USF World News

USF D.C. Global Experience opens doors to careers in international affairs and diplomacy

group of USF students dressed in business attire and standing in front of a building in Washington, D.C.


group of USF students dressed in business attire and standing inside of a building in Washington, D.C.


TAMPA, FL (June 14, 2023) -- The University of South Florida (USF) D.C. Global Experience Program is a new initiative that connects USF students with career opportunities in the fields of diplomacy, national security, and international development. From May 9-13, 2023, twelve USF students participated in the newly launched program in our nation’s capital. These students were provided with opportunities to learn from leaders at federal agencies, non-governmental organizations, and think tanks during three full days of programming.

The program was conceived by Richard Jacobson, a USF World Advisory Council Member and director of the Tampa Bay Area Committee on Foreign Relations, who wanted to expose USF students to the world of international affairs, diplomacy, and global business. “USF World is very fortunate to have a leader like Richard Jacobson on our advisory council,” said Dr. Caruson, vice president of USF World.  “Not only did he provide the vision, but he also raised the funds from the Tampa Bay business community to make this high-impact experience accessible for our students.”

Organized by USF World in partnership with the USF School of Interdisciplinary Global Studies (SIGS) and the USF Judy Genshaft Honors College, participants were high-achieving USF majors or minors in global studies, international relations, political science, or related fields. Through fundraising, Jacobson was able to cover the costs of the program for the selected students. The program was coordinated by Charlotte (Charlie) Ponticelli, an international consultant with 23 years of U.S. government experience. The D.C. Global Experience Program consisted of a 5-day trip to Washington, D.C., during which the students had the opportunity to meet with leaders at various organizations and individuals involved in global affairs. 

USF is recognized nationally for proving access to global experiences for all students. USF is the number one destination in Florida for international student enrollment and the university ranks number 13 in the U.S. among public institutions for study abroad mobility. “The USF D.C. Global Experience Program offers a new avenue for students interested in internationally oriented careers," said Dr. Caruson. “So often we think of global learning happening beyond our borders, but global awareness and literacy can occur within the classroom, on campus, and through carefully curated domestic travel.” She concluded, “I am so thrilled with the depth and breadth of the itinerary. The USF D.C. Global Experience Program demonstrates that it is possible to give students a high-caliber experience in a short period of time. I could not be more impressed.”

From Fowler Avenue to the halls of power


The goal of the program is to provide students with a meaningful learning experience during a short period of time. “In designing the program, our goal was to hit all the bases, in terms of both substance and practical career advice, so as to make this a truly transformative experience,” said Ponticelli. The program gives students a sense of the breadth of career possibilities available to them. 

The program also addressed self-limiting factors students face when pursuing a career in Washington or overseas.  Dr. Scott Solomon, director of SIGS, developed a “USF Alumni in Washington” interactive panel for the students. “One challenge these students face is imagining themselves working for an institution like the State Department or attending one of the many elite graduate schools located in Washington, D.C., for a degree in the field of foreign affairs.” Dr. Solomon says, “We organized the USF alumni panel so students could see examples of how you get from USF to a career in Washington or even beyond the U.S. border.”

To provide USF students with these early-career opportunities, the D.C. Global Experience Program was designed as an immersive experience, providing both insight into the world of international relations and practical networking opportunities. Highlights of the event-filled trip included:

  • Day One
    • Meeting with members of the U.S. Department of State, who shared their insights and experiences on working in diplomacy and foreign service.
    • Visiting the Heritage Foundation, a think tank that conducts research and advocacy on public policy issues, including the need for more experts on artificial intelligence.
    • Meeting with U.S. Representative Kathy Castor, to discuss issues affecting the Tampa Bay region.
    • Visiting the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP), where students met with Ambassador William B. Taylor, vice president of USIP, who spoke about today’s challenges to peace.
    • Dinner with Ambassador Thomas Yazdgerdi, vice president of the American Foreign Service Association and a former U.S. special envoy for Holocaust issues.

  • Day Two
    • Meeting with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), where speakers shared their professional experiences.
    • Traveling to the Woodrow Wilson Center, where the students met with experts on topics such as U.S. relations with China, Russia, and Korea.
    • Visiting the McCain Institute, a nonpartisan organization that promotes character-driven leadership and human rights, to meet with other young professionals.
    • Dinner with diplomat Ambassador Omar Samad, who provided an oral history of Afghanistan before delving into student questions.

  • Day Three
    • Joining Dr. Solomon at the George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, where students had a chance to interact with USF alumni working in Washington.
    • Visiting the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) to learn about the support given to small and micro businesses around the globe.
    • Visiting the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), where students had the unique experience of joining The Trade Guys podcast, for entertaining and thoughtful conversation on trade policy issues.
    • A tour of historic DACOR Bacon House, where students relaxed and discussed career opportunities while enjoying an outdoor barbeque.

Preparing students for their future

group of USF students dressed in business attire and standing in front of a building in Washington, D.C.

The USF D.C. Global Experience Program showcases USF's commitment to fostering global awareness and engagement among its students and was a valuable learning opportunity. Students gained invaluable exposure to different perspectives and career paths in global affairs, as well as developed their professional skills and networks. Participant Corey Shiver summed up the experience saying, “The D.C. Global Experience helped my peers and me understand how we can transform our interests into a career with the range of contacts and organizations we visited. Because of the program, I now have the connections necessary to help transition into the workforce upon graduation.”