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.