How can I get unstuck in my quest to start an international career?
September 15, 2011 8:24 PM Subscribe
I'm twenty-five, have a master's degree, speak French fluently, and have studied/interned/volunteered in the States, Europe, and Middle East, but am at a loss as to how to parlay all that into an international career. Living in NYC, but would move back abroad in a heartbeat for the right job.
posted by Enneking to Work & Money (18 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I earned my MA at an American university in the Middle East. I studied international human rights law, comparative migration law, development, demography, etc. as part of my coursework. My thesis was well-received and I was encouraged to publish. I've volunteered with a non-profit teaching English to refugees, interned with the US State Department (and incidentally took and passed their Foreign Service Officer Test). I spent a year in France in undergrad and speak French fluently, have traveled extensively, etc.
When I came back to the States I decided to move to New York (not wanting to return to the Midwest where I'm from because of a lack of relevant international-oriented jobs. I've been here in NYC for about nine months and started out interning unpaid for a non-profit that helps refugees and asylum-seekers get help, then I got a three-month consulting gig with a progressive Muslim non-profit doing writing and editing, and now I've got a full-time temp job at an international education non-profit.
Despite this seemingly increasing steps in terms of pay, responsibility, and impact, I feel really stuck. I took the FSOT and passed it, as I mentioned, but didn't get to the oral round of State Department interviews. I've applied to take the UN's upcoming int'l civil service exam and I'm not optimistic about getting very far. I've always regretted going to a private university that's only regionally known, but I feel like my experiences must compensate in some way. Still, after scouring Idealist.org (where I've gotten my three New York gigs), the Foreign Policy job board, and various nooks and crannies on the internet, I am at a loss for where to go from here. There's a scarcity of jobs and a lot of the great opportunities in international affairs/international development/conflict resolution, etc. are internships geared at current students. What do I do since that ship has sailed and since I'm not likely to get into the State Dep't anytime soon given budget cuts and an overabundance of people with lots of work experience ready and able to edge me and my measly education out?
I want to find something either non-profit or private that doesn't make me feel like beating myself over the head (i.e. no glorified data entry) and that allows me to travel a lot or live abroad, but that is a substantial move toward a career (i.e. not teaching English in South Korea for a year, etc.)