Foreign Service Specialist Dale Giovengo held a lunchtime talk on Careers in Foreign Service on Friday, Nov. 10 in Quigley Auditorium. The event was sponsored by the International Studies department, the Gateway, and Career Education.
Giovengo held positions responsible for embassy operations in France, Albania, Kuwait, Pakistan, Switzerland and Iraq. He most recently managed the Medical Services Support Iraq Program before joining the Diplomat in Residence team in 2017.
Giovengo has been a human resources officer, financial management officer, contract officer representative and a management officer which ended up being his most challenging position in his career, he said.
As management officer of the general consulate in Lahore, Pakistan, he was one of 20 Americans in a city of 10.3 million people.
“It was a really rough place to be,” Giovengo said. “We had to drive around in armoured vehicles and I lived in a house with six other guards who were constantly guarding my house.”
Before joining the U.S. State Department, Giovengo worked at a Giant Eagle for 36 years. In 2001, he decided he wanted to do something meaningful and applied to work for the State Department.
“I went from part-time produce clerk to human resources director,” Giovengo said.
After talking about his career path and the positions he has held, he showed a presentation to the students to explain what being a foreign service officer meant and what the process was like.
“Anyone want to take the foreign service officer exam?” Giovengo asked.
Multiple students raised their hands before Giovengo explained the current freeze on the foreign service officer position.
“Before we start hiring people, [The U.S. Department of State] wants to figure out how we’re going to re-organize,” Giovengo said.
Giovengo then told students not to worry too much because he believed the freeze would be lifted within the next two years, which is about how long it takes to attain a security clearance.
Besides becoming a foreign service officer, there are other ways to work for the U.S. Department of State and by attending Allegheny, Giovengo said he believes students have a good chance of finding a job.
“Allegheny is certainly up there in reputation and it certainly opened doors for my daughter Leah [an Allegheny alumna],” Giovengo said.
Students can apply for the student programs or one of the fellowships offered, such as the Presidential Management Fellowship, according to Giovengo.
Before opening the floor up to questions, Giovengo told students if they wanted to apply for any of the U.S. Department of State positions to contact him so he could help them prepare, whether it was for an oral assessment or any other aspect of the hiring process.
“The average age of people who take the test is 32,” Giovengo said. “For the written assessment you’re given three or five issues [and] you have to write an essay defending the point. How you defend it doesn’t matter, it’s how well you construct your argument.”
As the talk ended, students gathered around a table to pick up packets and papers Giovengo brought that held information about internships with the U.S. Department of State and information from the slides he had shown.
Chris Yesukvich, ’18, enjoyed the talk and the information Giovengo made available.
“I thought the talk was great,”Giovengo said. “There was good information on how wide the net is that they cast and the amount of places that are still hiring.”
Yesukvich plans on going to medical school after graduation and is looking at internal medicine.
Unlike Yesukvich, Kristen Locy, ’18, is unsure what she wants to do after graduation.
“I’m a senior looking for jobs so I wanted to check out my options,” Locy said. “I thought it was interesting and I didn’t know anything about this.”
International Chair Laura Reeck and Director of Career Education Jim Fitch were surprised by how many students attended.
“I only ordered sandwiches for 60 people,” Fitch said “Over 116 students were here.”
Reeck was happy with the turnout and mentioned the number of requests she had received from students in the past who wanted a foreign service officer to come to campus.
“It’s what a lot of students have been asking for,” Reeck said. “We have tried for three years to get someone to come and he really delivered all of the information and inside information.”
Giovengo was the one to reach out to Fitch and offered to visit Allegheny, according to Reeck.
“Giovengo has touched quite a few students today,” Reeck said.