Category Archives: Global

Careers in Public Service: An Interview with NYU Peace Corps Recruiter Helen Alesbury

The Wasserman Center will be interviewing professionals working in public service to better understand how their careers have progressed. For our first “Careers in Public Service” interview, we met with the Peace Corps. Over 1,000 NYU alumni have gone on to serve in the Peace Corps.

We spoke with Helen Alesbury, a current graduate student at NYU’s Graduate School of Arts & Science, who also happens to be the NYU Peace Corps Recruiter. She served in the Peace Corps in El Salvador as a Health Volunteer. Below is an excerpt of our interview.

peace-corps

Wasserman Center (Wass): What has your career path looked like? How did you get started in this field?

Helen Alesbury (Helen): After graduating from George Washington University I applied and served as a Peace Corps Volunteer working for 2 years in rural El Salvador as a health volunteer. After that incredibly formative experience, I worked for Peace Corps Headquarters back in Washington, DC​ on their Safety & Security team. After working there for a little over a year, I headed to graduate school here at NYU to get my master’s degree in Anthropology, focusing on forensics and to eventually use my skills as a forensic anthropologist to help war torn countries like El Salvador. While working towards my master’s degree I am also a part time, on campus recruiter for the Peace Corps, based out of the Wasserman Career Center.

Wass: What skills/degrees are required to enter this field?

Helen: To become a Peace Corps Volunteer you must have a bachelor’s degree and relevant work or volunteer experience in the field you would like to serve in (Health, Education, Youth, Business, Environment, and agriculture). Beyond that, you need a passion for learning about and experiencing other cultures.

Wass: What personality traits/characteristics do employers in this field value?

Helen: Peace Corps is the ‘toughest job you’ll ever love’ so having patience and determination are vital! To be an effective volunteer you have to be dedicated to working with a community and using your skills as they are needed, not necessarily doing what you think needs to be done. It also helps to have a good sense of humor about yourself and your failures. It is all about learning how to celebrate the little victories in life.

Wass: What are the typical entry-level positions?

Helen: All Peace Corps positions are “entry level”, but possibly the least “entry-level” type job you could ever imagine. As a volunteer you will be called on to help manage projects, lead communities, liaise with organizations, and represent the United States abroad.

Wass: What is an average day/week on the job like?

Helen: As a volunteer there is no “typical” day. Peace Corps is exactly what you make of it. Some days you will be teaching in a classroom, the next you may be hiking up a mountain to see if there are natural springs you can tap for the community. You may even be working as a translator for a group of doctors or dentists another day. It is the least typical job you could ever imagine.​

Wass: What is the typical work environment/culture like?

Helen: Peace Corps Volunteers serve in over 65 countries worldwide. Communities where Peace Corps Volunteers serve range from being in rural villages of a few hundred people, to larger urban areas of several thousand. ​

Wass: What are the opportunities for in-service training/professional development?

Helen: One of the best aspects of Peace Corps is the experience you get in all types of situations. Not only is it “on the job training”, but Peace Corps organizes 3 months of intensive training upon arrival in your country of service to instruct you in the local language, customs, and ways to manage projects. Throughout the 27 month service you also have ISTs (In-Service Trainings), that will help you develop your skills and workshop different situations you have during your service.

Wass: What are the opportunities for advancement within this field?

Helen: Peace Corps is a great first step to any career. Because it gives you experience in so many different ways, you can use it to your advantage. Volunteers go on to work in the State Department, the Foreign Service, international NGOs, MFA, and the UN to name a few. Not to mention the US Congress has several Returned Peace Corps Volunteers.

Wass: What’s the best networking strategy for this field?

Helen: ​Start by talking to me! I am NYU’s campus recruiter and can be reached at peacecorps@nyu.edu. Coming to an info session is a great way to start getting information and figuring out if Peace Corps is right for you. Additionally, never shy away from an informational interview – it is the best way to get information and ask the questions you really need the answers to. Also make sure you come to career fairs and information sessions! They are the best tools you have to find what fits for you and to get as much information as possible.​

Helen, NYU’s Peace Corps Recruiter, can be reached at peacecorps@nyu.edu; she holds drop-in hours at NYU Wasserman every Wednesday, 12pm-2pm, or by appointment. The Peace Corps will be attending the upcoming NGO Forum on Friday, November 18th, in Washington, DC. NYU Wasserman will be providing a bus to and from DC, but you need to secure your seat ASAP! Find the details and RSVP information here.

My Fulbright to Bulgaria: Teaching English and Cultural Exchange

Ariel Bloomer is a first year master’s student of Higher Education and Student Affairs at NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. She graduated with a B.A. in creative writing from Scripps College in California, and spent the following year teaching English in Bulgaria. More insights on her Fulbright year can be found on her blog, the Unintentional Explorer (http://unintentionalexplorer.wordpress.com/).

I may be a Steinhardt master’s student now, but I still clearly remember the existential stress of my senior year of undergrad where I had to decide what to do after graduation. Over the course of my undergraduate studies, I had discovered and indulged interests in student affairs, writing, travel, and religious studies. Knowing what I was interested in was a first step, but knowing what do with those interests… it was like unfamiliar choreography.

I applied for programs to teach abroad because my curiosity about the world was the most insistent. I was fortunate to be awarded a Fulbright fellowship to teach English in Bulgaria. The Fulbright U.S. Student Program offers research/study and English teaching grants to U.S. citizens that have earned Bachelor’s degrees. Although it is a teaching program, Fulbright seeks applicants who have various levels of teaching experience and do not require applicants to have completed a degree in education. For instance, I had little experience with teaching. However, some countries do look for applicants with previous teaching experience.

I decided Fulbright was the right program for me because its mission so closely matched my own. The Fulbright program, under the U.S. Department of State, has a goal to increase mutual understanding between citizens of the U.S. and those of countries around the world. As a writer, this goal of cross-cultural communication spoke to me. I knew that Bulgaria, often-neglected in the realm of travel writing, would offer fertile ground for me to practice creative non-fiction in my spare time.

 In addition, I saw the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship Program as an opportunity to try on a new role in the field of education and immerse myself in a new culture and language. It was also an opportunity to use the skills I had learned in Balkan Dance, a class I thought would not be useful beyond satisfying my fine art requirement. This course influenced my desire to apply to teach English in Bulgaria. Somewhere in Bulgaria was a choreography I at least sort of knew.

 In the year I spent abroad in Smolyan, in the Rhodope Mountains where Bulgaria meets Greece, I did not learn to teach. My hit-and-miss lessons were more misses than hits. I did build lasting relationships with teachers and students, facilitated a creative writing club at a high school, spent the fall attending weekly folkdance classes with a Geography teacher from my school, and I learned to cook some of Bulgaria’s unique dishes, a blend of Slavic, Turkish, and Mediterranean fare. I read extensively, took an online travel writing course, and kept a detailed journal. I traveled the Balkan Peninsula by bus and train. I learned that my passion for education is geared towards student development outside of the classroom. This led me to pursue a master’s degree in higher education and student affairs. More so, Fulbright helped to fine tune my research interests in student outcomes in, and access to, international education.

Now that I contemplate a doctoral program in my not-so-distant future, I wonder if Fulbright will again be a part of my journey forward. I taught English through my grant, but the program also offers research opportunities for those with a Bachelor’s degree to conduct independent projects abroad. It is a unique opportunity to follow a passion, carry out grant-funded research, serve as a U.S. cultural ambassador, and learn a dance you never knew before.

 To learn more about the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, attend an upcoming Fulbright Information Session for Graduate Students at The Wasserman Center (133 East 13th Street, 2nd Floor, Presentation Room B) on Thursday March 12th from 1pm to 2pm. RSVP Today!

In Case You Missed It: Day in the Life at Manna Project

Did you miss a Program Director’s Day in the Life with Manna Project International? If so, click on the logo below for a recap.

Does @mannaproject sound like a place you’d like to work. Apply now on CareerNet, Job ID: 925524 and 929737.

In case you missed it: A day in the life at NYU Accra from Adam, Class of 2015!

Adam, Class of 2015,  interns at the West Africa AIDS Foundation while studying away at NYU Accra. Here’s a recap of his #dayinthelife abroad. 

Are you studying away next semester? Get great leadership experience by applying to be a Global Peer Career Educator on NYU CareerNet, Job ID 910361 by Nov 17!

Make The Most of Your Study Away Experience

“And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make”—The Beatles

A Semester Abroad in London!

By Jillian Shainman/Steinhardt, Class of 2014

Last January, I was planning the logistics of packing six pairs of shoes, two winter coats, and one dachshund into two suitcases. Last January, I had never been out of the U.S. Last January, I was watching SNL with my dad when I suddenly brought up that “I’m really nervous to go to London.” Because last January, London’s merits in my mind were that I could speak English, I could combine my love for the Beatles and the Spice Girls in one city, and that I could begin my search for the perfect combination of David Beckham, Prince Harry, and Hugh Grant to be my British husband. While these benefits all proved true (except the husband part), London turned out to be so much more than that.

It is a city that is filled with incredible history and traditions reaching back hundreds and hundreds of years; renowned for its business ventures, music industry, and cutting-edge fashion; and admired for its composed, polite, and still fun-loving citizens. For me, London was the best of both worlds. It is similar enough to New York that I did not completely feel like an outsider, even when I was still new to the city. However, it is different enough that I felt immersed in new culture, customs, and practices that I have definitely been missing since my return to the U.S. (why don’t Americans break for tea time?!)

My four months abroad were the most incredible of my life–I met amazing people, traveled to 5 countries without losing my passport, and as cliche as it sounds, grew so much more than I ever thought I could.  I hope this blog post inspires people to take advantage of NYU’s amazing study abroad program. London was the best, most welcoming home away from home I could have hoped for. I hope all of us at NYU left a positive impact on the city just like the city left a positive impact on us. Because after all, in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.

Want to hear more about different study away experiences? Come to Going Places: Making the Most of Study Away on Thursday, October 3rd at 12pm. Pizza will be served!

 

 

Cultural Fit

Cultural fit is often discussed when you are seeking a job, but what if you are already employed and not in a position to change jobs?  It still can be useful to identify the culture of your current organization so you can strategize the best way to achieve your professional goals within that culture.

Here are 4 quick tips to learn about your company’s culture:

1.  Observe meetings and corporate events

When you attend a meeting, is the leader of the meeting the only one talking?  Is everyone encouraged to contribute ideas?  Do meetings start on time, with an agenda, or are they more laid back?  During corporate events, is everyone interacting and socializing, or is the only time the company comes together to share annual earnings reports?  As an example, check out what Google has to say about their corporate culture, and see how that resonates with your company.

2.  Check out social media platforms

You can use social media platforms to learn about the corporate culture.  If your company has a Facebook page or a Twitter handle, follow them and see what they talk about.  Is the company allowing employees to post on their behalf, or is the social media conversation more formal?  Does the company interact with clients on social media?  What is your corporate policy in relation to social media?  Check to see if your company has a page on LinkedIn, is involved in groups, and what that conversation is like.  You can also see if there is any commonality between employees on LinkedIn at your company—for example, if everyone has worked at your company for a long time, that might indicate a strong corporate culture.  There are also companies who use other platforms like YouTube.  GE features “Stump the Scientist”, which reinforces their traditional corporate culture.

3.  Read what others say

Browse articles and news sites for information about your company.  You can check out Glassdoor.com to get information and company reviews from employees.  Learn what clients are saying by visiting review sites.  It is always reassuring when the internal message about culture and the external impression match.

4.  Connect with current and former employees

Network with your colleagues and with former employees of your organization.  Ask them about their impressions of the organization, and how they feel the company culture affects them.  You can do this over a quick coffee break, which is a great way to step away from the desk for a few minutes.

Once you understand your corporate culture, you can work within that framework to accomplish your professional goals.  For example, if you want to work on a new project, you can use an open culture to promote the idea to the team and get buy-in from the ground up.  Whereas in a traditional culture, you could approach your manager first, and then after you have approval, share with the team.  Navigating corporate culture can be tricky, but with some detective work, you can determine what your corporate culture is, and how to best navigate within that culture.

Global Peer: Accra, Ghana

What is your name/major/class year/school? Why did you want to study away in Accra? 

Hey everyone, eti sen!? Greetings from Accra, Ghana! My name is Delaine Powerful and I am a junior in Steinhardt studying Public Health and Nutrition. I chose to study abroad in Ghana because of my desire to work in developing countries where maternal and child mortality rates are high and women’s reproductive health is often taboo, and work to reduce such stigmas and negative health outcomes. Coming to Ghana was the perfect opportunity for me to grow as a student in the public health field. I also wanted to experience a culture unlike my own, one whose traditions and customs remain despite Western influences, and greaten my understandings of diversity.

What classes are you taking? 

I am taking a course load relevant to my area of study: Health and Society, Global Nutrition, Community Psychology, and a Internship Fieldwork and Seminar course. I am interning with an organization under the umbrella name Child and Associates where I have been working with their “Beyond the Net’s” campaign and developing and implementing my own clinical study about a Guardian/Parent’s role in their child’s health outcome. Because Ghanaians teach all the classes, the majority being professors from the University of Ghana, many classes incorporate a cultural theme where we integrate our understandings of the literature and lectures into community experiences. It has been a great experience and through these classes and various field trips, I have really gotten a great sense and understanding of the true Ghanaian culture.

What has been the most interesting thing about Accra so far? 

The most interesting aspect about Accra would the easy-going nature that seems to be an innate characteristics of all Ghanaians. People are a lot friendlier here. Even though Accra is just as hectic, if not more so, than NYC, people here never seem to be in a rush to go anywhere. When you are walking down the street it is not uncommon to exchange greetings with a passing stranger. No one is ever too busy to stop and have a conversation and is more than willing to assist with directions and things to that nature. It is truly refreshing to actually be able to slow down and fully appreciate things for what they are.

Describe a fun outing or experience thus far? 

For my Health and Society class we took a class trip to a traditional healing clinic in a neighboring community. The trip was great and educational and all, but the best part of the day came at the end of the day when we traveled to our professor’s house and ate dinner in his wife’s restaurant. We were entertained with numerous dance numbers, performed by the professor and his 5-year-old granddaughter, and sang (or mumbled) along to the Ghanaian Azonto music. The meal was absolutely delicious and was actually the best food I had consumed during my whole trip.

How are you preparing for potential internship or professional opportunities? 

I have definitely grown professionally here in Accra thanks to my leadership and internship position. I have come into contact with numerous professionals and have learned the appropriate mannerisms of a professional setting. Also, even though as a Peer Career Educator I am informing other students on the ways to best present themselves to potential employers, I have learned a great deal myself. With my developing interviewing skills and Wasserman styled resume and cover letter, I was able to secure a summer internship directly in line with my professional goals.

How are you exploring your career while away? How will Accra impact your career endeavors?

Because my main area of interest is maternal and child health in developing countries, the clinical study I am doing at my internship is relevant to my desires for my future profession. I am learning how to develop proposals for studies, how to format surveys so that they are compatible with the understandings of the community, and other necessary skills I will need as a Public Health official looking to implement programs that promote lasting change. In Ghana, as well as anywhere else in the world, public health is everywhere. And I have been given the opportunity to study various NGOs and actually track their progress in this developing country, first-hand, which is great!

Global Peers: Day in the Life

Want to know what your global peers are up to around the GNU? Check out these Days in the Life from a few of the global sites. Hear from your peers by clicking on the pictures below!

London:

Prague:

Sydney:

For more days in the life of your peers and of professionals, follow our guest tweeters @NYUWassEmployer! Also, don’t forget to follow us @NYUWasserman for career related information!

Career Week at Villa La Pietra


Studying abroad in Florence? Join NYU Wasserman Career Counselor, Desalina Allen, and your Peers in Careers next week for several career-related events! Stop by to learn more about NYU Wasserman, meet Desalina, pick up career resources and ask any questions you may have! Also, learn how to transition after you trip and how to tell your own global story!

It all begins next Monday, April 15th at 7:00 PM in the Villa Ulivi Cafeteria!

To learn more, click here!

Alumni Guest Blog: South Korea

Name: Christian Clampitt
Graduation Date (month/year):
May 2012
NYU School/Program/Major:
College of Arts and Science, Philosophy

Current Title: Guest English Teacher
Current Organization/Employer:
Korean Ministry of Education
Current Location:
Cheongju-si, Chungcheongbuk-do, South Korea

Where are you from originally? Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Littleton, Colorado.

Did you study abroad while at NYU? If so, where? What skills/experiences did you have while abroad that prepared you to work globally (if applicable)?

I did not study abroad while at NYU. I was a transfer student; while at my previous university I studied abroad in England. (Transferring to NYU, New York itself felt like an exotic location!)

For going abroad, what’s most relevant is your patience, especially the greater the length of time abroad.

Three months abroad (whether working or studying) allows plenty of cultural exploration, but concludes before the ‘honeymoon’ is over. The period after the enchantment is when challenging cultural differences genuinely appear. Anyone can read about a cultural difference, but the actual practice of navigating cultural differences day after day requires the virtue of patience. Are you patient enough to reflect on how cultural others interpret your behavior? Are you patient enough to set aside your own feelings in order to accommodate the other culture’s approach?

(It’s best to learn to like the differences, but if they were so easily overcome, they wouldn’t be cultural differences! So in the meantime, there is patience.)

I learned to practice the virtue of patience in England, but I’m learning it even more in South Korea. If you’re planning on short term work abroad, then the same skills that make you a great student (ingenuity, independence, responsibility) will make you a great young professional. But if you’re planning to work abroad longer, you’ll need to supplement your regular skills with greater patience.

How did you end up working in South Korea? Were you targeting that location specifically or seeking a position abroad?

At my previous university I took an ESL course, had many Korean friends and attended a Korean-language church. The pastor taught me how to read and write Korean! As my graduation from NYU neared, I knew I wanted to spend some time abroad after college. I had always wanted but never been able to visit Asia, and since I already knew some Korean, South Korea seemed like the perfect opportunity.

Did you encounter challenges pertaining to visa/work authorization or language barriers during your job search and the application for this position?  How did you overcome them?

The Korean Ministry of Education’s English Program in Korea (“EPIK”) makes a great effort to minimize the language barrier and manage the ‘paperwork,’ especially during the application and orientation processes, by allowing applicants to use English-language agencies. For example, I researched EPIK independently but then used an ESL placement agency (ESLstarter) to guide me through the application, interview and visa documentation. The founder, Claire, even met me at Incheon airport!

What types of activities/experiences prepared you to work internationally? (classes, extracurriculars, study abroad, internships, etc.) 

Language and history classes are very beneficial. Even if English is commonly spoken at your destination, knowing some of the local non-English language communicates respect and care. Knowing some history also demonstrates that you find the location and culture interesting and worthy of study.

What are some of the benefits and challenges of working in South Korea specifically, and outside of the U.S. more generally?

Korea is a small country in a great global location. Nothing is ever too far: I can take an inexpensive and comfortable bus to Seoul, a city bigger than New York, or to Beopjusa, a Buddhist temple on a secluded mountain range. Both trips only take an hour and a half. And when you’ve finished exploring Korea, it’s easy to fly to New Zealand, China, Japan or the Philippines.

The challenge I have to mention is the high language barrier. Korean isn’t as hard to learn as Mandarin or Thai, and in many ways I like it more than English – but it’s still hard work to learn. And since it’s not uncommon for a Korean’s English to stop at ‘Hello’ and ‘Nice to meet you,’ you will have difficulty communicating if you don’t learn some Korean.

Sometimes, a cultural difference can be a benefit or a challenge, depending upon your patience and attitude. For example, the younger generation considers itself increasingly westernized and therefore modern, though Korea is still very much an East Asian culture. For example, this means that while there are more nearby high-end coffee shops in my “small” city of 600,000 than in my old neighborhood in Manhattan, the work culture remains very communal. I regularly play volleyball, get coffee and eat dinner with my office co-teachers and even the whole school. At first this work culture felt like an intrusion into my private time – but I was patient and now I quite enjoy it! I’ve even gone camping and fishing and traveled to Jeju Island with co-teachers. So, some cultural differences that initially feel like a challenge may become a benefit.

I think this is true for working outside of the U.S. more generally: cultural differences, depending upon your attitude, are either the main benefits or the main challenges of working abroad.

What advice would you give to students who are interested in a position like yours? (tips, resources, etc.)

Teaching English abroad is a great way to travel and to live abroad; there are many destinations and various short term and long-term opportunities available. Some places require TESL certification and/or a degree in education, but many don’t (Korea only requires a degree). For those interested, I would recommend researching TESL and exploring the community at sites like Dave’s ESL Cafe. I used ESLstarter as my recruiter – Claire was immensely helpful. Once you’ve decided on the destination, start to learn some of the local language.

What are your future plans? Do you see yourself coming back to the U.S.?

My plan is to return to America within the next few years to complete a few additional science courses before applying to medical school.