Jerod Sun (SFS’23), an international economics (IECO) major, took full advantage of the diverse opportunities that Georgetown offered during his time on the Hilltop. With mathematics and computer science double minors, Sun graduated in December 2022 with a memorable SFS experience that prepared him for his future career.
Entering SFS, Sun aspired to work in a diplomatic field “to support American interests at home and abroad.” Over his four years, he explored opportunities to find the right path for his education and professional journey. He says, “Through my time at Georgetown, I’ve developed a more nuanced view of how that might work in the future.”
In Sun’s Proseminar, Political Science Fiction with Professor Jeffrey Anderson, he studied “complex notions of power, distribution, process, and outcomes in science fiction literature to contemporary issues we face on the intersection of government power and technological advancement – a class unique to the SFS. We discussed these themes in novels like Philip Dick’s ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep’ and ended the semester by watching Blade Runner.” Every undergraduate in the SFS takes a Proseminar in their first year, a small and focused class that takes a deep dive into specific subjects taught by some of Georgetown’s best professors.
Sun was able to continue learning with Anderson, and saw his studies apply themselves to the real world. “The following semester,” Sun shares, “I continued with the course Europe in Crisis by Professor Anderson, diving into the various crises that the European Union faced. As that course was in the spring of 2020, we had another crisis added to the list during that semester.”
Sun also shared other professors who had a significant impact on his academic experience at SFS, notably Professors Erblin Mehmetaj and Ori Soltes. “I took Intro to Proofs and Complex Analysis with Erblin, which enabled those classes to be, well, not so complex. Erblin encourages his students to consider different paths towards solving problems at this level, where the critical part is the thought process – analysis – rather than arriving at a solution. At the end, our Complex Analysis class took a weekend trip to Tudor Place together.”
Speaking of Soltes, Sun says, “Ori is a fantastic professor – I took two of his classes, Theological Implications of the Holocaust and Jews on Trial. In his classes, you travel from the battlefields of ancient Judaea to the minds of modern day critical theological thinkers. My only regret is not taking more of his classes, and I still drop in on his lectures when I’m free.”
Sun saw his studies and activities develop over the course of four years, starting with his first year summer internship at a political data science firm in DC. “The firm built predictive models to help campaigns with targeted voter outreach, along with one of the most accurate statistical forecasts of the 2020 elections. While there, I was fascinated by the process of modeling and simulating election results – a binary outcome with endless variables that factor into the paths for victory,” he says.
Three years later, Sun wrote his IECO senior seminar thesis “on the relationship between vote shares and political bipartisanship in Congress.” He found his research enthralling and was ecstatic to share his findings with his classmates. Sun says. “It was fascinating to obtain and share these results with the class, along with seeing the results of my classmates’ research – from the effects of tariff exclusions on trade flows to the relationship between mobile phone access and gender equality in India.”
Opportunities That Start Day One
Sun explored many opportunities during his first year, including an internship with the Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET), a policy research organization within the SFS. “Throughout my time at Georgetown, I worked on various data science and software engineering projects with CSET staff, including Ilya Rahkovsky, Daniel Chou, James Dunham, and Jennifer Melot. These projects included algorithmic predictions of company classifications, fuzzy address matching, and work supporting the CSET Map of Science visualization,” Sun says.
Sun also reflected on memorable times he had with friends during his time at Georgetown. A favorite pastime of his was visiting the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts with friends, and exploring the range of symphonies, musicals and comedy works within walking distance from campus.
Sun’s favorite Georgetown memory is from his first year, and features his eventual junior year roommates along with Georgetown President John J. DeGioia. “A few weeks into my freshman fall semester, I was walking with two new friends at CAB fair,” Sun shares. “We happened to come across President John DeGioia, and at the spur of the moment, caught up with him and asked for a selfie. Quite surprisingly, he agreed.”
Sun attended many on-campus events during his time at SFS, from roundtables hosted by various departments to music lectures during his free time. “Georgetown provides an entire spectrum of opportunities to listen to professionals in the field, and this is an extremely valuable learning opportunity,” Sun says. Sun particularly remembers hearing from Carlos Felipe Jaramillo, vice president for the Latin American and the Caribbean region at the World Bank, and Colombian banker Jaime Gilinski, one of the most important leaders in Latin American business.
Sun never hesitated to reach outside of the SFS to continue his learning. This led him to discover interests he did not know he had. His first year, he participated in the McDonough Real Estate Case Competition. “Undergraduates were paired with MBA students to pitch an acquisition and redevelopment of the Latham Hotel in Philadelphia, igniting my interest to learn more about the world of commercial real estate,” Sun says. “While I didn’t know it at the time, this would lead to an opportunity that united both real estate and software engineering. Last summer, I interned as a data engineer at Revantage, a shared services subsidiary for Blackstone’s global real estate portfolio.” Sun spent the summer in Chicago, working for Revantage in Willis Tower by day and exploring the city by night.
Since graduating in December 2022, Sun has been working at Palantir Technologies, a public American company that specializes in big data analytics. Sun’s role is as “a catch-all between product manager, software engineer and strategist, depending on the current stage of the project,” he says. “In this role, I have the opportunity to work on solutions for the federal government that can have a positive impact on millions of Americans.”