Report on the International Career Seminar

Elizabeth Gamarra, in her presentation, took us through an in-depth reflection of her career path, drawing on the advice of her mentors and sharing invaluable insights gained from her professional experiences.

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As the G20 Youth Representative of the United States and part of the Board of Directors of the Global Peacebuilding Association of Japan (GPAJ), she shared excellent advice with our students regarding pursuing a meaningful career on the global stage.

On November 9, 2023, Elizabeth Gamarra was invited to speak at the international career seminar, which was hosted by both the College and Graduate School of International Relations. This seminar was part of Graduate School Week 2023, a weeklong event intended to motivate students to begin planning for the future.

Professor Kazushige Kobayashi of the College of International Relations lead the seminar. Sophia Isaacson and Logan Day, both fourth-year JDP students, acted as student moderators.

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You never lose, you either win or learn.

Elizabeth’s background reveals some extraordinary career and life experiences. In fact, she completed her undergraduate degree at the age of 18. She then pursued a double master degree in the fields of mental health (U.S.) and peace studies (Japan). Currently, she is in her last year of her PhD studies as a College Women’s Association of Japan (CWAJ) and Japan Foundation Fellow.

Having previously been a TEDx speaker, Fulbright Scholar, Rotary Peace Fellow, and MEXT Scholar, her professional experiences also include working for the Academic Council of the UN System (ACUNS), OECD Nuclear Energy Agency, and Amnesty International USA.

When asked for advice on how to begin applying for opportunities that initially feel closed off, Elizabeth replied, “If I look at opportunities, I won’t see them as closed off. They are just there, and I will pursue them. The outcome may be disappointing, but I believe everything happens for a reason.”

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Furthermore, Elizabeth is no stranger to rejections and failures. She talked about keeping a “rejection CV,” which lists her career failures and rejections. She examines it every month as a form of motivation to keep trying in the face of disappointment.

“I am very proud of my rejection CV. I always think, ‘OK, this wasn’t meant for me, but they are still here because I've pursued it, I've applied it, and put my best into it.’ Tracking failures is redirection, making me humbler about things that have been realized, and we grow from previous failures.”

Elizabeth also stated, “You should be pursuing things that are competitive and wholeheartedly. You shouldn't be pursuing opportunities just because they are ‘less competitive’.”

Networking should be a lifestyle.

Building meaningful connections is the key to a successful career. Moderator Kobayashi, who is Elizabeth’s “guiding force,” introduced her by saying, “She knows everybody from everywhere, from Europe to Asia, Moon, Mars, all these places. How can she be such a successful networker?”

Elizabeth commented, “I think networking is, for me, happens anywhere, everywhere. And once it becomes something that is part of your lifestyle, then you don't even need to think about networking.”

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She continued, “Just because you exchange your ‘meishi’ (business card) at a meeting or event, doesn’t mean you are growing your network, it just a card. You must truly work on building that relationship intentionally. Hence, if you commit to a project with them, you must keep your word and never ever go back on your word. Such an attitude builds on your reputation, making you more connected to others, and your network naturally grows,” she explained.

And many more valuable insights!

Questions from the students covered many different topics. Questions included self-marketing techniques, internships, utilizing undergrad and graduate academic experiences in the job market, time management, how to deal with burnout, publishing a thesis, and more.

Student moderators Sophia and Logan did an excellent job managing all the questions and greatly contributed to the success of the seminar.

The seminar would never have been so lively, interactive, and fruitful without the enthusiastic audience, both graduate and undergraduate, Japanese and international. The following are comments directly from the students.

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“Elizabeth's seminar provided a clarity about careers in IR that I had never heard before. She gave meaningful advice that I know will stick with me far into the future. I appreciated that it was more of a dialogue than a lecture, which certainly improved the quality of the event”. -Sean Hanley, 3rd-year JDP student

“It was inspiring to hear from Elizabeth, a young student who very successfully took advantage of the opportunities presented to her and who has so far impressively navigated life in the international arena. The seminar presented a valuable opportunity to students like me who are interested in an international career to not only hear about some concrete jobs, internships, and organizations to work with, but also ways in which to approach networking and time management. Her experience and helpful responses to both the moderator and student questions has provided an insightful look into the possible paths available to me and has made me excited for where I'll go post-grad”. -Ellie Mccampbell, 3rd-year JDP student

“The event was very insightful and inspiring. I have better understanding on how to launch myself as young professionals. The connects made that day help me strengthen my network globally”. -Carlos (Chuk) Prudencio, 3rd-year JDP student

“Hearing from Elizabeth was a pleasure and inspiration, as always. I was blown away by the sheer expanse of her activity, and also by the drive she displayed and the remarkable extent her advice extended to, going beyond just career to include aspects like mental health. I walked away from the session feeling reinvigorated to continue with my own career efforts and with broadened horizons as to how I can continue to develop as a youth leader in US-Japan relations.” -Tommis Meyer, 3rd-year JDP student.

The seminar was closed by Moderator Kobayashi, who demonstrated the career website listing IR-related and entry-level jobs, and Professor Ryoji Nakagawa of the Graduate School of International Relations, who provided an overview of his graduate school.

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“People are the key to opportunities – not only for your career but life in general.” These were Elizabeth’s words at the end of the seminar. She also expressed her gratitude to her mentors such as Florence Maher, Royanne Doi and Dhiren Doshi who have been incredible examples of this lesson.  Thanks to her, attendees learned that networking is not only how you connect with the right people, but also how you can help others succeed by building a bridge between them.

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