Strong Research Skills and Internships Open Doors For December Graduate

A young woman with dark hair wearing a dark blazer poses with US Senator Bob Casey in his office.
Government and International Politics major Lydia Sigman interned in Senator Bob Casey’s office while taking classes at Mason.

Graduating senior Lydia Sigman could write the manual for college success—develop professional skills through internships, learn research skills through faculty-led projects, and secure a position with state government by graduation. This government and international politics major and Honors College student took full advantage of every George Mason University opportunity and it shows. “I've always enjoyed politics and history, and I wanted to figure out how that interest would transfer into a real career,” says this Pennsylvania native who chose Mason for its proximity to D.C.

Using internships as a way to explore careers in public service, Sigman worked both in the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, and also in U.S. Senator Bob Casey’s office. “While interning in the U.S. Senate, I was still able to take classes and be with my friends on campus, which solidified all the reasons I chose Mason in the first place,” she explains.

Sigman also honed her research skills through the Schar School’s Undergraduate Research Assistant Program (URAP) where students are paired with faculty to conduct original research. Students develop presentation skills by participating in research fairs, and many become co-authors on publications as a result of their participation. Sigman first joined a team of students led by Professor Jennifer Victor which documented caucus relationships in the US Congress. The subsequent semester, Sigman worked with Professor Jonathan Gifford to write a case study examining why the public-private partnership for Interstate 69 construction was terminated earlier than scheduled. The topics Sigman explored illustrate the diversity of Schar School faculty expertise.

A young woman with dark hair wearing a dark shirt and a camera around her neck smiles as she poses next to a cow at the Pennsylvania Farm Show.
“I am excited to do policy work in my home state!”

Sigman points to the applicability of what she learned to her career development: “Having worked on large papers in classes and as a research assistant in the URAP project, I felt prepared to do a lot of research. I took those skills directly to my internship where I helped write briefings for the Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture. This required clear and confident skills in research and writing that I had developed as a student.”

Sigman credits her research experience as the reason she secured her first position post-graduation. In January, she will begin working full-time with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture in Harrisburg. Says Sigman, “I am excited to do policy work in my home state!”