Serendipity.  That seems to be the buzz word echoing through last night’s roundtable discussions.  It was as if serendipity came in a tangible form like a gold coin that they’ve held in their pockets throughout their long careers that brought these talented, bright professionals swaying between amazing stints and stumbling upon one great discovery to another.  But if you look closely, it weren’t all great accidents.  It was a combination of hard work, determination, risk, and having the ability and willingness to change. Reading through their bios, most of the mentors had four or five career paths, carefully strewn together.

The 2012 Women’s Foreign Policy Group Mentoring Career Fair, held at the George Washington University brought together more than 50 experts and international leaders in focus areas such as global health, international development, international law, public affairs/communications, NGOs, Humanitarian Assistance and USAID, International Technology, Trade and Business, among others.

And while there were was an overwhelming amount of information, advice, and experience, there are a number of things that were constant:

  1. The working world is nothing like what you’ve learned in the classroom setting.  That being said, obtaining work, volunteer or internship in the ‘real’ world, or in an international environment is key.
  2. Master’s degree is required in most cases.  Yes, I know I’ve said that experience weighs heavily, but at some point, becoming more of an expert in one area is important in shaping your career.
  3. Change is the only thing that’s constant.  For instance, some might have a background in journalism/media, but they also have experience in the non-profit sector and continue to do consulting work for various organizations.

At the end of the day, what might set you apart from another is when you can offer something that the organization wants/needs.  Attending this conference has made the bus trip to DC all worthwhile.  I’ve met so many young professionals like me with similar interests seeking opportunities, networking, and getting refueled because frankly, after meeting face-to-face with people whose professional life is something you can aspire to, it’s hard to knock off the buzz.

So now what?



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