Working World

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

Sherry L. Mueller
Mark Overmann
Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 264
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  • Book Info
    Working World
    Book Description:

    Are you looking for a career with professional rewards and personal satisfaction? Perhaps you'd like to find meaningful employment in the field of international relations? Working World is the perfect resource for making sound career choices, and is particularly valuable for those interested in exploring a career in international education, exchange, and development. Sherry Mueller, president emeritus of a large nonprofit organization with an international focus, and Mark Overmann, a young professional on his way up, serve as spirited guidance counselors and offer valuable insight on launching a career, not just landing a job. The two authors-representing contrasting personalities, levels of experience, and different generations-engage in an entertaining dialogue designed to highlight alternative approaches to the same destination: making a difference in the world. With a rich mix of anecdotes and advice, the two authors present their individual perspectives on career development: identifying your cause, the art of networking, the value of mentors, and careers as "continuous journeys." Mueller and Overmann push job seekers to challenge assumptions about what it means to pursue a career in international relations and to recognize that the path to career success is rarely straight. To help the job seeker chart the best course, Working World provides specific resources including annotated lists of selected organizations, websites, and further reading. Profiles of twelve professionals, from promising young associates to presidents and CEOs, illustrate the book's main topics. Each professional provides insight into his or her career choices, distills lessons learned, and offers practical advice about building a career in international affairs. All of these resources were chosen specifically to help job seekers map the next steps toward the internship, job, or other opportunity that will give shape to the career they envision.

    eISBN: 978-1-58901-648-4
    Subjects: Political Science, Business

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-xii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  5. Introduction: Idealists Preferred
    (pp. 1-6)

    For most of our adult lives, we spend more time at our workplaces than in our own homes. Pursuing a career means making a series of choices that determine what we do with most of our waking hours. Inevitably, each choice we make exacts a price. The key is to be as aware as we can possibly be—up front—of the trade-offs our choices generate.

    Some people can be quite comfortable working within the large, elaborately structured bureaucracy of a government department or multinational organization. Others feel much more at home in a smaller, less-structured nonprofit organization. For some,...

    • [Part I Introduction]
      (pp. 7-9)

      Part I suggests a way of thinking about your career and leads you to consider a variety of activities that make up career development. While our focus in this book is primarily on the fields of international education, exchange, and development, the approaches discussed in part I can be useful to career seekers in many fields.

      We first examine the need to identify your cause. Your cause is the underlying force that drives your career. We agree with journalist David Gregory’s observation quoted at the start of the book: “You’ll know that you’re doing what you love when you realize...

    • Chapter 1 Identifying Your Cause
      (pp. 10-21)

      People often ask children, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Children usually reply “a fireman, a doctor, an actor . . . ,” perhaps echoing a recent movie or naming the profession of a relative they admire. They have yet to realize that they will be asked this question over and over again as the years pass. Hearing the question as children was just our first experience with identifying our cause.

      Your cause is a major force that guides your career decisions. Whether clearly defined and structured, or perhaps hazy and still in need of refinement,...

    • Chapter 2 The Art of Networking
      (pp. 22-34)

      Most everyone agrees that we ought to network, but we rarely reflect on how to do it most effectively and with the most positive results. Is there a certain formula that equates to successful networking? A certain type of event we must attend or a certain kind of person we should engage? A certain number of business cards we should collect?

      Furthermore, we seldom stop to consider the question of what networking is exactly anyway. All professionals know the term, but it is likely that almost everyone has a different answer for what it means to them. Is networking only...

    • Chapter 3 The Value of Mentors
      (pp. 35-45)

      Several stories regarding the origins of the word mentor exist. The two most common have elements familiar to many people:

      1. In Greek mythology, when Odysseus left to fight in the Trojan War, he entrusted his son, Telemachus, to his friend and adviser, Mentor. In looking after Telemachus in Odysseus’ absence, Mentor’s duties required that he be a role model, a father figure, an adviser, a guardian, a counselor, and an encourager; in other words, a “mentor.”

      2. In 1689 the French writer Francois Fénelon was appointed royal tutor to Louis XIV’s grandson, the duke of Burgundy. In 1699 Fénelon...

    • Chapter 4 The Continuous Journey
      (pp. 46-62)

      Many of us have a tendency to think about career development in terms of conclusions—what we’re going to do once we’re finished. We consider our career paths, and our lives, in terms such as these: “Once I’ve finished my degree . . .” or “Once I’ve completed my overseas experience . . .” or “Once I’ve accumulated five (or ten or fifteen) years of experience. . . .” Yet we rarely reflect on the fact that we’re never quite finished with anything. We may complete certain building blocks of our careers (such as a degree, an experience abroad, or...

    • [Part II Introduction]
      (pp. 63-65)

      Part II is designed to help you map out the next steps on your career path and appreciate the many different routes that are available. Here you will find selected resources to aid you in your pursuit of a career in international education, exchange, and development. It is important to note that the resources contained in this section are indeed “selected.” That is to say, our lists are not exhaustive; there is certainly much more information available on specific topics, fields, and organizations. However, the resources in this section are a kind of compass. We view them as the best...

    • Chapter 5 Your Job Search–A General Approach
      (pp. 66-94)

      Cast the net wide. Search broadly. See what’s out there.

      One of the greatest myths regarding the job search, international or otherwise, is that you should only be looking for open positions. It’s true that the immediate goal of your job search is to land a job, and the position that you get at this time will have to be one that is currently available. In searching for those open positions, however, do not hesitate to explore the wide array of possibilities with an open mind. Check out jobs that you may not yet be qualified for but might someday...

    • Chapter 6 Professional Associations
      (pp. 95-121)

      Becoming active in one or more professional associations will lead you to critically important avenues for networking and information gathering—two fundamental aspects of your job search. One visit to the Weddle’s Association Directory at illustrates that the range of professions, occupations, and industries that professional associations represent is vast and wide reaching. Professional association activities, publications, and websites keep you abreast of what is happening in your specific areas of interest, who the leaders are, and where new jobs may be found. Many association websites contain information on training opportunities, as well as job banks, résumé boards, and...

    • Chapter 7 Internship Opportunities
      (pp. 122-133)

      Internships are building blocks of a career. In many cases they have become an implicit prerequisite for an entry-level job. Internships are the source of much practical training and office experience that employers seek. Employers want to be sure that potential hires understand the demands of the contemporary workplace and are not under the impression that the sometimes more relaxed deadlines of academic life apply in work situations.

      Researching internships should be approached as seriously as searching for a relatively permanent position. You will be trading a precious commodity—your time—for valuable training in return for either no remuneration...

    • Chapter 8 Volunteer Opportunities
      (pp. 134-153)

      In her late twenties and newly married, Sherry spent some time at the University of Rhode Island with her husband, a faculty member at that time. In addition to finishing her dissertation and teaching a few courses, she also engaged in several international volunteer activities at the university. She served as the president of a volunteer organization that matched international students with American host families. She also coordinated orientation and cross-cultural training sessions for international students.

      Directly after graduating from college, Mark moved to the city of Yanji, in the Jilin province of China, as a volunteer with the Salesian...

    • Chapter 9 Nonprofit Organizations
      (pp. 154-178)

      The NonProfit Times, a business publication focusing on nonprofit management, reported that the United States has more than 1.5 million nonprofit organizations.¹ Dr. Lester Salamon, a professor at Johns Hopkins University, conducts seminal research on nonprofit proliferation abroad, studying what he defines as the “global associational revolution.” Yet despite this explosion of nonprofit activity, confusion still sometimes exists about what a nonprofit actually is and does.

      Part of the confusion stems from nomenclature. Nonprofit organizations are also called not-for-profits, or NPOs. There does not seem to be any definitive preference or consensus as to which of these terms is correct;...

    • Chapter 10 U.S. Government
      (pp. 179-198)

      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...

    • Chapter 11 Multinational Organizations
      (pp. 199-215)

      Employment in a multinational organization can be the highest aspiration for many international career seekers. Pursuing employment with these organizations can be intimidating, however, given their size and scope as well as the aura of mystery and intrigue that sometimes surrounds them. These concerns are not completely unfounded; it can be much more difficult to get your foot in the door at a large multinational organization than, say, a smaller nonprofit. Some multinationals have down-sized their staffs or streamlined their structures in response to reduced funding; many have strict hierarchical organizational structures. Most have language and experience requirements that may...

    • Chapter 12 International Business, Consulting, and Research
      (pp. 216-233)

      Leading up to this final chapter, we have attempted to provide the broadest possible cross section of the jobs and careers available in international education, exchange, and development. We certainly, however, have not covered all the possibilities.

      International business, consulting, and research are rapidly growing employment sectors with many intriguing opportunities for globally oriented job seekers. You may find that one of these types of careers in international affairs is best suited to your skills and your cause: perhaps as a cross-cultural trainer for a corporation; as a consultant for a USAID for-profit contractor; as a grants officer for a...

  8. Conclusion It’s Not a Small World after All
    (pp. 234-238)

    Everyone has a story that proves how small our world has become. Sherry once ran into a former colleague she worked with in Washington, D.C., and hadn’t seen in years in a Moscow department store. Mark bumped into a classmate whom he hadn’t seen for years from his university located in South Bend, Indiana, on the steps of Sacre-Coeur in Paris. When a chance encounter like this occurs, when we see someone who lives close to home in a place so far away, we all have a tendency to exclaim, “What a small world!”

    Yet, these chance encounters aside, the...

  9. Index
    (pp. 239-246)