When I started at L.E.K., I wondered if my degree in International Politics (IPOL) from Georgetown had prepared me sufficiently for the challenging work ahead, or whether I instead should have studied business. In retrospect, my worries were unfounded. The learning curve of the associate job is steep and pushes the intellectual limits of every new hire regardless of major. Similar to Hagrid’s description of new students entering Hogwarts, “everyone starts at the beginning” at L.E.K. Working hard and learning quickly are the keys to finding success as an A1 at L.E.K. regardless of major.
As I adjusted to working at L.E.K., I increasingly appreciated my International Politics degree for three ways that it helped prepared me for the associate job.
First, learning about and following the global political system required intensive research across a wide range of issues to inform analysis and reach conclusions about America’s place in the world. The conduct, distillation, and analysis of primary and secondary market research are the backbone of the associate role and a critical vector for associates to add value to the team attempting to understand a client’s place in a market and anticipate developments in the relevant market.
Second, synthesizing and writing a defense of a thesis in essays about the international sphere necessitated the development of specific recommendations and supporting arguments to determine the best course of action for a country at a vital strategic crossroads. Associates rely heavily on written advocacy skills to write slides, process interviews, and inform the team’s synthesis of a recommendation for our client’s best course of action at a critical phase of its lifecycle.
Third, seminar classes and group work provided an excellent base for teaching IPOL students how to work with a team to complete a project by a deadline. That same method of Socratic discussion is the basis of cooperating with team members in case team meetings to gain insights from research and generate conclusions to inform the decisions our clients.
After a year at L.E.K., I realized that my IPOL studies provided an important foundation for my ability to be successful at L.E.K. Moreover, while most of my assignments involved subject areas about which I knew little, some involved subjects with which I became familiar in college. Overall, my IPOL courses provided an excellent basis for succeeding as an associate.