Careers in Russian: Grace Ingle ‘20

Grace Ingle currently works as a Program Associate for the Center for International Private Enterprise.  She graduated in 2020 with a double major in Russian and Middle East Studies and a Security Studies Certificate.

Interview conducted by Clara Giorgis ’21.

What are you working on right now?

After graduation, I got a job at the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) in Washington, DC.  I work as a program associate on the Europe and Eurasia Team, specifically with the South Caucasus portfolio.  Currently, I’m working on projects related to Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan, ranging from anti-corruption work to women’s economic empowerment to projects supporting business associations and policy applications.  I’ve also been continuing to work on my Russian through private lessons as well as doing some private tutoring in Russian myself.

What led you to pursue this career path?

In January 2020, I had the chance to visit Georgia on a research grant with another of my classmates, Sophia, and that really launched my intensive focus on Georgia and the region in general.  The research trip helped prepare me for writing my honor’s thesis which I was finishing up in April while applying for jobs.  CIPE was hiring for a South Caucasus focused associate and the timing ended up working out really well – plus I had the experience from my research and my visit to the region.

Speaking of your research abroad, what was your most memorable experience from when you studied abroad, either on your research grant or with Dickinson in Moscow?

Wow – that’s a hard question.  I think broadly speaking some of the most memorable experiences were definitely when we went on our trips.  We went to Georgia for a weekend while I was abroad for the semester and we also visited St. Petersburg and Kazan.  The three trips were really fun and just a great fast-paced exposure as a group to different places.  Our trip to Georgia during the semester program was also part of what got me interested in going back.  My earlier visit was also really helpful for when I returned for a week to do my research as I already sort of knew my way around.

A bit of a backtrack from where we are right now with abroad stories, but what made you decide to pursue Russian at Dickinson?

This is always a tough question for me to answer because I don’t really know.  I guess the long answer is that I was studying Arabic my freshman year and then I just had this moment of “okay, if I want to study Russian it’s now or never.”  It was a big commitment and something I had to work my whole schedule around, but it was also something that I really wanted to do so I committed to it.  Looking back, I’m really glad I did because I think that it’s taken me in a really different direction than what I originally thought I was going to do, and I think that I was able to find a good connection between my two majors.

What is your advice for students who are currently majoring in Russian?

The one thing that I would recommend to everyone, especially right now since everything is virtual, would be to submit a paper to the Undergraduate Research Symposium at U Pitt.  It’s a really great opportunity to explore a topic that maybe you didn’t have time to look at in class. Plus, Professor DeBlasio is always really supportive of all of the students so you can really be sure that you’re writing a paper you can be proud of, which is a really important step.  I’d also recommend to anyone who can make it work to do an honor’s thesis because it’s another really great opportunity to do a deep dive into a topic that you might not otherwise have the chance to look into and also a topic that you’re interested in.  I never had a full summer internship (I did the summer program in Moscow one year and taught in a Russian program another year) but I think that these specific research experiences definitely helped me in my job search as they showed that I had a vested interest in what I was applying for.

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