Posts Tagged ‘USAID’

Best places to work in the government ‘09

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

The long-awaited 2009 rankings for the best places to work in the federal government are out! Sadly, because he’s now out of office, the bureau that coordinates Dick Cheney Wrangling is no longer eligible for consideration.

The State Department ranks as the 5th best place to work on the large agency scale. It scored very high in such subcategories as Strategic Management, Teamwork, and Effective Leadership (ranked third in all of these), but not so high in the Pay and Benefits and Family Friendly Culture and Benefits areas (17th and 26th, respectively).

I thought USAID hadn’t even made the list, until I realized it was listed in the small agency category, where it ranked 15th. I was actually kind of shocked that USAID, a well-known agency with such broad programmatic reach, would qualify as a ’small’ agency. Maybe I’m naive (or more likely uninformed) but I always envisioned USAID as on par in size and scope with the State Department. Apparently not.

This misunderstanding was then brought into sharp relief when I later came across this little tidbit about the FY 2010 budget request for USAID:

The U.S. Agency for International Development’s operating expenses budget would jump to $1.4 billion, 60 percent over enacted 2009 levels.

I knew that USAID was underfunded and understaffed and that a goal of the Obama administration is to greatly increase its capacity, but damn. When your new budget will “only” be $1.4 billion (compare that with the $533.7 billion FY10 request from the Defense Department) and that $1.4 billion is a 60 percent (!) increase from last year…well, I guess you’re not as big of an agency as I thought you were. Maybe USAID’s best-place-to-work-ranking will improve next year once it actually gets some money to do some stuff.

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

“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.

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.

New investment in diplomacy = new jobs in diplomacy

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

The word on the street (like this street) has been that the Obama Administration is determined to invest substantial resources in the Foreign Service and USAID, thus leading to an increase in Foreign and Civil Service jobs (like 1,500 new jobs, according the NYTimes). This morning, at a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton seconded this and remarked that the U.S. must end its underinvestment in diplomacy:

I am determined to see that the men and women of our Foreign and Civil Service get the resources they need to do their jobs safely and effectively. Even Secretary Gates has pointed out our country has underinvested in diplomacy. That must end. Just as we would never deny ammunition to American troops headed into battle, we cannot send our diplomats into the field in today’s world with all of the threats they face, 24/7, without the tools they need. We don’t invest in diplomacy and development; we end up paying a lot more for conflict and all that follows.

On the heels of this hearing, Sherry pointed me to a WashPost article from the end of March that again confirms the Foreign Service and USAID are “hiring, hiring, hiring:”

USAID, Uncle Sam’s foreign assistance agency, plans to double, to 2,200, its ranks of foreign service officers by 2012…[the] agency is looking for people in many areas, including health, finance and contracting. USAID plans to hire more than 300 people this year.

As an interesting footnote, the WashPost article also references the Presidential Management Fellows program (or PMF), a well-known and highly competitive program that is essentially a springboard into high-level government service. A worthy program, to be sure, but please note the line, “The 786 finalists, out of 5,100 who applied, are vying for about 400 jobs at about 80 agencies.” 786 people vying for 400 jobs. Clearly not every PMF is guaranteed a job.  But I have to say, during my dealings with PMF during grad school, it was presented to me in a very different way. More on my PMF experience after the jump.


USAID in the 21st Century hearing

Monday, March 30th, 2009

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on International Development and Foreign Assistance is holding a hearing on Wednesday morning looking at USAID in the 21st century. If you’re in the DC area and interested in following policy matters related to international development, this is the place for you. The hearing is at 9:30 a.m. in the Senate Dirksen Office Building, room 419, and open to the public. More details on the hearing after the jump.

Also, for more on careers at USAID, give the USAID careers page a look.