It’s Open House day today and the building is abuzz with admitted students. Since my own creativity is in short supply, I wanted to share something written by one of our pals over in the Office of Career Services (OCS). Branden was responding to questions about pursuing a U.S. government career after graduating from Fletcher. Here’s Branden’s email to the prospective student:
Thank you for your email and interest in The Fletcher School. It sounds like your career interest is focused mainly on the Department of State and becoming a Foreign Service Officer (FSO). We are fortunate to have over 50 Fletcher graduates currently working with the Department – most of whom are FSOs. While we at OCS do not specifically “place” graduates with the Department, we do provide resources to help students facilitate a smooth transition from graduate school to full-time employment. For example, every year Fletcher hosts a Diplomat-in-Residence (DIR): a current State Department employee who is an FSO, but whose responsibility is to liaise with universities and promote career opportunities with the Department. Our current DIR has an office on campus and has been very involved with programming designed to prepare students to successfully pass the written and oral FSO assessments. Because of this unique resource, I can tell you that we already have a number of students who have passed both assessments, as well as dozens of students who have received summer internship offers at embassies abroad and in bureaus based in D.C.
Speaking to your other point about Fletcher’s location being outside of D.C., I have to say that I really see this as a strength for two reasons. First, while a small handful of Fletcher students complete internships during the academic year, we generally encourage students to keep their focus on their studies. The rigor of the academic program here is quite intense, and most students find it overwhelming enough to simply be enrolled as a full-time student, as well as to participate in clubs, organize conferences, and complete their thesis. Second, while graduate internships during the academic year provide exposure to government agencies, which can be useful, the work is often clerical in nature. On the other hand, the full-time internships during the summer that most of our students take advantage of tend to be more substantive. Very often full-time staff are traveling, which allows summer interns to complete higher level work usually done by full-time employees.
Fletcher’s alumni network in D.C. is vast and reaches all parts of the federal government. The capstone career event for both first-year and graduating students is our annual D.C. Career Trip in February – a two-day networking trip that includes over 60 events, 250 alumni, and 200-plus students.
I hope this information is helpful to you in making an informed decision. Congratulations on your admission, and I hope to work with you next fall.
Branden F. Grimmett
Assistant Director, Office of Career Services