Natasha Demick gains ‘access to expertise’ from alumnus through Auburn International Mentoring Program
Few things are more nerve-racking than that final semester of college, knowing that you now need an answer to everyone’s favorite question, “What’s next?” For Natasha Demick, 2023 public administration master’s graduate, the answer was secure thanks to the guidance and expertise of alumnus Zachary “Zac” George (2010, political science), her mentor with the Auburn International Mentoring Program.
In fall 2022, Demick and George were paired for a yearlong tailored mentorship experience through the AIM Program, hosted by the Office of International Programs. Demick applied to the program hoping to not only connect with someone who could provide guidance and expertise in her career field but also prepare her for a career with international impact. The AIM Program provided just that in Zac George, who has lived overseas for six years and currently serves as an international market development manager for CRFS Ltd, a firm based in the United Kingdom.
The 2022-23 academic year was George’s third time mentoring with AIM, but first time being paired with a master’s student. Demick was a standout as she showed a heightened level of focus, determination and passion to build a career in the international sector.
Initially, Demick hoped to land a job with the United States Agency for International Development. While the goal itself wasn’t unattainable, George knew from his personal experience that government positions typically take 3-6 months to land.
So, to get into the sector fast and build her experience, Demick and George researched private industry companies that hold government contracts with USAID. It is this kind of industry insider expertise that international alumni like George can offer students to get their resumes in front of the right people and ultimately kickstart their careers. And it is programs like AIM that offer students direct lines to our accomplished alumni that are eager to give back to the Auburn Family.
“During the job application process, Zac shared valuable networking tips and introduced me to a relevant contact within his professional network,” Demick said. “This allowed me to gain another perspective on the company I am now with and make a better-informed decision about the job.”
Demick is now a program associate with World Learning, a global development and exchange organization delivering education programs in more than 150 countries. In her role, Demick oversees and coordinates multiple professional exchange programs.
In addition, Demick works for a team that operates on an international scale to facilitate a program led by the United States Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The program seeks to foster mutual understanding between the U.S. and other countries by bringing emerging leaders and professionals from around the world to the states for short-term visits. Specifically, she manages communications, finances, travel logistics, compliance and reporting to ensure a smooth and impactful experience for international visitors.
In view of all she has accomplished and will undoubtedly achieve through this position, Demick has set herself up for an impactful international career, a career that she anticipates being filled with constant learning and self-improvement.
“Throughout our mentorship journey, Zac consistently emphasized the value of staying curious, seeking new knowledge and embracing opportunities for growth,” Demick said. “Zac’s own passion for learning was infectious, and he led by example, sharing how he continued to expand his expertise and stay up to date in his field.”
George encouraged Demick to approach challenges with a learning mindset and view setbacks as opportunities for improvement rather than roadblocks. In George’s case, he and his Swiss wife currently live in St. Gallen, Switzerland, where the main spoken language is German. George loves the challenge of speaking German every day and diving into the local culture.
Professionally, he thoroughly enjoys learning from foreign businesses and how their problem solving differs from the U.S. When living and working abroad you get the opportunity to broaden your perspectives and engage with cultures that test your approach to almost every aspect of everyday life. However, that doesn’t mean you have to go abroad to have international experiences.
George tells all his mentees that “international” doesn’t necessarily mean crossing physical borders. For instance, students can study a foreign language and learn about cultures that way. Or, students can pursue a job at a U.S. company that does business abroad as a means of working with people from around the world, as Demick successfully did.
There are so many avenues to achieving an international career. The difficulty is getting personalized guidance on which of those avenues is best for each individual student. That’s where the AIM Program comes in. As Demick put it, “AIM offers students a unique and invaluable mentorship experience that can significantly enhance a student’s personal and professional development.”
From the mentorship experience, students can gain access to alumni expertise; receive personalized career guidance; develop and sharpen professional skills; be exposed to different perspectives; gain confidence and motivation; and enhance career readiness.
The AIM Program is accepting new student applicants for the 2023-24 academic year. To learn more, visit the program’s website.