MA Latin American Studies (MALAS) Alumna, 2006
Currently I work at the U.S. Office of Government Ethics as the International Assistance and Outreach Team Lead and a Senior Ethics Desk Officer. As the International Team Lead I regularly meet with representatives from other countries, including Latin American countries, to share lessons learned in managing public sector conflicts of interest. I also lead my agency’s participation in international anti-corruption peer review mechanisms such as the inter-American anti-corruption peer review mechanism operated out of the Organization of American States (OAS).
The most durable, satisfying parts of my job have been the development of expertise in my field (an ongoing process, to be sure) and working with really smart and motivated people who energize and inspire me.
My MALAS degree and related internships gave me the foothold into my current career. While in the MALAS program I interned at the State Department. I didn’t know it at the time, but that internship introduced me to two of my future bosses. When I graduated from the MALAS program, I immediately moved to Washington, D.C. to start the Hispanic Division Huntington Fellowship Program at the Library of Congress. I certainly would not have secured that fellowship except for my degree and thesis research experience.
Being in D.C. for that Fellowship made me a more competitive candidate for my first “real” post-MALAS job, which was at the OAS in the same division with which I had interacted while doing the internship at the State Department. After two years at the OAS, I took a job at the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, one of the U.S. executive branch agencies with which I had also interacted during the State Department internship.
Do as many internships and fellowships as you possibly can. First, an internship allows you to test-drive different careers. In addition to the internship at the State Department, I did an internship with Save the Children in Nicaragua. While it was a tremendous experience, I learned that that type of development work was not my passion. Second, internships are pathways to jobs, particularly in Washington, D.C. As I said, my internship at the State Department introduced me to two of my future bosses.