Undergrads enrolled in political science associate professor Caesar Sereseres' Homeland Security course had the opportunity in February to hear from Tatyana Martell, an '05 international studies alumnus and current inspector for the Department of Homeland Security's Office of the Inspector General. Invited by Sereseres to discuss how she came into her role in federal government - a career field of key interest to many of those enrolled in the course - the Lithuanian native and former Fulbright Community Service scholar outlined both her road to her current position and her overall duties as an inspector conducting in-depth evaluations on the effectiveness and efficiency of DHS programs and operations in order to prevent and detect fraud, abuse, mismanagement and waste.  
Her experiences while a student at UCI and skills developed both in and outside the classroom, she said, have proven to be pivotal to her success on the job.  
"My ability to do my job well draws heavily upon the critical thinking and writing skills I honed while I studied at UCI," she said. "Inspectors take a very critical look at the policies of some of our nation's biggest programs such as FEMA and Customs and Border Patrol. If they don't seem to be working, we work to find ways to fix them. If there aren't policies in place where they are found to be needed, we develop and detail what new policy should look like."  
The most important advice she said she hoped to convey to those interested in pursuing a similar career path was to work on writing skills in order to "make complex stuff look simple." She also stressed the importance of taking advantage of UCI's excellent internship opportunities through programs such as UCDC - a ten week UC system-wide internship program designed to give students a behind-the-scenes look at government activities that shape and implement the nation's future course - and similar government oriented internship programs in order to "get a feel for the culture and climate of both government work and the DC area" in which many within the class expressed an interest in ultimately working. Sereseres, she added, was an "excellent mentor and advisor" for preparing her for the reality of government service work.  
Are you an alumnus interested in sharing your career experiences with undergraduates? Contact Carol Spencer, cspencer@uci.edu or 949.824.1312 for more details.

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