MORGAN McCLAIN-McKINNEY (BA ’09; MA ‘11) was a political science major throughout her years at Illinois, but her interests shifted from pre-law to international affairs. While in college, she took classes in French, Arabic, and Chinese as well as International Relations and European Union Studies. She was also a participant in the Civic Leadership Program, earning a graduate concentration in Civic Leadership. She encourages students interested in international affairs to visit the different regional/area studies centers on campus, e.g., the European Union Center, the Center for African Studies and others, to explore the opportunities they offer.
McClain-McKinney recommends that students who are seeking jobs in Washington, D.C., go there, intern, and search in person. Attending networking events and receptions is important for finding out whether a job with a particular company or agency will be a “good fit” and help “feel out” the chances of being hired. Initially, she worked in the Department of State, but colleagues there urged her to get experience working on Capitol Hill, which she recommends for any aspiring policy professional. There she learned about how policy is made in action, including engagement with with constituents and lobbyists. Later, she transitioned to work with USAID, where she is now a member of the Foreign Service. Her work has taken her extensively across Africa including Kenya, Ghana, and South Africa.
Ms. McClain-McKinney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org