First-year Alumni: Andrew’s path to DoD

It’s alumni update time! I always love hearing from our recent alumni about what they’ve been up to since their student days. Longtime blog readers might remember Andrew, a 2021 MALD graduate, from his many appearances in this space during his time at Fletcher as he and his compatriots dominated a series of cyber-security simulation competitions. As is common for Fletcher students, these involvements played a crucial role in Andrew’s professional path:

Andrew-SeligsonI arrived at The Fletcher School at Tufts in 2019, fresh off one of my first technical jobs in my career as a cyber security analyst at an investments firm. Prior to, I had worked primarily in policy roles at the United Nations and the Israeli Foreign Ministry on a fellowship. I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to continue deepening my technical skills in cyber, go back into policy, or chart out an entirely new and unknown path. And, to be honest, I wasn’t even sure if Fletcher was right for me! I approached a close friend of mine who worked in the international relations field and asked for his advice, and I said that Fletcher was an option. I’ll never forget what he said to me, as in hindsight it was the best advice I had ever received:

“Yes, you can stay technical and specialized, and probably do well for yourself in your career. But going to The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and it is going to open so many doors for you that you didn’t even realize were there.”

As it turns out he was exactly right, but not in the way I was expecting! I found that I did not actually have to choose one way or the other as a specialist or a generalist, but was able to bring in all the technical skills, the policy experience, and my career journey into the Fletcher community in a way that helped to build me into a more capable professional. And this dynamic was proved to be very concrete: For a few hours every day I was honing my strategy and policy writing skills with Dr. Abigail Linnington and Dr. Shultz in the ISSP program, or negotiation and conflict resolution with Dr. Eileen Babbitt, and then I would rush over to my econometrics course to learn advanced regression techniques with Dr. Julie Schaffner, and then skip the train to a cross-registered courses at the Tufts and Harvard engineering schools!

In other words, the hype around ‘interdisciplinary education’ at Fletcher is not just a buzzword for prospective students; it’s a part of the fabric of the education we receive here. This interdisciplinary education further led me to find success at Fletcher. Through the Tech@Fletcher club, I co-led and participated on Fletcher teams that won first place in four international cyber competitions, landed an awesome internship with New York City Cyber Command (NYC3), and completed a year long research project with the Defense Innovation Unit!

After Fletcher, I ended up working for United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), where I worked on all sorts of strategy, policy, and technical problems for Special Operations Forces in tandem with some of the countries leading experts in artificial intelligence and military ethics.

So, when I look back at the advice offered to me by my old friend back in 2019, I reflect on how grateful I am that I took it! My career has taken off in a way that I could never have foreseen, thanks equally to the wonderful professors who offered their time and mentorship, but also my colleagues and peers who helped to co-create a warm, welcoming, and dynamic community to thrive in. So, I will offer the same advice to you, reader: If you get the opportunity to attend the Fletcher School, take it! You will not regret it.

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