Amy Hyatt '78 shares her experiences and practical knowledge about a career in the foreign service on Oct. 8. Hyatt's talk was part of the Homecoming events.
Photo by Lesli Van Zandbergen
Alumna discusses careers in foreign service
October 12, 2010Tweet
College students looking for a career in demand should consider the foreign service, says a Binghamton University alumna with extensive experience in the field. That’s because the United States, which normally hires about 300 diplomats each year, is hiring 1,000 this year and is expected to do the same next year.
Amy Hyatt ‘78, a veteran employee of the U.S. Department of State and current Diplomat-in-Residence at Arizona State University, spoke to students and alumni last Friday about the role of American embassies overseas and career prospects within the foreign service. The Alumni Association and Career Development Center sponsored the presentations, which took place during the University’s Homecoming weekend. Hyatt’s foreign service experience includes serving as resource manager and ethical and legal advisor to ambassadors and deputy chiefs of mission at American embassies.
“We are the ones who ensure that what we are doing in that country is appropriate by local laws and by U.S. laws,” Hyatt said. “We don’t have to follow local laws because we’re the U.S. Embassy and we have diplomatic immunity, but we choose to, so we can model the behavior that we speak about.”
Hyatt, who is one of more than 7,000 American diplomats around the world, discussed the five available career tracks in the State Department and shared some experiences from what is actually her second career. After graduating from Binghamton with a bachelor’s degree in political science, she went to law school, then worked as a litigation attorney before deciding she needed a change.
“I joined the foreign service for one tour, I thought,” Hyatt said. “I was going to go anywhere to get away from my life in San Francisco as a lawyer. My first tour was in Seoul, Korea, in the 1980s, and it was fascinating, so I decided to stay with this career and never looked back.”
Although Hyatt speaks Norwegian fluently and has a law degree, she said it’s not necessary for people entering the field to know a foreign language or have a degree in a particular field of study. However, she said it’s critically important that would-be diplomats possess an interest in learning languages and the ability to adapt to different lands and cultures.
“You have to have that adventurous spirit, that willingness to change,” Hyatt said. “If you’re the kind of person who wants to put down roots in one location, do the same thing and not change, this is not the career for you.”
Listen to an excerpt of Hyatt’s presentation at the Homecoming website.