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Lieutenant Zachary Smith (MA)


Position: Lieutenant

Employer: U.S. Navy

Current City: Washington, DC

Please tell us about your career

I am currently serving as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy and earned my commission through Officer Candidate School in 2009. I am a Surface Warfare Officer and responsible for leading Sailors in the surface ship fleet by driving efficiency in ship maintenance and operational readiness while standing multiple shipboard tactical watch stations. We rotate between Sea and Shore assignments and enjoy a diverse and wide range of duty assignments.

What motivated you to obtain an advanced degree in political science?

As a History and Sociology undergraduate, the liberal arts education provided me the tools I needed to be successful as a Naval Officer, such as precise writing skills with an attention to detail and not being afraid to think outside the box. I pursued a Master’s degree in Political Science for two reasons. First, for professional growth and career progression in the Navy. The second reason is due to a personal interest in figuring out how government works and the underlying principles that drive our institutions.

Why study Political Science and how will this Master’s degree help?

This is the golden question and the answer lies behind the thousands of pages in journals and books read, the countless hours of classroom discussion and debate surrounding the material which at times required serious moderation by the professor, and the articulation of theses and viewpoints in critical essays and papers. This degree program will produce a graduate who has mastered the ability to refine and articulate an argument. As a leader and manager in the Navy, the program has enhanced my undergrad skills by demanding that I think for myself through analyzing and interpreting differing opinions and data points.

Do you have any advice for students who aspire to hold a job like yours?

Becoming a military officer is a unique, demanding, yet rewarding experience. My advice for anyone interested in military service is to find a local recruiter and start learning about the opportunities that are out there. If military service is not attractive, do not limit yourself to the common routes such as teaching. You will be surprised how marketable you are and the skills acquired make you competitive for any managerial position both in the public and private sectors.