#ElliottProud: Sheridan Bahar

Sheridan Bahar, MA Security Policy Studies, Class of 2020, #ElliottProud Alumnus

Sheridan Bahar received his master’s degree in Security Policy Studies, with a concentration U.S. National Security, from GW’s Elliott School of International Affairs. Before joining the U.S. Department of Defense, he graduated from Georgetown University with a degree in Government, and was a John S. McCain Strategic Defense Fellow at the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security (USD(I&S)). Sheridan also serves as the Combating Terrorism Chair at Young Professional in Foreign Policy (YPFP) in Washington, DC. Sheridan has experience in U.S. national security, transnational security, regional security, conflict mapping, and intel analysis as well as social, political, economic, historical, and cultural knowledge of the Middle East and Iran. Sheridan uses English, Farsi, Hebrew, and Dari to research, analyze, and report on security development, terrorist activity, and risk assessment.

Describe your current position and what made you interested in applying

I work as an Analyst in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence & Security. With the help of Graduate Student Services and Sharon Swabb, I learned and applied for the Inaugural John S. McCain Strategic Defense Fellow. This fellowship gave me the opportunity to build a career in strengthening allies and partners on behalf of the U.S. and its national security objectives.

Department of Defense is an institution that cares about its employees’ developmental and professional growth. The agency offered me the opportunity to continue working as a full-time staff after completing my fellowship. This opportunity would not have come simply had it not been for my education at the Elliott School.

What do you wish other people knew about your organization?

Department of Defense as a whole is a great place to work at because they genuinely care about developmental growth and networking opportunities. I have spent some time at other agencies, and I can confidently say working anything in the U.S. Government is rewarding. Being a public servant, protecting U.S. national interests is gratifying as a whole.

Focusing on the Department of Defense, the agency has so many different aspects that it’s worth getting to explore. My recommendation is to stay up to date with the Career Office to know about internships and fellowships. The Washington Headquarter Services at the Pentagon is always hiring interns throughout different offices at the Pentagon. Most often, they are unpaid internships but often enough are converted into a full-time position after the internship ends.

Be sure to know whether it is policy, intelligence, or something else desired for employment. Otherwise, you might find all the opportunities overwhelming. Finally, don’t forget that serving our country as public servants is a privilege.

What Elliott School courses would you recommend for students interested in your field and why?

There are too many courses for me to recommend in a box, but I’ll do my best to pick a few. Concerning my line of work, I enjoyed taking Homeland Security (IAFF 6169), United States National Security (IAFF 6186), Fundamentals of Intelligence (6165), and Cyber Security (6222). I can continue naming more, but let’s stop here for the sake of space.

I choose these courses as my top four because the instructors are working professionals with an extensive network of connections. These professors taught a lot of what the “real world” would be like; they brought guest speakers who were working professionals at different federal agencies.

We do not always get the same professor for these courses, but when possible, I recommend Professor Lejeune for Homeland Security, Professor Wise for U.S. National Security; Constantino for Fundamentals of Intelligence; and Siers for Homeland Security.

What was your experience with the job search post-graduation?

Be sure to spend lots of time getting to know the preferred organization/agency for post-graduate employment. As I mentioned earlier, the Department of Defense has so many agencies and so many directorates within those agencies. It can be overwhelming to navigate the agency without enough advanced knowledge.

We have great tools and resources at the Elliott School, and we should take advantage of those resources and tools. Be sure to tap into them because there are dedicated folks at our school ready to assist and help with our careers.

Career and Academic Coaches are your one-way shop for all kinds of opportunities. I am forever thankful for all the help I got from these resources, but I fell short in learning more about some of the opportunities out there. Eventually, I caught up but knowing there is support makes all the difference.

What was the most rewarding aspect of your time at the Elliott School?

There are many rewarding things about the Elliott School. The campus is centrally located near all kinds of landmarks in DC. For example, the State Department is within walking distance, while well-known think tanks like the Brookings Institute and American Enterprise Institute are only blocks away. I do not think there is another school that could say the same thing about its proximity location. The location enables students to easily intern and network at these institutions.

The Elliott School is also known to host incredible events, delivering guest speakers from across the political spectrum. As we gradually pull out of the pandemic, my advice would be to attend as many events as possible hosted by the school to broaden your network (and, of course, enjoy the free food and wine).

One last thing would be to attend weekly language lunches. For anyone interesting in practicing or learning a new language, there is usually a weekly language lunch promoted by the school. Be on the lookout for emails from the school and take your lunch to improve your new language with new friends you meet.

What happy change have you seen or experience since the being in quarantine?

I am happy to see how amazingly we as a nation have begun to recover from this pandemic. My one hope is to continue down this path to full recovery. I am sure many students share the same feeling, knowing how lucky we are to be Americans. This pandemic has not been easy for any of us. Some of us have unfortunately lost loved ones during this difficult time.

My second hope is to expand this path to other nations in need of assistance and vaccine distribution. While I’m super happy, knowing I can safely leave my mask at home, I realize the same is not true for most parts of the world. The government of the United States has so far done an excellent job in providing vaccines to other nations, and I hope to see signs of recovery from all across the world.

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The #ElliottProud profile series is managed by the Elliott School Office of Graduate Admissions and highlights graduate program alumni to answer common questions posed by prospective, incoming, and current students. For more information on this series or to submit questions, e-mail the Office of Graduate Admissions at esiagrad@gwu.edu.

The views expressed by students profiled do not necessarily represent those of organizations they work for, are affiliated with, or the Elliott School of International Affairs.