Melanie Condon '10
I moved to Washington D.C. in 2010 directly after graduation and I haven’t looked back. I always knew while I was in college that I would pursue a career in some form or another dealing with politics. Up until graduation I was set on working in international politics, perhaps through the foreign service, or an NGO.
But as often happens in the real world, my first job after graduation took me in a completely different direction. I was hired as a researcher and lobbyist for a private advocacy and consulting firm in the heart of K Street D.C., and I loved it. The work was fast-paced, and I was on the Hill meeting with staffers and congressmen at least once a week. Our clients ranged from Cybersecurity companies, to defense contractors, to energy utilities, and more. Though this was taking me further away from international politics, many of our clients had offices all over the world, so having a background in international affairs has proved invaluable.
Since November 2012, I have been working as the policy associate for natural resources and infrastructure issues at the National Conference of State Legislatures. In this capacity I lobby the Federal government and Congress on behalf of all the legislative bodies of the 50 states and territories in the issues of energy, environment, agriculture and transportation. While my day to day deals with domestic politics on the state, local and federal level, my background in international affairs has been very helpful. Particularly in the energy field, other countries around the world have very different policies that can be seen as models (sometimes for what to do and sometimes for what not to do) for the states.
Understanding how to traverse this international landscape and provide the best information available for our members is key. The same is true for transportation infrastructure financing around the world (and most any other issues). Because of my background in IA, I am able to study these international policies and provide our members with information that they can use to provide the best policies for their constituents. This is not in my job description and was not what I was originally hired for; it is an extra service I am able to provide for legislators.
Though my career does not specifically focus in international affairs, as I once was sure it would, my training in international affairs has undoubtedly come in handy. In an increasingly globalized world it is difficult to find any issue that does not span country boundaries. Additionally, I cannot overstate enough how useful it has been to know a second language and to be able to provide that additional skill set to my work.