Alumni Spotlight: Meagan Martz
Name: Meagan Clem Martz
Graduation year: 2008
Degree: International Affairs and Modern Languages (IAML) - Japanese
Minor: Certificate in Asian Affairs
Current Position Title, Company, and Location: Senior Associate Director of Principal Gifts International, The Carter Center, Atlanta
What does a typical day at your job look like?
I am responsible for the Carter Center’s donor relationships in Asia. My days always vary, but I am typically reaching out to donors and prospects in multiple different countries and keeping up with all of the Carter Center’s peace and health programs so that I can keep our donors and prospects up to date on our work.
What’s the most exciting part about your work?
I love traveling around the world and sharing the Carter Center’s work with donors and prospects. It feels natural to fundraise for work that you are truly passionate about. Additionally, since The Carter Center was founded by former U.S. President Carter and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, I have had many exciting opportunities to meet with current and former ambassadors to the U.S., to attend high-level political meetings, and to learn from people who have quite literally influenced the course of modern history.
Not only that, but my colleagues are true heroes. They have dedicated their lives to helping others around the world, often in conflict zones, and I am truly honored to support their work. Knowing that my work supports their ability to provide vital healthcare, protect human rights, and defend democracy around the globe keeps me going each day. How lucky am I to be a small part of something so special?
How did you find your job/what’s the best resource for jobs or networking you’ve found?
I came into this position through a variety of connections. I first joined The Carter Center as a researcher for the Development department, and I heard about that position through my network of fellow GT alumni. Once joining the Center, I made myself available to new and different opportunities by expressing my interests to my supervisors, getting to know others within my organization, and volunteering for opportunities to learn more about the work beyond my position. Curiosity goes a long way.
What’s the most surprising detour you’ve taken from your career path? What did you learn from it?
As a student at Georgia Tech, I would never have thought that I would go into fundraising, so my current career is the detour from my expected career path. Yet, I can truly say that this is my dream job – traveling the world, sharing programs that I am passionate about with others, and doing my best to support those programs by bringing in the funding they need. So, what did I learn? Be open to opportunities! There are amazing careers out there that you have never even heard about.
How did studying in the School of Modern Languages at Georgia Tech impact your career?
My dual degree in International Affairs and Japanese, as well as my certificate in Asian Affairs, fully prepared me for this career. In my role, it is very important for me to work in cross-cultural environments, and my business trips typically involve travel to Japan, South Korea, China, and more all in one trip. While I only majored in one of the languages used where I work, I’ve been able to use the skills that I’ve learned to pick up the phrases I need in other countries and to understand the ways business etiquette varies from place to place.
My job also requires a deep understanding of the Carter Center’s programs and how they fit into the broader context of current international affairs. My coursework on International Affairs and Asian Affairs in particular have been the strong foundation that I need.
What skills did you learn during your studies that contribute to your daily life?
I am from a small town in rural Georgia, and now I have a career that (prior to COVID travel restrictions) sends me abroad almost 100 days a year. I would not be where I am today without a strong background in foreign language and cross-cultural understanding, and I learned those skills from my professors and classmates at Georgia Tech. My coursework in the Ivan Allen College taught me a great deal about the histories and cultures of where I work and also about the relationships between those countries, not just their relationships with the United States.
As a liberal arts major from an engineering school, I can assure you that the focus on data analysis in many of my classes has also prepared me for understanding many of the public health programs that I support.
What’s the coolest research/project/initiative/event you worked on in Modern Languages?
After my Japanese LBAT program ended, I stayed in Tokyo for a few weeks to work as a research assistant for Dr. Brian Woodall, with whom I took International Affairs courses taught in Japanese. I had the opportunity to conduct research in person at Japan’s National Diet Library.
What advice would you give to current ML students? To fellow alumni?
To the current students in the School of Modern Languages, everyone is always going to ask you about your career plans. “What are you going to be?” It’s ok to change your mind. It’s ok to have myriad interests and not just one, narrowly focused path. Pursue your language skills and be open to the many ways that you can apply them.
To fellow alumni, please remember that your current job and maybe even the next job after that do not have to define your career. Accepting a job does not mean that you are going to be in that type of role or that particular field for the rest of your career. With each career step you take, you’ll learn more about who you are and what you enjoy, and you can make changes as you go along.
Can ML students and fellow alumni contact you to chat and network?
I would love to hear from you.
What are some things you can speak to and what is the best way to contact you?
As a student, so many of the alumni that I spoke with had a very defined career path, and it went the way they had planned when they chose their major. I am the perfect example of a winding career path that went in a completely unknown direction and then worked out perfectly, so if you’re not sure what you want to do, I’m happy to encourage you.
You can find me on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/meaganmartz/
Do you have an outstanding student, faculty member, staff member, or alumni you'd like to see spotlighted? Nominate them here.