Tag Archives: Job Market

Andrew Sweet’s Career from Maxwell to a Rockefeller Fellow

Could you introduce yourself?

My name is Andrew Sweet and I am an Associate Partner at Dalberg, a global development strategy consulting firm. I am based in Johannesburg, but am often traveling around the world.

How did you start your career?

I had the good fortune of starting my career as a Peace Corps Volunteer. For two-and-a-half years, I served as a Natural Resource Management Volunteer, working with farmers on the Togo-Benin border. It was a life-changing experience and one I look back upon with great memories. I went to Maxwell following the Peace Corps and learned from the greats, such as Catherine BertiniPeter Castro, and Peg Hermann. It was energizing to learn from people whose careers were highly practical, and who could help structure and deepen my thinking.

After Maxwell, I spent a few years at the Center for American Progress (CAP) on the National Security team. I co-authored a number of publications on the future of U.S. global development policy. At the time, CAP was housing a number of key thinkers for both the Clinton and Obama campaigns. After President Obama was elected, a lot of the CAP National Security team went into the Administration at the White House, State Department, and USAID. I received an appointment at USAID, where I served as a Conflict Advisor for West Africa, focused on Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire. After two years in this role, the USAID Administrator, Dr. Rajiv Shah, asked me to serve as his Senior Advisor. For the nearly three years, I was one of his closest aides, traveling with him on each of his trips, foreign and domestic. In the last year alone, we went to 24 countries. In this capacity, I also helped to establish two major Presidential Initiatives, Power Africa and the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition.

How did you become a David Rockefeller Fellow, and what is the Trilateral Commission?

I was nominated to be a David Rockefeller Fellow by former USAID Administrator and current Rockefeller Foundation President, Dr. Rajiv Shah, and a great mentor and former professor of mine at Maxwell, Catherine Bertini. I have kept in very close contact with both and am fortunate and humbled to have been nominated by them.

The Trilateral Commission was established in 1973 to bring together leaders from the private sector to discuss issues of global concern for Europe, North America and Asia. It still includes a range of leaders from the private sector, but also from the public, and social sectors as well as prominent journalists. Members include Henry Kissinger, Madeleine Albright, Michael Bloomberg, David Gergen and Eric Schmidt.

Have you had any memorable experiences while working in the field?

I love helping put together coalitions of institutions and individuals with the intent of doing something big in global development. To this end, I enjoyed being part of putting together Power Africa and the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition. My experience as a Peace Corps Volunteer also helped inform my thinking and grounded my experiences in the reality.

One of the highlights from my current work is helping the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation put together Emergency Operations Centers in West Africa. The goal of this work is to capacitate emergency response workers and help ensure future crises, such as Ebola, can be prevented or better managed.

I also have been fortunate to meet and learn from a number of global leaders. I have drawn great inspiration from people like Kofi Annan, Catherine Bertini, and Bill Gates who have all dreamed big and accomplished great things.

What advice do you want to give Maxwell students?

My advice is to focus and dream big. Global development is too large a field for this to be your specialty. Think about the sector (e.g. energy, health, good governance) and a region of the world you are passionate about, then think and do big things. Develop language skills that are relevant to your passions. Build your networks and learn from leaders to draw inspiration and insights. Be a voracious consumer of information. Travel the world and spend significant amounts of time with people whose lives you are working to improve.

Andrew Sweet

Networking with Alumni in D.C. and New York

Over the course of Spring break, Maxwell students had the great opportunity to visit various sites and attend coffee chats with alumni. They connected with people who worked at various organizations in Washington, DC and New York and learned a lot about opportunities in different fields. There is no doubt that this unique opportunity helped Maxwell students to  consolidate their careers.

Networking with Alumni in D.C. and New York

Maxwell alumnus David Bauer ’49 and the students he hosted on Roosevelt Island

Maxwell alumnus David Bauer ’49 and the students he hosted on Roosevelt Island

Excerpt:

Over the course of our spring break, approximately 60 members of our cohort traveled to Washington, D.C. and New York City to network and connect with Maxwell alumni who work in various professions in the public, private, and nonprofit fields.

The busy week’s networking festivities kicked off at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), an internationally-focused think tank in D.C. that the Maxwell School has a unique partnership with. Throughout the D.C. leg of the trip, current students had the opportunity to attend site visits and coffee chats with a variety of organizations that had a Maxwell connection. The Office of Personnel Management, the Brookings Institute, the Congressional Budget Office, the Department of Energy, the World Bank, and Booz Allen Hamilton are a just few names of the many site visits our cohort attended. A group of MPA students attended the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, a think tank that considers the needs of low-income and disadvantaged individuals and families. The most valuable trip for me was visiting the U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor, given its relevance to my interests in higher education and labor. After this visit, I was able to connect with a 2010 alumnus about a graduate summer fellowship opportunity starting in July. He even offered to connect me with the Fellow Coordinator and offered a recommendation.[…]

This article is published on the PAIA Insider blog.

Read the full article on the class’ activities>>

Students at the D.C. Public Schools site visit

Students at the D.C. Public Schools site visit

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MAIR students outside the Brookings Institution (Claudine Lim, Phoung Ha and Vahid Khatami from left to right)

MPA/MAIR student Vahid Khatami connecting with Maxwell staff

MPA/MAIR student Vahid Khatami (right) connecting with Maxwell staff Isaac Olson (center) and Dr. Ryan Williams (left)

Learn more about the Maxwell-in-Washington program

Clearing a Hurdle

Clearing the Main Hurdle

Picture of Track Hurdle

Not these Hurdles

Many of you who are entering the U.S. government, particularly in the foreign policy and security policy fields, will have to go through the security clearance process. This process, while intimidating, should rarely be a cause for concern and there are a number of steps you can take to make the process as easy as possible. Please note that this is general information. If your hiring authority provides different information, consider that to supercede the information below.

What is Security Clearance?

Holding a U.S. government security clearance allows an employee to access classified information. Clearances are issued at three levels, confidential, secret, and top secret. At each level, clearance holders have access to different types of information on the basis of their job duties. Different agencies have levels within Top Secret (including TS/SCI – allowing access to Sensitive Compartmentalized Information or SAP – Special Access Program Information). They may also call it something different than Top Secret clearance, such as the Department of Energy’s “Q” clearance.

What is the Goal of the Process?

The primary purpose of the clearance is to determine whether a job candidate is determined to be able to maintain classified information. The government is looking for trustworthy applicants with high levels of reliability, loyalty, and character.

What does the Process Look Like?

Once a federal agency extends a conditional employment offer, the agency human resources contact will provide information about the necessary paperwork for clearance positions. This is usually centered around Standard Form (SF) 86, the Questionnaire for National Security Positions. This information on the form is for the last 10 years (although some forms will list the last ten years or until 18, whichever is closer), detailing residences, jobs, contacts, legal issues, education and much more.

In addition the SF-86, agencies may require fingerprints, personal interviews, credit examinations, polygraph test, or other additional materials at the request of the agency. This can often be a lot of material.

How Long Does It Take?

It is challenging to predict how long each clearance case will take, as each individual investigation is unique. However, when the hiring Department issues the clearance paperwork and a prospective employee completes the paperwork correctly and promptly, the time allocated is usually sufficient.

Are Clearances Transferable?

Possibly. According to the State Department, clearances are normally accepted by other agencies if the investigation was completed in the last 10 years (5 years for Top Secret Clearance) and there has been no more than a two year break in service.

 

Do I need to take a polygraph test?

For a secret level clearance, generally no polygraph test is needed. However, this may be necessary, based on the needs and policies of the hiring authority.

Getting Your Foot in the Door at the UN

It's easier to get in on the streetside

The UN Secretariat in New York
Source: Wikipedia

One of the challenges of finding a position within the United Nations is how to begin one’s search.  The UN employs more than  44,000 staff around the world, with operations that affect the 193 member states and bridge specializations from information policy, to peacekeeping, to international health, to logistics.

As many of you have expressed interest in working with the United Nations Secretariat, its constituent funds and programs, or its specialized agencies, we thought it useful to give some background on how one can get one’s “foot in the door” with the United Nations.  Continue reading

Acronym Salad: Part II – The IC

Seal of the US Intelligence Community.

Seal of the US Intelligence Community. Source: DNI.gov

The section of the U.S. government that is literally and metaphorically shrouded in secrecy is the intelligence community.

While all of the constituent agencies have public presences, they each have different functions and specializations.

Thus, if you area  student seeking to serve in an analytic or management roles within these agencies as professionals, it is useful to understand which agency is the best conceptual fit.  It is also useful to attempt an internship within one of these agencies, as it would secure valuable career preparation for work in the IC. For information about those opportunities, visit the individual websites of each of the IC members.

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Unique Job Search Concerns of Graduate Students

Something coincidental about a Jerseyian writing about a Jersey Barrier

A roadblock you will hopefully not have to face.
Source: Wikipedia

Several years ago, an alum forwarded PAIA staff an article written by Mr. Peter Vogt for Monster.com, discussing several search challenges faced by graduate students.  Given the hyper-competitive nature of today’s search environment, these issues are as relevant today as when the article was written.

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Becoming Policy-Relevant

The White House Situation Room

The White House Situation Room, hopefully a goal of all policy professionals.
Source: whitehouse.gov

All of you interested in working in international relations or public administration policy are looking to make sure that your research and insight is at the forefront of the field.  Thus, it makes sense to take some time to read “So You Want to Be Policy-Relevant” by Professor Joshua Busby, Associate Professor of Public Policy at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas. Continue reading