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Diplomat in Residence Guides Students to International Careers

Thomas R. Hanson, UMD Diplomat-in-Residence (far right) with students interested in diplomatic careers: (l-r) Peter Tomczik, Katie Axford, Karl Stromley, Liz Klein, and Conor Schultz.
conor, peter, hanson
Peter Tomczik (l) has been accepted as an alternate for a summer internship at the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C. Conor Schultz (center) will serve as an intern at the U.S. Mission to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe office in Vienna, Austria. Hanson is on the right.

Tom Hanson is helping students launch international careers. He is currently serving his third semester as Diplomat in Residence with the Royal D. Alworth Institute for International Studies.

In this role, Hanson gives one public lecture a semester and does guest lectures in various classes. His main focus is to provide guidance and advice to students interested in diplomatic careers, specifically in the Foreign Service and State Department.

"I want students to be aware that there can be an international dimension to almost any job nowadays," Hanson said. "The State Department and Foreign Service represent just one path among many to an international career."

Hanson says that since 9/11 and especially since 2009, the State Department and the U.S Agency for International Development (USAID) have been expanding, causing them to hire and recruit more students.

"There are possibilities in this field to find government and international employment," Hanson said. "These tend to be really stable careers."

During his time as Diplomat in Residence, Hanson has guided two UMD students to summer internships at the State Department.

Future Diplomats

Conor Schultz has been accepted as an intern with the U.S. Mission in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe office and will be stationed in Vienna, Austria this summer. He will be working within the Office of the Representative on the Freedom of the Media.

"I am really excited for this opportunity," Schultz said. "If Tom had not come to speak to my class this fall, I never would have found out about the U.S. Mission internship. He gave me insights on how foreign policy works and it will be exciting to see them in action this summer."

Peter Tomczik, double major in International Studies and Economics, is an alternate for a summer internship at the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C.

"Working in international affairs, and especially with the Foreign Service, is an exciting career track," he said. "When I heard Tom speak about all the different jobs that were available, something clicked. I knew it this was what I wanted to do. I took the test last fall. I submitted a resume and a statement of interest, and I was accepted."

Tomczik hopes to one day work in international relations in an embassy in China.

Hanson has been a diplomat for 23 years. He chose to be a Diplomat in Residence at UMD because the university has a lot to offer its students. "There is such a wonderful collegial atmosphere here and UMD has such a wide range of international programs," Hanson said.

Tom Hanson

Currently, he serves as Program Secretary of the St. Paul-Minneapolis Committee on Foreign Relations and as a lecturer/consultant for the Great Decisions program at the Minnesota International Center. Hanson is also a Board Member for the Oslo Center of Peace and Human Rights, which is based in Norway. He hopes to establish a center in Minneapolis.

Hanson graduated from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus. Soon after, he became interested in joining the Foreign Services.

Hanson served as a Foreign Service Officer with the Department of State for nearly 25 years. His postings included East Germany, France, Norway, the Soviet Union, Sweden, and Georgia. He assisted in opening new embassies in Mongolia and Estonia.

Hanson has also worked on the Foreign Relations Committees of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Most recently, he was Director for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and European Affairs at the Atlantic Council of the United States in Washington, D.C. 

Hanson says that he enjoys providing guidance and advice to students interested in international affairs. "It's great to see students utilizing the growing number of international opportunities that UMD offers," Hanson said. "I'm always here to help anyone who is interested."

The Process

Students interested in joining the Foreign Service can choose among five career tracks: political, economic, consular, administrative, and public diplomacy. To enter any of these tracks, the student must take the Foreign Service examination, which consists of a written and an oral portion. In addition, the State Department hires in a wide range of specialist positions in areas such as diplomatic security, in which recruitment is by direct-hire rather than by examination.

Hanson notes that each year the Department of State offers paid summer internships for college students at U.S. embassies around the world, as well as at the Department of State in Washington, DC. These internships offer an excellent opportunity to "'see what the diplomatic life is like," Hanson said.

To find out more information about a career in the Foreign Service, email Tom Hanson or visit the U.S. Department of State.

Written by Mandee Kuglin

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