Charlin Caster is a Federal contractor at the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Young Professionals in Foreign Policy sat down with her to hear right from the source what it takes to succeed in pursuing a career in foreign policy.
Charlin began her career as a public relations and event management professional and grew into her interest in public affairs for foreign policy, with a specific interest in women's empowerment and gender equality.
Name: Charlin Caster
Member since: 2013
Involvement with YPFP: Venue Manager, Programs
Current Job: Program Communications and Operations Consultant, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BAE Systems)
Education: BA Communications and Leadership Studies, University of North Carolina at Wilmington
Pursuing a Career in Foreign Policy: An Interview with Charlin Caster
What did you want to do before you went to college?
I wanted to become a broadcast journalist or host a current events talk show, similar to The View.
How did your career choice evolve throughout school?
My career choice changed dramatically as I was exposed to different career possibilities. Two years into college I decided to pursue public relations and then a career in event planning. I held fast to this career path for years after college and eventually realized I was drawn to foreign policy and international affairs. I’m still interested in event planning and shaping public relations, but specifically as it relates to international programs.
What area of the international arena interests you the most and why?
Promoting women’s economic and social empowerment, combating human trafficking and mobilizing resources around gender equality interests me the most. I feel a challenge and responsibility to advocate on behalf of women.
Where do you see yourself a decade from now?
Ten years from now I see myself working at the U.S. Department of State in the Office of Global Women’s Issues or as a Foreign Service Officer in a diplomacy delegation managing public affairs projects.
If you weren't in the foreign affairs world, what would be your alternative, pie-in-the-sky dream job?
It’s hard to envision a different career path but I've always felt a charge to social justice and advocacy. I think a career as a Civil Rights Attorney would be purposeful work as well. Working as a professional food critic on one of those food competition shows doesn't look like a bad gig either.
If you could meet a deceased famous historical figure who would it be and why?
I would like to meet Nelson Mandela to gain insight about his work as a revolutionary and as a philanthropist.
What do you know know that you wish you could tell your undergraduate self?
Invest in your cultural awareness and foreign language skills by traveling or moving abroad. Enroll in a statistics course and gain as many technical and professional skills as possible. Begin and continue growing your network.
What should college students be doing while they are in college to ensure they get a job after graduation.
Network, find mentors, intern and build your professional brand.
Any tips related to internships?
I completed a handful of internships in and after college – some were paid but most were not. These were great experiences and introductions to a professional climate. My school’s career center was instrumental in connecting me with the internships I received college credit for. However, I got one particular internship by asking the business owner if I could volunteer my time to help as her assistant and to learn from her. It was win-win! She never had an advertised internship program but was receptive to being a mentor. This is where networking pays off.
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the views of their employer or Young Professionals in Foreign Policy.