Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Busy Day

Today has been jam-packed! I've been studying and in meetings since 6:30am, and I'm finally now getting home at 11pm.  Tuesdays are always the busiest, and today was no exception.

I submitted the first draft of my survey this morning during my weekly appointment with my thesis advisor.  It feels great to have that in. Now we'll revise, and revise again, probably six or seven times, until it's polished and ready to be translated into Russian. Once I have both the English and Russian versions in hand, I'll be able to submit my research proposal to the Institutional Review Board (IRB), which must approve all research done by faculty or students involving human subjects.  Unfortunately Belmont's IRB is historically very conservative, meaning that I must justify and explain the slightest risks involved with my study. Reading through the extravagantly detailed application forms, you'd think that Stanley Milgram was a faculty member here. The best I can come up with is possible "psychological discomfort" incurred from pondering one's career choice, relationships with friends and family, and financial demographics whilst responding to the survey.

I have four exams this week, and they all are scheduled for Thursday.  Or so I thought. Halfway through Marketing this afternoon, I started thinking about what we could possibly be discussing in Business Law, since I distinctly remembered a mini review session at the end of our last class. I double-checked the syllabus, and realized that I hadn't consulted the updated version of the syllabus, and had gotten the exam date wrong. It was today.  I had about 15 mins between Marketing and Business Law to skim the five chapters we were to be tested on. I haven't been reading the textbook for the past month and a half, so I was expecting the worst, but I'm actually rather surprised at how much I retained just from listening in class. I find that a lot of Business Law tends to be based on common sense, so my case evaluations were easy. The thing that got me this time was the terms that I just wasn't familiar with.  Disaffirmation, rescission, novation, promissory estoppel...these aren't hard concepts, they're just strange words. But overall it wasn't bad. I've never not studied for a test, and I was feeling like a horrible student, until I walked out and the guy sitting next to me said, "Yeah, I never study. I'm sure you did fine."
Ambassador George Staples

Later this evening I attended an invitation-only session with Ambassador George Staples, an event which was set up specifically for International Business/Relations students.  The Ambassador (now retired) will be addressing a large group of students tomorrow morning, speaking on career opportunities in the Foreign Service, so it was a neat opportunity to meet him and get some tips about how to make the most of my internship in Moscow.

Ambassador Staples gave me some information about the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce, a graduate degree program at the University of Kentucky in Lexington. He strongly encouraged me to visit the school and consider applying, as 100% of graduates are placed in the State Department and other government agencies such as the CIA, FBI, and USAID.

It sounds interesting, and I'd enjoy visiting the school. But I feel torn between two very different career paths. I love traveling, cultures, the adventure of living overseas, and I think that I would enjoy public diplomacy. But I also value -- extremely value -- my autonomy and independence.  There is something about writing up a business plan, doing the market research, creating something and making it my own, that is far more exciting to me than the idea of working for an agency laden with bureaucracy and highly stratified infrastructure. The opportunities to enter the Foreign Service and be placed at an overseas post (and provided with housing and education and all those perks) is appealing from one perspective, as I'm guaranteed a job and a home in a foreign country, and exposure to international issues and peoples. But what if I'm assigned to a post that is declared "dangerous" and can't bring my family to live in-country? My only alternative would be to leave the State Department.  What if my mom and dad say, "Hey kids, we've rented a cabin in Tahoe for three weeks and we want to have a big reunion. Bring the grandkids!"  It simply wouldn't be an option if I worked for a govt. agency.  From this perspective, I almost couldn't bear to relinquish control of my life schedule to an employer.
It seems like I weigh the two options almost every day; it's a constant push and pull.


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