Editor’s note, Nov. 30, 10:30 p.m.: This story has been updated throughout.
“It is necessary to take direct action and not assume anything,” Ambassador Chase Untermeyer said to more than 20 SMU staff and students interested in the ways of Washington D.C.
The most recent John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies Lunch & Lecture featured Ambassador Untermeyer, former U.S. ambassador to Qatar from 2004 to 2007, as its guest lecturer. He talked about the political process and advised his audience on how to be appointed to a position.
“To anyone who has a hankering to have a position in either the White House or one of its departments or agencies, do not wait for the phone to ring,” Ambassador Untermeyer said.
The lecture, entitled Memos to Aspiring Washington Whizzes, was held on Tuesday in Carr Collins Hall. Ambassador Untermeyer discussed in-depth about the life of an U.S. ambassador and broke down how he thinks hopeful future politicians can follow in his footsteps.
SMU’s own Ambassador Robert Jordan personally asked Ambassador Untermeyer, whom he considers a close friend, to give the lecture. Ambassador Jordan is currently the diplomat-in-residence of the Tower Center, but served as U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 2001 to 2003.
“We didn’t really overlap as ambassadors, but we’ve continued to be in touch over the years,” Ambassador Jordan said. “It’s just a great pleasure to welcome Ambassador Untermeyer to the Tower Center.”
Ambassador Untermeyer said making it in Washington D.C. boils down to three main points: acquiring an advocate, always having a plan B and C for when plan A ultimately goes wrong and wanting to be there for the right reasons.
“Let us suppose it is inauguration time and you have successfully snared a job with the new administration,” Ambassador Untermeyer said. “You will discover that very few things matter a lot in the world of Washington.”
Number one is where your office is located Untermeyer said, only slightly joking. According to him, there are all sorts of ways that office location is calibrated in Washington depending upon where one works, and the authority one holds.
Diana Cates is a SMU student pursuing majors in international studies and world languages who was recently accepted into the 2018 class of Tower Scholars. She is also a sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves and said she was influenced by her lifelong commitment to public service to become a Tower Scholar.
Cates was allowed the final question during the Q&A session after the lecture, and she asked Ambassador Untermeyer to what he owes his success.
“I think it is valuable in life, but especially in bureaucracy, to be nice to everybody,” Ambassador Untermeyer answered. “In particular, be nice to the people who have functional jobs who are of lower visibility.”