Lauren Pinson was honored recently by the former Deputy Secretary of Defense for her work on an 18-month transition project that outlined and tracked the defense priorities for the last 500 days of the Bush administration. She is currently a policy analyst and deputy program manager at Science Applications International Corporation, Inc (SAIC). Her current client advises the Secretary of Defense and Deputy Secretary of Defense on organizational and management arrangements in the Department, as well as tracking the strategic priorities of the DoD.
How did Tech and INTA help you get where you are?
Besides the great opportunities that I had while in school, such as studying abroad in South Korea, and interning for the Georgia Tech Office of Federal Relations in D.C., my first job was also through a Georgia Tech alum. Now, the reputation of Georgia Tech follows me everywhere. At my current job, I am always introduced as a Georgia Tech grad, and my colleagues go out of their way to introduce me to people in the Pentagon who also graduated from Tech. I'm also involved within my company with our Strategic University Alliance due to my connection with Georgia Tech. We are working on increasing the the knowledge of SAIC on campus by funding scholarships, internships, and grants in the Ivan Allen, Computing, and Engineering schools. I'm honored to be able to work on this project, learning more about my company, and giving back to Georgia Tech at the same time.
What advice you would give current students at Tech as well as the Sam Nunn School specifically?
During school, it is important to go after as many opportunities that you can, whether it's intramural sports, study abroad, volunteering, or extracurricular work. These activities will make you more well-rounded and more interesting to future employers. After school, the trick to being successful is to do the small stuff well, and to ask the right questions. It is inevitable that some early tasks may seem like busy work, ultimately, when you do small tasks well, people will trust you with even bigger tasks and responsibility. In addition, learning how to ask the right questions will take you very far. As a consultant, it's up to me to find out what the client needs, even if they aren't sure what it is. Rather than thinking you always have the right answer, I find that I learn more and create a better final product when I ask the right questions, and listen to the answers.
What is something that you got from studying INTA at Tech?
I always joke that I had to go to an engineering school to learn how to read. In my course work, I learned how to distill a lot of information down to the most salient points, and to do that very quickly. I do the same thing in my job now, whether it's reading the Early Bird (a defense publication that compiles all the defense news from major newspapers), or reading congressional reports and bills to determine what changes may affect my client. The analytical skills that I learned at Georgia Tech are applicable to everything I do in my job as a consultant and policy analyst at SAIC.