and so many resources are out there — we’ll be bringing you the best of them; and
  • Expanded discussions on key topics important to both current professionals and job seekers in these fields (such as identifying your cause, the art of networking, the value of mentors, and viewing your career as a continuous journey).

We’re so pleased that much of our new content is being inspired and driven by reader input and feedback.

For now, Sherry and I are focusing our energy on completing the second edition. But we hope to re-energize this blog in the months ahead as a discussion space for any and all issues related to careers in international education, exchange, and development.

Thank you for your support, and see you soon in the new Working World!

Off to Tulsa

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

I’m heading out to the University of Tulsa to celebrate International Education Week and speak at TU’s International Careers Symposium. More when I’m back east!

Beyond Translator, Travel Writer, or Diplomat

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

An article of this title, penned by yours truly, just showed up in the fall 2009 edition of ND Global: the European Edition newsletter.  It’s a pretty decent read (if I do so say myself) on exploring the possibilities of an international career, so give it a look.  Reproduced below for your convenience:

——

Beyond Translator, Travel Writer, or Diplomat:

Exploring the Possibilities of an International Career

By Mark Overmann

Many of us—me included—have gravitated toward the field of international affairs because of a love of travel, languages, and cultures other than our own. This is only natural. Something I’ve come to learn, though, is that pursuing an international career is not synonymous with working abroad. Just because a job enables you to travel (or live/work abroad) doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best opportunity for your career in international affairs. In the same way, even though a job doesn’t have a travel component, it may still help to build your career in international relations in significant ways. Building your career and traveling abroad can, and hopefully will, overlap, but they are not one and the same.

This is an important distinction to consider. Many young professionals looking for international work out of college and graduate school—again, me included—judge the worth of a position based on its travel component. The reality, though, is that many jobs available to those just out of college and grad school won’t include extensive travel—at least right away. But that doesn’t mean the work you’re doing stateside won’t be valuable and exciting, and it certainly doesn’t mean it won’t eventually lead to a position that does allow you to travel. (I’m only now beginning to travel regularly as a part of my job.)

A substantive experience abroad

Whether you end up working in the United States or abroad, traveling extensively or not, the best preparation for an internationally oriented career is spending time abroad (and preferably studying a language at the same time). As Sherry Mueller, my co-author on our book Working World: Careers in International Education, Exchange, and Development, often notes, she looks first for a substantive international experience on the resume of a job applicant. For Sherry and many other managers, not only is time abroad expected of an applicant for an internationally-focused job, but such an experience also indicates that the applicant has developed the broader skills that come with immersion in a different way of life: adaptability, confidence, resilience, the ability to succeed despite language and cultural barriers. These are skills that all employers prize, but especially those in international affairs.

(more…)

Yes, I’m still here

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

Long overdue apologies, Dear Reader, for my recent absence from this lively space. I blame it partly on an extended, post-Mexico City hangover but mostly on the responsibilities of my real job here at the Alliance. The launch of our new website (check it out–it’s hot), our 2009 Board and Membership Meeting, as well as all sorts of exchange-related things going down in Congress and at State have kept me fairly occupied. I take it as a good sign—that I’m enjoying the work I’m doing—when throughout all the business, I hardly miss the things I’m neglecting (except, when I run out of clothes, clean laundry).

Anyhow, catch-up posts to come. Thanks for hanging around with me.

Caught in a storm without an umbrella

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

The following is a guest post from a young woman named Lauren Glasser, whom I recently met (the circumstances of our meeting are contained in the post). Enjoy.

I’m not necessarily sure if the myth regarding rain on one’s wedding day reigns true outside the confines of a chapel, however, if events that occurred last week during a torrential downpour in DC are any indication of its transcendence – I’m a believer.

After attending the first government-sponsored TED event at the State Department last Wednesday afternoon, I emerged from the auditorium optimistic about the impending job interview to which I was en route. That optimism was instantly smothered by the pouring rain, which greeted me upon exit. Down in DC for the day from Manhattan, I planned the contents of my bag strategically, leaving no detail unchecked or without consideration…needless to say, I was disheartened by my failure to execute a relatively routine exercise — verify the forecast. Hailing a cab sans umbrella in my newly pressed suit proved to be a sufficient challenge. And just as I was about to call my interview and apologize for my imminent tardiness, it happened. A kind, umbrella-toting stranger motioned for me to join her in the cab she had hailed.

Sharing a cab is a truly generous act…that soon paled in comparison to additional gestures of my cab companion. Sherry Mueller welcomed me into her cab during a tenuous moment of urgency, offered me valuable and constructive interview advice, and proceeded to gift me her umbrella, all before departing at her stop within ten minutes of our chance introduction.

Perhaps I’m just a jaded New Yorker, but Sherry’s random act of kindness and generosity was truly overwhelming, sincere, and deeply appreciated. The impact of my chance meeting only served to solidify my faith in ‘paying it forward.’ Furthermore, after reading up on Sherry’s professional endeavors, the irony of our introduction and its ripple effect emerged. Sherry’s recently published book, Working World, encourages professionals to take an active role in shaping their career paths through extra-curricular initiatives/activities and relationships – a mantra to which I’m a committed disciple. What’s more is that Sherry acknowledges the critical nature of developing relationships that transcend discipline, comfort zone, and age.

I look forward to encouraging my peers and colleagues to seek out the ‘Sherry’s’ in their own world and not only as an exercise in cognizance enrichment – it’s important to be aware of, engage, and learn from those available resources. You never know when you’ll get caught in a storm without an umbrella.

2008 ForeWord Career Books of the Year

Friday, June 5th, 2009

You’ve probably noticed the little gold seal that’s been floating in the right hand column for the last few months—proof that Working World was a finalist for the 2008 ForeWord Career Book of the Year award. Well, the awards ceremony was last Friday and, well…we didn’t win. But it was an honor just to be a finalist! I know, that’s what we’re supposed to say, but Sherry and I actually mean it. And some great books did win. For sure check them out:

First place: My So-Called Freelance Life by Michelle Goodman

Gold: My So-Called Freelance Life by Michelle Goodman

Second place: Self Marketing Power by Jeff Beals

Silver: Self Marketing Power by Jeff Beals

Third place: The Nonprofit Career Guide by Shelly Cryer

Bronze: The Nonprofit Career Guide by Shelly Cryer

Honorable mention: The Soul of a Leader by Margaret Benefiel

Honorable mention: The Soul of a Leader by Margaret Benefiel

Thoughts on a Spirited Discussion in San Diego

Monday, June 1st, 2009

When Mark and I were consumed with researching, writing, and polishing our prose, I never gave much thought to how we would eventually promote the book once it was published. One of the unanticipated joys of the publication of Working World for me is participating in a series of “book events” around the country. Sometimes Mark and I are together. These joint events are a lot of fun because we just continue the intergenerational dialogue we started in the book, laced with some added humor and recent experiences. We play off of each other well, and people seem to benefit from our contrasting yet complementary perspectives.

Sometimes — due to geography — I find myself doing an event solo. Despite missing Mark, I always enjoy the give and take with my audience — and their varied reactions to some of the ideas Mark and I share in the book and that I review in opening remarks that launch spirited discussions.

Last Friday was a particularly interesting occasion. Initially, my trip to San Diego was planned so I could speak at the 30th anniversary celebration of NCIV’s member organization there — the Citizen Diplomacy Council of San Diego (CDCSD). That festive event was held May 28 at the San Diego Yacht Club. CDCSD is a dynamic collection of dedicated citizen diplomats, and it was a privilege to be present in person to recognize their three decades of service to their community, our country, and to the foreign leaders whose lives they have touched and entwined with their own.

Last Friday evening, as part of CDCSD’s effort to draw more young people into their work as citizen diplomats, The Internationalists (a group designed to bring young professionals with global interests together) hosted a book event that turned into a lively discussion and a classic networking opportunity. The audience ranged from newly minted University of California, San Diego and University of San Diego grads to a Latina woman who works for Univision Radio to a Navy SEAL with experience in both Iraq and Afghanistan. I learned so much from each of them as I visited with them before and after the formal program.

I’m always quick to point out that we wrote Working World for idealists. Our target audience from the outset was readers who want to make a positive difference in our turbulent world. Now I am discovering how uplifting it is to interact with our readers who indeed are idealists. In this time of grim headlines and somber sound bites, it is truly heartening to interact with such impressive young people (and those seeking a mid-career change or an “encore career”) who are determined to be forces for good in this chaotic world of ours.

My thanks to Enrique, Mel, Christiana, and Eric — and all of your CDCSD colleagues for making the event such a success. The welcoming audience, the buzz in the room, the excellent questions and comments — all combined to provide inspiration and new connections.

Knowing I had a number of recent grads in my audience, I opened my remarks with a reference to Secretary of State Clinton’s commencement address at NYU (described in an earlier post—with a video— by Mark), where she said she hoped we could “harness the energy of a rising generation of citizen diplomats…My message to you today is this: Be the special envoy of your ideals…be citizen ambassadors using your personal and professional lives to forge global partnerships…”

It is a source of great satisfaction to know directly from our readers that Working World is helping them do just this.

Welcome to the new Working World!

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

Welcome to the new WorkingWorldCareers.com! 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, http://workingworldcareers.com. 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…

Working World at American U. tomorrow

Monday, April 6th, 2009

Sherry and I will be on the campus of our shared alma mater, American University, tomorrow afternoon (3/7) at 5:00 p.m. (in the School for International Service lounge) talking about careers in international affairs to undergrads. If you’re an undergrad at AU, or in the area, or both, stop by!

Self-promotion alert: Working World review in International Educator

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

Yes, I know: yet another self-promotion. But this one is perhaps a bit more self-less—because in directing you to the (quite positive!) review of Working World in the March/April issue of International Educator magazine, I’ll also encourage you to check out some of the other articles in the issue, especially the feature on “nontraditional students” (minorities, adults, those with disabilities, and gay and lesbian students) engaging in education abroad. An enlightening read.

Self-promotion alert: our first review deems us a “first-rate resource…highly recommended”

Monday, March 16th, 2009

It appears that the first known review of Working World the book—not counting my mom’s glowing recommendations to everyone she talks to—isn’t accessible anywhere at all on the internet machine. This due to the fact that CHOICE: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, put out by the Association of College and Research Libraries, is blocked by an impenetrable subscription-only shield.  I was thus forced to take the photocopied fax that Georgetown Press mailed to me and type the whole review out myself. What a chore—is that what people did before Control-C, Control-V? Don’t feel too sorry for me though—it’s not a very long review. But it is, I’m happy to note, uniformly positive.

So, without further ado, a review of Working World, from the January 2009 issue of CHOICE:

Mueller, an experienced association executive, teams with Overmann, her former intern, to offer intergenerational perspectives on building careers in international education and humanitarian sectors. Chapters give their disparate perspectives on job seeking, networking, and mentoring, which will prove valuable to anyone wanting to shape a meaningful career. Readers will likely identify with the job attitudes of one author more than the other. Mueller, active in her profession for four decades, sees the book as a way of mentoring her younger colleague, whereas Overmann rejects the notion that he has ever had a mentor. Nevertheless, their brief essays reveal a strong bond.

Chapter 4, “The Continuous Journey,” is the most reflective. In it, both authors stress that one builds careers until the day one retires. Five of the 12 chapters provide annotated, current print and Web resources dealing with volunteer opportunities and with working for nonprofits, the federal government, and multinational associations. Many entries are broad enough to be useful to job seekers outside the book’s emphasis. A dozen interviews of people who have built successful careers illuminate points the authors make; one association executive states, “If you have a career choice to make, always take the one that’s going to give you a steeper learning curve.” This is a first-rate resource for anyone entering the working world. Excellent subject index.

Summing up: Highly recommended. Upper-level undergraduates, graduate students, professionals/practitioners, and general readers.

–C.B. Thurston, University of Texas at San Antonio

If forced to take issue with something in the review, it would be this line: “Overmann rejects the notion that he has ever had a mentor.” That’s an unfairly strong way of summing up what I actually write, which is more of an exploration of my ambivalence towards the term “mentor” and a questioning of who, in fact, the mentors are in my life. But seriously, why take issue with anything in a review that’s so positive, especially when it’s your first? I feel tingly all over.

Sherry’s in Portland tomorrow night

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

While plugging our event this Wednesday last week, I completely forgot to mention that Sherry is out in Oregon this week and will be hosting “An Evening of Insights on Launching an International Career” tomorrow night in Portland.  It’s from 6:30 to 8:00 at the Bridgeport Brewing Company.  Check out our Facebook page for more details. If you’re in Portland and interested in international careers (and like microbrews), definitely stop by!

An evening with four authors—including us!

Friday, February 27th, 2009

A little Friday afternoon self-promotion sounds about right: next Wednesday March 4, the Public Diplomacy Council is hosting “An Evening with Four Authors”  from 6:30 to 8:00 at the DACOR Bacon House, which sounds delicious but is apparently just the Diplomatic and Consular Officers, Retired house, bequeathed to them by one Virginia Murray Bacon. Anyway, it’s at 1801 F Street, NW in DC.

The other two authors are Bill Kiehl and Tom Tuch, both very well known and respected people in the fields of public diplomacy and foreign affairs. The discussion will center on our three new books (Bill: Global Intentions Local Results: How Colleges Can Create International Communities; Tom: Arias, Cabalettas, and Foreign Affairs: A Public Diplomat’s Quasi-Musical Memoir), though I’m sure the conversation can and will take any number of interesting turns. RSVP to PDC@PublicDiplomacyCouncil.org if you can come.  We’d love to see you there.

[Random note---I stumbled across a shout-out to this event at Mountain Runner, a public diplomacy blog by Matt Armstrong. Looks like an interesting resource that I'll check out more later.]

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 fleecing of idealism? Salaries in the nonprofit world

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

I’ve been thinking for awhile about how I want to comment on this Nicholas Kristof blog post, as well as his preceding column, regarding money, salaries, and the international nonprofit world. There are a few different issues at work here: whether nonprofits should be run more like businesses; whether charity and profit can can happily (and morally) co-exist; and whether nonprofit and humanitarian organizations are too far removed from, or not concerned enough about, providing their staff competitive, liveable salaries and professional training and opportunities for career advancement.

As for the issue of “nonprofits being run like businesses,” like Kristoff and Charlie MacCormack, head of Save the Children and profiled in our book, I am ambivalent, probably because I don’t know enough about running a nonprofit to offer a solid opinion. If running a nonprofit like a business means the organization will be run more effectively and have more resources to accomplish its mission and spread the word about its work and pay its hard working employees better, well then, that seems like a good (if unrealistic) thing. If running a nonprofit like a business leads to lavishly paid executives and poor management, as Kristof points out has happened in many a business like Citigroup, well then, that seems like a bad thing. I know that Sherry has very specific opinions about this idea and I look forward to hearing them.

What I have very specific opinions about, as a young professional trying to build not only his career but financial house as well, is the third issue: nonprofit compensation and professional training. Kristof’s post dredged up in me a recurring frustration (that I know is shared by many young people) of how we can balance the desire for a career in international education, exchange, and development nonprofits (or any nonprofits, for that matter) and the desire for a respectable, living wage. This struggle is not new and has been chronicled, codified, and ultimately vented about. MacCormack cuts straight to the issue in his comments featured on Kristof’s blog post:

I am convinced that humanitarian organizations such as Save the Children are too far over in the opposite direction — our uncompetitive salaries make it almost impossible for people to develop real careers; our under-investment in staff development hampers performance.

It really can’t be reasonably argued that nonprofits are not severely lacking in the salaries (and often professional development) they provide their employees. Okay. So how can this be fixed? Kristof (and MacCormack) argue that a shift in the nonprofit mindset, especially when it comes to donors, is necessary. Currently there is too much scrutiny from donors on overhead—any funds not spent directly on the mission, but rather on results-oriented monitoring and evaluation or staff salary and development, is viewed negatively and tantamount to the cardinal sin of nonprofits, “mission-drift.” A realignment of the mindset held by donors (and management), and consequently the use of more resources on things like advertising and assessment and staff compensation, will lead to a more accountable and transparent (and self-aware) organization with a happier, well-taken care of staff, all of which undoubtedly will lead to better performance in pursuit of the mission.

All of this seems to be right on. However, I would argue that at least two other deeply embedded aspects of the nonprofit culture need to shift, in conjunction with what Kristof proposes, for things to really start getting better, especially us young people, the “successor generation.”

(more…)