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Samantha Haase

Samantha HaaseAlumni Profile

Graduation year and major

’15,  political science and international relations; double minor in psychology and Russian studies

Graduate school

MA in Security Studies from Georgetown University, 2017

Where do you currently work, and what is your position?

Defense Resources & Infrastructure (DRI) office, Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) Intelligence Officer

Why did you choose to attend Iowa State?

I chose to attend Iowa State because I wanted to continue the legacy of my family’s attendance, as my mom, aunt, uncle, stepmom, and sister all attended Iowa State before me. I am so happy that I made the decision I did, as ISU provided so many opportunities for me to excel professionally, academically, and personally, while I made lifelong friends and enjoyed the beauty and excitement of campus life.

Why did you choose to major in political science?

I was inspired to major in political science after taking Professor Mansbach’s POL S 251: Introduction to International Relations course my first semester at Iowa State. The course introduced me to theories of international relations that enabled me to critically evaluate world events from a new lens and really broadened my world view.

What did you enjoy most about being a political science major?

What I enjoyed most about being a political science major is that I was able to broaden my world view and understand international politics and emerging issues through a new lens. I developed the tools and passion while in the POL S department that emboldened me to pursue internships with the State Department, travel to Baku, Azerbaijan, and begin my career with the U.S. government. And I was supported the entire time by the POL S department faculty and my POL S friends.

Is there a political science class that you particularly enjoyed? Please explain.

I particularly enjoyed taking POL S 301: Introduction to Empirical Political Science Research with Dr. Robert Urbatsch. It definitely was one of the hardest classes I have taken, but by far was one of the most rewarding. The skills I gained in Dr. Urbatsch’s class helped me stand out both in graduate school and at DIA and has helped with my selection for professional opportunities due to my ability to conduct quantitative analyses and work with large sets of data. I highly recommend taking this course with Dr. Urbatsch because it will pay dividends in the future!

Did any faculty members or staff in the Department of Political Science inspire or support you when you were at Iowa State? How?

A number of faculty members both inspired me and supported me while I was at Iowa State and were critical to my success, with several of them continuing to support me to this day both professionally and personally. Jason Chrystal, Richard Mansbach, Ellen Pirro, Steffan Schmidt, and Robert Urbatsch went above and beyond to prepare me for graduate school and my career with DIA. They always made themselves available to advise me and answer my many questions, including Dr. Urbatsch supporting me through my graduate thesis, a quantitative analysis on the success of deradicalization programs.

How has your political science degree supported your career aspirations?

My political science degree taught me how to think and write critically, evaluate world events using a variety of theories and frameworks, and conduct both trend and opportunity analysis. These skills were critical to my success as an analyst with the Department of Defense and enable me to produce timely analysis to inform senior defense policymakers’ decision making.

How do you use what you learned as a political science major in your daily work?

On a daily basis, I am entrusted to provide analysis, both written and verbal, to answer senior U.S policymaker questions on world events, which requires me to think critically, conduct in-depth research, evaluate information sources, and concisely communicate and defend my thoughts. I learned these skills throughout my political science major, including being able to discuss and defend my analysis with peers and professors who have diverse viewpoints in the classroom and in extracurricular groups, such as the Political Science Club and Model EU.

What would you tell students who are considering a political science degree at Iowa State?

When I initially decided to major in political science, I thought that there were a few career paths available to me such as working on political campaigns or becoming a lawyer. However, there are endless opportunities to leverage the skills you gain through a political science degree. You can be a Foreign Service Officer and serve as a U.S. diplomat overseas at a U.S. Embassy; you can work for a non-profit focused on international development and build health infrastructure in developing countries; you can work in the Intelligence Community and conduct analysis to inform senior policymakers’ decision making; and so much more. Explore all of your options and never be afraid to take your shot at an opportunity.

If you attended graduate school, How well did your Iowa State political science major prepare you and what advice do you have for political science students who are considering graduate school?

I felt very well prepared for my Security Studies degree at Georgetown. The quantitative analysis skills and theories of political science that I learned at ISU were used throughout my master’s degree, especially for my thesis and my comprehensive exams. I would highly encourage ISU political science students to consider continuing their education and getting a graduate degree. I was able to hone many of the skills I learned at ISU and develop new skills, including writing brief, concise analysis for an Intelligence Community position. Not only that, but I was able to network with professionals who were going into the same career field as I was at Georgetown, and I routinely work to this day with many of my classmates and Georgetown alum at DIA (in addition to several ISU alum).

What is your fondest memory of being a political science major at Iowa State?

Not exactly my fondest memory, because it is many memories, but the friendships I have made as a political science major. From numerous classes together, nights in Ross Hall going to Political Science Club meetings, watching political debates, and mug nights at Welch Ave Station, I met some of my best friends in the political science department. We are spread out across the country and the world working in domestic politics, the Department of Defense, USAID, law, etc., but we all try to see each other at least once a year to continue our discussion of politics and world events and reminisce about our time at ISU.

What advice to you have for current or future Iowa State political science majors?

Pursue any opportunity that you are interested in! When I applied to be a State Department intern, I tried to keep my expectations low since I wasn’t sure if I would be competitive. However, I got my first internship with the State Department in Baku, Azerbaijan! And from there, I got my second internship in Tallinn, Estonia, which gave me the confidence to apply for my internship with DIA and ultimately has led to the amazing career I have had so far. So no matter how bad the Imposter Syndrome may be, apply to that internship, reach out to that person you want to be your mentor, ask questions, and forge your own path!