Working World: Careers in International Education, Exchange, and Development

By Sherry L. Muller; Mark Overmann | Go to book overview
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Chapter 10
U.S. Government

Some years ago, most Americans contemplating a career in international affairs envisioned working in the Foreign Service. This fact was reflected in the names of some APSIA (Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs) schools, such as Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service or the School of International Service at American University. For U.S. citizens interested in traveling abroad and pursuing an international career, the U.S. Department of State and related agencies beckoned. The Foreign Service was the ideal, and conscientious performance would propel those who survived the rigorous admissions process up a structured career ladder.

This idea does not necessarily hold true today. The proliferation of internationally focused private organizations—many of them nonprofit, all of them nongovernmental (NGO)—has created a growing arena for those interested in careers in international education, exchange, and development. The Foreign Service is now only one option among many. Ambassador Kenton Keith, senior vice president of the Meridian International Center, who spent thirty-three and a half years in the U.S. Foreign Service, agreed with this assessment. In years past, Ambassador Keith said, those interested in the international realm had the options of the Foreign Service, the Peace Corps, or the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Today there are infinitely more choices for those pursuing an international career. As Ambassador Keith told us:

I think that some of the NGOs may actually have more personally reward-
ing work to offer, in particular for people who have a passion in one area
or another. If your passion is environmental protection, you can have an in-
ternational career in that. If your passion is educational exchange, if your
passion is sports with the proliferation of NGOs and interest groups,

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