The MSFS Alumni Spotlight series shines a spotlight on our incredible alumni. These women and men share a common MSFS degree, yet they are leaders in so many different careers. They reflect on their time at Georgetown, discuss how they’ve used their degree to excel in their positions, and share their advice for future alums. This Alumni Spotlight focuses on Stephen Carpenter, MSFS ’01.
Mr. Carpenter serves as Senior Principal, Global Practice Leader at Development Alternatives, Inc. (DAI). As an international development practitioner, he works with government officials and local consultants in developing countries to improve the quality of services government provides to citizens, especially in the field of public financial management and accountability. “I am most proud of the tangible impact I have had over the years working on various projects: streamlining processes for businesses and citizens, combating corruption, and addressing citizen needs,” he said.
“When I discovered my passion for international relations and international development,” Carpenter reminisced, “I knew I needed to find a program that would help me build real-world skills.” Carpenter attributes much of his success to his time at MSFS, specifically from the program’s emphasis on practical experience and skills, matched with a theoretical framework. “Preparing for the MSFS oral examination helped me develop the ability to articulate complex ideas in a concise and compelling way,” he reflected.
Carpenter particularly benefited from the emphasis on resume building, networking, interviewing techniques, and other career development skills. He recommended that the most important thing students can do in preparation for careers in a changing global landscape is to develop strong communication skills. He said, “It is still essential for professionals to demonstrate logical thinking and clear, concise, and persuasive writing. This includes the ability to focus mentally and manage one’s time and workload.”
Carpenter also recommended that students take advantage of the broad course curriculum available to them and try different subjects, perhaps in an unfamiliar area. He also suggested taking classes that help build practical skills for international work.
Georgetown MSFS has some of the most qualified professors and students in the field of international relations. As Carpenter pointed out, however, the career preparation skills with which the program equips its students are at least as important as its strong academic setting. Students can carry these skills with them into any professional setting.