Thursday, June 29, 2006

In Lieu of a Friday Post

I will be out of town for much of tomorrow, so a Friday post is unlikely. I will be in Bellevue at the Advanced Placement Workshop at Interlake High School. During the summer there are workshops held around the country for high school teachers of the various advanced placement courses. The past few years have seen rapid growth in the comparative politics exam, which is one of the newest tests offered by AP. I have done some work for AP in this area, reviewing materials related to the exam.

Last year I joined the workshop for a short session on teaching methodology, and I offered to come back again this year. No compensation, just trying to do a good turn for other educators.

Alum wins in Supreme Court

Previously we discussed the role that Charles Sipos '94 of Perkins Coie had played in the bringing the case Hamdan v. Rumsfeld before the Supreme Court. The news today is that they have won their case--news coverage here.

Schools Get Skewered

The Department of Education just released a draft report on the state of higher education in the US. Among other points it accuses higher education of being “risk-averse, frequently self-satisfied, and unduly expensive,” and having an “unseemly complacency about the future.” The report argues that academia "has yet to successfully confront the impact of globalization, rapidly evolving technologies, an increasingly diverse and aging population, and an evolving marketplace." In addition, the report criticizes the lack of comparable data on learning outcomes--how much students actually learn from one school to the next.

Needless to say, academic administrators are unhappy with the report, which they see as unfair. Read the report itself here; and some responses here.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Alum Profile: Derek Young '96

Note: Derek mentions his website Exit 133 below. It's a great resource for what's developing in Tacoma, with an emphasis on real estate and urban planning. I read it every day (long before I realized he is one of our alums) and recommend it to anyone who wants to get a sense of how Tacoma is shaping up and where it might go in future.

When did you graduate from UPS?


What have you been doing since graduation?

I have lived the corporate commuter lifestyle while becoming a proponent for all things good in Tacoma. I started working at REI’s corporate headquarters in Kent, Washington a few weeks after graduation. I have formed a few small companies to consolidate some side projects. I’ve run a few marathons and tend to ride my bike to work. I edit a website about Tacoma called Generally speaking, I’ve stayed busy.

Why and how did you decide to take the career path you did?

There was no planning involved in my career path. I stumbled out of UPS planning on heading back to graduate school in Science & Technology Public Policy. At my first job interview with REI I told the recruiter that I would probably be with the company for two years, then I’d head to graduate school. They hired me anyway. What I found was a great company on the verge of many great years. While I’ve always worked in Information Technology, my job has morphed and changed over the years to keep things interesting. I started as an IT contract negotiator. Nearly ten years and five completely different job titles later, I’m still at REI. Currently I’m an IT Project Manager focusing on merchandising logistics.

I’ll be heading back to school to get a MBA this fall. After two years we’ll see which way my future is pointing.

Are there any aspects of the Politics and Government major or your UPS education in general that have served you particularly well?

I absolutely believe that UPS gave me a unique opportunity to blend majors in a way that was interesting to me and beneficial to my career. Do I synthesize molecules, swab agar, or analyze the economic growth of a nation in my day job? No. And nobody has ever mentioned Fukuyama’s End of History or Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations in one of my meetings. However, I use my UPS Politics and Biology degrees nearly every day. UPS taught me how to put structure around what I think and how I display information. My science degree and TA experience taught me how to communicate to scientific and non-scientific minds. My politics degree taught me about how to interpret disparate data using paradigms and models. By combining the two, I now realize, UPS taught me to think in such a way that I can react and communicate in nearly any situation.

Do you have any advice about what our students should make certain they do (or don’t do!) while still in school?

Travel and/or study abroad for an extended period of time. You’ll discover that there are at least a few other perspectives out there. Plus, it allows your mind to wander.

Take advantage of every public speaking opportunity.

Network! Who you know will get you in the door. Your interview skills, amazing smile, resume, and grades will get you the job.

Take classes outside your major.

Learn another language.

Do you have any advice about what our students should be thinking about as they consider their careers or further education?

Pursue your passions. You’ll be working for a long time. There’s no need to go into something you don’t really like. The same thing goes for graduate school. Don’t start into a program that takes eight years if you aren’t absolutely convinced that it’s what you want to do. You don’t want to be five or six years into a program only to discover you don’t actually like it.

Be flexible. Allow for opportunities.
If you don’t like your situation, change it.
Put life/work balance high on your priority list.

Any other words of wisdom, or important questions I haven’t asked?

Wherever you go after graduation, get involved in the community. Check out the local theatre, farmers market, and museums. Get involved in community organizations. Volunteer with youth or in the local arts organizations. First, this is a networking opportunity to find passionate people. Second, you’ll find personal satisfaction. Become more than just your job.

If you’re passionate about Tacoma, I know of a website you should read…
Tags: alums

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Out and About


I've only done pictures of campus so far, so here's one of the Museum of Glass downtown.

Ned Culhane '06

Freshly minted, Ned Culhane is spending the summer working at the Health and Psychophysiology Lab at Harvard University. He writes that he's "assigned to several studies that investigate the physiological responses to the challenge-threat paradigm. I would tell more but we are supposed to keep the exact details confidential." Ned plans to move to DC this fall and hopes to get a job on Capitol Hill or at the NIH.

Ned was a double major in PG and Psych, though we don't hold that against him.

Teach For America Feedback

There are a couple of interesting comments from alums on their experiences with Teach for America; you can find them at my earlier post on the subject here.

Bainbridge Graduate Institute

2002 saw the founding of the Bainbridge Graduate Institute, which is accredited to offer an both an MBA in Sustainable Business and a Certificate in Sustainable Business. BGI looks like an interesting option for those looking for additional schooling with a business-environmental focus. Professor Sherman's work in the Environmental Studies minor on campus and his related community outreach may forge connections between our department and BGI in future; we'll keep you posted.

Read a piece from Business Week on green business practices which discusses BGI here.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Cain Scholarship

There has been a change in the university's Cain Scholarship, which has resided in the School of Business and Leadership. While SBL will continue to administer the scholarship, it will now be opened up to all majors, with an emphasis placed on applicants who wish to pursue a career in public service.

Many thanks to Mark Smith '61 who was instrumental in making this happen.

And who was Harry Cain? A mayor of Tacoma and former US Senator. Read a short biography here.

Update: Mark Smith has a posted an interesting comment below with much more on Harry Cain's life and work.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Strategy and Benefits

Good piece in the Wall Street Journal for those entering the marketplace on making smart decisions about employer medical benefits, flexible spending accounts, and saving through a 401(k).


It came to my attention from a local blog (run by an alum, but more on that later), that UPS has asked the city to vacate the remaining bit of 15th Avenue west of Alder--the street that runs between the student union and Kittridge Hall. They have requested this to construct a new entrance, which I assume means that the main gate of UPS would sit just at Alder. I know one concern of the university has been that its main "gateway" has not been all that clear or sits inside of campus itself, like Jones Circle, having been surrounded by subsequent development. The campus has certainly grown over time; a couple of good historical perspectives are here and here.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Book Reviews

Professor Weinberger has two interesting reviews of recent books:

The Cold War: A New History, John Lewis Gaddis (New York: The Penguin Press, 2005).

America at the Crossroads: Democracy, Power, and the Neoconservative Legacy, Francis Fukuyama (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006).

I've just started Fukuyama myself, and recommend it to anyone wanting to understand the differences and divisions among conservatives, neo-conservatives, realists and all those other terms bandied about in foreign policy. I find the historical overview of many of these ideas particularly fascinating.

Friday, June 23, 2006

The Dilemma of Delay

There's a nice piece in Inside Higher Ed on what the author calls Watson's Syndrome: a "continuing and persistant avoidance" of doing the actual task set before you. While the author confines his diagnosis to those in graduate school who never finish their dissertations, I have certainly seen it apply to students and in the business world as well. The article is tongue in cheek, but worth reading--and there are several comments from readers afflicted with this illness. The first step is to admit you have a problem...

OAR in the Lead

Our UPS alums at Ocean Adventure Racing NW are showing their true college spirit in their row across the Atlantic--they've got a lead ahead of the competition by over 100 miles. See for yourself: their boat is the James Robert Hansen.

BTW, they are looking for support to help ship their boat home once they make it to England, so if you've got a few bucks to spare you can donate here; and half the money goes to the American Lung Association.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Incognito alums

One of our alums is currently in law school and spending his summer working as a law clerk. He and some of his cohorts, scattered across the country, have set up a blog to document their disparate experiences.

Favorite post to date:
"I swear the entire federal government is run by people under 30."

Read about their adventures here.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Educators, study abroad

The Department of Education's Fulbright-Hays program has a series of summer programs available to primary, secondary and post-secondary teachers, administrators and librarians to such places as Australia, Argentina and Uruguay, India, China, Morocco, Mali, Hungary and Jordan, among others. Four to six weeks, and the vast majority of the tab paid for by Fulbright. If you're a teacher at any level, check it out:

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Rachel Martin '96

I recently heard from Rachel Martin '96. She writes:

"I am a foreign correspondent with National Public Radio, currently based in Berlin but I have worked in and out of Afghanistan for the past three years. I am moving to DC for a few months to work at NPR HQ but will still be covering foreign affairs. I'd be pleased to correspond with any students interested in learning about the flexibility of a P&G degree and the places it can take you."

I know of several students/alums who are interested in journalism, so if you want to get in contact with Rachel drop me a note and I'll pass it along to her.

Here's a recent piece of hers on the World Cup and racism in Germany.


Monday, June 19, 2006

Chihuly in Wyatt Hall

Wyatt Hall

Politics and Government has its offices in Wyatt Hall, one of the more recent buildings on campus (if I recall properly, before Wyatt there had been no major construction for several decades). As you enter Wyatt the main atrium has a collection of Dale Chihuly's glass works. Some love his work, others less so. I like it, personally--which is good, because it's all over Tacoma.


The Internationalist

This student magazine based in Seattle was originally founded by students at UPS. At graduation a couple of years back they took their project with them and have been spreading the word far and wide on college campuses across the US. They have also joined forces with the Roosevelt Institution, a national student think-tank.

Professor Weinberger in our department is one of their guest bloggers (though I don't know how he feels about how they have rendered him), and I serve on their board. An impressive publication, and another example of something I wouldn't have dared to do at their age--or, come to think of it, at my age. I guess that's why I'm an academic--the model profession for the risk-averse.

The Internationalist

Oh and students, why not intern there?

Teach for America

We've had a number of grads do Teach for America and I've heard good things about the experience. It also reminds me that I wouldn't have undertaken such a challenge when I graduated from college, which makes it all the more impressive. There was an interesting piece about the program in the papers lately:

It's the strongest job market in years for new college graduates, with salaries and perks rising accordingly. But one of the country's hottest recruiters this spring promised low wages, exhausting labor and just a brief break before work begins.

Teach for America is surging in popularity. At sites around the country, the 17-year-old nonprofit has begun training about 2,400 recent graduates for two-year teaching stints in disadvantaged schools, nearly triple the figure in 2000.

Read the whole thing here.

Any Teach for America folks out there who can comment on their experiences?

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Internship Opportunity

From Grant Lahmann, Pierce County Field Organizer, Washington State Democratic Coordinated Campaign:

I'm with the State Democrats' Coordinated Campaign here in Tacoma. It's
our responsibility to get every Democrat running for election in Pierce
County elected; starting with Senator Maria Cantwell, through
Congressional races like Darcy Burner against freshman Congressman
Reichert, to some very competitive legislative races such as Dawn Morrell
in the 25th legislative district.

We are looking for some bright and capable students who want to gain
valuable experience in the world of Campaigns and politics. Interns will
be integral in the daily operations of running the campaign here in Pierce
County, working closely with the State Coordinated Campaign staff and the
local campaigns...

Positions are also available across the state, so if you are not in Pierce County for the summer/fall there are other options for you. If you are interested, please contact Grant Lahmann at grant[at]wa-democrats[dot]org. We're located at 711 St Helens Ave in downtown Tacoma and we can be reached at 253-627-2156.

Thanks and we look forward to hearing from you!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Summertime, and the Livin' is Easy

A lovely June day in Tacoma. Don't you wish you were here?

Friday, June 16, 2006

Sound the Retreat

Yesterday the department held a retreat to take stock of what we're doing and what's ahead. Much was discussed, including Professor Dan Sherman's joining the department. Professor Sherman has been teaching in a position in Environmental Studies, and while his responsibilities to that program will not change, he will now have his official home in our department. We are lucky to have him join us; more about Professor Sherman and what he's been up to later. We also talked about such issues as internships, requirements for the major, and building linkages to our students and alums (like this blog). In the evening Professor Haltom and Sousa regaled us with stories from wilder and woolier times in the department, making the current faculty look positively staid by comparison. We were out on the Key Penninsula near Gig Harbor, with a rare day of nice weather (at least of late).


Getting down to business



Professors Bonura and Haltom enjoy the low tide



A break in the weather

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Wiki Wonderland

An excellent discussion on Inside Higher Ed on the potential and pitfalls of Wikipedia.

Note to students: Professors look askance at papers that rely heavily on Wikipedia. Why? An anecdote may suffice. Last semester in PG 250 I had the students edit the article on social capital, which was the subject of the course. I told them they could make whatever changes they wished. I saw this as both a way to teach them about the trustworthiness of Wikipedia and also an experiment in "virtual trust"--would my students intentionally mess up an online entry that others rely on?

The answer: yes, they would. Several students deliberately posted observations about social capital that were patently false, while others cited themselves as authorities. And while most of these entries were later corrected by others, several are still there.

Many hands make light, but often unpredictable, work.

Senate Site

I got an interesting email from Ric Cantrell '96, who is Assistant to Senate Majority Leadership in Utah. He writes:

...while the reporters assigned to Capitol Hill are a sincere, bright dedicated group, they don't have time to fully understand all the issues legislators face. They don't always get the story right, or quote us in context. Retractions are almost worthless. Yet we are close to 100 percent dependent on traditional media to communicate with the citizens of the state. I wondered how to deal with that dynamic more effectively.

And - while The People are responsible for their government, they tend to be fundamentally alienated from elected officials and the policy work of the legislature. I think that is dangerous. What if we could find a way to instruct, empower, invite, re-incorporate and re-engage the citizens of our state?

. . . The idea for a Senate Blog Site emerged from that pile of thought.

It's a really interesting site, even if you don't know or care about Utah politics (or local politics in general), and it points toward some new avenues in technology and democracy. I particularly like the tenor of the site--informal and even cheeky at times.

The Senate Site has been getting media and blog coverage, such as here and here. In April, Ric and his colleagues were invited to an "E-Democracy Forum" in D.C. to talk about the site. Here is one of their handouts if you want to know more.

Ric also tells me that they're on the lookout for interns--this strikes me as a tremendous opportunity to learn more about local government, new media, and the intersection of the two.

Internship Opportunity

This email just came in:

I’m the campaign manager for Friends of Troy Kelley campaign. Troy is running for the Washington State House in the 28th Legislative District (Lakewood, UP, DuPont area). Full disclosure: Troy is married to Diane Kelley, professor in the UPS Foreign Languages Dept.

I would like to talk about the possibility of offering a for-credit internship with the UPS Politics & Government Department for any interested students. I’ve attached a draft Memo of Understanding, but I am open to alter the internship to meet your departmental standards. (Note: The department currently does not offer credit for internships toward the major, though general university credit is a possibility--Professor O'Neil)

Please check out Troy’s website at for any questions about our race; it’s a highly competitive district with strong candidates. It will definitely be a learning experience. Interns would have a tremendous opportunity to learn about applied politics and political communication in a highly energetic environment. I would love to talk you about the opportunity.

Please contact me at your convenience—by email or at 253.380.6781.
Ian Morrison
Campaign Manager
Troy Kelley for State Representative
28th Legislative District—Democrat
C: 253.380.6781
O: 800.831.8397
email: ian[at]

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Emerald Isle

Jill Monnin '05 is currently pursuing her law degree at the University of Washington, and while she was too modest to provide all the details by email, I found the following on UW's website:

"The UW School of Law proudly announces the 2006 recipients of the William Sampson Fellow in Comparative Public Interest Law: Elisabeth Ahlquist, Jill Monnin, Rebecca Huffman, Cecelia Boudreau, and Patrice Kent. The 2006 Fellowship recipients were announced at a lunch attended by Andy Pike, Consul for Northern Ireland to the U.S. March 30, 2006 in Gates Hall.

The Sampson Fellow program, arranged by the law school's European Law Initiative (ELI), provides an externship opportunity for one UW law student to spend up to four months working in Europe at a human rights non-profit or NGO. Traditionally, Sampson Fellow's have worked with the Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC) in Dublin, Ireland."

You can read the whole thing here.

Jill tells me that she'll be interning at the Irish Centre for Human Rights in Galway, doing legal research on UN peace treaties, and post-conflict codes to be implemented in Eastern Europe.

Galway, Ireland, in summer. Poor alum.

Congrats, Jill!

Any alum tips for places to see and things to do in Ireland? Being the political scientist I have taken and highly recommend the taxi tour of "The Troubles" up north...

Campus Snapshot

Regester Hall.
Seems these gargoyles often have cigarette butts balanced between their lips.


Monday, June 12, 2006


I got this email today from the city's economic development council:

From: Grabinski-Young, Nancy
Sent: Monday, June 12, 2006 4:31 PM

Subject: unfinished basement needed for Japanese film

If you know of anyone who would let a film crew into their basement, please let me know asap. I assume it has to be fairly empty as well as unfinished.

Tacoma's growing economic niche--empty basements for Japanese film crews.

More Job Resources

The New York Times and Vault have teamed up to provide various articles on the job market, from internships to career options to interviewing. It looks promising:

Sunday, June 11, 2006

UPS Alums Row Across the Atlantic

From The News Tribune:

"Jordan Hanssen, Dylan LeValley, Greg Spooner and Brad Vickers, four former rowers from the University of Puget Sound, departed from the New York Harbor as one of four hulls competing in the first Ocean Fours Rowing Race on Saturday morning.

Representing OAR (Ocean Adventure Rowing) Northwest, the four local products will try and become the first Americans to row across the North Atlantic Ocean. The route they are taking to Falmouth, England spans 3,100 nautical miles."

Local products? Makes them sound like farm produce.

Follow their adventure here, and track their progress via GPS.

Virtual Privacy

Apropos of my earlier post on grads' online presence, there is an article in today's New York Times about students and recent grads finding that their web activity is being scrutinized. Employers are surfing the web and finding the Xanga, Livejournal, and MySpace sites where their applicants have often posted, let us say, questionable material about themselves. Even Facebook, which is accessible only to those with university email addresses, is being scrutinized using other students or recent grads who still have access to a university account. This is certainly true of UPS grads, whose email addresses convert to an "alum" account that retains an .edu domain, and so can continue to access ostensibly student-only sites. I recall the looks on my students' faces in one class where I mentioned that I had been looking at their Facebook pages.

What's the lesson of this?
  • Secure any pages or sites that you don't want to share openly to make it more difficult to find. For example, blogs can be kept off of search engines.
  • Remember that any time you link out to another website, traffic from your site to that other URL will leave a record at the other end. So if you think your posts are private, but in the process link to an external site, the owner of that site can see where visitors have come from and work their way backward. Similarly, others may link to your site without asking permission, effectively advertising what had been a private site.
  • Remember that if you have a "handle" or nickname that you commonly use on the web, it is much easier to track your activities across a range of sites. Often these nicknames are part of an email address, making it even easier to match up information across discussion threads, websites, and other online activity.
  • Assume that nothing on the web is private. Ask yourself whether anything you have posted is something you'll be asked to account for later. If it is, take it down.
  • Google yourself regularly to see what can be found by using different key words. I found, for example, that there's now a blog called "Patrick O'Neil's Pointed Pen" which is all about politics and has nothing to do with me. Sooner or later, though, someone will assume I'm the author.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Virtual Grads

A number of our graduates have their own online presence. One is the website of Darrel Frost '04, former UPS student president. Darrel's been living in New York and working for the Kaufman Center in marketing and communications. His website is a visual treat; I especially like the collection of posters that Darrel designed in past for UPS events and his eclectic set of links. So Darrel, if UPS folks are in NY can you get us backstage passes?


In the short time since we started this blog we've had nearly 900 hits from alums and students. A network in the making...

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Alum Profile: Jillian Blake, '02

When did you graduate from UPS?


What have you been doing since graduation?

During 2002 immediately after graduation I worked on Senator Paul Wellstone's re-election campaign in Minnesota. Afterwards, I moved to Miami and to work as a project manager for a commercial real estate developer. I was initially hired for the job because it required me to deal with a lot of local elected officials for zoning purposes, but over time I moved more into the marketing side of the business. This prompted me to go back to school for my MBA at Emory University. I just finished my first year and am interning at Honeywell this summer in their marketing department.

Why and how did you decide to take the career path you did?

I initially wanted to work for elected officials or on campaigns, but realized that I like the study of politics better than actually working in it. My move to Miami was pretty random, I was just looking for a new place to live and through a friend of a friend got a job in real estate. It turned out to be a great decision and gave me good experience in the for-profit business world. With this, I realized that I needed to learn basic business things like accounting, marketing, management, finance, etc in order to really succeed (Plus, I was tired of working and wanted to go back to school!).

Are there any aspects of the Politics and Government major or your UPS education in general that have served you particularly well?

I think that people are generally very interested in my undergrad choice and ask a lot of questions. It kind of has this mystique about it because a lot of people aren't really sure what it means or else enjoy poltics. Overall, I have found that most of what I learned helps me in conversations, networking, and to show people that I am generally educated about the world. What I learned about international politics and about other countries (particularly Latin America and the Middle East) have been the most helpful.

Do you have any advice about what our students should make certain they do (or don’t do!) while still in school?

I think students should pick a major that they are passionate about, but then pair that with a minor in or take classes in business. A lot of employers have asked me what econ, marketing, accounting, finance classes I had taken in college and fortunately I took an econ and a statistics class. This was enough to get my by the interviews, but I wish that I had taken a few more general business classes for general knowledge.

Also, study abroad was the best learning experience, both about myself and academically, that I had. I strongly encourage everyone to go abroad for at least a semester.

Do you have any advice about what our students should be thinking about as they consider their careers or further education?

See above. Also, having a spanish minor has not only helped me a lot in business in Miami, but has helped me to differentiate myself to employers.

Would you like to contribute an alum profile? We would love to hear from you. There's a standard set of questions, so feel free to cut and paste those above into an email, provide as long or short of a set of answers as you would like, and send them along to poneil[at]ups[dot]edu. Pictures are also much appreciated!


Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Tacoma Florida

The News Tribune reports the following:

Richard Florida, the author and guru of turning around cities by appealing to what he calls the “creative class,” will return to Tacoma this fall to teach locals how to turn T-Town into a creative city…

David Graybill, chamber president and CEO, said the response to Florida’s message of success-via-appealing-to-creatives drew more rave reviews than any chamber keynoters he could remember.

Graybill and Chamber Board President John Folsom have collected roughly two-thirds of the $150,000 in sponsor donations necessary to bring Florida and his team back and provide local staff support.

Florida will lead a two-day intensive training session in September or October with locals unlike anything the sociologist has done elsewhere.

The training will involve 25 to 30 diverse community leaders and potential leaders who will learn the metrics behind Florida’s theory that the strongest cities focus on talent, technology and tolerance. The goal: action steps the community can take to position Tacoma for creative success. The Tacoma experience could get lead billing in a future Florida book.

If you’re interested in Florida’s work, he has his own website at

One particularly good read there is a piece by Florida from The Atlantic on globalization and knowledge that challenges many of the arguments in Thomas Friedman’s most recent popular work, The World Is Flat. Florida’s rebuttal is here. We've used this piece in the introductory comparative politics class at the end of the semester, when we consider globalization and its effects (real or imagined).

While Florida preaches to Tacoma and rebuts Friedman, others rebut Florida. See Joel Kotkin’s piece “The Ersatz Urban Renaissance”.


Documentary Review:The Corporation

Professor Seth Weinberger has a review of the documentary The Corporation in the latest issue of the journal Political Communication. He has reprinted it on his blog, Security Dilemmas.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Campus Snapshot

Work on the new Science Center continues apace and will be open in fall, complete with a whale skeleton in the foyer (it's already up).


Carolyn Hern '00

Carolyn Hern '00 writes:

"If anyone needs advice on moving to Washington, DC to 'make good use' of your UPS degree in politics, feel free to send me an email. I have been working in on the Hill and on campaigns throughout the South since graduating in 2000. I'm currently the communications director for a Republican Congressman from North Carolina.

Looking forward to hearing from you!"


If you're in DC (as a student or alum), drop me (Professor O'Neil) a line or leave a comment on this post and let's see if we can't get folks together.


Monday, June 05, 2006


Are any of our readers going to the American Political Science Association Conference? I know of at least one member of the department (Professor Haltom) and one alum who will be heading to Philadelphia in late August. If you are going to be there, or if you're an alum in the Philly area, let me know and I'll try to put you all in touch.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Consolidating Student Loans and Landing a Job

From today's Wall Street Journal. Many of their useful articles for students are archived (and available for free) at WSJ's College Journal.

Grads, Grab Loan Bargain

June 4, 2006

For new college graduates, it's a great month to dodge a financial bullet. Just get some paperwork in by June 30 and consolidate those student loans.

Miss the deadline, and student-loan rates will surge 1.84 percentage points July 1. New college grads had average student-loan debt of $19,202 in 2004, says the Education Department. So dillydallying could cost you thousands of dollars.

But if you consolidate before July 1, you can lock in a fixed rate based on the current rates on your loans. Currently, variable interest rates on so-called Stafford Loans are 4.7% if you're in the "in-school" or "grace" period, and can be consolidated at 4.75%. Loans already in repayment carry rates of 5.3%, and can be consolidated at 5.375%. PLUS loans are 6.1%, and can be consolidated at 6.125%.

To snag the lower rates, the lender must receive your paperwork by June 30...

Read the rest here.

A second interesting piece:

Grads, Take Note: Jobs Are Out There


As his college graduation approached last spring, Joseph Coster had yet to find a job. The double major in international relations and economics at Boston University had attended career fairs and searched job listings. But Mr. Coster had yet to secure the government-related, Washington, D.C., post he desired.

It is a predicament many college seniors find themselves in now. Even though the job market for college students is solid this year, plenty of seniors have yet to find something.

Career coaches advise students not to panic. The job market for graduating seniors has been steadily improving for several years, and is good this year, says Mary Schilling, director of the career center at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va. "It's been creeping up the last couple of years but I feel more confident and more energized" about the job market this year, she says. Demand from consulting firms, banks, government agencies and educational organizations has been particularly strong...

Read the rest here.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Comments are On: Say Hi


I've turned on the comments for the blog after getting several requests to do so. I hope that for the time being the comments section can be a way for readers to add in their own two cents, provide input on any questions I might post, or otherwise say hello to all the other readers.

To that end, we would be happy to have people say hi to everyone else on the blog, so please leave a comment and introduce yourself.

The Social Life of Information

An interesting if somewhat breathless article in Fast Company on changing communications technologies (or "open social networks") and their impact on business and politics:

"In fact, it's hard to overstate the coming impact of these new network technologies on business: They hatch trends and build immense waves of interest in specific products. They serve giant, targeted audiences to advertisers. They edge out old media with the loving labor of amateurs. They effortlessly provide hyperdetailed data to marketers. If your customers are satisfied, networks can help build fanatical loyalty; if not, they'll amplify every complaint until you do something about it. They are fund-raising platforms. They unify activists of every stripe, transforming an atomized mass of individuals with few resources into an international movement able to put multinational corporations and governments on the defensive."

Read the rest here.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

A Real Discussion?

One of the positive things (if you can say that) from the problematic start up of the mailing list is that several people expressed a desire to have a real discussion list, where alums and current students could communicate back and forth. As it is set up now, the list is meant direct notices outward to subscribers, not facilitate discussion (though that wound up being the case temporarily anyway...). One possibility would be to create a separate discussion list for those who might like to communicate outside of this more narrow blog. Others have suggested turning on comments for this site so that people might post to the specific entries.

If you have specific ideas about the merits or drawbacks of any of these options, let me know.

Road to Email Hell is Paved with Good Intentions

This week I sent out an email to many of our alums asking if they wanted to join the discussion list connected to this blog. The intention of the discussion list was to send out a weekly bulletin to let folks know what was on the blog, rather than inundating them with email.

Sadly, that's precisely what I did. An oversight on my part has led to a flurry of emails between alums, which was what I wanted to avoid, and made some folks understandably frustrated.

I hope this is resolved now. My apologies to everyone involved, and a reminder to please not reply to all those on my initial email.

p.s. Thanks to those of you who were patient with this process and expressed your support in spite of the initial difficulties.