Originally published on February 2, 2021
An interest in history and an affinity for learning about the governments of other countries led Natalie Nehme to study government and international politics at the Schar School of Policy and Government. The Orlando native, who graduated from the bachelor of arts program in 2017, is now manager of operations and outreach at a Washington, D.C., government affairs startup called Poligage.
“The Schar School is structured in a way that you can choose to follow particular paths or concentrations that align with your interests,” Nehme said. “For me, because I had such a strong interest in learning about other countries and how they govern, I chose a concentration in comparative politics.” (Browse a full list of optional concentrations.)
A highlight of her undergraduate career found Nehme as a rising senior interning at Washington, D.C., lobbying firm Wexler Walker, where she reported on congressional hearings and researched policy issues. “It was a great opportunity that I was able to participate in because of all the support and guidance from my [Mason] and Schar School family,” she said.
“I must give a major shoutout to Dr. Ann Ludwick, my academic advisor, who helped me not only shortlist internship opportunities but made them fit into my daily schedule while I was a student at the Schar School,” she added. Ludwick is the assistant dean of undergraduate academic affairs at the Schar School.
“The [Schar School’s] Career Development Office was helpful in crafting my resume and preparing for internship interviews that were held on campus,” Nehme said. “Also, many of my Chi Omega sorority sisters helped me network and find internship opportunities that I would have never been able to do on my own.”
As for her professors, “they were amazing,” she said. She noted that many of the faculty members “are professionals in their fields of study and have extensive networks to hundreds of organizations in the Washington, D.C., area. Many of them helped me and my fellow classmates land volunteer and internship opportunities. All we had to do was reach out to them.”
Now that she has been out of the Schar School for a few years—in fact, she landed a full-time job at Wexler Walker shortly after graduation—she realizes that she employs the knowledge she gained as a student to her profession on a daily basis.
“That job required me to have an understanding of how the U.S. government system worked on a congressional and executive level,” she said. “I quickly moved forward in my career and became a registered lobbyist in 2018, directly helping our clients navigate Washington’s bureaucratic landscape.”
“Today, I am proud to be working with a government affairs startup company called Poligage which is the world's first online marketplace that makes gaining policy insights and government affairs services accessible for all. Poligage helps organizations navigate risks and opportunities that come from public policy, legislation, regulatory efforts, and other government activities that may impact their business.”
What she learned at the Schar School could apply to a range of interests: “I think anyone who is remotely interested in politics or who wants to learn how government systems work—both in the U.S. and other countries—should consider a degree in government and international politics,” she said. “This degree will help those who are interested in learning how to research, synthesize, and formulate their thoughts effectively.”
Schar School Fact: In a challenging job market, 87 percent of Schar School master’s degree graduates from Winter ’19 and Spring ’20 hold full-time jobs.