Political Science Department

Voices from our Graduates: Careers After Union

Christina Tremante

Christina Tremante headshot

What is your current professional title?

Chief Homicide Prosecutor Schenectady County District Attorney's Office

What does the work involve?

Handling the prosecution of homicide and other felony cases from start to finish. This means handling the case from the arraignment through the grand jury process, motion practice and the ultimate resolution by either a plea or trial. In some cases, particularly homicide cases, I get involved during the early stages of the investigation with the police department in an assisting role.

How did your time at Union prepare you for your current position?

In my time at Union, particularly as a Political Science major, I was involved in classes that involved speaking to different groups of people. This, along with the opportunity to field questions in those situations, prepared me not only to speak publicly but also think on my feet, which is something that I do regularly in my current position.

What is your fondest recollection of majoring in Political Science?

My fondest recollection of majoring in Political Science at Union is the Electoral Politics class that I took during my junior year. This was a course that centered around a mock presidential election where we assumed the roles of candidates, staff and members of the press. Of all of the great courses that the political science department had to offer when I was at Union this stands out the most (and not just because I won the close election that we ultimately had). I couldn't think of a better way to teach the students of this course about electoral politics more so than actually having them assume these roles. It was not only a valuable learning experience but a memorable one.

What advice would you have for current majors for life after Union?

In your time at Union take classes that challenge you and encourage critical thinking. Develop a love for learning that you take with you as you move on to your next endeavor.

Alexander Brockwehl

Alexander Brockwehl Head Shot

What is your current professional title? Professional Staff Member, House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere

What does the work involve?

In this role I advise Democratic members of the House of Representatives on U.S. foreign policy toward Latin America. I work closely with the chairman of the House Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, Congressman Albio Sires of New Jersey, to determine what issues the Subcommittee’s hearings will focus on, identify priority countries for Congressional trips, and draft legislation for Congressman Sires to introduce. I also research U.S. foreign policy issues and write reports and guidance documents for Democratic members of Congress and their staff.

How did your time at Union prepare you for your current position?

At Union I developed a passion for foreign policy and U.S. politics, which have converged in my current role. I think the mix of Political Science courses I took—some of which were practical while others were more theoretical—led me to recognize the important link between policy and politics. I learned that developing good ideas and making persuasive arguments for putting those ideas into practice are both important if you want to effect change. In political theory courses I learned how to think creatively about what a democratic system of government should look like and practiced honing ethical arguments. In courses focused on specific policy issues, like democratization during the Arab Spring, I grappled with what role the U.S. can or should play in promoting democratic development abroad. Spending a term abroad in Mexico helped me further improve my Spanish, a skill which has enriched my life and opened many doors professionally.

What is your fondest recollection of majoring in Political Science?

I have two. The first was Professor Oxley’s presidential simulation class. I was the independent candidate and really enjoyed working with my classmates to develop policy platforms, prepare for simulated presidential debates, and think through difficult issues like how to address climate change or make health care more affordable. The second was working on my thesis with Professor Marso, who really pushed me and challenged my thinking in ways that I still benefit from today.

What advice would you have for current majors for life after Union?

Pursue your passion, wherever it leads. It sounds cliché, but you will feel all kinds of pressure during your senior year to take the first job that comes along or to pursue a path that leads to a specific career outcome that seems tangible and clear. For some of you, that well-trodden path or that first opportunity may be exactly what you hope for in a career. But for others it won’t be. For the latter group, my advice would be to accept some short-term sacrifices like low pay and tough working hours if it means doing something you care about. This approach may also require accepting some degree of ambiguity about where your career is headed longer-term. But those relative sacrifices will be worth it. I’ve found from my experience and that of former classmates that it’s fairly easy to make many minor career shifts, but much harder to make one big career transition. In other words, that first step does start you on a career trajectory and you want to think seriously about whether that’s the general direction you want to be heading in. I graduated over seven years ago and my friends who are the happiest are doing the things they love.

Karena Cronin

Karena Cronin Head Shot

Recent Career Path

I’ve just moved back to the United States with my family, after living in Johannesburg, South Africa for the last 10 years. I am thus currently the Chief of Staff of our big move. However, previously, I was a Business Development Manager with Charities Aid Foundation Southern Africa (CAFSA), an organization which promotes philanthropy. The organization is part of a global alliance, comprising seven offices worldwide including CAF America headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia.

What does the work involve?

My role was to support the organization’s sustainability by positioning it as a thought leader in the philanthropy space. This involved co-creating and managing a national initiative focused on strengthening corporate employee volunteering in support of South Africa’s development called Beyond Painting Classrooms, writing and research on various dimensions of philanthropy (e.g. cross-border giving and employee community involvement) as well as organizing numerous learning forums which supported the civil society sector. Additionally, I managed a number of social development projects, including two US supported grant programs which provided skills to economically disadvantaged youth to enable them to earn a livelihood.

How did your time at Union prepare you for your current position?

At Union, I came to see my world, American society, and international relations through the lens of power. Professor Lori Marso’s classes on political theory were particularly instructive about how power is allocated according to gender, race, class and nationality. While at Union, apart from campus life, I also had the opportunity to learn about power from experiences such as interning in Washington DC and studying abroad in Brazil. My understanding of power and privilege, along with solid skills in writing and critical thinking have helped me to navigate a career focused on strengthening civic engagement and human rights. At Charities Aid Foundation Southern Africa, it provided me with the necessary foundation to manage the organization’s research portfolio, keeping in mind the power dynamics which permeate philanthropy. My grounding in political philosophy at Union has also helped me navigate diverse working environments in South Africa, Europe and the United States.

What is your fondest recollection of majoring in Political Science?

The professors in the department were all so passionate about their areas of expertise, and committed to cultivating curious and thoughtful minds. I will be forever grateful for the time and energy they expended in developing their syllabi, answering my questions, improving my writing, and thinking with me – not for me – about political and social issues that I was passionate about.

What advice would you have for current majors for life after Union?

As a graduate of Union College, you will have many career options. While this can be daunting, know that it is also an extreme privilege. Remember that there is wealth in your social networks, and as you start the marathon of your career, stay close to the issues and ideas that excited you while studying Political Science at Union. Finally, as someone who recently left South Africa, I just have to say that you should check out Trevor Noah. Even if you don’t agree with him, he is providing fresh analysis of American politics and bringing to the fore an international perspective!

Aubree Heydrick

Aubree Heydrick Head Shot

What is your current professional title?

Legislative Analyst for the New York State Assembly

What does the work involve?

The New York State Assembly is the lower house of the State legislature. As part of the Assembly’s central staff, each legislative analyst is assigned to one of the house’s standing committees. After serving two years as the legislative analyst for the Racing and Wagering Committee, I have just recently accepted a new position as the analyst for the New York State Assembly Standing Committee on Labor.

My job involves examining bills referred to the Committee, helping to develop new proposals, and collaborating with the Chair of the Committee, as well as key stakeholders, to advance legislation with regards to important issues that affect the private sector workforce in New York State. This includes planning Committee meetings, briefing Assembly Members and staff on various proposals, conducting extensive research, and drafting and amending legislation on topics such as minimum wage, equal pay, workers’ compensation and disability benefits, unemployment insurance, workplace safety, workforce development, the right to organize, and the State’s new paid family leave program. Another key component of my job is working on the annual New York State budget. For this, I am responsible for reviewing and analyzing budget proposals, making recommendations on policy issues, and negotiating a final budget with the staffs of the Executive and the New York State Senate.

How did your time at Union prepare you for your current position?

I cannot emphasize enough how much the skills I developed as a Political Science major have aided me in my current position. Research, writing, analysis, and public speaking are all major components of my daily work at the Assembly. However, since graduating, I have discovered that the key to these skills is not just acquiring them, but rather learning how to use them in the most effective ways. Union College taught me how to conduct useful and relevant research, how to write in a clear and concise manner, and how to adequately communicate important information as well as your own opinions. Learning how to productively utilize these skills is an invaluable resource for the future.

What is your fondest recollection of majoring in Political Science?

During my time at Union, I participated in the Model United Nations course for three years. In addition to all the great experiences and stories that resulted from our annual trips to New York City for the national competition, I thoroughly enjoyed the process of researching a new country every year and learning more about international relations and policy issues on a global scale. Working on current, real-life topics also brought a greater understanding and relevance to our classwork.

What advice would you have for current majors for life after Union?

Soak up as much knowledge, experience, and advice from your professors as you can! They are offering you important skills and key insights that will become critical tools when you begin searching for your first post-college job and building a career.

Christine Liang

Christine Liang Head Shot

Current Position

Special Assistant at the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor at the United States Department of State.

What does your work involve?

My work involves coordinating all of the activities for the office, which includes scheduling meetings, coordinating between our office and others, and serving as the assistant for the office of Western Hemispheric Affairs. Working in the Department of State headquarters in downtown Washington, DC allows me not only to work on the issues specific to the office, but also to be involved more largely in the flurry of activity at the State Department.

How did your time at Union prepare you for this position?

When I was at Union, I did not appreciate how much the writing skills I was developing would help me out in the work world. My job demands that I analyze issues and provide concise written briefs – without all the writing and research the professors at Union taught me to perform I would not be able to succeed in this position. Most importantly, though, Union taught me how to learn and be passionate about the issues which I am studying. Prior to starting in this position, I was an intern for the Turkish affairs office in the State Department, and I had to learn quickly about issues pertinent to Turkey. In my current position I have had to absorb information about Cuba, Mexico and other areas in the Western Hemisphere. My time at Union was crucial to learning how to absorb information quickly and become passionate about those issues.

What is your fondest recollection of majoring in Political Science?

I have so many wonderful memories of majoring in “Poli Sci.” Whether it was establishing my four-year plan with Professor Angrist, spending hours on end chatting with Professor Cidam or listening to Professor Dallas weave together politics and economics, I miss interacting with and learning from all of the wonderful Political Science professors. If I had to pinpoint one specific aspect of Political Science at Union, though, I would have to choose the term in Washington, DC. Aside from all of the amazing adventures we went on with Professor Lobe, this term really helped me put my interest in Political Science in a career perspective. Working on the Hill and talking to people in DC allowed me to cement my interest in foreign affairs and begin to see how my studies fit into the larger fabric of Washington.

What advice do you have for current Political Science majors for life after Union?

Take advantage of all of what professors have to offer! Make sure you talk to them, get to know them, and get their advice. They will be able to point you in the direction of great opportunities which will enrich your Union experience. Talking with professors helped me to discover the Washington, D.C. term and the West Point conference. Both of these opportunities allowed me to hone my communications skills and be more comfortable in my current position. Don’t take your time at Union for granted, it will fly by!

Emily Myers

Emily Myers Head Shot

Current Position

Research Associate, National Endowment for Democracy.

What does the work involve, and how did your time at Union prepare you for it?

The core of my job is to support the Reagan-Fascell Fellows—international scholars, journalists, and civil society practitioners completing five month residencies at the National Endowment for Democracy—as they work on projects that will aid in the promotion of human rights and democracy in their home countries and regions. In this capacity, I provide input on the shape and development of Fellows’ projects, offer editorial research assistance, and facilitate outreach to relevant professionals in DC. Because Fellows come to democracy work from different countries, disciplines, and perspectives, I have to learn regional contexts and technical subject matter quickly and assess how I can be most helpful to each Fellows’ work.

My experience at Union, especially my Political Science classes, has been critical in this regard. My classes at Union taught me how to research efficiently and articulate that research clearly and concisely. My job is often to wade through large bodies of resources to extract the most important information for my Fellows in a way that will help them build their projects. I draw on my experience writing term papers for my Political Science classes at Union, where I learned to distinguish between what is relevant and what is peripheral, and bring together pieces of evidence to form a cohesive and compelling argument.

What is your fondest recollection of majoring in Political Science at Union?

My fondest recollection of majoring in Political Science at Union was the process of writing my senior thesis, “War and Women Wielding Power”. It was an incredibly rewarding experience to pursue a political science puzzle I was deeply curious about. Drawing conclusions from the data and case studies I had developed, I felt that I had learned to think like a political scientist and contributed something novel to scholarship on civil war and women. Furthermore, I deepened my professional and personal relationship with my thesis advisor, Professor Angrist. I learned a great deal from her guidance while writing my thesis and she has remained a mentor of mine since my graduation. Lastly, writing a senior thesis cemented my resolve to eventually earn a PhD in Political Science and become a professor. So, in short, it was a formative experience!

What advice would you have for current Political Science majors as they think about life after Union?

Take advantage of the opportunities Union offers, especially study abroad, Model UN, and the term in Washington D.C. Build relationships with professors and seek their advice on the classes you should take based on your interests or career aspirations. Perhaps most importantly, take a wide array of classes and spend time reflecting on what you are most interested in. Concrete skills and experiences, connections and strong recommenders, and seriousness of purpose will all serve you well in your professional career post-Union.

Sean Mulkerne

Sean Mulkerne with 4 other people (2nd from left)

Current Position

Senior Associate in Research, Monitoring and Evaluation at Palladium International Development

What does the work involve?

I advise international development projects funded by developed nations on how they define and measure their successes and failures. My work is intended help teams use data to debate and refine their approaches to helping those in poverty. I work closely with implementation teams, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, to shape the design and theory of the programme, develop a framework of indicators tracking success, establish a system of data collection and reporting, and set an agenda for research, learning and programme improvement. Most of the projects I support are funded by the British government and are intended to support government reform and civil society participation. I am typically abroad about one-third of the year, most frequently visiting countries including Tanzania, Rwanda and Bangladesh.

How did your time at Union prepare you for your current position?

My experience in the Political Science department, even as a first-year, inspired me to focus on international politics as a central professional interest. I found the subject matter extremely engaging, and Union gave me the opportunity to apply it through an internship at a human rights organization in Washington, DC, in my junior year, and again with Model United Nations as a senior. My professors at Union were also very encouraging of my decision to pursue graduate study in international relations, and pointed me in the direction of the London School of Economics, which I later attended. I also think that Union inspired the interest I now have in the politics of development – how political arrangements affect the lives of poor people positively and negatively.

What is your fondest recollection of majoring in Political Science?

I really enjoyed Model United Nations, particularly the final conference in New York. It was a really fantastic experience meeting students from across the country who were knowledgeable and passionate about the subject, debating real problems from different perspectives. Similarly, Union sponsored my attendance at the Student Conference on United States Affairs at West Point, where I discussed and wrote about terrorism with very bright students and professors. I was a great fan of the Pizza and Politics sessions held in the department classrooms and Minerva Houses (which I hope still continues!). Of course, I also really enjoyed discussions in my seminars in the advanced courses, and handing in my dissertation.

What advice would you have for current majors for life after Union?

Networking is extremely important – nearly every significant career move I have made since I finished my studies has been the result of forming a strong connection with someone who later offered me an opportunity. Those connections are developed as a result of diligence and confidence, so producing high quality work in professional situations is very important.

Developing both “hard” and “soft” skills for the job you want – even through an employer outside of your field of interest – is also critical. For example, those interested in working in international relations would likely benefit significantly from learning a second language. They may also wish to learn about specific tools and approaches used in the specific organizations they are interested in joining, in order to convey interest and capability to potential employers. New graduates should also seek out opportunities for public speaking and presenting their work, as being able to convey ideas clearly and effectively is a valuable skill.

Finally, many roles in international relations will require a graduate degree of some kind, but given the costs involved, I would recommend trying to build work experience for a year or two beforehand. Professional experience of all kinds will shape your career interests and goals, and it is worthwhile to explore different career options before focusing in on a particular field.

Emma Stein

Emma Stein Head Shot

Current Position

Communications Assistant, Human Rights First

What does the work involve?

Working in a small communications department at a national non-profit, I work with the team to spread our message to the public. I help draft and edit press releases, blogs, email blasts, and run the organization’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. In a political world so dominated by what gets covered, and what the President is tweeting about, it’s important to develop projects, strategies, and campaigns that really resonate with people. Among other things, I work to develop digital campaigns that cut through the political divide, the contentious politics, and share real stories about people who have been impacted by discriminatory travel bans and harmful immigration policies.

How did my time at Union prepare me?

My time at Union allowed me to explore my passions, develop my writing skills, and develop as a person. In the classroom, I was able to hone my writing skills, and gain a strong foundation in the connection between U.S. and international politics. I was also able to do real-world research, write papers, and gain public speaking skills that helped me in countless interviews, conferences, and staff meetings. Being able to confidently speak up and give presentations is a really undervalued skill, and one that I’ve taken into the workplace. Union also afforded me tremendous opportunities outside of the classroom: from internships in Albany, to a term abroad, to the term with Professor Lobe here in Washington, D.C. I was able to explore so many different fields and areas of interest, and really hone in on what I was interested in. Without my term here in D.C., I never would’ve been so sure of my future plans!

What is your fondest recollection of majoring in Political Science?

My fondest memories in political science all surround the people and the professors. I truly enjoyed spending time with Professor Lobe and the students on the D.C. term abroad, becoming close friends with my fellow Model UN students, and working closely with Professor Oxley on my senior thesis. At Union, we are so lucky to have professors who want to see us succeed, and who will do everything they can to push us going forward.

What advice would you have for current Political Science majors as they think about life after Union?

At Union, make sure to take every opportunity you can; go to conferences, go abroad, volunteer for a campaign, take the internship course. Talk to professors directly about how to apply for conferences, fellowships, or summer internship funding. You never know which experience will lead you to your career path, or will introduce you to people with helpful connections. In a world where many entry- level positions want 1-3 years of experience, internships are such an important way to give yourself a leg-up on other applicants. I know several people who got jobs after graduation directly because of an internship that they had as an undergraduate. Part of the reason that I got the job that I have now is because of skills that I gained during my internship in Albany.

My advice for life after Union is to take risks. Invite someone you’d like to connect with out to coffee, apply to a job (or jobs!) that you feel like you won’t get, take a volunteer position, and don’t feel like you need to rush to go back to school if that’s not what you want. Take some time to explore what you want to do, and then you can be surer of your path moving forward.

Liza Taylor

Liza Taylor Head Shot

Current Position

Political Theory Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow, Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts at Loyola Marymount University

What Does the Work Involve?

As a Political Theory Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow in the Bellarmine Society of Fellows at Loyola Marymount University, I teach a variety of political theory courses within LMU’s Department of Political Science, including Foundations of Political Thought, Contemporary Political Theory, Modern Political Theory, and special topics seminars in feminist theory. I also regularly participate in the Bellarmine Society of Fellows Seminar, devoted to training and critical reflection on liberal arts and Ignatian pedagogy in addition to research and professional development. In addition to my teaching responsibilities, I am working on a number of scholarly articles in the broad areas of contemporary feminist theory and critical race theory. One of these engages in a close rereading of Susan Moller Okin’s controversial essay, “Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women?” Another presents the concept of coalition coming out of 1980s U.S. women of color feminism as a central one to contemporary political theory. A third article presents “coalitional pedagogy” as an inventive approach to teaching and learning about social justice and critical feminist theory in the 21st century.

How Did My Time at Union Prepare Me?

My time at Union has been invaluable to my development as a teacher-scholar and has proven particularly helpful within my current position at a liberal arts college. Not only did I discover my passion for philosophy, political theory, and feminist theory at Union College, but I was encouraged there to see the interdisciplinary connections across my various “home” departments in philosophy, political science, and women’s studies. This interdisciplinary focus has informed my entire post-graduate course of study and continues to shape my approach to teaching social and political thought. My time at Union also exposed me to the exciting opportunities engendered through a liberal arts education. My teaching philosophy reflects many of these core principles. The meaningful relationships I developed with my professors at Union have provided models for how to engage with my students at LMU. In many ways, Union taught me how to be both the scholar and the teacher that I am today.

Fondest Recollection of Majoring in Political Science

My fondest memories of majoring in political science almost all center on experiences I had in Lori Marso’s various political theory courses. It was in those courses that I not only gained a firm grasp of key canonical thinkers and ideas, but where I also gained the confidence and interest to push back against canonical texts from a feminist perspective. A particularly fond memory on this front would have to be defending my junior research project on Simone de Beauvoir’s treatment of narcissism in women against a room full of male philosophy professors and students. Marso’s seminar on feminist political theory (out of which the Beauvoir paper first emerged) was pivotal to my development as a scholar. It was also pivotal in shaping my teaching philosophy. Marso modeled the course after a graduate seminar, putting considerable responsibly on the students for leading discussion and unpacking the texts we read together. I realized after that class that if I could figure out a way to live out as much of my life as possible in spaces such as that one I would be a very happy person. It was at that moment that I decided to pursue a Ph.D.

Andrew Churchill

Andrew Churchill Head Shot

Current Position

First-Year Associate at Sullivan & Cromwell, NY.

What Does the Work Involve?

As a first-year litigation associate at a law firm, my tasks range from writing briefs to reviewing documents. At any given time, I am on four to five different teams/projects. There are also opportunities to travel. I have already spent considerable time on-site at a client’s office in Delaware, but some of my co-workers have gone to far more exotic places.

In terms of subject matter, I have focused on criminal defense and investigations. My pro bono work has focused on education law issues.

How Did My Time at Union Prepare Me?

The small class sizes at Union taught me to take ownership over my work and required adequate preparation. The numerous extracurricular activities at Union, including those offered through the political science department, taught me to budget my time. Honing these skills allowed me to succeed in law school, which increased my options after graduation.

Fondest Recollection of Majoring in Political Science

My fondest recollections of majoring in political science include the trimester I spent in Washington D.C. interning for my congresswoman as part of Union’s D.C. program and participating on Union’s Model United Nations team during my junior and senior years. Going to D.C. gave me valuable work experience, access to think tanks and government agencies, as well as access to all of the city’s cultural offerings. Participating on Union’s Model U.N. team made me a better public speaker and introduced me to issues in international politics that I had not focused on in my other political science classes.

Advice for Life After Union

Unless you are 100% sure of your career choice, try to seek a path that provides you with various options. For example, I followed Professor Hays’ advice to attend a law school that offered me a scholarship, instead of a more expensive school. Fortunately, this choice will allow me to make career decisions that are based on factors other than student debt.

Also, whether you choose to attend another school after Union or join the workforce, I encourage you to listen to those around you—especially those you do not agree with. You often learn more from a perspective that differs from your own.

Paul Hastings

Jordan Goldman Head Shot

Current Position

Associate, Corporate Department in the New York office of Paul Hastings LLP, an international law firm.

What does the work (professional or academic) involve, and how did your time at Union prepare you for it?

I represent companies in merger, acquisition, private equity and joint venture transactions. My role varies from deal to deal, but usually includes drafting transaction documents, negotiating key terms of those documents with clients and opposing counsel, and conducting legal due diligence. The extensive writing required by the courses I took at Union prepared me well for law school and life as an associate in a law firm. Critical thinking and writing are what I do and the quality of Union’s academics, particularly in the Political Science department, gave me the tools required for my chosen career. In addition, the small class sizes and expectation that all students would participate in class taught me how to put forth and defend a position, skills that are invaluable in law school and as an attorney.

What is your fondest recollection of majoring in Political Science at Union?

My fondest recollection of majoring in Political Science was defending my senior thesis at the Steinmetz Symposium. Professor Zoe Oxley supervised my thesis, entitled “The Effect of Public Approval Levels of Congress on Midterm Elections.” Several of my professors, my family and about 20 friends were there to support my defense. It was a fun way to end my academic career at Union.

My favorite course in the Political Science department was the introductory course on Constitutional Law, taught by Professor Bradley Hays. Although memorizing 80 or so Supreme Court cases (with dissents!) was daunting, it was one of the more interesting courses I took. Professor Hays was new to Union then but quickly became a mentor to me. Plus, that knowledge of cases helped me immensely when I took Constitutional Law again in law school, a welcome bonus.

What advice would you have for current Political Science majors as they think about life after Union?

My advice to current Political Science majors is four-fold. First, enjoy your time at Union. Never again will you have as much time to delve into topics purely to satisfy academic curiosity, and Union is a great place to do so (in addition to being a fun place in general). Second, make sure you know what your next step will be after you leave Union. Whether you begin work right away or apply to graduate school, understand the pros and cons of each choice and make an informed decision. Your professors and academic advisors can help you figure out the next step. Third, find a balance between not being pressured to follow a certain path and being “lost” after graduation. You’ve already made a substantial investment of time and money into your education and you should have a plan of attack, but diving into something that isn’t a good fit and which can be quite expensive is just as bad as having no plan at all. Finally, don’t be afraid to reach out to Union alumni. We are happy and flattered to field questions and in my experience Union’s bond goes far beyond the four years we all spent in Schenectady. In other words, Let’s Go U!

Kelsey MacElroy

Kelsey MacElroy Head Shot

Recent career path

I am currently in my second year of a three year JD/MBA program at Cornell University.

What does the work (professional or academic) involve, and how did your time at Union prepare you for it?

As a JD/MBA, I am taking a diverse set of classes in both the business school and the law school. While my business school classes require a quantitative mindset, my law school classes are far more qualitative and theoretical. The liberal arts education I received at Union and, more specifically, the structure of the Core Curriculum prepared me to adapt to the breadth of courses I am taking as I pursue this dual degree. I was able to broaden my horizons beyond the Political Science department to take courses in economics, hard sciences, and math. Due to these experiences, I was able to build a strong foundation in a wide variety of disciplines that have been invaluable in my graduate work.

What is your fondest recollection of majoring in Political Science at Union?

My fondest recollection was turning in the final version of my senior thesis. After months of hard work, all-nighters, and countless revisions, I felt a profound sense of accomplishment when I handed Professor Hays the bound version of my thesis. It was certainly a challenging experience but I grew immensely as both a writer and a critical thinker.

What advice would you have for current Political Science majors as they think about life after Union?

The best advice is to diversify your skill set by taking advantage of the wide array of course offerings. Even if you are a political science major, considering taking a class outside of the social sciences departments, such as a computer science course, that might be beneficial for life after Union or that just interests you generally.

Caroline Tulp

Caroline Tulp Head Shot

Recent Career Path

I recently started working as the Southern Africa Program Coordinator at the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES). Last year I lived in Laos working for Pencils of Promise, a small NGO that builds schools and implements educational programs.

What does the work (professional or academic) involve, and how did your time at Union prepare you for it?

My organization works with Election Management Bodies across the world to help governments conduct democratic elections. We also work with civil society organizations (political parties, NGOs, media, etc) as appropriate to help this process. As a Program Coordinator for Southern Africa, I support our teams on the ground in Zimbabwe and Zambia to implement our programs, which include anything from making sure the voter registration lists are accurate to implementing an SMS (texting) tool so people can text a number and receive a response with the location of their polling station.

Union helped prepare me for this position in so many ways its hard to narrow it down, but I think most importantly, Union forced me to think critically and defend my views. I participated in Model UN and the DC term, which both really pushed me to think outside the box and do the research needed to have intelligent discussions with senior persons at organizations. This is extremely important as I have to present and discuss current events in Africa at our team meetings. Also, I did the Central Europe term abroad which introduced me to traveling and working in developing countries, and I got hooked!

What is your fondest recollection of majoring in Political Science at Union?

When I did the DC term with Professor Lobe one of my favorite memories was before we even went to DC. The entire group was invited to his house before we left for DC for a dinner party. It was not only great to meet everyone before the term began, but it also showed the strong connection that Union professors have with their students. We played games in his basement, met his kids, and ate dinner all together. It was a great way to start the term.

What advice would you have for current Political Science majors as they think about life after Union?

1) Know that you can switch careers. Don’t freak out if you don’t know what you want to do for the next 10 years. I worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers for 3 years in auditing before I made a career shift to international development. Its hard to do, but it is absolutely possible and I know a few other people who did it as well.

2) Use the Union network. To get my job at PwC and also at IFES, I networked with Union alumni and it is amazing how far the chain goes. Everyone was so willing to help when they knew I was also a Union alum. Because Union is so small, that connection goes much further than campus.

Kelsey Mulvihill

Kelsey Mulvihill Head Shot

Current Position

Associate Account Strategist, SMB Sales, Google

What does the work (professional or academic) involve, and how did your time at Union prepare you for it?

My work at Google involves partnering with small businesses advertising through Google AdWords to provide strategic advice and share performance-enhancing suggestions to improve their return on investment. My time at Union prepared me for the work that I am doing now by exposing me to various disciplines captured under the liberal arts umbrella. Although I did not major in advertising or sales, I developed both my written and oral communication skills and studied a wide variety of unrelated subjects through my First Year Preceptorial and Sophomore Research Seminar, Math and Science classes, and the English, History, Sociology, French, and Political Science classes that were definitely more in my comfort zone. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to have had such a breadth of knowledge and experience shared with me during my time at Union from professors and students across all disciplines.

What is your fondest recollection of majoring in Political Science at Union?

My fondest memory of majoring in Political Science at Union was being able to work with Professor Oxley on research that she was conducting for a book that she was co-authoring. Her work on gender in politics inspired me to write my thesis on women in judicial elections and become involved in the judicial campaign of a local woman running to be the first woman elected in her judicial district (she won).

What advice would you have for current Political Science majors as they think about life after Union?

Don’t be afraid if you don’t know what you want to be when you grow up. I’m already on my second profession and I’m not even sure yet.

But really…

Write down a list of 10 things that you care about and start brainstorming ways that you can incorporate these things into your daily life, both personally and professionally. This list may change over the years, but focus on things that make you truly happy and you’ll enjoy going to work each day.