Alumna: Business Administration, International Business '10
Janine Downey is the Manager, International Visitors and Client Services at the World Trade Center Institute in Baltimore.
How would you describe your role at the World Trade Center Institute?
I primarily administer the International Visitors Leadership Program on behalf of the Department of State in Maryland. I’m in charge of a variety of things, from logistics to conflict resolution and programming, so it encompasses many of areas. When the Department of State inquires about a group visiting Baltimore, my job is to identify resources and opportunities they can learn from while creating a warm and inviting stay.
What’s the most interesting aspect of your role?
What I love about the international visitors program is that it’s shaping international relations one handshake at a time. It’s a very grass roots-type of program. The purpose is to give visitors the kind of experience and insight they can’t get in a boardroom. These visitors are the change makers of the world, and they take what they learn here back to their countries. You can witness their perspectives and attitudes evolve over the course of their stay. It’s been an eye-opening experience to see how we as citizens can make an impact on the world by creating and facilitating these friendly visits.
What are some of the unique events you’ve planned? Did you get to tag along?
When international visitors come, they’re mostly visiting cultural and public institutions to gain an understanding of how they operate. For a non-public-safety professional, I’ve visited a lot of jails throughout the entire state. One of the most rewarding visits I helped plan was for a group of music educators from Iraq. I coordinated an evening and dinner with local families.
Why did you choose to study international business and pursue a career in the international
My grandmother’s lifelong goal has been to visit every continent. When I was growing up, she brought me treasures from all the places she visited, and that’s where my fascination with the larger world started. I’m originally from Long Island, N.Y., but grew up throughout Maryland – Columbia and Frederick; both with a pretty big international population. I was fortunate to live in a community with such a diverse international presence. In high school I traveled to Italy with my grandmother and I also studied in Panama while in college. Those trips fueled my interest even more. Most importantly, I wanted a business background. Many times you will meet people in the international relations field that know little about finance, statistics, and economics – that was a key factor to choosing international business as my major at Towson.
How did you first get involved with the World Trade Center Institute?
I got my first taste of foreign relations interning for WTCI’s International Visitors and Client Services department in spring 2008 as a sophomore. They actually offered me a part-time job immediately after the internship, however I wanted to gain some more experience. So I went on to complete an internship at AARP that summer and Morgan Stanley that fall. In February 2009, as I was beginning my last year of school, I took the initiative to volunteer for WTCI again and inquire about job opportunities. I was offered a part-time position until I graduated, and then went to work full-time.
How did your involvement in Towson activities help you?
I was very involved in Alpha Kappa Psi and served in several leadership roles. AKPsi really taught me how I can be a better leader, how to delegate, and how to manage time – all of which use in what I do now. I also helped plan Alpha Kappa Psi’s Towson Business Symposium in Fall 2008, which was one of my first event-planning experiences.
What’s your advice to undergrads?
I would encourage all students to intern early; don’t wait until your final year. Take the initiative, set goals and volunteer. Find something you like, throw yourself into it and you will learn from it. Always strive to learn new things and better yourself.