michael williamson '06
In two to three sentences, please describe what your current position entails.
While I interned in the Consular Section, I assisted Americans in distress, helped Americans with passports, helped process Visas for foreigners, and assisted with the Embassy's outreach programs in the Public Affairs Section. I also researched official U.S. Policy for an intranet briefing book, used by diplomats in throughout the embassy and the Department of State.
What has been your career path to date?
My internship has developed into a public policy career in Minnesota and Washington, DC: Summer 2006 - Campaign Intern, Patty Wetterling for Congress, Lake Elmo, MN Sept 2006 - Nov 2006 - Legislative Intern, Office of Congressman Jim Oberstar, Washington, DC Nov 2006 - Feb 2007 - Correspondence Specialist, Office of Senator Bill Nelson, Washington, DC Feb 2007 - Present - Executive Assistant and Legislative Correspondent, Office of Congresswoman Betty Sutton, Washington, DC.
Which country(ies) has your work taken you to?
How did your interest in working internationally develop?
Through studying in Norway on two occasions, I knew I would like a chance to work in a foreign setting. I always had wanted to work with diplomacy and knew this since a young age. I decided to apply for the internship and take it because it was a lifelong dream to work for the state department. The internship showed me many important aspects of foreign and public policy and it ultimately lead me to pursue such options after college.
Which parts of your St. Olaf education best prepared you to work internationally?
Classes that focused heavily on writing and researching helped the most as I needed to solve odd situations and brief officials often. Also, any classes (especially foreign language classes) dealing with other cultures prepared me to treat others as equals and provided a background from which I could understand and sympathize with them.
What is the most difficult or challenging aspect about working internationally?
Dealing with the bureaucracies of Europe proved especially trying at times. Occasionally, I would get homesick, but, a quick call home or e-mail home would usually quench any yearnings to see friends or family. If you can accept that life will go on from where you left, you will be fine.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of working internationally?
It proved immensely rewarding, I discovered that pursuing a career in public or foreign policy would be the best fit for me, especially since I found I didn't have any career direction during my first years of college. After my return, I found myself much more at peace with myself and confident in my direction in life.
What does being a “global citizen” mean to you?
Being a global citizen is a challenge to everyone: we must solve problems on scales larger than ever imagined. It means that new collaborations and ideas are necessary to solve problems before they spiral out of control. It means that we must be aware that our actions are not isolated in time or space.
What advice would you offer current students interested in working internationally?
Seek out internships and chances to study abroad - ask questions and get acquainted with the potential job market and universities.
Michael D. Williamson firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com 651.503.1768