Federal Security analyst brings
fellow Norwich graduate into the fold © Sept. 14, 2012, Norwich University Office of Communications
For recent Norwich alumna and current graduate student Meghan Kennedy, the opportunity to intern at the Department of Homeland Security’s headquarters was a matter of being in the right place at the right time.
By her junior year, Kennedy, who received her degree in political science in May 2012, was trying to figure out the career she wanted after graduation.
“I knew I wanted to do something with politics or government, but I didn't want to be a lawyer or a politician,” said the Lowell, Mass., native.
Fortunately, the Norwich community was there to help. Kennedy met with an internship coordinator in the Career Development Office to discuss her plans and turn in a resume. One day later, Scott Shelton, ’97, a senior policy analyst in the Department of Homeland Security [DHS], notified the office of an open, paid internship through the DHS Summer Temporary Employment Program. The two were in contact almost immediately, and she quickly understood this was an exceptional opportunity.
One day in the office I’m looking at wind-farm policies and the next day I could be going to a meeting at Coast Guard headquarters. They make sure I’m busy and getting every
NU graduate student
and Class of ’12 member
“He made it clear that this wasn’t an internship where I made copies or got coffee for supervisors. I was actually going to be involved in real projects,” said Kennedy. “That really got my attention.”
After an application process that included approval for security clearance, Kennedy went to work in the department’s Directorate of Operations Coordinating and Planning during July and August 2011, and also during school breaks senior year. After graduation, she was named to a permanent employment internship, a career-track position that requires status as a student. Kennedy enrolled in the online master’s degree program in public administration at Norwich’s College of Graduate and Continuing Studies to stay eligible.
She now does research and analysis in the directorate’s domain section. Specifically, she deals with integrated domains, which involves matters from more than one of three domains; land, maritime, and air.
DHS is a “good fit” for Norwich graduates, said Sheldon, because of the breadth and depth of its programs. He came to work for the federal government after a stint in the Marine Corps, and credits Norwich’s Alumni Association with getting him in touch with the people who helped launch this stage of his career.
“Norwich offers various majors and degree programs that you see represented throughout the Homeland Security enterprise,” said Shelton. “If you were a science major, there’s a science and technology directorate. If you’re in political science or criminal justice, there’s the Office of the General Counsel or operational components like the Coast Guard, Secret Service, Transportation Security Administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, FEMA or the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.”
But Norwich also engenders a culture of “personal accountability, responsibility, and camaraderie” that serves its graduates well in public service, he said. Those qualities are reflected in Kennedy’s performance.
“She’s done an excellent job. She’s done everything that’s been asked of her and she has exceeded expectations,” said Shelton, who planned to return to Norwich for 2012 Homecoming to celebrate his 15th reunion. “She's a great student and has managed her time well. Even though she’s working on master’s courses at night and on weekends, there’s never been a time when she’s been frazzled and said, ‘You're piling too much on me.’”
Much of Kennedy’s work these days is research and analysis of federal regulations and statutes governing the wind-power industry, including work on a memorandum of understanding with the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Defense.
“I’m really happy with the work I’m doing because there’s something different every day,” she said. “One day in the office I’m looking at wind-farm policies and the next day I could be going to a meeting at Coast Guard headquarters. They make sure I’m busy and getting every opportunity possible.”
Kennedy hopes to make a career of public service at DHS or another federal department or agency.
“There is a lot of room for growth here, but I’m not sure I would stay at Homeland Security or if I’ll go somewhere like FEMA or the CIA, depending upon what direction I want to go,” said Kennedy. “Right now, I’m involved more with planning, but what I really want to get into is intelligence and analysis.”
“I’m happy to be involved with protecting the country,” she added. “The work I’m doing may not be affecting someone today or tomorrow, but in the future it will have some sort of impact on society.”