Jill Ricotta graduated from CCAS in 2016 with an M.A. in Arab Studies. She currently works as a Regional Security Advisor for the Middle East/Central Asia region at the International Monetary Fund at their DC headquarters.
How did you become interested in the MENA region?
When I was a freshman in undergrad I took a Middle Eastern politics class and fell in love. I worked extra hours at my job to save up to go to Egypt for a summer and realized how invaluable time in the field is and couldn’t stop traveling after that trip.
How did MAAS prepare you for your work?
MAAS prepared me for my work in so many ways. I use the knowledge Professor Shahin imparted to us in the Political Economy of the Middle East class to help understand the work on the IMF in the region every day. Even though I am not an economist, that knowledge is very important so I can understand how to support the economists when they are in the field. The depth of regional knowledge I gained at MAAS also means that my analysis of the region is thorough and well-rounded, which I credit to MAAS’s interdisciplinary training.
What’s a typical day for you?
Depends on the day and what is happening in the world, but usually I come in and catch up on what is happening in the region and how it may affect IMF personnel. I handle any issues our offices in the field might be experiencing related to security and I brief travelers on the security situation in any given country before they depart.
What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects about your job?
Responding to emergencies abroad can be challenging because so many things are happening at once and it can be stressful when you are trying to locate people abroad and ensure their well-being. One of the more rewarding aspects is traveling to the field and being able to solve multiple problems at once and get a hands-on understanding of what issues our offices face.
By Brittni Foster
Brittni is a sophomore at Tufts University majoring in Arabic/Middle Eastern Studies/International Relations. She wrote this Q&A while interning at CCAS during the summer of 2017.