Infinite Careers is a collaboration between Career Services (CAPD) and the MIT Alumni Association to explore career paths and the non-linearity of career decision making. Read profiles of alumni with unique career paths, hear their stories and network at a series of talks.
- MIT, Bachelor in Management and Political Science, Minor: Economics (2008)
- Harvard Kennedy School, Master in Public Policy, Concentration: International and Global Affairs (2017)
Ali Wyne is a Washington, DC-based policy analyst with the RAND Corporation’s Defense and Political Sciences Department. He serves as a nonresident fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, a security fellow with the Truman National Security Project, a new leader with the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, and a Penn Kemble Fellow with the National Endowment for Democracy. He is also a contributing analyst with Wikistrat, a global fellow with the Project for the Study of the 21st Century, and a member of Young Professionals in Foreign Policy’s (YPFP’s) Global Leaders Program. Since January 2015 he has been the rapporteur for a U.S. National Intelligence Council working group that convenes government officials and international relations scholars to analyze trends in world order.
Ali served as a junior fellow with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s China Program from 2008 to 2009 and as a research assistant to Graham Allison at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs from 2009 to 2012. He has also conducted research for Robert Blackwill, Derek Chollet, Henry Kissinger, Wendy Sherman, and Richard Stengel. From January to July 2013 he worked on a team that prepared Samantha Power for her confirmation hearing to be U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. He subsequently participated in four Council on Foreign Relations study groups: the theory and practice of geoeconomics (2013-14), U.S. grand strategy towards China (2013-14), Chinese foreign policy (2014-15), and U.S. policy towards Russia (2014-15). From 2014 to 2015 he was a member of the RAND Corporation’s adjunct staff, working with the late Richard Solomon on its “Strategic Rethink” series.
Ali received dual degrees in Management Science and Political Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2008) and earned his Master in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School (2017), where he was a course assistant to Joseph Nye. While at the Kennedy School, he served on a Hillary for America working group on U.S. policy towards Asia.
Ali is a coauthor of “Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master’s Insights on China, the United States, and the World” (2013) and a contributing author to “Power Relations in the Twenty-First Century: Mapping a Multipolar World?” (2017) and the “Routledge Handbook of Public Diplomacy” (2008). He has published extensively in outlets including the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Boston Globe, and the Christian Science Monitor.
Ali delivered the welcome address at the 2011 St. Gallen Symposium, participated in the 2015 Manfred Wörner Seminar, and was selected to attend the 2016 Young Strategists Forum. In 2012, YPFP and the Diplomatic Courier selected him as one of the 99 most influential professionals in foreign policy under 33.
What influenced you to choose your majors in undergrad and graduate school?
I had every intention of studying math in college and pursuing a career as a mathematician—that is, until the attacks of September 11, 2001, which occurred early in my junior year of high school. Beyond compelling me to appreciate how sheltered I had been, the events of that day prompted me to question my chosen path—a recalibration that accelerated amid the ensuing debate over whether or not the United States should invade Iraq.
Following in my sister’s footsteps, I took a year off after graduating from high school. I didn’t have any concrete objectives—just an abstract goal of becoming worldlier. My folks and I traveled to Pakistan, where my parents were born. I interned with Amnesty International for a few months. I tried to read the newspaper on a regular basis. Most importantly, though, I stumbled across a 2002 book by Joseph Nye, “The Paradox of American Power: Why the World’s Only Superpower Can’t Go It Alone.” At once exceptionally sophisticated and highly accessible, it stimulated an enduring interest in U.S. foreign policy.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of your career?
I’ve had the privilege to learn from and work for some of the individuals whose careers as scholars and policymakers I most admire, including Graham Allison and Joseph Nye.
What motivates you to do the work that you do?
It’s challenging and fascinating to consider how the United States should pursue its national interests in an increasingly complex, disorderly world. I also hope that, even if in some small way, the work I do can help to shape a U.S. foreign policy that improves the day-to-day material welfare of Americans and contributes to a more resilient international system.
What professional development activities do you participate in now?
I’m a security fellow with the Truman National Security Project, an organization that equips individuals to articulate and advocate a progressive conception of U.S. foreign policy.
Looking back on your experience at MIT, what advice would you give yourself if you knew then what you know now?
Don’t compare yourself with your peers; learn from them. Don’t get too attached to your one- or five-year plans; rarely, if ever, does life pan out as you intend, and transformative moments often come about serendipitously. You only live once, so chase your own dreams, not those of others.
Do you have any tips for networking or job searching for current students and recent graduates?
Reach out directly to individuals for whom you’d like to work. Demonstrate a sincere interest in and familiarity with what they do. Don’t ask them for a job; instead, ask them if there are ways in which you can help them with their work.
What is something that you did not do at MIT that you wish you had done while you were here?
I wish I had spent a semester studying and/or a summer working abroad.
What is the best career advice that you have ever received?
The more you care about and invest in the success of those around you—friends, colleagues, mentors—the stronger your network will be.
What do you like to do outside of work (e.g., to relax, for fun, as a hobby, on your free time, etc.)?
I love playing chess, trying new kinds of coffee, and listening to heavy metal.
Ali Wyne at the Harvard Kennedy School where he earned his Master in Public Policy in 2017.