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Michael McCabe Jr.

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'16 International Politics (National Security) | Legislative Director, U.S. House of Representatives | Washington, D.C.
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Michael McCabe Jr.

Liberal Arts Major: International Politics (National Security)

Liberal Arts Minors: Middle East Studies and Global Security

Hometown: West Chester, PA

Current Location: Washington, DC

What enrichment activities did you participate in as a student?

I completed two internships—one for Congressman Patrick Meehan in the U.S. House of Representatives and the other with the U.S. Department of State at the U.S. Embassy in Doha, Qatar.

What was your first job after graduating from Penn State?

After graduation, I landed a position as a field director for a U.S. congressional campaign in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

What was your favorite class and/or who was your favorite faculty member?

My favorite class was PLSC 442 American Foreign Policy, because it took the political theories that we had discussed in other classes and used them as lenses to look at real world events in foreign policy. This approach made it much easier for me to understand what I was learning in those classes, while keeping me engaged because of my love of foreign policy. I specifically remember that the class focused on the Vietnam War for a while, which has been an interest of mine since I was young. Professor Palmer was tough, but he treated his students like adults. Every aspect of the class was eye-opening.

How did your liberal arts education and skills prepare you for your life after graduation?

Penn State College of the Liberal Arts has such a wide range of major, minor, and class options. I was able to find a major and two minors that really interested me. I was then able to tailor those with even more specific classes. When I would sit down for an interview for an internship or a job, I could talk about how each of my classes related to my interest areas and specifically, what I wanted to do with foreign policy. My internship on Capitol Hill happened because a Penn State alumni introduced me to the Congressman who encouraged me to apply. My internship on Capitol Hill gave me the professional experience necessary to get my internship with the Department of State at the U.S. Embassy in Doha, Qatar, and my internship with the Department of State and time in the Middle East was the thing every interviewer wanted to talk about during my post-graduation job interviews. More importantly, my classes helped me mature into someone who liked to learn and liked the challenge of digging into a problem to find the answer. Now, I do that every single day.

What networking advice would you share with current students?

Everyone networks on Capitol Hill. For me, networking has allowed me to hear of new and exciting career opportunities and has helped me to place friends and interns into entry-level positions in other offices. Having a network makes it easier to solve problems and find answers without having to recreate the wheel. Most of the time, someone has already faced the same problem you are looking at and will have the answer. Most importantly, building a network has gained me some lifelong friends and mentors. My best advice to students: Always write a handwritten thank you card. Take part in the Liberal Arts Alumni Mentor Program, because I wish I had done it as a student to meet more mentors with experience on Capitol Hill. That is why I make sure to volunteer now as a mentor for the program.

What role have mentors played in your career progression?

When I graduated from Penn State, I was still looking for a job. One of my mentors asked me if I would be interested in working on a U.S. Congressional campaign for a candidate who had a national security background. My mentor had worked with another member of the campaign staff and was able to introduce me. The introduction led to a job interview, and then a job. I would not be in the role I am today without the help of my mentor. When I got to Capitol Hill, my first supervisor sat down with me every few months to make sure I was growing in my role and ready to move into a bigger role when the time came. Great mentors have been a huge part of my career success so far.

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