HNC Alumni Profile: Sean Ages

Sean Ages, HNC MAIS 2013, reflects back on his time at the HNC and his experience working for the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Read on to hear how his HNC experience helped further his career.

Tell us about your current role.
Right now I’m at Treasury’s Office of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, which is the office that coordinates the Economic Track of the yearly bilateral summit. Day-to-day, it’s a bit of everything: writing briefings, coordinating a unified government policy for negotiations, doing logistical legwork for the event, and everything in between. I love the variety and the pacing, plus the ability to be exposed to a little bit of nearly every office at Treasury and many other federal agencies.

How did your experience at the HNC prepare you for this work?
The classes at HNC provided a great foundation for me to work at the Treasury. I focused on international politics at HNC and Treasury often deals with the intersections of economics, law, international relations, and politics. As I took classes in all of those subjects at HNC, often with a focus on China or the Sino-U.S. angle thereof, I was on solid footing from the day I arrived. Then of course there’s the personal network; I find myself crossing paths both with HNC classmates at other agencies and private organizations and with connections from SAIS all across D.C. Even though I did my entire degree in Nanjing, being able to access the SAIS network has been a great benefit.

Did you leverage the school’s network?
HNC and by extension SAIS provided terrific resources for me. I had great resume development assistance at HNC. An HNC alumna connected me with my job at Kroll in D.C. after graduating. Once I had been accepted into the Presidential Management Fellowship program, the SAIS Office of Career Services offered their services to me, even going so far as to suggest that I attend a SAIS-organized information session on the Foreign Service Examination Oral Assessments; it turns out that the Foreign Service Oral Assessments and the PMF assessments are nearly identical in format. That information was invaluable in my preparation and contributed in no small portion to my success.

Do you have any advice for current or future students at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center?
HNC is a great place to deepen your understanding of China, Sino-U.S. relations, and everything in between. The language component is challenging, of course, but nowhere else can you really live and breathe Chinese in such a unique academic setting. Consider taking a class at HNC that isn’t necessarily in your area of focus; my favorite course at HNC was a class, taught in Chinese, on the American Supreme Court. HNC is also a great community. Every year, nearly all the students and a good portion of faculty participate in a walk around the entire length of the old city walls of Nanjing. Getting every student together for such an event at any other school seems laughable, but only at HNC is it natural.