Author: Hannah Rakofsky
The diplomat-in-residence for the Midwest visited the University of Iowa on Monday to talk to students who are interested in pursuing fields in the State Department.
Melissa Martinez, a media and communications professional, has worked in the Foreign Service as a public diplomacy officer for 15 years.
According to a UI International Programs press release, “In addition to her work as a diplomat-in-residence, Martinez served as the deputy press attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City. Martinez is also the director of the Media Hub of the Americas for Latin American and Caribbean media based in Florida.”
Angi McKie, the director of Career Center operations, emphasized the importance of Martinez’s visit.
“In general, I think that anytime that the university can provide a way for students to explore career paths and learn about employment opportunities without even leaving the campus — such is the case for Ms. Martinez — is a win for everyone,” McKie said.
McKie stressed the importance of learning from a professional.
“Students can learn from someone who has had diplomatic experience around the globe and learn how that can apply to their own career interests,” she said.
UI freshman Jocelyn Williams, a political-science major who took advantage of Martinez’s office hours, said it is never too early to take advantage of opportunities.
“I learned a lot about some internship programs that the State Department has, so even though you may not be looking for a job, you can still set yourself up so that when you’re ready to, you can be prepared,” she said.
Martinez held office hours in the Pomerantz Career Center to allow students to ask questions and learn more about her field of work who are interested in pursuing a career in the State Department.
“As a public diplomacy officer, our primary role is amplifying foreign-policy messaging to those host country nationals,” Martinez said.
“At the end of the day, were doing public-service work, and meeting the needs of the department, and applying our skills and abilities to the mission of that embassy.”
Although a career at the State Department may seem unreachable, Martinez said she wants students to ditch that mindset.
“Oftentimes, the term U.S. diplomat can be a career choice that seems so far out of reach for anyone, and it’s up to us as diplomats-in-residence to demonstrate that these opportunities are absolutely within reach,” Martinez said.
She noted the significance of having the opportunity to meet with students face-to-face.
“One of the biggest benefits of our diplomat-in-residence program is having the chance for students to have this facetime with a U.S. diplomat,” she said.
Martinez said she values meeting with students in-person.