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For Prospective Fulbright Applicants, a Washington Semester Alum Offers Advice

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Conor McCadden with Massachusetts Congressman Bill Keating
Conor McCadden with Massachusetts Congressman Bill Keating, with whom he interned in Spring 2018.

The term “changemakers” is often used today to describe people who seek to make a difference in our constantly innovating world. Conor McCadden, a Washington Semester Program alum from Fall 2016, doesn’t call himself a changemaker - but we do. As part of the lauded Fulbright Scholars Program, McCadden will be doing research at a think tank in Bulgaria at the Center for the Study of Democracy, beginning this fall.

“I consider myself someone who one day hopes to be able to call themselves [a changemaker]. Flashy job titles or large salaries do not make us more compelling ‘changers.’ As long as you wake up each day with the goal of making the world a better place, no matter how big or small of an impact you can realistically make.”

At the Center for the Study of Democracy, McCadden analyzes connections that the Russian economic footprint has between the energy sectors of the UK, France, and Germany. Conor believes his experience in a full-time research environment is valuable not only to the community in Bulgaria but also to his future. He plans to refine transferable skills to bring back to the US.

“[During the Washington Semester Program], I learned valuable professional skills such as how to conduct myself in a workplace and networking strategies, as well as important tips for job search techniques. Resume and cover letter writing were two of the most important.”

Conor McCadden on the rooftop of the Newseum

Although McCadden, originally from Calais, Maine, has used education to pave the way for his future in politics, he hasn’t stopped there. He is on a mission to change the world through public service. He graduated with a BA in History and a minor in International Studies from Boston College, his interests are deeply rooted in 20th century history with an emphasis on the Cold War and Third World battlefields. He conducted research projects on Cold War competition leading to violence against the people of El Salvador in the 80s and the UN's changing role in the Cold War from the early 50’s to the early 70’s, specifically focusing on the rise of the G7 in the General Assembly.

“[My professor] John Calabrese is so well connected in DC. But more importantly, he is willing to share those connections and hook his class up with incredible trips week in and week out. Any student who gets the opportunity to take his class should feel privileged.”

For potential Fulbright applicants pursuing research, McCadden shares his tips on the application process:

  1. Start early. McCadden recommends getting in touch with your campus Fulbright resentative in the spring of Junior year to discuss the process with them.
  2. “Have confidence in yourself and in your project,” says McCadden. The Fulbright Grant application is long and strenuous, making it easy for any applicant to become discouraged by the process. “Remember why you wanted to apply and make sure you keep a positive attitude. If you took the initiative to apply, and successfully completed the materials then you are probably qualified for it. Always remember that.”
  3. Make sure you are interested in what you want to research. “You are asking to be sent to another country to do research for a year. It shows quite clearly if you don't have a passion for the research you are asking to conduct.”

Conor McCadden’s experience with the Washington Semester Program served as a catalyst to shape his current research in Bulgaria. He plans to continue this work when he returns to the US in hopes to earn a Master Degree in International Relations.

“I believe I have the skills to be able to add to global policy discussions,” explains McCadden. “I believe people with the agency to make change have the moral obligation to do so. I want to do my part wherever I can.”