A Day in the Life

This is a guest post by Caroline Baxter, Waring class of 2000, currently a Senior Project Associate at RAND Corporation in Washington, D.C. Caroline was a classmate of mine, and when I wasn’t begging her to play one of her amazing piano compositions, I was marveling at her wit and intellect – something that thanks to the miracle of Facebook I am still able to do daily. Huge thanks to Caroline for letting us in on her high powered life for a day… (Becky Schaeffer ’00)

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0600: Alarm goes off.

—   : Hit snooze. Promise to partner, who is now awake against his will, I won’t do that again tomorrow.

0615: Drag self out of bed. Shower, hair, teeth, food, pack lunch, pour coffee into thermos.

0645: Leave the house.  Walk to the metro.  Listen to music.  Drink thermos-coffee.  Consider the lilies.  Avoid looking at BlackBerry.

0720: Arrive at the Pentagon.  Present badge to [hot/cold/under-slept/under-caffeinated/under-appreciated] security official.  

0730: Arrive at my office. Say hello to the Chief of Staff and the Military Deputy, who I will inevitably see chatting in the hall.  Turn on office lights in the bullpen.  Review to-do list while computer is booting up.  

0735: Review email, finally.

0745: Throw out and re-write to-do list.  Make another cup of coffee.  Prep for 0800 senior staff meeting.

0800: Senior staff meeting.  

1130: …lunch…?

1400: …gym…?

1900: Review email.  Make to-do list for next day.  Pack.  Leave work (if it’s a normal day).  

Between 0800 and 1900, I can be doing anything from staffing the Under-Secretary at an event, to drafting policy memos, to taking a meeting with a bunch of cost analysts on whether the Department of Defense can afford to do something.  On light days, I get to read a lot.  On busy days, I get to type and talk a lot.  No day is ever truly repeated.  That is what makes it so much fun.

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You might be wondering what it is, exactly, that I’m doing.  My full-time job is as a senior analyst at the RAND Corporation, which is a nonpartisan, nonprofit think tank in D.C.  I get paid to read, think, write, and solve problems on issues related to national security.  These days, though, I get paid to work directly for a particular office in the DoD.  I am on what’s known as a “detail.”  RAND sent me over to this office to help them execute a particular goal.  (And yes, I know I’m being vague, and yes, I know this is a classic D.C. move: watch the newspapers in the next month or two where you can read all about this.  I regret nothing.)  When my work in the DoD ends, I will return back home and keep reading, thinking, and writing.  It’s a great life.

People who enjoy working at think tanks are aggressively curious, committed to the truth regardless of the outcome, honor intellectual honesty above all things, and keep asking, “yeah, but, why?” The Waring education is brilliant training for think tank land. Keeping asking “why,” and one day, a paycheck will show up. Magic.

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To read about what other Waring Alums are up to, visit our Alumni Blog, maintained by Clare Stanton ’10. 

And to see Caroline’s gorgeous mug some more, watch Waring Then & Now, a production of Clare and Jack Lindsay (’05)’s 2015 Endterm. 

Thanks Caroline!

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