In one of my favorite moments interviewing candidates for analyst positions, a graduate student from a top school asked me what model of international relations I used to analyze foreign actors. I stifled a laugh and noted I didn’t look at billiard balls interacting on a theoretical international landscape and dealt instead with complicated individuals with unclear and seemingly irrational motivations. This experience was a reminder that even the best academic programs rarely equip graduates to succeed out of the gate national security and risk intelligence analysts.
Over the course of my career in the public and private sectors I’ve encountered accomplished graduates who had outstanding research skills, plenty of general knowledge, and usually some relevant experience, but they rarely know how to write or think analytically. The first purpose of E38 Academy is to help address this imbalance by creating a site where young professionals and pre-professionals can come and quickly gain the skills and knowledge required to succeed as analysts. Because the majority of our offerings will be self-paced, affordable, and focused on the practical vice the theoretical, E38 should be an attractive option to going back to grad school–which still might not provide the right skills–or to taking an eight-week online college course.
All good training programs require a proper needs assessment, and E38 Academy will be no exception; we must offer the types of content our target audience wants and needs. Part of our assessment will come from the professional experiences of our content providers, who, like me, have seen new analysts struggle. We also have the benefit of people like Trevor, who as a professor, author, and think tanker understands from a different angle how to push students from an academic to a more applied focus.
What’s missing from our assessment is what our target audience, the pre-professionals and young professional, judge they need. We’ll be taking several steps the coming months to solicit this input. If you are in this target audience, you employ them, or if you’re an experience practitioner who remembers where you struggled, please let us know what content you think we should offer in the pillars of professional and analytic skills, domain expertise, and leadership and management (I’ll be talking about each of these pillars in later posts). Share any ideas you have in the comments below or shoot me at email at firstname.lastname@example.org.