News Story

Andrew Vaccaro, '15, Followed Steps to Success — and to the State Department

Andrew Vacarro speaking to students

"You need to know where you want to go to — then, you can figure out the steps that will get you there."

Andrew Vaccaro, '15, definitely followed his necessary steps, from double-majoring in political science and English at Binghamton University to finding success in his current position as a program coordinator for the US Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in the Office of International Visitors.

During his time at Binghamton, Vaccaro was involved in many on-campus organizations: he was a member of the a capella group Kaskeset, was a member of Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity, a resident assistant in Dickinson Community, and member of the swim and tennis clubs, to name a few. Now, he spends his days walking the halls of the State Department, organizing and planning and meeting with international visitors, introducing the world to the United States government.

In a Cool Connections, Hot Alumni talk last Friday, Vaccaro shared stories and advice with 40 students who are interested in careers in politics. Vaccaro — who continued his education with a Master's in Global Governance, Politics, and Security from American University's graduate program in International Relations — urged students to take advantage of amazing opportunities on-campus.

"Being here in Binghamton helped me realize how big the world is," Vaccaro said.

Though Vaccaro had no internships during undergraduate, he interned somewhere new throughout each semester of graduate school. Eventually, he earned the State Department's Pathways Internship, a program that offers an internship to graduate students with the goal of hiring them full-time upon graduation. "If you write down anything today, you should write 'careers.state.gov,''" he told the room of students. Vaccaro said the State Department offers opportunities for undergraduates as well as graduate students and recent alumni.

Sophomore Danielle Rubin felt that this program helped her better envision her career. "He was super responsive, and gave us good advice that was relevant and could definitely help the students who were there," said Rubin, who majors in human development.

While most students present for his talk were undergraduates studying political science, Vaccaro credits his English major as having prepared him for his graduate program and for his career, as it taught him how to write and communicate expertly. "You want to play to your strengths," he said.

Many students asked about Vaccaro's future goals. As for the foreign service, he said that will hopefully be part of the plan. "Those are the most enviable jobs in the world," he said. "What could be better than promoting the US abroad?"

Vaccaro urged students to utilize resources like the Fleishman Center, hireBING, and different online tools to help them find internships and jobs in the world of government and public policy. For those interested in working for the State Department like Vaccaro, here are his biggest tips:

  1. Network as much as you can. Vaccaro got his best internship from walking down the hallway into a different office in his building, and asking about opportunities.
  2. Sign up to receive email updates from the USA Pathways Internship. This will notify you when the program is accepting applicants. 
  3. Be as involved on-campus as possible.
  4. Attend a Washington, D.C. Employer visit during spring break.

If you missed Vaccaro's talk, or want to learn more about careers in the State Department, the Fleishman Center has you covered with two more opportunities this week:

Sandra Khalil '15, Program Coordinator of the Office of International Visitors
Thursday, Nov. 16 at Noon in UU 205 (Virtual)
RSVP for this program

Diane Castiglione '82, Former Deputy Executive Director
and Robert Manogue, Director of Office of Bilateral Trade Affairs
Friday, Nov. 17 at 1:30 p.m. in UU-206
RSVP for this program