Alumni Spotlight: Nikhil Lakhanpal

What are you doing now?

I am working for the U.S. Department of State as a foreign affairs officer, focusing on bilateral security cooperation. I am posted at the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. 

Did you earn a graduate degree? What did you study? 

Master of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

How long did it take you to find your first job? 

I received my offer from the Department of State in March 2015 and entered on duty in May 2015, two weeks prior to my graduation. 

Looking back, what were some of your “takeaways” from your GU-Q experience?

As an American studying in a multicultural environment in Doha, GU-Q gave me the unique diplomatic skills that allow me to empathize with others in a way I would never have imagined. I learned patience, international understanding, and the challenge of having differing perspectives from my peers. 

What advice would you give to current undergraduates who may want to follow in your footsteps?

For government, I would advise my peers to get involved with government service as early on in their careers as possible; it doesn't have to be a glamorous position, just one that gets a foot in the door to whichever ministry or department you aim to establish yourself in. Apply to as many jobs in your realm of interest as possible in order to cast a wide net. I saw many of my peers make the mistake of not applying for a job because they were not sure if they would enjoy the position. That decision should not be made in the application process, but only when given an offer. Take chances!

What are some of your proudest achievements so far? Future plans?

I feel proud and honored to serve my country abroad in the diplomatic realm. I know that I have a unique privilege of being able to practice what I studied at an early stage in my career, and I never take that for granted. I don't know what my next steps are; I have served as a diplomat for almost two years, and hope to continue forging a career building cooperation among nations.