Jake Alter '11
What is your current job?
Program Associate, Professional Exchanges Division, Meridian International Center
Why did you choose this profession?
As my intellectual curiosity continued to grow in the wake of 9/11, I quickly realized that the United States knew very little about the world around us. Decisions were being made without a full consideration of the local cultures, religions, and histories of a particular country or community. Through the State Department funded International Visitors Leadership Program, the Meridian International Center works to bridge that cultural divide. This program is one of many vital (although usually overlooked) elements of U.S. foreign policy.
What more do you wish to accomplish in your professional career?
It is rewarding to work for something that you believe in and I look forward to a career working toward advancing U.S. interests at home and abroad. I plan to continually further my understanding of the world—the greater Middle East region more specifically—as well as the way decisions are made and policies enacted within the U.S. foreign policy apparatus. It has always been my hope that following a long career, I am able to give back by sharing my experiences with young minds in the classroom and on the athletic field.
Tell us about a decision or change you made that turned out to be a positive career move.
In February of 2012, I decided to drop everything and move to Greensboro, NC in order to reelect President Obama. I had always been turned off by the hyper-partisan nature of electoral politics and never imagined myself working in that kind of setting. It was out of my comfort zone to move to a city where I had zero friends, family, or any sort of familiarity but I decided that this election was too important and that I wanted to go somewhere where it was going to count. For nine months, I worked around the clock for a cause that I truly believed in. I made life-long friends, was exposed to a variety of different kinds of people, and learned what hard work is really about. I may never work for a political campaign again, but I will forever value the experience that I had. I would encourage any young person to drop everything to work for a candidate that they truly believe in. I know plenty of people who took time off of school to join a campaign and they were better prepared for post-college life for doing so.
How has Haverford influenced your professional career?
Haverford helped shape the way that I think and how I look at the world. The religion department taught me to question everything and to never accept broad “truths.” This has framed the way I approach every job I have had. My moral compass and desire to work toward bettering our country and world was instilled in me early by my grandfather, but was only reinforced in my four years at Haverford. As a member of the baseball team, I learned how to identify my own strengths and work to contribute in any way possible.