Alumni Spotlight: Jennifer Mayer (MASIA ’17)

Jennifer MayerJennifer Mayer graduated with an M.A. in Asian Studies in 2017, concentrating in politics and security with a focus on China. She is currently a Senior Associate at Dataminr in Seattle, Washington where she is responsible for informing clients in news, government, and business of major national and international developments in real-time. Her work combines cutting-edge technologies with Asia expertise so clients can know first and act faster. While at MASIA, she completed internships with the Congressional-Executive Commission on China and the China Power Project as CSIS, worked as a Teaching Assistant for Dr. Cha, and acted as Editor-in-Chief for the Georgetown Journal of Asian Affairs.

Please tell us about yourself. What led to your interests in Asian Studies?

My journey with Asian Studies began during an undergraduate study abroad to Beijing. The challenge of learning Chinese drew me in, and the opaque political system has kept me fascinated ever since. Over time, I became interested in the history, culture, and politics of the entire region.

How did the Asian Studies Program at Georgetown University prepare you for the challenges and opportunities you face today?

In the fast-paced and dynamic world of information and technology, understanding the significance of a single event within seconds is an immense challenge. The Asian Studies Program honed my critical-thinking abilities while equipping me with the knowledge necessary to lead the industry in regional news. The combination of intensive focus on China with study of the entire region–including Southeast and South Asia–means I can deliver new information to clients with both context and speed. Whether the development of the day is political upheaval in Sri Lanka, a tsunami in Indonesia, or Kim Jong-un visiting China, MASIA’s incisive training enables me to sift through terabytes of “noise” to find the events that will shape Asia’s present and future.

What specific skills and knowledge did you gain from Asian Studies courses at Georgetown?

Among many skills I learned through MASIA, writing concisely and clearly is the most valuable. The skill to absorb numerous pieces of competing information, form a theory, and explain it in one sentence is one I acquired during writing-intensive Asian Studies courses, especially Dr. Cha’s thesis course and Dr. Looney’s courses on China. Additionally, the program’s support of Chinese language skills through the Foreign Language and Area Studies grant forms the foundation of my work.

What advice would you give to prospective/current students in the Asian Studies Program?

I would advise prospective students to take this opportunity to grow. The Asian Studies Program will challenge you, but if you dive into what Georgetown and DC has to offer, you will discover opportunities to thrive in the policy community. For current students, think outside of the beltway and consider forging an unexpected path; your insights are incredibly valuable to the world beyond DC. Working in an industry that serves the policy community but is outside of Washington has given me new perspective and energy to continue learning, growing, and moving forward.