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  • Writer's pictureAbby Fowler

How Working with Global Ties Iowa Shaped My Career: A Retrospective

Abby Fowler (second from left) at the Diplomacy Begins Here Summit in Kansas City, MO.

When I joined Global Ties Iowa, I was a freshman at the University of Iowa with no idea where I wanted to go with my career. I clicked on an email newsletter by chance, one I never typically looked at, and saw an advertisement to become a communications intern at an organization called, at the time, the Council of International Visitors to Iowa Cities (CIVIC). I thought, “I did journalism in high school, maybe I can do this?” Though I wasn’t confident, I applied, and a month later I was onboarded as a communications coordinator at what would later become Global Ties Iowa. 

At the time that I joined, I didn’t know that what Global Ties Iowa offered me —the opportunity to make a profound impact on a non-profit organization as an undergraduate —was a rarity. Not many students can come out of their undergrad and say that they have led dozens of email marketing campaigns, designed a website from scratch, and have connections to professionals across numerous fields all around the world. Similarly, few organizations that engage in our activities nationwide recognize that if you give the right students a lot of responsibility, they will fly above every expectation and soar into new heights. 

It was truly a domino effect. Because of my experience at Global Ties Iowa, I landed another job doing social media at the University of Iowa Pentacrest Museums. Working with Global Ties Iowa also helped me make a strong case for being a citizen diplomat on my successful Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) application, which allowed me to spend a summer in Japan at no cost. Because of my CLS, I was given a special hiring authority for federal jobs, which made me eligible to apply to a social media manager position at the Department of State. My digital communications experience at both Global Ties Iowa and the Pentacrest Museums allowed me to make a strong case during the job interview. Now, I sit with the tentative job offer, so incredibly grateful that I was bored enough to look through my email inbox that day 3 years ago. 

Throughout it all, I am incredibly lucky to have worked alongside such amazing people. Many of us have grown so close that I consider them to be friends, not just co-workers. Great organizations attract great people. 

To anyone that is thinking about joining Global Ties Iowa: if you are at all passionate about public diplomacy, global affairs, and international exchange, do it. I can assure you that there is no better opportunity in eastern Iowa to make an impact. 

Abby Fowler (right) with Amy Alice Chastain and Bala Subramaniam at the Global Ties U.S. National Conference.


Abby Fowler was an undergraduate at the University of Iowa from 2020-2024 and the Communications Coordinator from 2021-2024. Originally from North Liberty, Iowa, she double majored in International Studies with a business focus and Japanese Language and Literature, as well as earned a Museum Studies certificate.  

As a recipient of the prestigious Critical Language Scholarship (CLS), Abby studied Japanese language and culture in Okayama, Japan during the summer of 2023. She also worked as a Communications Assistant at the U. of Iowa Pentacrest Museums, was 2024 CLS Alumni Ambassador, represented the Japanese and International Studies departments as a World Language Ambassador, and was a member of the 2024 Global Ties U.S. Emerging Leaders Program.  

Thanks to the experiences and opportunities kicked off by her time at Global Ties Iowa, Abby now works as a Public Affairs Specialist at the Department of State’s Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation. 


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