Professor Pickering worked as an analyst on Eastern Europe and as a political officer in Turkmenistan for the State Department (1990-94). She has also served as a human rights officer for the Organization for Security in Cooperation in Europe in Bosnia-Herzegovina (1996) and as a volunteer for the Center for Non-violent Conflict Resolution in Nis, Serbia (1995).
Professor Pickering's current research focuses on the impact of aid for democratization on local communities in culturally diverse post-socialist Eastern Europe. She also works on cross-regional research on the impact of efforts to improve the quality of local governance, with on-going, collaborative projects in Bosnia-Herzegovina and in Uganda. Through her mentorship of the award-winning international community engagement project, The Bosnia Project, she also supports student-led, collaborative research assessing informal educational activities that promote inter-cultural communication skills.