Dylan Maguire is a political science doctoral candidate who has taken his passion for Middle Eastern politics and transformed it into a clear career path. He recently engaged in a semester long Experiential PhD placement at the State Department’s Office of Opinion Research, during which he analyzed polling data to gauge foreign opinion on multiple issues.
Dylan didn’t always plan on entering the world of politics and international affairs. As an undergraduate, he attended John J. College of Criminal Justice with the intention of becoming a police officer. After taking some courses in political science, Dylan realized he had a passion for political science, specifically the complex world of Middle Eastern politics.
During his graduate program in international affairs at Boston University, Dylan focused his studies on security related issues. After graduating with his master’s degree, Dylan moved to Washington D.C. where he worked in international development at the International Republican Institute and traveled through Jordan and Morocco.
He continued to work on Middle Eastern political issues, but felt that he lacked the analytical and methodological background necessary to produce great research.
“That’s why I ended up coming back for a PhD at Northeastern,” Dylan said. “I feel like the political science program at Northeastern is a really good split between analytical rigor but also maintaining an eye on the policy world and interesting policy problems and issues.”
Dylan started his PhD in Fall 2015, intent on working in the federal government as an analyst after graduation. When he learned about the College of Social Sciences and Humanities’ experiential PhD option, Dylan knew he had to give it a shot.
He applied to several competitive internships in the federal government and eventually accepted a position in the Office of Opinion Research, a division of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research.
“Just like in the United States for elections here, the State Department pays to do polls on election related issues or policy related issues based on context in different countries,” Dylan explained. “[My job] was a lot of big data analysis.”
For three months in spring 2018, Dylan lived and breathed polling data. It was an invaluable experience and while it didn’t directly apply to Dylan’s dissertation, the questions he was working on helped him understand how to use own research to attract hiring managers in the federal government.
Dylan’s dissertation combines his interest in Middle Eastern politics with his skills as an analyst to study security relationships between state and non-state actors in the context of civil wars.
“I am looking at how non-state actors like militias, terrorist groups, rebel organizations decide to ally with state actors and how those relationships evolve over time,” said Dylan.
After submitting his dissertation proposal, Dylan is thinking more and more about how he can use his research to further his career goals. He still wants to work in the federal government as an analyst; he still has his eye on the prize.
“I loved the team that I was working on [at State]. I loved the mission,” he said. “It further solidified that that’s the direction I want to go once I’m done at Northeastern. It’s nice to know where you’re going. Then you just have to figure out how to get there.”