Students expand their professional opportunities in Washington D.C.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Graduate students at the School of International Affairs spent two days in Washington, D.C., building their professional networks and exploring possible career paths during one of the school’s four annual Career Exposure Trips.

Over Nov. 3 and 4, the 31 students visited the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Russell Senate Office Building, the World Bank, the international nonprofit AMIDEAST, and a panel of SIA alumni working in security contracting—meeting with professionals in the fields of international development, research, economics, government, and education.

Students also were able to connect with members of the SIA community at an SIA alumni reception held the Darlington House, where alumni, faculty, and administrators met to celebrate the success of the program and build connections with the next generation of SIA students.


“This experience was very interesting and very helpful, especially given the fact that we got to meet so many connections and really build our networking circles,” said first-year SIA student Sasha Bausheva. “It’s so important to have the opportunity to be proactive like this and to be able to start working on our professional experiences, which isn’t something that gets assigned in class.”

The importance of networking was a key theme throughout the visit, with multiple professionals at think tanks, government agencies, and nonprofits discussing the importance of building and leveraging professional networks in order to enter the highly competitive D.C. marketplace.

“That’s the nature of D.C.,” said SIA alumni Garrett Redfield, while speaking to students at the national security consulting panel and offering advice on how to get their foot in the door in Washington. “It’s called connections; it’s called networking.”

Some students, like first-year student Elizabeth Hartman, were able to take advantage of their newfound connections while still on the trip. Hartman—a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and former Arabic linguist—spoke with the general counsel to the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee while visiting the Russell Senate Office Building, which led to them offering their assistance and her making an important connection on Capitol Hill.

“I’m so excited; I think the conversation went very well,” Hartman said. “My primary goal here is networking, and trips like these really compound our ability to build communications in our field.”

Other students, like Bausheva, discovered new potential career paths after graduation. Bausheva said she was particularly intrigued by the visit to the World Bank, which provides financial opportunities for developing countries. Although she had never considered applying to the World Bank or similar institutions, she learned that the bank’s work aligns with her interest in international business and economics and plans to do more research into this new potential career path.

Oga Bat-Yeruult, an integrated undergraduate-graduate student, said she felt the trip was careful to include something for everyone studying the broad and diverse field of international affairs by exploring as many potential career paths as possible in think tanks, government agencies, and nongovernmental organizations, as well as through introducing students to some of SIA’s distinguished alumni.

“Our alumni have been so helpful at helping us find internships and giving us tips on applications,” Bat-Yeruult said. “They’re really into trying to help current students, and it’s great to be able to form a closer relationship with them on this trip.”