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Jillian Black (‘23): From Business to Government Service

Jillian Black (‘23) discovered her interest in international affairs and national security while in high school. After graduating college with degrees in business and Russian, she knew she wanted to be in Washington, D.C. Jillian decided to pursue her interest in international affairs and started at IWP in the spring of 2021. While studying for her master’s, Jillian continued to work at Bloomberg Government where she supports government relations professionals. Jillian was also an inaugural member of IWP’s chapter of the Alexander Hamilton Society, which meets regularly to discuss critical foreign policy challenges facing the United States.

Jillian BlackOriginally from Connecticut, Jillian studied business and Russian at the University of Vermont. She wasn’t sure what she wanted to do after she graduated in 2018, but she knew she wanted to be in Washington, D.C.

After moving to D.C., Jillian began working for the Advisory Board Company in a sales role. She stayed there for a year before moving to another sales role at Bloomberg Industry Group, where she has been for the past three years.

Supporting government affairs teams

Currently, Jillian works as an Account Manager at Bloomberg Government.  She and her team offer clients an online product that monitors legislation and regulations in order to provide updates and help government relations professionals maintain awareness of what is going on in government. Jillian manages corporate lobbying accounts and ensures that her clients are getting the maximum benefit from Bloomberg’s product.

While at Bloomberg, Jillian realized she wanted to pursue a different career path. “I think I’ve always had somewhat of an interest,” she said, describing her passion for international affairs. Jillian’s interest was piqued in high school when she took a class on the topic, but it really expanded once she moved to D.C. “With all of the events and different opportunities there are to learn about national security and international affairs, I feel like I really took advantage of that.”

Jillian started looking around at the different graduate programs in D.C., and she discovered The Institute of World Politics. “I just really liked how small of a school it was, and specifically how specialized the entire school is,” Jillian said.

Jillian at the 2023 Commencement ceremony
Jillian at the 2023 Commencement ceremony

Bringing a business background to IWP

Jillian was initially concerned about how she would fit in with her business background. “I was a little worried at first, knowing some students had that background or were working in that field,” she said.

However, Jillian found the core courses at IWP did an excellent job of filling in the proverbial blanks. “It was a seamless transition, so I could get a baseline understanding of the field,” she added. She was especially excited about the ability to specialize in intelligence within her M.A. program.

Jillian also described how IWP helped her form a more well-rounded and comprehensive approach to what is going on in the world. IWP is focused on providing its students with an understanding of all the instruments of statecraft, which helps them find creative, integrated solutions to the problems around them. “It made me more aware that one tool won’t solve a singular problem. You need a more integrated strategy and integrated approach to solve problems,” Jillian said.

IWP Alexander Hamilton Society
Jillian and other inaugural members of the Alexander Hamilton Society, IWP Chapter, at the club’s first meeting.

Studying intelligence and national security and wargaming

Jillian discussed two classes that she found especially interesting. One was Prof. John Sano’s course on human intelligence. “Listening to his firsthand experience has been so interesting,” she said. Jillian also described how valuable the class was to her overall education, saying, “I walked away from that class having a really, really good understanding of the entire human intelligence process and why it’s so important to our national security.”

Jillian also enjoyed Prof. John Tsagronis’s course on the national security policy process. “It gave a really good, comprehensive overview of all the different moving pieces in D.C. and what goes into the national security process,” she described. Prof. Tsagronis’s emphasis on writing memos helped Jillian, as well.

Jillian was also able to study violent non-state actors with Prof. Aaron Danis. It was during this course that she was able to participate in a war game simulation called “ISIS Crisis,” which is part of the course. During this class, Jillian chose to study the Provisional Irish Republican Army. She was able to work on a longer research paper, and she also had the opportunity to give an in-class briefing on her paper.

Moving forward, Jillian hopes to continue to pursue her interest in Russia and Eastern Europe in her chosen career field.

Participants in 2022 ISIS Crisis simulation
Jillian, Prof. Danis (center), and other members of the course at the ISIS Crisis simulation.

Participating in the Alexander Hamilton Society

Jillian had the unique experience of being an inaugural member of IWP’s chapter of the Alexander Hamilton Society. According to their website, “The Alexander Hamilton Society (AHS) is a non-partisan, not-for-profit, national organization that seeks to identify, educate, and launch young men and women into foreign policy and national security careers imbued with the Hamiltonian perspective of strong and principled American leadership in global affairs.”

IWP’s chapter of AHS was founded in February of 2022, and the organization held its first meeting a month later. IWP’s chapter is one of over 50 student-led chapters.

Jillian said the process of starting AHS was straightforward. “The school makes that really easy to start a new club if you’re interested,” she said. Jillian said the biggest challenge was finding time to host meetings, which was made difficult by the fact that IWP’s classes are mostly offered in the afternoons and evenings to accommodate students’ work schedules.

Eventually, the club’s officers decided to meet on Friday nights. “I think it really speaks to the members of the club and students at the schools being willing to give up their Fridays to come discuss foreign policy,” she said. Furthermore, Jillian said the students’ passion for foreign policy and what the school itself and AHS stand for really stand out in students’ commitment to the club.

One of Jillian’s favorite memories of AHS is when the club was able to host a guest speaker. In November 2022, Dr. Peter Berkowitz spoke to IWP students on “American Grand Strategy and China.”

A future in the Intelligence Community

Jillian is currently in the process to become an intelligence analyst for the U.S. government: “My IWP education has allowed me to pivot to something I am passionate about.”

IWP students with Dr. Peter Berkowitz
AHS members with Dr. Berkowitz (center).