Sandy Buchan Brings Changes to Career Services
Photo by Stefanie Howard/RAND Corporation
August 24, 2018
Pardee RAND is excited to have a full-time Career Services director, Sandy Buchan. She comes to the School with lots of ideas for engaging students and alumni, as well as a fascinating career background of her own.
Setting the Bar for Success
Buchan says she has two career services goals: (1) to integrate career development in the school redesign, and (2) to create a larger external footprint for the graduate school outside of RAND.
An integration of alumni relations with career services will help us build a strategic network. This partnership will impact Pardee and perhaps all of RAND as well.
"To elevate the school and our students, it is important to engage with our alumni more deeply. An integration of alumni relations with career services will help us build a strategic network. This partnership will impact Pardee and perhaps all of RAND as well," she said.
"I am looking forward to alumni joining our new career services committee, which will help career services navigate trends in the industry and identify new opportunities for our Ph.D. students and alumni," she added.
Recently, RAND alumni at Google and Praedicat volunteered their time and opened their offices for Pardee RAND students to explore non-traditional policy analysis careers.
"As we build more impactful workshops and seminars, we hope to lay a foundation for our students to pursue a broader set of careers. It is important that more Pardee RAND alumni join in to provide much-needed advice and guidance to our students," she said.
A Background as Diverse as Pardee RAND
Buchan spent the first 20 years of her career with the Central Intelligence Agency, during which she earned a B.S. in psychology with a minor in political science and an M.A. in industrial psychology, both from George Mason University. After leaving the CIA, she obtained an MBA from the USC Marshall School of Business, directed the USC School of Engineering's Asian Pacific Institute, and then moved into career services at USC and later UCLA.
She sees in her career background many elements that she hopes will contribute to Pardee RAND.
While she was at the CIA, "they put in place diversity programs and emphasized upward mobility of women and minorities. This atmosphere and culture allowed me unique access to work on political polling, narcotics trafficking, and scientific and technology issues."
During my later years at the CIA, the Director of Operations nominated me for the CIA’s one-year operational training to become a case officer. Yes, a spy.
She also received some unusual training at the Agency.
"During my later years at the CIA, the Director of Operations nominated me for the CIA’s one-year operational training to become a case officer. Yes, a spy," she admits. "The training included becoming hand-gun qualified, developing night navigation skills, enhancing photography skills, and learning how to spot a good dead drop, and honing skills to recruit foreign agents."
She moved to Los Angeles while working for the CIA, which led her to USC and a decision to change careers.
"I found my way into career services with the help of two USC deans who had worked for the military," she said. "I was fortunate that they saw the value of someone with my varied background and diverse skill set as an asset for career services. The second stage of my career is history: stints with USC in its business school and public policy school, and at UCLA in its financial engineering program."
"In my new position at Pardee RAND, I am incorporating all my academic and work experience to build a new career development program," she said. "Specifically, having worked in domains that are near and dear to the heart of RAND, and coupling that with my career services experience, I hope to contribute to the School’s move into the redesign phase of our Ph.D. in policy analysis."