In the course of her academic work, Rachel Miller ’17, who focused on international relations, foreign policy, security studies, and the politics of violence, read the work of many scholars that she imagined as “talking heads.” After graduating as a political science major and Middle Eastern and Islamic studies concentrator, these scholars will go from distant voices to interactive colleagues. Since early May she has been interning at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a prominent think tank that focuses on U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.
“From my first political science class at Haverford, ‘The Evolution of the Jihad Movement’ with [Associate Professor of Political Science] Barak Mendelsohn, I was hooked on the study of security, violence, and non-state actors,” said Miller, a native of Houston, Texas. “I am so fortunate that my position at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy focuses on exactly those topics, as I will be in the Counterterrorism Program.”
Miller has been enjoying meeting a new network of people and learning first-hand what the world of foreign policy looks like. Until recently, she envisioned working in law or perhaps consulting, but after her academic experiences at Haverford, she wasn’t quite ready to leave behind international relations scholarship.
“While the jobs seem much sparser in the world of foreign policy, I knew it was important for me to take the risk and go after what I really wanted to do,” she said.
She credits Professor Mendelsohn and the political science department for making this internship possible. Her research assistantship over the past two and a half years with Mendelsohn, in particular, has made her feel prepared for what’s to come.
“It is hard enough to get a job in foreign policy, but without the right research experience, I can only imagine how much more difficult it becomes,” she explained. “The Department of Political Science at Haverford emphasized the significance of research, writing, and problematizing the world around me. The thesis process definitely helped secure these skills.”
Working alongside the Institute’s staff and fellows, Miller is providing research, planning, and administrative support. After spending her summer meeting people in the industry and improving her Arabic skills, Miller hopes to secure a foreign policy or security analyst position in D.C. and eventually hopes to earn a master’s or Ph.D. in international affairs or security. In the meantime, she will enjoy working in an environment ideally suited to her passions.
“The more people I can learn from and research with, the greater number of perspectives I will have when I go back to school,” she said. “I have always found that working for others really teaches me ways I can be a better academic.”
“Where They’re Headed” is a blog series reporting on the post-collegiate plans of recent Haverford graduates.