Politics and International Relations

  • Paul (circled) covering a House Financial Services Committee hearing, reporting back to stakeholders in London

Paul Cottam

What do you currently do?

I currently work as an ‘Economic & Policy Officer’ at the British Embassy, Washington DC. My work primarily focuses on reporting on US macro-economic activity, with a particular focus on inequality, the regional make-up of the US economy, high frequency economic indicators, and domestic fiscal policy and regulation.

How do you see the connection between the time you spent as a IR major and what you’ve been able to do since?

Critical thinking, particularly in the research process is certainly relevant to my current role. The ability to pick out key information from reliable sources is essential to informing government policy. Also, the ability to orate ones arguments (learned through presentations, class discussion and other extra curriculars) is a skill I put to use on an almost daily basis. Part of my role entails briefing HM Ambassador on developments within my policy area. Lastly, the ability to visualise data (special thanks to Dr. K for this one) has really allowed me to separate myself, as it’s a unique skill set which many don’t have.

What advice do you have for students currently majoring in, or considering to major in IR?

The number one thing IR majors need to do at Ursinus is go to Model UN, I would almost go as far to say that it should be a core requirement for the major. It’s really what sparked my passion for the field. The opportunity to get stuck into the issues with your fellow students is a great learning experience, and just being in NYC gets you excited about the work. If you’re considering the subject, I would advise perhaps taking an entry level course (maybe POL 252?). It satisfies one of the graduation requirements - which is why I initially took the course - and is a really interesting and useful to get the flavour of the subject.