Voices of Youth Inspire! "be a problem-solver, be organized and value diversity"
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Your name: Carrie Gryskiewicz
Your age: 32
Where are you originally from and where do you currently live?
I am originally from Minnesota in the United States, and I currently live in the Hague in the Netherlands.
According to your business card – what’s your job title?
I am the family reunification program manager at the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in the Netherlands.
And how does that compare with what you wanted to do when you were 10 years old?
At 10 years old I thought it would be interesting to be an ambassador, but I had no idea what that meant. From a young age, I was interested in other cultures, which is now a central theme in my work.
Give us 10 words that describe your typical work day?
I provide family reunification assistance and develop cultural orientation curriculum for family reunification migrants around the world coming to the Netherlands.
In a nutshell, how did you get to where you are right now? Name some of the most important milestones.
I reached this point in my career by pursuing all different types of opportunities. I studied abroad in Ecuador and Chile, I completed an internship with the US Department of State in Peru, I worked as a US Foreign Service Officer in Washington DC, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Belgium, I taught at a university in Lithuania, I volunteered with the International Rescue Committee in New York, and now I work for the International Organization for Migration in the Netherlands. All of these experiences helped me to clarify my interests, develop my knowledge and identify my strengths and weaknesses.
What was the biggest obstacle you had to overcome to get to your current position and how did it help you to grow as a person?
The biggest obstacle to finding my current position was competing with a highly qualified workforce. It took several months to find this position, but during that time I expanded my professional network, improved my foreign language skills and confirmed my interest in the field of migration.
How important was your choice of degree/field of study at university for what you’re doing now?
I completed my undergraduate degree in Global Studies and Spanish Studies and my graduate degree in International Educational Development. My academic background is relevant to the work I do now, but I think it would be possible to work in the field of migration with a variety of academic backgrounds. I think it would have been helpful to specialize more on a specific topic related to migration like emergency education, psychosocial support or public health.
What are the top three things someone needs to excel in your field?
It is necessary to be a problem-solver, be organized and value diversity.
What do you think is the MOST important thing governments and/or companies can do to help young people get started in their careers?
I think it is important for governments and/or companies to provide paid, short-term placements for students so that everyone has an equal opportunity to gain practical experience and develop professional skills.
On a lighter note, tell us about the strangest day you’ve ever had at work or the strangest thing you had to do?
When I was a US Foreign Service Officer, I worked in the consular section doing visas interviews, which allowed me to talk to so many interesting people. One interview that stands out in my mind is the scientist in Belgium who explained to me how he was developing an ‘invisibility’ cloak.
Some words to youth out there: What advice can you give them when chasing their dream position?
My advice would be to proactively reach out to people who work in fields that interest you. People in all fields are willing to share their experience and insights. Setting up meetings is a great way to expand your network, show initiative and explore opportunities.