#ElliottProud: Sarah Jeong

#ElliottProud: Sarah Jeong

Sarah Jeong smiles. She is wearing graduation regalia and holding flowers. She is outside on the GW campus. Sarah Jeong, M.A. in Asian Studies, 2023, #ElliottProud

Sarah Jeong is from Los Angeles, California and she moved to Washington D.C. to pursue her dream of public service. As a full-time graduate student at the GW Elliott School of International Affairs, she interned as a research assistant at the Korea Defense Veterans Association, a clerk at BGR Public Relations, and a Virtual Student Federal Service intern at the U.S. Commercial Service among her other internships. In her spare time, she likes to takes walks, watch classic movies, and browse cat/dog videos.

When did you realize you wanted an international career?

I realized I wanted an international-oriented career in high school, so I have a B.A. in International Relations. I wanted to have a narrower focus, so I applied and became a student in the Elliott School’s Asian Studies program.

What is your current position? What did the path look like to get there?

My current position is a Program Analyst at the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) Office of Inspector General (OIG). This agency is a relatively new government agency that funds developmental projects in developing countries. I did not know about this agency prior to applying, but I was very interested in the international focus. I applied through USAJOBs. At the time, I had applied to various Pathways Internships in different agencies with an international focus almost every single day. The Pathways Internship is a competitive system but it is a great way for entry-level/students to try out a government position.

I also did not know anything about the OIG, but I have great mentors who are passionate about educating interns and experts in this field. The OIGs’ mission is to prevent and address waste, fraud, and abuse. I feel very proud to be a part of an organization that promotes integrity and honesty.

What part of your experience at the Elliott School best prepared you for post-grad career?

Looking back, I believe the capstone experience best prepared me for my post-grad career. At the time, capstone was a struggle, especially because communication was difficult. But I realize that focusing on the task at hand is the best way to get through most friction that occurs due to team projects. And no one works alone, so capstone is a great way to experience the difficulties and the benefits of working together.

What advice do you have for prospective students who are considering a graduate degree in international relations?

International relations is a huge, huge field. I’m sure everyone has heard this before, but always be open-minded. I expected myself to be a foreign service officer, but right now I work for a development agency, which is great! One advice I would give is to figure out if you want to work for the government or a non-profit. I’ve always wanted to be in public service, so I focused on applying at USAJOBs. Applying for jobs and internships is a job in and of itself, so figuring out where you want to apply to saves you a lot of time.

What did you value most about living and studying in D.C.?

The biggest plus of studying IR in D.C. is that this degree actually means something. And it will be useful to you in a career field, just in case some people feel like this degree is taking you nowhere. I felt like that once, but I’ve stayed in the international field, and I love it!

What is your favorite book?

I like most classic books. Don’t necessarily have a favorite book but I like timeless stories. It’s like being on a time machine, and I really like that feeling.

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The #ElliottProud profile series is managed by the Elliott School Office of Graduate Admissions and highlights graduate program alumni to answer common questions posed by prospective, incoming, and current students. For more information on this series or to submit questions, e-mail the Office of Graduate Admissions at esiagrad@gwu.edu.

The views expressed by students profiled do not necessarily represent those of organizations they work for, are affiliated with, or the Elliott School of International Affairs.