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Careers of Recent Graduates

Buschon, Kyle

 
 

Kyle
  Kyle Buschon

Personal Information
Rutgers University Class: Rutgers College, Class of  2006

Home Town/High School:   Soldotna, Alaska

Major(s)/Minor(s):  Political Science

Date of Questionnaire:  March 27, 2010

Career History
Upon graduation I was commissioned as an Armor Officer in the Army. I served as an executive officer in an Infantry Training Brigade in Ft. Benning, Ga and was subsequently assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division as a tank platoon leader. I deployed with my platoon to Iraq in support of a State Department Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) and a Security Transition Team (STT). As a platoon leader I was responsible for the lives of 16 soldiers, and was charged with executing a diverse mission set in a complex operating environment.  Oftentimes the most fulfilling moments were the simplest missions such as helping to facilitate the construction of a new school in rural Iraq, or chitchatting with local university students who were eager to have the opportunity to speak to American soldiers and practice their English skills. 

Midway through the deployment I took over as executive officer for my company, a role in which I was responsible for maintaining the logistical, infrastructure, and maintenance requirements of an independent patrol base with in excess of 250 occupants.
Career Advice
The military is an excellent vehicle to gain valuable leadership and management experience. It’s a results-oriented, competitive environment in which those that can consistently produce the desired results (“get the job done”) will be rewarded. Contrary to popular opinion, your time spent in the military is not time lost in the civilian world. Service in the military is highly valued in the business and government sectors, and will open doors to many different career fields if you so choose to leave the service after a short stent.  I can truly say that I’m proud of my service, and I’m proud to have had the opportunity to serve alongside the men and women who willingly endure the hardships of combat.
Other Advice
I strongly believe that your willingness and ability to adapt to change quickly will determine the level of success you have in any career.  

What did you learn at Rutgers that was helpful for your career? 

Studying at Rutgers allowed me to develop the necessary analytical problem solving abilities that helped enable me to tackle seemingly intractable issues at work.  In retrospect the writing intensive courses I took while studying political science at Rutgers were the most valuable. Your ability to communicate effectively in written correspondence and articulate your thoughts clearly will be crucial to your future success. Additionally, I recommend taking as many public speaking courses as possible. As a military or business leader you will be forced to speak publically on a routine basis, and it is never too early to start preparing and improving your public speaking skills. Lastly, learn a foreign language while you still have the time and the resources to do so. 

Slapin, Jonathan

 
 Jonathan Slapin   Jonathan Slapin

 

Personal Information
Rutgers University Class: Rutgers College, Class of 2001

Home Town/High School:   Basking Ridge/Ridge High

Major(s)/Minor(s):  Political Science/German (Double Major)

Date of Questionnaire:  June 19, 2009
Career History

I am currently a lecturer in the political science department at Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland – a position similar to an assistant professor in the American university system. My research and teaching interests lie in the fields of comparative politics, European politics, and research methods. I am currently working on several research projects including a book manuscript on European Union treaty negotiations. My interest in political science was sparked while an undergraduate at Rutgers. Although always a politics and news junkie, I first discovered that one could make a career of studying politics during my first year in college. In addition to my interest in politics, I was interested in European culture and I had a strong desire to learn German. This led me to participate in Rutgers’ junior year abroad program in Konstanz, Germany. After graduating from Rutgers, I received a fellowship from a German funding agency to return to Germany to work on a research project with a political science professor whose course I had taken while on my junior year abroad. Although earlier in my college career I had contemplated law school or a degree in public policy, it was around this time I decided that I was much more interested in the broader, more theoretical research questions posed by political scientists, rather than questions of law or public policy. Following my second year in Germany, I started the political science PhD program at UCLA, and I completed my dissertation on European integration in 2007. My first academic position was as an assistant professor at UNLV, but I have since traded desert sun for Irish rain and I am now back in Europe.

Career Advice

A student interested in becoming a professor – in political science or any other field – must first and foremost have a keen interest in attempting to answer the big questions in their field. One of the biggest advantages of being an undergraduate at a large research university like Rutgers is the ability to see the full range of activities in which professors are involved. To many students, especially those at small liberal arts colleges, it may seem that the primary job of an academic is to teach undergraduates. While teaching undergraduates is clearly a large part of any academic’s responsibility, the job extends well beyond this to producing innovative research and advising graduate students. Rutgers offers adventuresome undergrads an opportunity to see this side of academic life in a way that a smaller college or university would not – perhaps by taking graduate courses in one’s senior year or by participating as an assistant on a research project. In addition, an undergraduate student in large research department has the distinct advantage that professors often teach in the fields in which they are actively researching. Students benefit greatly from seeing the type research questions academics are interested in answering. I feel that attending Rutgers gave me a fuller picture of an academic career than I would have had had I attended a smaller college.

In addition to availing of any opportunities to participate in research, I would advise students to take as many courses as possible in many different subjects. There are many courses across the university that could potentially be of interest to someone wishing to pursue a PhD in political science. Some disciplines neighboring political science are obvious – economics, sociology, history, philosophy, and foreign languages. Others may be less obvious to most undergraduate political science students – mathematics, statistics, computer science, psychology, neuroscience, and linguistics to name a few. I feel that one of the great advantages of the American university system over many European universities is the ability of undergraduates to freely take courses across the entire university. I would strongly advise students to take advantage of this – there will be plenty of time to specialize while in graduate school. For example, in addition to writing my honors thesis in the political science department, I fondly remember the graduate courses in German literature I took during my senior year. I would also advise students to take chances when setting up their course plan – do not simply take the “easy” courses. Sign up for an interesting class even though it may sound difficult and entail extra time and effort. Go abroad, even if the prospect of leaving the US for an extended period of time seems scary. Some of my most rewarding academic experiences have occurred when I jumped headfirst into something that was well beyond my comfort zone.

Finally, I would advise students to connect with their professors as early and as often as possible. This may seem difficult at a big research university, but the payoff is tremendous. I am still in contact with my undergraduate honors thesis advisor from Rutgers; he has been very helpful in giving me both career advise and comments on my research. I have now co-authored numerous academic papers with the German political science professor I first met during my junior year abroad. In short, academia is a very small world and the contacts you make as an undergraduate may turn out to be very useful in the future, even long after your professor has written you that letter of recommendation.

 

Lee, Samuel

 
 
  Samuel S. Lee
Personal Information
Rutgers University Class: Class of 2001

Home Town/High School:   Woodbridge/Woodbridge High

Major(s)/Minor(s):  Political Science, Econimics (Double Major)

Date of Questionnaire:  June 25, 2009
Career History

Currently, I am in the process of launching an editing company. It’s a social entrepreneurship venture with a non-profit component that provides editing services for small/medium NGOs and college application assistance to inner city students.

Prior to this venture, I served as the director of a non-profit organization that provides humanitarian assistance in North Korea and most recently as an international policy specialist at the US Department of Homeland Security.

In between my stints in the non-profit and public sectors, I attended graduate school and had the privilege of completing a one year joint research project for Harvard and the US Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (a special agency falling under the jurisdiction of both the Department of State and the Department of Defense) on anti-corruption measures.

Career Advice

I would highly encourage students to consider public service as a career option. In addition to the satisfaction of “making a difference,” working in the public sector often gives you the opportunity to take on greater responsibility early on in your career compared to comparable starting positions in the private sector. I’d love to see some more “Block Rs” on cars down in the DC area!

My coursework in Political Science at Rutgers was most helpful for my professional track and provided a solid foundation for pursuing a career in international relations. After Introduction to International Relations, I was hooked and enjoyed the remainder of my coursework.

Carnegie, Thomas

 
 
 
  Thomas Carnegie

Personal Information
Rutgers University Class: Rutgers College, Class of  1995

Home Town/High School:   Montville Township

Major(s)/Minor(s):  Political Science/Economics

Date of Questionnaire:  June 25, 2009
Career History

During college, I gained professional experience as a Guest Relations Manager and TQM Coordinator in the hotel industry.  After graduating from Rutgers with dual majors in Political Science and Economics, I moved to Washington, D.C. and worked as a legal assistant for a telecommunications law firm.  Three years later, I was hired by a management consulting company and held positions as a Consultant, Project Manager then Senior Management Consultant for clients including the FAA, IRS, U.S. Army and D.C. Government.

In 2001, I took and passed the Foreign Service Exam, and in March of 2002 I was hired as a Foreign Service Officer for the U.S. Department of State.  I currently serve as an economic officer in the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala covering a range of issues including aviation, ports, environment, intellectual property protection, anti-money laundering, and telecommunications.  I previously served in the U.S. Consulate in Guayaquil, Ecuador as a consular officer and in Washington, D.C. as the Coordinator of the Digital Freedom Initiative and Director of Telecommunication and IT Policy for Sub-Saharan Africa.

While serving in Washington, I received a Masters of International Policy and Practice at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs
Career Advice

I believe that the best way to get the most of college is to take courses and get involved in activities that one is passionate about.  When I first arrived at Rutgers, I filled up my schedule with Political Science classes.  I remember studying Eastern European governments as the Soviet Union was crumbling, learning public policy principles, and debating foreign policy positions through analysis of case studies.  I also later added a second major in Economics after a wise Political Science professor suggested that I take a macroeconomics class and see if I liked it.  That passion for foreign policy and economics translated into me co-founding the Association of International Relations to compete in model United Nations competitions and organize forums on current topics.  I also served on the Rutgers College Judicial Board, as Treasurer of the Rutgers College Finance Committee, and as the Secretary General of the Rutgers Model UN.  All of these experiences, both inside and outside the classroom, provided me with academic, leadership, and analytical skills that continue to serve me well in my professional career.

The best advice regarding what to do after leaving college I have heard is – “Don’t worry about where you are headed at first; it is the work experience that counts.”  This turned out to be very true in my case.  I spent a few years in hotel management, then moved to a telecommunications law firm and ended up as a management consultant before I was prepared to take the Foreign Service Exam.  All of that prior experience paid off during the interviews – including my classes/activities at Rutgers as well as my personal travel. 

Other Advice
Do what you are passionate about.  I very much enjoy traveling, and spent one summer while in college with friends in Holland and France and another three week period after college visiting India as both a tourist and to participate in a wedding.  Little did I realize at the time that my penchant for travel would be one of they key factors that demonstrated to the State Department my ability to live outside of the U.S. for long periods of time

Fazio, Dalai

 
 

  Dalai Fazio

Personal Information
Rutgers University Class: Class of 2004

Home Town/High School:   Bridgewater/Bridgewater Raritan High

Major(s)/Minor(s):  Political Science/Compartive Literature

Date of Questionnaire:  June 28, 2009

Career History
After Rutgers, I attended the Whitehead School at Seton Hall University for an M.A. in Diplomacy and International Relations. During these 2 years I travel extensively, conducting research on the European Union and the Cyprus civil war, as well as working on several domestic political campaigns. Upon graduation in 2006, I began working for the United Nations Department of Public Information at UN headquarters in New York where I worked to promote several human rights, genocide prevention and peace building initiatives of the Secretary-General. Over the 2 ½ years my responsibilities grew to include speech writing, program development in 65 countries and various budgetary and communications work. In October 2008, I joined a private global media company in New York and lead the business intelligence and enterprise 2.0 practices. I am also the editor-in-chief and founder of diplomacyandpower.com, an online foreign affairs analysis and podcast website, with a growing audience in over 40 countries
Career Advice

My advice is rather simple, “keep it short”. Decision makers in business, politics or a bureaucracy do not have the time or patience to read a long position paper, or sit and hear a lengthy, wordy argument trying to present a particular case. Learn how to condense your argument, business case or persuasive points into a short, but effective pitch. I know school teaches us how to write 5, 10, 20 even 50 page papers – and those skills are important for deductive reasoning and research based arguments – but if you can learn how to deliver the punch line in a 30 second bang, your ideas will often win out over others and you will be leading the way.

The political science offerings at Rutgers gave me the foundation to turn my career in any direction I wanted. On the domestic side, I took classes in political campaigning, democracy, American institutions and governance. Foreign policy was my strongest interest and the courses I took prepared me for my experiences with the United Nations, examining international conflicts and pursuing a global career. Theoretical research classes also prepared me to entertain a PhD pursuit and an academic career as well, which I have not yet ruled out!

The best way to capitalize on your classroom education is to incorporate them into real life career development. Internships, research trips abroad, writing for the newspaper or online sources, volunteering for political campaigns are all excellent ways to put these lessons intro practice and make invaluable contacts for the future. Don’t just go to class and go home, do more.

Other Advice

Learn how to be an effective public speaker, in small settings and large. Do not worry that the room may not like what you have to say or want to hear it, your persuasive skills will be your most valuable later in life.

Also, lastly – learn more languages! Fluency in one additional foreign language or two is one of the very best job skills.

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