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Life After Politics: A Near Life Experience

More than fifty students had their eyes opened when eight Department of Politics alums showed up to share what actually happens after you get a degree in politics. The Life After Politics panel, followed by a flash mentoring session, showcased alumni now working in the worlds of journalism, law enforcement, non-profit advocacy, and on the staff of a U.S. Senator.

At a panel moderated by Politics Professor Paul Freedman, five alumni spoke about their efforts to achieve life/work balance, though only Albert Kim, First Sergeant Arlington Police Department seems successful at this, being able to include marathons and triathlons into his days. The two journalists Margaret Brennan of CBS News (and a member of the Department of Politics Alumni Advisory Board) and Katherine Faulders of ABC News, have chosen careers where politics are a major part of their coverage. They both emphasized how necessary it is to be available all the time, carrying several cellphones and other devices. Like the journalists who have to be hyper-responsive, Gabriel Noronha, Staff Assistant, U.S. Senate also has a 24/7 workday. He recommends working on a presidential campaign, if you can find a place as an intern and don’t mind sleeping on the floor. Anna Scholl, Executive Director, ProgressVA & ProgressVA Education Fund recommends just saying “Yes” to the menial work and smiling as you do it—it will set you apart from those who don’t.

Flash mentoring works much like speed dating, except each alum migrates from one circle of students to the next when the timer (a clip of the famous “Dean Scream” from 2004) goes off. At this level of interaction the students get close exposure to ask specific questions and get an immediate response at a personal level. Alumni gain by adding potential employees, associates, and peers to their networks, as well as giving back to the University on a fundamental level. In addition to the panel members, Alumni Advisory Board members Haley Anderson (Speech and Language Pathology) Jennifer Clarke (Special Assistant U.S. Attorney) and Cameron Kilberg, (Attorney and Entrepreneur) participated in flash mentoring.

Life After Politics was sponsored and hosted by the Career Center and the Department of Politics, in conjunction with its Alumni Advisory Board. Follow us on Twitter or Facebook for an announcement of next year’s event and other thought-provoking seminars.



Department of Politics Diversity Visit Day

The Department of Politics hosted its first annual Diversity Visit Day on October 15th, 2015. Thirteen outstanding undergraduates and recent graduates from underrepresented groups spent the day at UVA, learning about graduate school in general and UVA’s Department of Politics, in particular. 

Following breakfast with Dean Baucom, and Politics faculty, and current graduate students, the visiting students attended a panel entitled Political Science Graduate School: An Overview.  The panelists—Murad Idris (Political Theory), Robert Fatton (Comparative Politics), Paul Freedman (American Politics, Political Methodology), and Denise Walsh (Comparative Politics)—described what the future holds for them as political scientists in academia: time to read, time to think. The panel was divided on how much time is actually available.

The second panel, on Applying to and Paying for Graduate School sought to demystify the graduate school application process; the panelists offered strategies and tactics for the application process, and explained how to offset costs with scholarships and grants— including those from the Jefferson Fellowship program at UVA.  The panel included Keisha John, Jen Rubenstein, Lynn Sanders, and Herman Schwartz. Dr. John said her current soapbox is showing how a graduate can complete her or his education without getting into significant debt. The visiting students were definitely paying attention.

Other events included a panel on Finding Mentors, Creating Community, Working Across Disciplines, individual and small group meetings with professors, Jon Kropko’s class in Advanced Topics in Multivariate Analysis, Sid Milkis’ class in American Political Development, a wrap-up session, and a party at Department Chair David Leblang’s house.

This year’s Diversity Day participants hailed from around the country, including Los Angeles, Dallas, Atlanta, New Orleans, Cincinnati, Dallas, Richmond (VA) and New York City, among other places.

Anyone interested in applying for the 2016 Diversity Visit Day should e-mail Dr. Jennifer Rubenstein, Rubenstein@virginia.edu, and ask to be put on the mailing list to receive more information when it becomes available.

Find more details here:


Life After Politics

What can you do with a degree in Politics? What is life like after graduation? Come and participate in the 5th annual Life After Politics Panel and Speed Mentoring sessions 

Friday, October 16th from 12 to 3pm in Nau 211 (RSVP to Secure Your Spot at Each Event) 

  • PANEL - 12pm: Come enjoy a complimentary lunch while learning about the diverse career paths that exist within politics. This event starts at noon and provides a great opportunity to hear from Hoos who have parlayed their undergraduate education and experiences into exciting and fulfilling careers. Bring questions of interest and learn more about panelists personal career journeys. Register in CAVLink to reserve your spot (this event is limited to 65 students)

    • Albert Kim, First Sergeant Arlington Police Department

    • Anna Scholl, Executive Director, ProgressVA & ProgressVA Education Fund

    • Gabriel Noronha, Staff Assistant U.S. Senate

    • Margaret Brennan, Foreign Policy Reporter, CBS News

    • Katherine Faulders, Reporter & Digital Journalist, ABC News

  • FLASH MENTORING - 1:45pm: Network and build your personal connections with Hoos who work in a variety of roles within politics! Speed mentoring will allow you to maximize your networking potential by providing you the ability to rotate and speak with all alumni mentors at a single event. Learn about the steps they took to find career success, what skills are important, gain advice related to finding an internship or full-time position in politics, or any other questions of particular importance to you. Taking the initiative to build your personal and professional network is critical to successfully navigating the job search process. Register in CAVLink to reserve your spot (this event is limited to 35 students).

    • Haley Anderson, Speech and Language Pathology

    • Jennifer Clarke, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney, Eastern District of Virginia

    • Cameron Kilberg, Attorney and Entrepreneur

    • Marshall Twinam, Founder, Marshall, Jackson & Partners

    • Albert Kim, First Sergeant Arlington Police

    • Anna Scholl, Executive Director, ProgressVA & ProgressVA Education Fund

    • Katherine Faulders, Reporter & Digital Journalist, ABC News

    • Gabriel Noronha, Staff Assistant U.S. Senate

    • Zach Terwiliger, Assistant United States Attorney, Eastern District of Virginia

    • David Mrazik, Managing Director of MarketCounsel and Managing Partner of Hamburger Law Firm

If you are interested in attending one or both of these events make sure to RSVP early!

Dale Lawton: Hard Questions in Hard Places

We all like to think our work is important—Dale Lawton’s work informs the President of the United States. Some days his intelligence analysis ends up in the book, the daily briefing book of the POTUS. He currently works at the State Department's Office of Opinion Research (OPN) in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research. The work of the analysts in this office is to provide context to the ocean of information collected by the intelligence community. Reports from OPN end up in several presidential briefings a month. Lawton’s work also is used by U.S. State Department policymakers.

Dr. Lawton (UVA PhD, Politics, '04) visited the Woodrow Wilson Department of Politics and spoke to faculty and graduate students about his work in the Middle East, particularly gathering opinions and perceptions about ISIL. Earlier in the day he presented State Department 101 (sponsored by the Career Center) to undergraduates interested in internships and careers in the State Department.
As an analyst in OPN, Lawton works with about thirty colleagues conducting policy-relevant social science research across the world. His office conducts research in about 100 countries per year . He emphasizes that 90% of OPN’s reports  are not classified, though all are for internal government use only. The office has a process to release the reports to the public through the National Archives, but as with many bureaucratic structures, there are problems fulfilling its mandate and the delivery of the reports is backlogged.
The UVa audience of faculty and graduate students was very interested in the data gathered by Lawton’s office. Dr. Lawton stressed OPN’s desire to balance requests to make the data accessible to the public with the need to be sensitive to situations around the world that might be complicated by the disclosure of the data. The UVa audience shared insights into the anonymization of data and how the researchers at the University’s new Data Science Institute are experts in cleansing data and their expertise would make UVa the ideal partner for this work. 
Survey results he shared included questions about local leaders in the Middle East; responsibility for the rise of ISIL; and Arab views of the United States.  He was previously posted in Ghana, Mongolia, Cuba, South Africa, and Iraq.




Visit Day

Are you thinking about graduate school in Political Science?  Do you want to learn more?

Department of Politics, University of Virginia

This event is for students from underrepresented groups who want to learn more about political science graduate school and the Politics Department at UVA. Accepted students will have their travel and hotel costs covered to spend the day visiting the department on October 15th, 2015.

The visit will include:

  • breakfast social and welcome from the dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences;
  • individual and small group meetings with professors to discuss students’ intellectual interests;
  • attending classes;
  • information sessions on applying to graduate school, funding opportunities, mentoring, and graduate student life;
  • information session with the Director of Diversity Programs;
  • socializing with current graduate students.

To apply: students should send 1) a brief paragraph describing their interests and explaining why they want to attend the Visit Day and 2) an unofficial copy of their transcript to Dr. Jennifer Rubenstein, Rubenstein@virginia.edu. They should also ask a professor with whom they have taken a class to send, to the same address, a brief paragraph or existing recommendation that speaks to their capacity for graduate study in Political Science. 

Deadline: applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis, so students should apply as early as possible, but no later than September 15th 2015.

Questions? Email Dr. Jennifer Rubenstein, Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Admissions, at Rubenstein@virginia.edu.