From the Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program to the Pathways Recent Graduate and GAO Professional Development Programs, the Federal Government has well established initiatives designed to recruit, train, and integrate recent graduates into the public sector. RFG Alumni have excelled at leveraging these programs to launch their careers in public service, but discovering such opportunities can sometimes be challenging. Robyn Battles (Bush, 2022) is currently in a recent graduate opportunity with the U.S. Air Force Security Assistance Training Squadron (AFSAT). In the following piece, she shares her experience in the program thus far, along with recommendations for future Fellows interested in such pathways into public service. 

AFSAT’s Palace Acquire (PAQ) program offers recent graduates a paid, two-three year internship, along with a mentor and a team of professionals dedicated to helping participants achieve their personal and professional goals. After the successful completion of the training program, participants are offered a permanent civil service position. Robyn first learned of this program in 2021 when she was applying for summer internship opportunities between her first and second year of graduate school. She connected with the Air Force Personnel Center (AFPC), who informed her of the program. Given she wasn’t eligible at the time to apply, she made the concrete decision to remain in touch with the office until she graduated. Robyn underscored how important this decision was, stating that finding a point of contact within the organization, either someone in AFPC or another PAQ intern, was crucial to staying up to date on the hiring cycle and potential openings. She shared that she did not see opportunities with the PAQ program advertised on USAJobs or other public forums, so having a contact was essential. 

As a participant in the PAQ program, Robyn has the title of Foreign Affairs Specialist. She directly supports AFSAT’s efforts to engage with international partners through the facilitation of training and other services for partner nations with the aim of strengthening the United States’ alliances around the world. As part of the program, she has the chance to work in various AFSAT departments, gaining insight into the different aspects of the organization’s mission and work. When asked what she is enjoying about her current job, Robyn highlighted that she appreciates all of AFSAT’s moving parts, stating, “It is fascinating to see how directives from top leadership translate into action in various departments that eventually affect individuals worldwide.”  She comments that one challenging aspect of the job is the “language barrier.” She explains that “working for the DOD and in the international affairs realm means processing lots of shorthand and acronyms to the point where I am seemingly ‘translating’ abbreviated sentences into plain English.” She admits that this is one challenge she anticipates will continue as she progresses in her career in public service. However, she appreciates the fact that she works in an environment where questions are welcomed and her colleagues willingly explain unfamiliar concepts.

Looking back, Robyn reflects that her graduate summer internship with INDOPACOM gave her the practical experience necessary for her current role. As an intern with INDOPACOM, she gained experience working on a military base, observing how civilians and military members interact, and understanding the defense industry. She explains that since AFSAT often works with Combatant Commands, she is now able to understand those partnership efforts better. Robyn also credits her academic training at the Texas A&M Bush School for providing her with the historical background to understand international relationships, the critical thinking skills to think a few steps ahead, and the practice of writing in diverse styles and formats. She recognizes the impact that RFG has had on her professional pursuits, stating that the Foundation “provided both professional and personal support to help me excel academically. From helping me secure an extremely rewarding internship to providing professional development seminars, the network of advocates made a huge difference.” Ultimately, Robyn is grateful for her parents, both of whom are retired Air Force members and who instilled in her the importance of giving back and selfless service. She is pleased to live out that legacy daily in her current position as she contributes to a mission larger than herself. 

For those future Fellows interested in the PAQ program, Robyn stresses the importance of making sure your resume highlights your academic record and experiences in the international affairs field and demonstrates how these experiences align with the mission and scope of AFSAT. If invited to interview, Robyn advises candidates to answer each question confidently, authentically, and articulately. She recognizes that the Federal job hunt can be overwhelming and that uncovering pathways into Federal service for recent graduates can be daunting. She encourages Fellows to pursue lots of avenues at once, to consistently keep in contact with potential employers, and to utilize their professional network. Reflecting on her own job hunt, Robyn shares that she would not have her current position with AFSAT if she had not stayed in touch with connections she made over the years. She also would not have this opportunity if she had only applied on one job platform, instead of using multiple platforms to cast a wider net. 

Looking ahead, Robyn is excited for the chance to expand her network both within and outside of AFSAT, taking her own advice of building and maintaining robust professional connections. She is also striving to expand her familiarity with new computer programs, databases, and management systems as a Foreign Affairs Specialist with AFSAT. Finally, on a personal note, Robyn aims to establish a reputation for being teachable, curious, and hardworking as she continues in her public service career.

The Robertson Foundation for Government (RFG) is proud to announce a recent partnership with the International Career Advancement Program (ICAP). ICAP is a professional development and leadership program for highly promising mid-career professionals from underrepresented groups in international affairs in the United States. It provides a support network, career advising, mentors, policy and research background, and other forms of assistance in order to help professionals from underrepresented groups reach their potential and attain leadership positions in international affairs in both the public and private sectors. 

The inauguration of the program involves an introductory day in Washington, DC and a week in Aspen at the Aspen Institute, where participants engage in professional development activities, hear from panels of policy and research experts, work with senior mentors and career advisors, and interact with other participants. 

As a new partner, RFG was honored to sponsor a 2022 ICAP Fellow, Luis González, and facilitate his participation in the Aspen program on October 1-9, 2022. Mr. González is a political-coned Foreign Service Officer serving as a Political Officer in the Department of State’s Office of the Coordinator for Cuban Affairs. 

My participation in the ICAP Aspen program, generously sponsored by the Robertson Foundation for Government, was a transformational experience,” Mr. González recounts. “During my week in Aspen, I embraced my authentic self and story, my new ICAP community of peers and mentors, and professional development experiences that will advance my career goals and help me lift others to reach their potential.” He shared how the ICAP Aspen program expertly focused on the realities and challenges faced by underrepresented and historically disadvantaged mid-career foreign policy professionals, commenting that “it filled us with new energy, hope, and connections to carry on as change agents in our professions.” Reflecting on his experience as an ICAP Fellow, Mr. González states, “The experience provided me a moment to pause and review my personal and professional journey and helped me define steps to further achieve my career and personal service goals.” 

Following the ICAP Aspen program, Mr. González began a 13-month assignment in the State Department’s Operations Center as a Watch Officer. RFG looks forward to hearing more about his career and future accomplishments, while also advancing its newly established partnership with ICAP!

One of its annual traditions, the Robertson Foundation for Government (RFG) hosted a holiday party and charity drive this year at the Old Ebbitt Grill for Fellows, alumni, and their families. Guests brought more than 150 items to donate to a local charity, including nonperishable foods, clothing, and toiletries. These items will go towards supporting families and individuals in need in the Washington, DC area. A huge thank you to everyone who participated in the charity drive and we wish our Fellows and alumni around the world a wonderful holiday season!

Check out photos from the event below and in our Photo Gallery!

A 2021 graduate of the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, Charlotte Volpe is now serving as an Economic Officer with the U.S. Department of State. In her current position, she recently traveled to Dhaka, Bangladesh to serve in a temporary capacity with the U.S. Embassy there. In her role with the Embassy’s Economic Section she worked on a multitude of projects, including the planning of a U.S. Trade Show and the organization of an event with American scientists working on a National Science Foundation-funded project in Bangladesh. 

Looking back on her recent experience abroad, Volpe shares that “it was great meeting our Bangladeshi counterparts in person while in Dhaka. I was able to meet with counterparts in the Government of Bangladesh as well as with U.S. business advocacy organizations.” She also talked about what life was like working in a U.S. Embassy, stating that it was challenging to complete both her day job, which involved meeting with contacts and focusing on USG programmatic and policy efforts on-the-ground in Bangladesh, while also balancing requests coming into post from Washington. Overall, Volpe found the experience to be an edifying one as she not only deepened her economics expertise, but also really enjoyed learning the realities of everyday life in Dhaka, along with gaining knowledge about Bangladesh’s history and culture.  

Volpe got her start at the State Department following the completion of her Boren Fellowship in India. Specifically, while studying at Syracuse University, Volpe had the opportunity to take a gap year while completing her Masters in Public Administration and International Relations to take part in the Boren Fellowship. Speaking about her experience as a Boren Fellow, Volpe shares, “I honed the Hindi skills that I started while in college through daily, immersive language study, and learned so much about India’s complex and very fascinating political, social, and economic context.” This experience paired well with her overall graduate education at Syracuse University, which allowed her to step out of the day-to-day grind and think critically about her work, enabling her to see how what she was learning in school could advance broader U.S. foreign policy objectives, and the long-range impact of those policies. 

As a Boren Fellow, Volpe secured her first role at the State Department as an Economic Officer in the Office of Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives, and Bhutan through the Boren hiring board. Thinking back to the early days of her career, Volpe comments, “I started the Economic Officer role with a basic background on broad economic issues, but I’ve learned so much on the job through exposure, especially on macroeconomics, and have enjoyed it so much.”

When asked about what has made her successful not only in her work with the State Department, but also as a graduate student and Boren Fellow, Volpe cites three things. The first is her study abroad experience as an undergraduate student at Barnard College. While studying abroad in Italy during her junior year, she had the opportunity to intern at the U.S. Embassy in Rome, which ignited her passion for international affairs and diplomacy. Volpe recounts, “I was fascinated with modern European history and Indian history in college,” and this experience motivated her to delve deeper into studying South Asia as a graduate student. 

Volpe also credits the Robertson Foundation for Government as a key contributor to her success thus far, stating that becoming a Robertson Fellow opened the door to multiple opportunities that she would not have had otherwise. Volpe explains that “the network of RFG Fellows is fantastic, and I’ve learned so much from seeing other academic and career paths that Robertson Fellows have gone through.” 

Finally, Volpe emphasizes the benefits of networking both for her personally, but also for any future aspiring students interested in a career in public service. She underscores that it’s important to keep in touch with friends from college, grad school, and the Robertson program because the “best way to learn about opportunities in the Federal Government is through your networks and you never know where your career interests with someone else may overlap!” 

This article represents Charlotte Volpe’s personal thoughts and is not an official position of the U.S. government.

This past October, 21 current RFG Fellows traveled to Washington, DC for the Robertson Foundation for Government’s annual Fall Gathering. This year’s Fall Gathering was special in that it represented the first in-person Fall Gathering since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Fellows kicked off their time in Washington with a dinner at the Japanese Embassy, where they heard remarks from the Embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission Tamaki Tsukada on U.S.-Japanese engagement efforts and the importance of careers in public service. Deputy Chief of Mission Tsukada was joined in his remarks by RFG President Geoff Robertson and the Deans and senior leadership of each of the Foundation’s partner universities, including Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs; Texas A&M University’s Bush School of Government & Public Service; UC San Diego’s School of Global Policy & Strategy; and the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy. In addition to these remarks, Fellows had the opportunity to network with junior Embassy staff, who like them, were embarking on the first steps in their careers in public service. RFG Fellows also enjoyed learning about various aspects of Japanese food and culture, along with potential opportunities to study or work abroad in Japan through programs like the Boren Fellowship and JET Program. To view photos from this event, please check out our Photo Gallery.

A crucial part of the RFG Fall Gathering is giving Fellows the chance to learn more about potential career paths in the Federal Government. In support of this effort, RFG organized several employer site visits for Fellows to participate in during their visit to Washington. Over the course of a full business day, Fellows visited three Federal employers and met with agency representatives to learn more about the work of a particular agency and opportunities for pursuing internships and future jobs. Federal employers this year included the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA); the Smithsonian Institution; the U.S. Department of Agriculture; the U.S. Department of Commerce; the U.S. Department of Energy; the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI; the U.S. Department of State; and the Treasury Department. A special element of these visits was the fact that RFG Alumni were on the informational panels at six out of the eight employers, encouraging current Fellows in their career interests and sharing their experiences serving in government. Each of these visits also included an interactive element, such as a briefing simulation led by the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs at the State Department or a guided tour of FEMA’s National Response Coordination Center, which educated Fellows on how this Center operates in the midst of a national disaster. To view photos from the Fellows’ employer site visits, please check out our Photo Gallery.

Another element of the RFG Fall Gathering was an evening reception for current Fellows and RFG Alumni. This event was an incredible networking opportunity for Fellows and Alumni as they mingled and spoke with RFG partners, members of the Robertson family, and recruiters and representatives from a variety of government agencies. To view photos from the reception, please check out our Photo Gallery.

To closeout the Fall Gathering, Fellows gathered together at the DACOR Bacon House for a full day of professional development workshops led by RFG Chief Program Officer for Fellowships & Career Development, Sharon Swabb, and the Director of Career Services at UC San Diego’s School of Global Policy & Strategy, Stephanie Boomhower. Workshop topics included sessions on career pathways in the U.S. Foreign Service, salary negotiation techniques, and strategies for crafting and tailoring your Federal Resume. The workshops also included a session on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) and your career in which the Fellows had the opportunity to take the MBTI® personality assessment, receive interactive coaching on their assessment results, and learn how to apply the results of their assessment to their career planning efforts. 

RFG is thrilled to have its annual Fall Gathering return to in-person programming, and both the Foundation and its Fellows look forward to what’s in store for the RFG Fall Gathering in 2023.

RFG is proud to announce the most recent additions to the Robertson Fellows’ network. Eleven new fellows have kicked off the 2022-2023 academic year, which marks the 14th class supported by RFG. 

We are excited to introduce our newest fellows and to share more about what motivated them to pursue careers in the Federal Government and international relations. You can read more about each of these amazing Fellows via their bios below. 

Melissa Alvisi, Syracuse University, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs

Areas of Interest: Budgetary Management & U.S. Foreign Policy

Colleen Bowman, University of Maryland, School of Public Policy

Areas of Interest: Global Advocacy, Conflict Resolution, & International Development

Andrew Gasparini, Syracuse University, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs

Areas of Interest: Public Diplomacy, International Development, & Cross-Cultural Exchange 

Indira Gunness, Texas A&M University, Bush School of Government and Public Service

Areas of Interest: Intelligence Analysis & Federal Law Enforcement

McKenzie Hartman, UC San Diego, School of Global Policy and Strategy

Areas of Interest: U.S. Foreign Policy, Climate Change, & Environmental Conservation

Abigail Huie, Texas A&M University, Bush School of Government and Public Service

Areas of Interest: Agricultural Policy & International Trade

Robert Livingston, Texas A&M University, Bush School of Government and Public Service

Areas of Interest: U.S.-China Relations, Economic Policy, and U.S. Foreign Policy

Olivia Parker, University of Maryland, School of Public Policy

Areas of Interest: Consular Affairs, Foreign Language Acquisition, & U.S. Engagement in Asia

Grace Pettey, University of Maryland, School of Public Policy

Areas of Interest: U.S. Engagement in Africa, International Trade and Investment, & Climate Change

Marja Ritchie, Texas A&M University, Bush School of Government and Public Service

Areas of Interest: Cross-Cultural Exchanges & Community Development 

Jackson Rice, UC San Diego, School of Global Policy and Strategy

Areas of Interest: U.S.-China Relations & International Commerce

This past July, RFG Fellows and Alumni gathered together on the patio of the DACOR Bacon House as part of the Foundation’s annual summer BBQ event, a tradition that had been postponed for the past two years in response to COVID-19. The Fellows and Alumni were joined by spouses and significant others, and by Rosenthal Fellows interning in the Washington, DC area this summer. 

With over 40 individuals in attendance at the event, RFG Alumni smiled and laughed as they reunited with other alumni from their RFG partner schools and their graduation class years. RFG Fellows interning in the Washington, DC area this summer remarked on how incredible it was to be back in-person and to have the opportunity to engage with each other and RFG Alumni face-to-face. 

Along with the summer BBQ event, RFG invited Fellows and Alumni to connect in person in July at a Cocktails on the Patio event hosted by the DACOR Bacon House. This event gave Fellows and Alumni the opportunity to network with DACOR Bacon House members, including many retired Foreign Service Officers. A small contingent of RFG Alumni from the Texas A&M Bush School also met in person in July as part of the Dean of the Bush School’s summer intern and alumni reception. 

While RFG will continue to host virtual events during the academic school year, the Foundation is excited to return to in-person events both for the summer and the upcoming RFG Fall Gathering in October.

In today’s quickly changing strategic landscape, RFG looks to expand its partnership with the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM) and the associated Center for Excellence – Disaster Relief and Humanitarian Assistance (CFE-DM) to meet real-world challenges impacting the region. As the Indo-Pacific has risen in strategic importance and climate shocks continue to fuel humanitarian crises worldwide, partnering with USINDOPACOM and CFE-DM places RFG at the cutting edge of national security issues currently impacting the US.

RFG established its partnership with USINDOPACOM and CFE-DM in 2014 through the Student Volunteer Fellowship Program. The program is designed to engage graduate students from across the nation for a ten-week internship during which they work alongside staff within the Command on current national security issues in the Indo-Pacific. Over the past eight years, USINDOPACOM has hosted more than 15 Robertson Fellows for summer internships.

This past summer, Emily Ashbridge (Texas A&M ‘23), interned with the Command Synchronization Team at USINDOPACOM. Expanding on her background in the Asia-Pacific region, Emily said, “Interning at the Indo-Pacific Command this summer gave me an up close look at careers in public service and allowed me to contextualize my academic interests within a professional experience.” As Emily looks towards a career in government focused on the Indo-Pacific, this internship directly exposed her to government work at the center of the region she cares most about.

Given the heightened importance of the Indo-Pacific region, RFG President Geoff Robertson visited both USINDOPACOM and CFE-DM this summer to expand RFG’s partnerships with both entities. From the visit, two potential opportunities with CFE-DM were identified, one through the Applied Research and Information Sharing (ARIS) Fellowship and the other through capstone projects with RFG partner schools during the academic year. Such programs could provide research opportunities for Robertson Fellows year-round on innovative, relevant, and current issues concerning civil-military coordination to prepare for disaster management and humanitarian assistance missions.

Through the ARIS Fellowship program, graduate students are linked directly with developing operational initiatives and stakeholders to bridge the gap between academia and practice. Participation in the program would allow Robertson Fellows an opportunity to work on real-world challenges where their research will be used by planners and decision-makers. Through the capstone projects, selected students would work with practitioners, planners, and policy-makers to address current issues such as climate change, cybersecurity, and mis/disinformation.

As relationships expand with both USINDOPACOM and CEF-DM, RFG will continue to support graduate academic fellowships, government internships, and professional development on issues affecting the Indo-Pacific region. It is by bolstering these collaborative partnerships that RFG advances its mission to cultivate globally engaged public service leaders. 

Read more about Geoff Robertson’s visit in the CFE-DM monthly newsletter.

On July 16, 2022, the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs (APSIA) hosted a Diversity Forum Workshop for Students and Young Professionals as part of its sixth annual Diversity Forum Series. APSIA created the Diversity Forum Series in 2017 to inspire students and young professionals – and those who counsel them – to pursue careers in international affairs. The series particularly focuses on students who are traditionally underrepresented in the field. This year’s student workshop was attended by 50 undergraduates and young professionals from 34 institutions across the US.

RFG was proud to sponsor the event and have three Robertson Alumni participate in one of the sessions, Alum Chats: Moving Forward Professionally “Post” Pandemic. These alumni included Victoria Adofoli (UMD 2022) Cybersecurity Fellow & Technology Policy Advisor, TechCongress; Ana Monzón (Syracuse 2017) Foreign Service Officer at the US Agency for International Development; and Eric Inumerable (UCSD 2020) Research Analyst for the US Trade Development Agency at Ascendant Program Services, LLC. 


On Friday, July 15, 2022, the Public Policy and International Affairs (PPIA) Program hosted its 20th annual Public Service Expo and Career Fair. The virtual expo brought together more than 250 student attendees and over 60 exhibitors, including representatives from some of the nation’s top graduate programs in public policy and international affairs, as well as public sector employers seeking highly qualified individuals who are committed to public service. Students were able to engage exhibitors directly through virtual booths and have all of their questions answered. 

RFG is proud to have sponsored and participated in PPIA’s Public Service Expo for the past three years, and will continue to support the organization’s goal of diversifying the public service sector. For over 40 years, PPIA has provided access to a wide range of resources and opportunities in the public policy and international affairs sector. Their work brings together key stakeholders and partners from the top public policy schools in the nation, the federal government, and think tanks to cultivate a diverse talent pool of public servants committed to addressing pressing social challenges.