Kate Francis

Kate Francis

Major: Theater
Year of Graduation: 2001

After graduation, Kate taught English in China through the Maryknoll China Service Project.  Upon returning to the states, Kate served as a field organizer for Target Market (the St. Paul-based teen-led movement to challenge big tobacco) and also interned in Congresswoman Betty McCollum's D.C. office.  While working on the Hill, Kate saw an announcement for an Asia Foundation event.  She researched the organization's women's programs, and met with the Assistant Director of the program for an informational interview.  Because of that interview, she received an internship, which was short lived as the women's program happened to be looking for a program assistant at the time and hired her two weeks into the internship program. 

Current Job: Program Assistant for the Asia Foundation in Washington, D.C.

Briefly describe your duties/responsibilities at the Asia Foundation.  What is a typical day like?
As a program officer in the Women's Empowerment Program, I am responsible for coordinating a South Asia regional program, writing project proposals and reports for U.S. government and private sector donors, as well as providing technical assistance on how to better integrate gender into our programs.  My day usually revolves around my computer - it's a very writing-intensive job.  From time to time, I also attend and coordinate events on gender and international development issues.

What is most appealing about your job?
I really believe in the work I do.  I can see it makes a real difference in people's lives.  On a professional level, I have a fantastic boss who bends over backwards to ensure I have opportunities to expand my portfolio and learn new skills.  I also have numerous opportunities to travel - I've visited our officers in Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Cambodia.

What suggestions would you give to current students interested in working for the Asia Foundation or in a similar field?
Internships and informational interviews are essential.  If you don't have relevant experience, get some!  If you don't know anyone in the field, start calling people and meet face to face.  Find the person who has your ideal job and ask them how they got there.

What personal qualities do you deem most important in your career field?
Flexibility, dedication, and a sense of humor.  I think those three qualities would take you far in any career.

How do you balance work/family?
At the moment, I don't.  I am working full-time and going to grad school part-time to get a master's in international development.  My husband is incredibly patient and forgiving.

What advice would you offer students struggling to find what they would like to do after graduation?
Volunteer if you can.  Do something you know you will never be able to do later - go as far away from home as you can and find your way back.  You probably still won't know exactly what you want to do (I still don't), but you'll have a few ideas of where to go next.