Lori Lawson walked across the stage just this past May and landed her dream job immediately after graduation. She is now working as a full-time Public Affairs Specialist with the Bureau of Consular Affairs in the U.S. Department of State. She credits a great portion of her success to the opportunities she received while at Mason.
“Internships, University Career Services, and general education requirements helped me learn more about what I wanted to study. I would especially say internships. It is like trying on clothes in a store, I got to see if the job fit before committing,” she says. While at Mason, Lawson interned with U.S. Representative James P. Moran in his Capitol Hill office, at a nonpartisan nonprofit known as Partnership for Public Service, and with the U.S. Department of State.
These opportunities were all a result of her high level of commitment and involvement within the Mason community. During her time at Mason, she served as resident advisor, a Mason Ambassador, a Global Politics Fellow, and was involved in various honor societies along with the Model UN club - all while still managing 16 credit hours each semester. She credits Mason’s Global Politics Fellows program, the School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs department, and University Career Services as playing key roles that connected her to her internships and career opportunities.
After all, her current position in the Department of State all started with first becoming a Pathways Intern, an opportunity made possible with the help of University Career Services. Lawson attended several networking events and informative sessions on topics such as how to properly apply for federal positions, which exposed her to the opportunities available for current undergraduates. She came across the position and was pleasantly surprised to see that the position had been previously occupied by a Mason student as well. He then helped support her once she took on the role and he moved on to become a full-time employee at the Department of State. She is grateful for the opportunity, as she believes it gave her special hiring eligibility to obtain her current full-time position after graduation.
Despite being a first generation student, coming from a low-income community where gang activity was prevalent, Lawson has managed to defeat the odds and surpass even her own expectations.
What is something about yourself that people might not know?
“I come from a low-income family, with my father working a commission-based sales job during my upbringing and my mother not working due to a debilitating neurological disease. A lot of people look at my mother and see that she can walk, so they assume she isn’t disabled. In reality, I spent quite a bit of time as a child helping my mother out as she recovered from surgeries and helping her with all of the daily tasks she couldn’t do because of her disability. Her positive attitude and determination throughout it all had a huge impact on me, and helped me get to where I am today […] it is a big part of my motivation to be successful and work hard!” she says.
Is there anything else we should know about you or your experience at Mason?
“Mason was the best thing I ever did for my young professional life. The proximity to DC allowed me to hold internships during the academic year. I even had a reliable shuttle system run by Mason that got me there (or at least to the Metro) everyday! University Career Services also helped a lot by offering information and events that allowed me to network with area professionals. This is all complemented by the
classes I took, some with adjunct professors who were experts in their field,” says Lawson.