Business, Foundations, Think Tanks, and Consulting


Leading up to this final chapter, we have attempted to provide the broadest possible cross section of the jobs and careers available in international education, exchange, and development. We certainly, however, have not covered all the possibilities.

International business, consulting, and research are rapidly growing employment sectors with many intriguing opportunities for globally oriented job seekers. You may find that one of these types of careers in international affairs is best suited to your skills and your cause, perhaps as a cross-cultural trainer for a corporation; as a consultant for a USAID for-profit contractor; as a grants officer for a foundation that funds international projects; or as a researcher for a think tank.

All of these positions fall within the realm of international education, exchange, and development. As the private sector continues to expand, as more businesses of varying sizes take their operations international, and as a greater number of consultants with internationally specific skills are needed, the number and kinds of jobs that can be characterized as international will grow. We present this final chapter as an attempt to broaden your view and highlight a few of the possibilities that lie beyond what we have presented in the previous eleven chapters.

There are a multitude of international employment opportunities in the business sector, particularly as more and more multinational corporations become involved in training and development activities that were previously confined to the nonprofit world. As the boundaries between government, business, and the social (nonprofit) sector blur, there is an urgent need for those who are skilled in forging creative partnerships among these sectors.

In all aspects of international affairs, there is greater use of contractors and consultants than ever before. To retain their downsized, lean and mean structure, organizations and government agencies often outsource tasks that in the past were handled by their own employees. For example, a former staff member of Sherry's founded the International Stability Operations Association (ISOA) in 2001. ISOA member companies are contracted by the US Department of Defense, the US Department of State, and other entities to do everything from supplying meals to US troops abroad to providing security at our embassies. Opportunities to join consulting firms—large and small—for work on internationally oriented projects increase by the day. One benefit to consulting is that you can often work on various topics in a variety of settings and not necessarily be relegated to just one office or a single long-term project.

In recent years, think tanks (the term commonly used to describe public policy research institutes) either have started including international projects in their repertoires or have become completely internationally focused. For example, the Brookings Institution, as a general policy research organization, may simultaneously focus on the future of preschool education in the United States and on perceptions of US foreign policy in East Asia. International projects are a large part of what Brookings does, but it also studies many domestic issues. The Henry L. Stimson Center, however, is focused exclusively on international peace and security.

Not all of these think tanks are on the east or west coast. The Stanley Foundation, headquartered in Muscatine, Iowa, sponsors significant international research studies and symposia. If a more academic, analytical, and research-oriented approach to the fields of international education, exchange, and development sounds appealing to you, consider looking into the ever-expanding (both in size and influence) realm of think tanks.

Similar to think tanks, foundations are not necessarily international and may focus on any number of topics. From social and religious issues to regional educational concerns, a foundation may fund any number of domestically oriented projects, depending on the interests and concerns of the family or group that manages it. However, just as the number of nonprofit organizations, businesses, and consulting firms focused on international issues is increasing, so too is the number of foundations interested in funding internationally focused projects. The Foundation Center maintains a large directory of these organizations that may provide employment opportunities or support research and program initiatives that you wish to pursue.

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