Friday, April 18, 2003

Chasing past dreams

On Saturday I took the Foreign Service Exam. I liken it to ‘who wants to be a millionaire’ but instead of a million dollars answering these questions correctly could afford me a chance to join the US Dept of State.

At this point in my life I think that I am taking the exam more as a hobby than as an attempt to get a job. In the first place - even though I have gone to the oral assessment (the second stage in the testing) I have never gotten past it. In the second place – I am not so sure that I would want to work in the State Department. No matter that it has always been my dream job, the policy that comes out of the Dept. of State is so very often directly in conflict with my personal beliefs.

This realization that a job in the State Dept might not be the career of my dreams has been surprising to say the least. From the time that I understood what a Foreign Service officer did I wanted that job. However, as I studied more and experienced life I realized that in many respects more opportunities are available to me in the private sector. Better opportunities that will both pay better and give me the chance to ‘change the world’ without the nightmare of having to toe the party line under a president like Clinton.

Just out of college I decided to get a graduate degree in International Political Economy. I hoped that it would lead to a job in international relations or business. I still look back at that decision and wish I could slap my younger self. I was the only student in the program who had an undergraduate degree in Business and the only conservative in the program. It was a profoundly isolating experience and I left the program after only 1 year – a decision I will never regret. Instead I got an MBA with a focus on International Business and Marketing – one of the best choices I have ever made in my life.

Even though I have followed another path in my life, heading into the private sector rather than the public, I still take the Foreign Service Exam. I think mostly out of nostalgia and the hope for that dream job – no matter how much I am grow up I plan on holding on to this one for a bit longer.


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