Married, single, male, female, pre-med or English degree — you can be anything for this job. The
only requirement? Inexhaustible curiosity.
Monday former Ambassador to Brazil, Marvyn Letivisky ate lunch with Albion students, sharing
his extensive experience. Levitsky has been working in the foreign service since the Cold War
era around the globe—including Germany, Russia and Brazil. Levitsky’s talk shattered the
notion many liberal arts students worry over: that there is no career for them.
Levitsky touted the versatility both available and necessary for a career in the Foreign Service. He
said “there are specialties” within the Foreign Service, but by and large, it is certainly “a liberal
The Foreign Service includes all of those who work for the U.S. State Department, but that
doesn’t mean it’s a political career. While it may initially appeal to politicos, some of the
specialties Levitsky described include public health, science, communications, economics and
culture and the arts. All of these things make for an ideal Foreign Service officer.
“For the most part it [the job] is what is called ‘world-wide available’,” Letivsky said.
This means you have to be available to go anywhere at anytime, and be able to put your skills to
work on the ground.
In a world where many would consider women to still be under a kind of “glass ceiling,” the
Foreign Service offers itself as an exception.
Today, about women make up about 50 percent of the Foreign Service workforce. April Glasby,
Ambassador to Iraq is one of many women who holds a high-authority position in the foreign
“In most countires there is a sense of mutual respect,” said Levitsky. “There are also family considerations.” Some married couples work as a “tandem couple,” Levitsky explained, and are assigned to the same consulate.
One of the the most important things for this job is what Albion students do best: the balancing
act between keeping up with classes and keeping up with campus. Phil Brimer, a Troy junior, is
looking ahead to a possible career in Foreign Service.
“I attend meetings with guests from the state department when they are on campus or I attend a
lecture. Second, I think that taking at least one class with global implications …because the only
way to have relations with a person or a country is if you know their past,” said Brimer. “Third,
I am involved in the Ford Institute which fosters thoughts that are important in public service
Letivky talked about how important it is for a foreign service officer to be able to retain a lot
of information at once. Officers are given between just a few months and a year to learn the
“You have to be a quick study, too,” Levitsky said.
For a moment, Levitsky also reflected on his college experience, laughed to himself, and found that those old lessons from college still hold today.
“Sometimes I say to myself: what’s the best skill I learned in college?” Levitksy said. “Cramming the night before an exam.”
Photo courtesy of WikiCommons.