#ElliottProud: Patrick Connally

_#EP Connally

Patrick Connally is a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of State. He holds an M.A. in European and Eurasian Affairs from the Elliott School at GW and a B.A. in French and Political Science from Western Washington University. Patrick joined the State Department in 2010 and has served in Cameroon, the Philippines, Switzerland, and now works in the Bureau of African Affairs.

When did you realize you wanted an international career?

I was traveling in the Balkans during undergrad and met someone from the US Embassy. I’d never thought about the fact that there were career options like that before. After that trip I did an internship at State and decided that’s where I wanted to work. I ultimately landed at GW to continue my studies and have access to all the different internships and careers in Washington.

Describe your current position and what are your favorite aspects of the job?

I’m a Foreign Service Officer currently working in Washington in the Bureau of African Affairs. My favorite aspect of the job is that I’m always working on something new and learning about a new country or issue.  Just when you feel like you’ve mastered something you get to take on a new challenge.

What are the current trends driving the future of your career field and what advice would you provide an Elliott School graduate student that is interested in your field of work?

At the moment we’re using technology a lot more because of COVID-19, but technology was already changing the way diplomacy is done. We need diplomats who are social media savvy and who are comfortable constantly learning new technology and trying new approaches. Face-to-face diplomacy is irreplaceable for certain things, but I think the profession will change a lot in the next ten years. Other than that my advice is to really pour yourself into studying a language! We need people with excellent language skills who can communicate with nuance and thoughtfulness.

How does your current position compare to what you thought you would be doing when you first started your degree at the Elliott School? 

Oddly, I came in wanting to be a Foreign Service Officer and ended up doing exactly that. I think most people have a more circuitous route to their career, but I was fortunate to be able to go directly from graduation and start work.  

If you could have any other career, unrelated to international affairs, what would it be and why?

If I could have another career, I would write and illustrate children’s books, spend my time promoting the lost art of letter writing, or work for the parks department creating mountain bike trails.


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The #ElliottProud profile series is managed by the Elliott School Office of Graduate Admissions and highlights graduate program alumni to answer common questions posed by prospective, incoming, and current students. For more information on this series or to submit questions, e-mail the Office of Graduate Admissions at esiagrad@gwu.edu.

The views expressed by students profiled do not necessarily represent those of organizations they work for, are affiliated with, or the Elliott School of International Affairs.