UCL Careers


A. Ciaffone

A. graduated from MSc International Public Policy in 2019 and is now Crisis Management Officer in the U.S. State Department.

Tell us about your career path, from graduation to where you are now.

Upon my return to the US from my programme of study, I reached out to my professional network for leads on hiring vacancies.  My previous job experiences helped me land my current role, but it was more the soft skills I absorbed from those experiences rather than things I learned directly at work that were most useful.  Specifically, my previous experiences taught me to manage my time between full-time coursework and a day job, as well as the organisational skills needed for me to balance time between both responsibilities.

What are your core duties and what skills are important to your role?

My role in the State Department involves outlining and drafting diplomatic goals and policy in our most dangerous posts/countries.  For this role it’s important to have strong writing skills, composure under pressure, and work well in large teams.

How did your time at UCL prepare you for the workplace?

UCL has a wide variety of optional modules – you should use these to your advantage to discover your academic and professional interests.  From my programme of study, I found economic sanctions policy fascinating and dedicated my dissertation to it.  Ultimately, I was able to pull the subject-matter expertise I developed in my dissertation and put it to use during job interviews. 

Were there any challenges in your job hunt? How did you overcome these?

In 2019, the U.S. federal government was still experiencing aftershocks from the previous year’s hiring freeze. Jobs in Washington DC were limited and very competitive, and there was no secret recipe to gaining a job during that time. However, I did not rush to accept my first job offer; rather I chose to wait and see so that I could select an opportunity that would give me the most challenging experience as a young professional.  My first job after my MSc in International Public Policy was to manage a State Department counternarcotics project.

Top tip for current students:

Mentorship is the most important thing!  Seek mentors early in your career.  This doesn’t just go for work, I’ve found that having mentors in other aspects of my life have helped me immeasurably.