A U.S. Department of State representative spoke about job opportunities and internships within the political science field during an event hosted by the PoliSci Society club on March 15 in the ASO building.
Melissa Martinez, a foreign service officer, has about 50 years working for the State Department. Martinez serves as the diplomatic residence for the U.S. in Hawaii and Nevada.
Martinez spoke with members of the PoliSci Society and other students about the job positions and internships that are available within the U.S. Department of State.
The most competitive and popular career track offered in the Foreign Service program is the politician officer, who obtains intel within domestic governments, Martinez said.
These public servants report to Washington on issues including: sex trafficking, counterfeiting, drugs and wildlife trafficking.
Martinez described economic officers who work with agencies, such as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, to help determine cures for national diseases such as the Zika virus.
Economic officers also assist with creating entrepreneurships for youth that are underprivileged and help women in developing countries sell their goods outside of their community.
She continued to discuss counselor officers who determine who is allowed to come into the U.S. Counselors also adjudicate immigrant and nonimmigrant visas and assist U.S. citizens in foreign countries.
Martinez explained to students that foreign service is not a typical job; it’s a lifestyle choice. Martinez said that, in a way, foreign officers are always on call should a situation arise.
Martinez said that one of the challenges as a foreign officer is moving to other countries every two to four years, and that can take its toll.
“Despite the excitement and adventure of traveling, moving every two to four years, it also can be difficult for families,” Martinez said.
In previous years, the U.S. diplomat core was primarily white males, now it has become a more diverse field, according to Martinez.
“It really has been our senior leadership to ensure that the U.S. diplomatic core really reflects what the United States represents,” Martinez said. “And it’s thanks to them that we really have tried to diversify our ranks.”
Martinez informed students that they can get paid to learn foreign languages at the U.S. Foreign Service Institute.
When students complete their studies, they can apply to the Consular Fellows Program into a five-year non-permanent position where students can serve in countries where they are fluent in the language, according to Martinez.
“After the five years, you get a 10 percent bonus pay for having signed on. And there’s also a student loan repayment program,” Martinez said.
The foreign service officer tests are offered in June, October and February. On the careers.state.gov website, there are resources available for students to prepare for the exam, Martinez said.
Students that are not yet ready to graduate can still use these resources and take the test.
David Serri, incoming president of the PoliSci Society, said that the organization is great for students that want to be involved in politics and have their voice heard.
“If you come to my club, you’re going to be involved. I have a student in my club who’s really interested in abortion, and I’ve made her head researcher in abortion. And now she’s going to come to me every week with new nonpartisan articles about abortion,” Serri said.
Cheryl Jennings, development diplomat in residence of the U.S. Agency for International Development, began her career as a foreign exchange student at an Indonesian high school. She was informed that the government offered careers designed to give better lives to the underprivileged.
Jennings recommends that students considering careers in the international development field should explore the world around them and gather information about the countries.
“I would say do as much international travel and study as you can. Do study abroad programs, and don’t just do study abroad programs in Europe. Try to do them in less developed countries,” Jennings said.
The PoliSci Society meets Wednesdays at 2:15 p.m. in Cedar 1202.