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Timothy Casey

Mr. Timothy Casey (Class of 2008)

Biography:

Mr. Timothy J. Casey, Jr. is a 2008 Alumnus of Fitchburg State University where he earned a BS in Political Science with a focus on International Relations. He double majored in History and received a minor in International Studies.

Shortly after graduation, I moved to Washington, D.C. and began working with an economic consulting firm advising institutional investment firms. In 2012, I transitioned into the world of defense consulting working as a project manager for the Air Force Office of Small Business Programs at the Pentagon. While working full-time, I completed an MBA at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland in 2014.

Presently, I support the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Systems Engineering [DASD(SE)]. I am the lead for the Defense Acquisition Executive Summaries process in DASD(SE), facilitate the development of systems engineering plans (SEPs), track DASD(SE) program engagements and system reviews, and provide systemic root cause analysis on programs assessing major risks and issues to support senior defense leaders’ decision-making.

Impact the University had on my career path:

What sticks out the most looking back are the skills I honed while attending Fitchburg State. The course subject matter is probably immaterial, though the array of courses Fitchburg State offered is impressive for a state university. The years I spent at Fitchburg State honed critical skills in professional writing, presenting, critical thinking, and scenario planning. I was lucky enough to have professors challenge and push me to my full potential if I turned in an OK assignment and they knew I could do better. The faculty is incredible accessible and their concerns are not limited to your academic progress. Your personal dreams and goals are of equal importance, as well as how the faculty can assist you in attaining them. My advisor, Dr. Spero, continues to stay in touch with me years after graduating.

As an undergraduate, I joined the Washington Center internship program and spent a summer interning at the National Committee on North Korea and taking classes in Washington, D.C. This cemented my desire to move to the nation’s capital and begin a career. I’m not sure I would have packed up all my belongings in my car and moved to D.C. had it not been for that experience. When I toured the Pentagon in the summer of 2006 while interning, I had no idea that I’d eventually be working there. This is a reality in no small part thanks to my time at Fitchburg State.

I offer the following advice for current and prospective Political Science students:

  • If you’re considering graduate school, spend some time working in your field for a bit before you attend graduate school. Internships don’t always show you the full experience. I ended up changing my career path after working in my field. Had I gone straight through, I wouldn’t have known that an MBA was a better choice for me than an MA in International Relations. I am happier as a result and don’t have the extra loan burden.
  • Focus on your writing. Base knowledge is good, but the ability to synthesize it and present it in an impactful manner is crucial. It’s easier to write a 30 page paper than it is to summarize and present a critical issue to a CEO or Senior Executive Service public servant, who only has time for a one or two page slide.
  • Travel as much as you can. Traveling the world imparted me with perspective. From what real poverty looks like in Thailand (American poverty is luxury by comparison), to the fact that the Vietnamese people are some of the friendliest I’ve met – to an American who thought there would be lingering resentment.
  • Don’t limit yourself with Political Science (POLS) classes. While the POLS classes were definitely my favorite, getting out of my comfort zone taught me more about myself. I’m not musically inclined at all, but The History of Jazz course at Fitchburg State was one of my most memorable outside of my major. Classes I took in programming gave me some base knowledge which has proven helpful in certain projects. Economics and business classes will provide fundamentals that are needed in every organization from how to manage people, to how to balance an account, and how trade impacts the world.
  • Constantly question and challenge everything. From yourself, your textbooks, your professors, even your employers. If you don’t know why you’re doing something you don’t know if there’s a better way to crack the nut.
  • If you’re bored and not learning anything in a job, it’s time to move on. No matter how comfortable you are, if you’re not learning it’s time to go.
  • A job right out of school for more money may not pay off dividends in the long run versus a lower paying gig where you’re gaining better experience and meeting contacts for your next job. Think about how your decisions will impact your career and life, not just the immediate benefit.
  • Figure out the math behind every decision you make. Every major decision you make will have a cost associated to it and true costs aren’t always easily apparent. A high priced university may not be a good return on your investment and may hamper your options for buying a home or living on your own after school. After your first or second job out of college, your degree is simply there to check a box and the name of the school doesn’t really matter to the vast majority of people. (Hint: Fitchburg State is a smart financial bet!)
  • Don’t be afraid to fail. And when you do, don’t be afraid to ask for help fixing it.