Left to Right: Chris Bensan, Ronaldo Adame, Ron VanDon, Jasmine Bassett, US Department of State Senior Advisor Taylor Ruggles, Dome Ri, Merrick Orot, and Camarin Flores.
US Department of State Visit: Careers in Foreign Affairs

On June 5th, the University of Guam was visited by Mr. Taylor Ruggles, a Senior Advisor for the US Department of State and an expert in energy policy. During his presentation, Ruggles focused on a few key points that can serve as a starting point for students.


For many University of Guam students, a common concern is, “Do I need to major in something specific?” The answer is that it depends. That said, there are two paths: a generalist path and specialist path.

For those who pursue a generalist pathway (ie. become a Foreign Service Officer), there are five career tracks: Economic, Diplomacy, Consular or Political. While conceptual knowledge from related majors like political science and public administration can be helpful, a generalist path is not necessarily “major-locked” per se. Instead, Ruggles pointed out that it’s the skills that makes a bigger impact: adaptability, being able to translate what one knows into the context, communication, and a desire to learn are important for generalists. Not surprisingly, the ability to learn languages and being culturally mindful is crucial when connecting with other people all over the world.

On the other hand, the field does have a need for specialists, especially for the more technical areas that require further expertise and experience. Foreign Service Specialists focus on areas like IT, medical, management, and security. Students looking to apply their computer science, public administration, healthcare, or criminal justice degree after college can leverage their knowledge and pursue these type of positions.


With the increase of local and regional issues ranging from building better infrastructure and developing new energy solutions to counter climate change to the complex geopolitical issues in the region, the voices and perspectives of Pacific Islanders are needed more than ever. To this end, the Thomas Pickering Foreign Affair Graduate Fellowship Program and the Charles Rangel International Affairs Program are great — and highly competitive — programs for students who are looking for that next step in foreign affairs and find funding for graduate school.

Related: UOG Alumnus secures fellowship for future diplomats

A career in foreign affairs is not an easy path and it may not be for everyone. But with a variety of internship and fellowship opportunities that open up annually, there are pathways for students and recent graduates that could help open a door and pursue this type of career.


Want to learn more about the various internship and fellowship opportunities? Check out the flyers below.

By Ron VanDon
Ron VanDon Career Advising Specialist