Alumni Career Panel Unites International Relations & Political Science Alumni

Caroline Fassett, Assistant News Editor

Four University alumni who graduated with degrees in international relations or political science revisited the University on Nov. 13 to discuss their current areas of occupation with students interested in the same fields of study. The career panel was sponsored by the International Relations and Political Science Departments and the Career Development Center (CDC).

International relations major Jenna DiPaolo Colley ’07 is currently the Senior Manager of the Strategic Communications Program for the Rights and Resources Initiative. Within the global coalition, Colley primarily deals with access issues to the natural resources on the lands of indigenous communities dwelling in poverty, helping to sustain their livelihoods.

“My path to working internationally on human rights issues, which is what I’ve always wanted to do, has been one that I couldn’t have planned. I remember sitting as a senior and thinking ‘how do I get to this job?’” Colley said.

Colley received her M.A. in International Affairs and Human Rights from George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs. After receiving her M.A., she worked for nonprofits, which she considers the “stepping stones” that led to her “dream job.”

Brian Eyler ’00 graduated from the University with degrees in both international relations and economics and currently serves as the Deputy Director of the Southeast Asia Program for the Stimson Center. Before attaining this position, Eyler lived in China for 15 years, where he conducted extensive research and taught upwards of 1,200 students. He decided to move back to the United States to become more deeply engaged in the country’s relationship with Southeast Asia.

“The United States government is deepening its footprint in Southeast Asia. I was taking students on academic field trips from China into Southeast Asia, meeting with conversation leaders and policymakers and looking at the challenges firsthand and saying, ‘I really want to do something about this,’ rather than ‘I just want to teach about it,’” Eyler said.

Sarah Svoboda ’10 earned her degree in political science and currently works as a producer at Bloomberg Television in Washington, where she coordinates field and segment production for the network. Svoboda decided on an occupation in broadcast news simply because she “loved it so much.” Before obtaining her job, she gained experience from taking on several internships, which she encouraged the students attending the panel to do.

“I’m sure many of you have had internships where it just kind of feels like there’s not a ton for you to do. But that’s wonderful. You have the ability to see how an office works. Just be a fly on the wall. Really observe,” Svoboda said.

Because the job of Andrew Yaspan ’11, who majored in political science, is located thousands of miles away in New Orleans, the alumnus was displayed on a monitor rather than attending in person. Yaspan is a Health Project and Planning Analyst at the City of New Orleans. He works within a coalition of New Orleans Marketplace Assisters, which get people enrolled in affordable health insurance through the Affordable Care Marketplace. Though Yaspan feels content in his current line of work, he acknowledged things he might’ve done differently in college to lead him down this path.

“There could’ve been some better experiences that I could’ve gotten in college. I could’ve worked more on my formal writing. I’m very much an ideas’ person, but I found that a formal writing piece is never unnecessary. It is always important that you clearly and concisely communicate what you want to say,” Yaspan said.

The panel was well-received by the students in attendance.

“I have attended several alumni panels that have been hosted by the CDC, and each one has only made me more excited about what majoring in IR at Bucknell will bring. It’s definitely reassuring to meet alumni with a variety of interests and talents that have all ended up with successful, and fulfilling careers,” Liz Hammond ’18 said.

“As an international relations major who has no idea what she wants to do when she graduates, I really enjoy when the CDC hosts events with alum, because not only do I get a valuable insight into a range of professions available to me, but I get to hear about their individual journeys and how they ended up where they did,” Kate Sidlowski ’18 said.

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