UO grad's fellowship puts him on a path to the foreign service

Adam Roberts

Adam Roberts, a UO international studies graduate student, has become the first person in his discipline to earn the esteemed Presidential Management Fellowship in over a decade.

Roberts is the only student from the University of Oregon to have earned the fellowship this year. He will graduate June 13 with a master’s in international studies and a juris doctor degree from the UO School of Law.

The Presidential Management Fellowship was established by executive order in 1977 in an effort to get public service-minded university students to begin their careers with a two-year internship in a federal agency that will translate to a permanent position in a similar capacity. The fellowship is only open to advanced degree candidates.

Roberts will complete his internship with the U.S. Agency for International Development and will go on to serve as a foreign service officer with the same agency after the initial two-year position.

“After learning there were opportunities for conversion into the foreign service through the program, something that I’ve been interested in for several years after attending a diplomat-in-residence's recruiting event at the Mills International Center, I knew that I wanted to try for the fellowship.”

While the application process was complex and long — he sent his initial paperwork into the program in October 2015 — it ultimately paid off.

Roberts made two trips to Washington, D.C., for an initial interview with the fellowship program and then for a job fair to interview with potential placement agencies. Finally, and a lot of help from his university advisers, Roberts learned he was accepted into the program in April.

After he completes the internship, Roberts will be primarily working in U.S. embassies abroad, helping the U.S. Agency for International Development’s client agencies prevent fraud, waste and abuse within their humanitarian programs.

“What attracted me to the foreign service was both my desire to work in public service and a passion for engaging with new and different cultural environments,” Roberts said.

—By Nathaniel Brown, University Communications intern