International experts Salih Booker of Africa Action; John Prendergast of International Crisis Group and Peter Takirambudde of Human Rights Watch discuss careers in international affairs.
On Friday November 19, 2004, the African Studies center hosted a student workshop entitled "Opportunities in the International Field." The forum was well attended with over sixty graduate and undergraduate students and featured Salih Booker of Africa Action; John Prendergast of International Crisis Group and Peter Takirambudde of Human Rights Watch.
Each of the four speakers discussed briefly their own life experience and what led to their involvement in the international field. Salih Booker, Executive Director for Africa Action, has worked and traveled extensively in Africa. His work experience includes several years with African and U.S. NGOs, as well as consultancies with several international organizations. John Prendergast, Special Advisor to the President of International Crisis Group, has worked for a variety of think tanks, UN agencies and NGOs in Africa. He has worked on African issues with a number of agencies, including the U.S. Institute of Peace, Human Rights Watch, and UNICEF and has extensive conflict resolution experience in an advisory capacity. Peter Takirambudde, Executive Director of the African Division of Human Rights Watch and a lawyer by training, is the chief strategist and coordinator for HRW’s work in sub-Saharan Africa. All these speakers stressed the importance of balancing academic credentials with hands on experience.
Students were urged to gain international experience as soon as possible and seek voluntary positions or internships in their area of interest. The international field has become increasingly competitive over the years and maximizing one’s international experience is imperative. Most organizations in the field are nonprofit and thus there is a need to take on unpaid internships to gain valuable experience. Students often have to think of creative ways to fend for themselves while getting experience, such as waitressing or landscaping evenings and weekends. Interning is also crucial as it provides students with the opportunity to network with key professionals in the field, and by so doing open up career opportunities for the future. The speakers also discussed various aspects of international employment such as security clearance and permits for overseas employment.
Each of the speakers was available for a substantial amount of time after the workshop to meet one-on-one with students, giving valuable insight on individual career tracks.
Published: Friday, November 19, 2004
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