#WeAreElliott: Z. Mason Evers

#WeAreElliott: Z. Mason Evers

Originally from Bentonville, Arkansas, Z. Mason Evers obtained his B.A. in National Security Studies in May 2019 from Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. Over the course of his career, Mason has interned with the U.S. Department of State – first at the U.S. Consulate General in Belfast, Northern Ireland and later in the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations in Washington – and the National Defense University. Currently, he is a Security Cooperation Policy Analyst in the Marine Corps’ International Affairs Branch. Mason’s academic interests include strategic deterrence, emerging threats, and the future of conflict. He is set to graduate from George Washington University with his M.A. in Security Policy Studies in May 2023.

When did you realize you wanted an international career? What led you to choose the Elliott School?

It honestly feels like I have come full circle on this, as it was the early 2014 Euromaidan Revolution and the subsequent Russian annexation of Crimea that first captured my attention and drove me to consider pursuing my undergraduate degree in national security and international affairs.  In many ways, the Russian invasion of Ukraine last month reminded me why I am pursuing public service and the role I want to play in ensuring U.S. national security.  When considering graduate school, the Elliott School just felt like the right fit – it offered the coursework that I was most interested in, the graduate student services that I needed, and the flexibility and support that I required to be able to work full-time and complete my graduate studies. 

Where do you currently work and how does it fit in with your career goals? 

I am currently a defense contractor supporting the International Affairs Branch of the U.S. Marine Corps, where I manage select U.S.C. Title 10 programs and support security cooperation policy.  Historically, I have always cast a wide net when it came to pursuing professional opportunities or to studying different issues and topics, but what makes me so excited about this job is that it is giving me the chance to build institutional knowledge that will strengthen my professional authority and deepen my understanding of defense policy.  In fact, I have worked in two different roles for the Marine Corps for 18 months total thus far, and one of the many lessons that I have learned during this time is the value and importance of institutional knowledge.  It really does make a difference in terms of the quality of professional relationships you’re making and the depth of knowledge you have on not only the policy but on the processes that inform its development and implementation.  In terms of my long-term career goals, I aspire to continue working on defense policy issues, hopefully within the Office of the Secretary of Defense. 

What has been your most rewarding academic experience at the Elliott School and why?

During the latter half of summer 2021, I took Formal Briefing with Molly Bauch, a senior manager at Accenture with a professional history within the intelligence community, in an effort to improve my woefully inadequate formal presentation skills.  Ms. Bauch’s skills course, while short in duration, proved essential to my professional development, as she gave me concrete tips and tricks to not only delivering an effective brief or presentation, but developing one as well.  She demonstrated that formal briefing is just as much about the information you are trying to convey as it is about telling a story that resonates and compels the audience to action.  I continue to have a lot of anxiety around public speaking and formal presentations, but with the guidance and advice given to me by Ms. Bauch, I am a stronger, more capable, and more confident briefer. 

Describe the pros and cons of being a part-time student at the Elliott School.

Ask every part-timer this question and I am confident that the only negative that they would share is that you are conducting your graduate studies across six to seven semesters rather than four.  However, if you’re an optimist like I am, you will see that as an opportunity to take your time with your studies and focus on fewer issues and topics (i.e. classes) at a time.  For me, being a part-time student allows me to work full-time without feeling exhausted or burnt out, and it enables me to focus on my coursework in a more measured, intentional way.  Additionally, being a part-time student has given me the free time to be able to hang out with friends, go out for drinks and dinner, and enjoy life in the D.C. area.  That being said, it does entail the possibility of a summer class or two, but that is a price I am willing to pay for being a part-time student.  

What advice do you have for incoming students who are starting to think about internship and work opportunities?

My advice for incoming students who are entering the internship and job market is to cast a wide net, know your strengths, and follow each opportunity wherever it takes you.  In many obvious ways, casting a wide net and applying to a wide variety of jobs and internships helps you better understand what opportunities are available and increases your chances of getting hired.  As young professionals, I think it is prudent that we do not confine ourselves to applying to any one institution or issue area, as it could reduce your chances of getting hired and close you off to other exciting opportunities that you may not yet know about.  That being said, you need to understand what your professional strengths and weaknesses are so that you can ensure you are competitive as an applicant.  Finally, follow the opportunities presented to you rather than try and stick to a predesigned career plan, as you never know where life will take you. You may learn something that changes your whole perspective on what you want to do next, or it may open a door that you could not have planned for previously. 

If you could donate unlimited funds to any cause, what would it be and why?

For several years now, I have been very interested in the prospect of investing in clean water technology and supporting initiatives to expand access to clean water.  We are entering an era of significant water insecurity, and it will be essential that communities not only have access to its water resources but are also using them efficiently.  My primary concern is that water insecurity will serve as a driver of conflict and instability in communities and regions around the world.  Improving access to clean water can mitigate those risks while enabling people to live healthier, more productive lives.

Want to connect with current Elliott School students and alumni? Click here to see how!

Find out more about this program by creating a CustomViewbook!

Join us for an information session, RSVP here!

Click here to apply to the Elliott School!

Twitter · Facebook · Instagram

The #WeAreElliott profile series is managed by the Elliott School Office of Graduate Admissions and highlights current students to answer common questions posed by prospective, incoming, and current students. For more information on this series or to submit questions, e-mail the Office of Graduate Admissions at esiagrad@gwu.edu.

The views expressed by students profiled do not necessarily represent those of organizations they work for, are affiliated with, or the Elliott School of International Affairs.