Rob Rolling, MSIA '05, recently completed the two-year Presidential Management Fellowship (PMF) program, and has accepted a position with Booz Allen Hamilton's Global Security Office, working with a government client on classified projects. Booz Allen is a global strategy and technology consulting firm that provide services to the world's leading corporations, government and other public agencies, emerging growth companies, and institutions. Booz Allen prides itself on providing clients with "results that endure."
Previously, Rob worked for the U.S. Air Force Office of International Affairs in negotiating international armaments cooperation agreements followed by another year with the U.S. Department of State's Fulbright Exchange Grants Office. We are glad we had the chance to catch up with him and ask a few questions about his life since Tech.
How did Tech help you get where you are now?
Academically, Professor Stuhlberg's class taught me how to write policy papers. This prepared me for the writing that many government jobs require. The practical experience that I got at Tech was also invaluable as I charted my course. Tech helped me get a valuable internship at the State Department and Cross-Cultural Solutions in Peru. These internships helped me define what I really wanted to do. I actually found out that I didn't want to work overseas with the State Department, but that I was more interested in being part of the Civil Service right here in Washington D.C. It also showed me the positive and negative realities of the job.
What do you think differentiates a Tech graduate from the field?
I think there are some skills that are important for every person who wants to be successful. I can't stress the importance of learning to find and build strong connections with others enough. I also think that one should know how to sell oneself, understanding that with your background from Tech, you are qualified for most any position that comes your way.
What advice do you have for students?
I think it is very important to explore all opportunities. There are so many things that many graduates don't even consider in which an international affairs degree can be used. I was open and pursued lots of opportunities, including nonprofit, private, and government positions before I found out what I really liked. It actually has made me a pretty diverse candidate. Eventually, I found one that fit me and put me in the State Department through the Presidential Management Fellowship program. Another thing is the importance of understanding the field. This helps you have realistic expectations that you can act on. One big thing that I found out is that Washington D.C. and New York are the hot spots for international affairs, so going there opens up many more opportunities in the field than exist in other cities. That first job, although it might not be your dream job, can be a great spring board to the next place. Lastly, remember the importance of networking and keep your relationships with other Tech alums open. Use the Tech name and positive reputation wherever you go.