JEFFREY ZINSMEISTER

AUTHOR, HOW TO WORK OVERSEAS

WHO AM I?

International affairs are my passion.  Life has blessed me with a career that I dreamed about as a teenager, and I am deeply thankful for the chance to do what I love.

My overseas experience began in 1997, when I spent a few months in Rome studying Italian.  (At the time I am writing this, twenty-one years have passed.  Dear God.)

With hard work and a little luck, that initial experience allowed me to kick-start an international career. What I learned allowed me to return to Italy to intern with the U.S. Embassy and write a travel guide.  Work then took me to London as a trainee attorney, to Rio de Janeiro as a volunteer with a human rights organization, to Cape Verde, Brazil, and Mexico as a U.S. diplomat, and across South America as a management consultant with Bain & Co. 

Some of these roles connected me with issues that made the front pages of newspapers, such as two years working on narcotrafficking issues in Mexico, or designing a multi-billion-dollar development project in Latin America.  Others were more mundane but just as meaningful, like helping American citizens in West Africa.

Along the way I became fluent in Spanish and Portuguese, and met so many wonderful and interesting people.

Today, this accumulated experience serves me well as the manager of a technical assistance program in the Americas, where I continue learn new skills, meet new people, and face new challenges overseas on a near-daily basis.

WHY THIS WEBSITE?

I created this website to help people interested in overseas work make their passions a reality in whatever small way I can.

My hope is that my own experience stumbling through this issue can save you time and heartache along your own path, wherever it may lead you.

I often receive questions from people about how they might also work overseas.  Many assume that I had some sort of master plan at age 19 to go abroad.

This couldn't be farther from the truth.

I learned most of what I know today the hard way -- from trial and error -- partially because in the late 1990s there was precious little information available online about working overseas.  All I knew that I was curious about the world and enjoyed reading and thinking about international relations.

In fact, when I first went overseas, I had almost no travel experience.  I spoke no languages other than English.  My first experience in Rome involved a crafty Roman cabbie overcharging me for a ride to a cheap hotel, whose crafty manager also overcharged me.

Since that time, life also brought me a number of false starts and challenges.  I persevered because I knew what I liked, but there were moments where I questioned the decisions I had made and the risks I had taken.

This is all to say -- you are in good company on this page if you are interested in overseas work but aren't really sure how to get there.

PLACES MY CAREER HAS TAKEN ME