Jessica Bechir: Traveling the World and Sharing Career Experiences with Current Students

A series of feature stories were written for the University of Richmond that profiled the career success of recent graduates and alumni.


When Jessica Bechir, ’04, graduated from Richmond, she wasn’t quite sure what she wanted to do. The future was wide open, and Bechir, a business administration major with concentrations in international business and management, was willing to explore her options.

“I joined the Peace Corps because I wanted to travel and was ready for an adventure,” said Bechir, who was posted for two years in the northwest African country of Mauritania. “The experience changed my life and helped me get the on-the-ground experience necessary for the international career I wanted to pursue.”

During her time with the Peace Corps, Bechir worked at a vocational school to assist community members in language, technical and business development skills.

“I spent many hours traveling between cities, shoved into a vehicle meant to hold five people that was actually carrying eight people, luggage and more often than not, a goat or two,” Bechir said. “My experiences taught me to adapt to different cultures and be flexible.”

After returning to the U.S., Bechir used her new skills to land a job as office manager for the International Crisis Group, which is recognized as the world’s leading independent source on the prevention and resolution of deadly conflict.

After gaining essential administrative experience, Bechir went to work for the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), where she was an international program manager.

“My work with APTA allowed me to travel to Mexico, Brazil, Spain, Austria, China, South Korea and Japan to attend international transportation conferences and maintain relationships with professionals in other parts of the world,” Bechir said.

So what’s up next for Bechir? The Foreign Service.

“Getting into the Foreign Service was a career dream,” said Bechir, who is waiting to hear the location of her first post. “I always wanted a life abroad, and I thrive on change. I love that this position will give me the chance to see so much of the world.”

Bechir will most likely move every two years between offices in the U.S. and the 265 posts abroad. Working as part of the U.S. Dept. of State, Bechir will help represent and implement U.S. foreign policy, working toward a freer and more secure, prosperous world.

But before setting off on her latest adventure, Bechir had the chance to share her unique experiences. While at APTA, she hosted current students for the Career Development Center’s “Spiders for the Common Good,” road trip to Washington, D.C. during winter break.

“As a student, I always appreciated the chance to hear from UR alumni, so it was nice to be able to give back,” she said. “Students today should remain flexible and think outside the box. Don’t overlook positions because of certain titles or perceptions about the organization. Be ready to make the most of your opportunities.”

Photo credit: University of Richmond