Brad Belzak, a graduate of Northeastern’s Master of Science in Security and Resilience Studies, first considered pursuing a career in the national security field following internships at the White House, Center for Strategic and International Studies, and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation.
“There are many talented people in the national security field,” Belzak says. “I decided to differentiate myself from the competition by throwing myself into every complex problem I could find.”
That perspective helped him kickstart his career and build an impressive resumé with experiences that spanned the globe.
Over the past 15 years, Belzak has supplied Fortune 100 companies and governments in the Middle East and Asia with project management, capacity building, threat assessment, and financial investigation services. He’s also advised senior leaders in the Middle East on homeland security best practices; provided asset tracing and financial investigation council to leaders following a change in Libya’s government; and advised C-level executives on disaster recovery and security policies during Hurricane Sandy.
Despite his successful career, Belzak still felt he was missing the edge he needed to get ahead. His long-time mentor Dr. Stephen Flynn, director of Northeastern’s Center for Resilience Studies and co-director of the George J. Kostas Research Institute for Homeland Security, encouraged him to apply to the university.
“The school possessed advanced training in a variety of homeland security courses I knew I could benefit from,” Belzak says. “[The program] provided me with the skills I was missing to move ahead in the national security field.”
Some of those skills included advanced analytical methods, learning to dissect complicated problems, and sharpening his verbal and written communication, he says. “These new skills have allowed me to process disparate pieces of information quicker and write clearer for senior policy leaders.”
Northeastern’s combination of its small student-professor ratio, valuable experiential learning opportunities, and unparalleled access to industry leaders were key to his graduate school experience, notes Belzak.
“The program proved to be unique because of the exposure to world-class practitioners in the classroom,” Belzak adds. “Dr. Flynn tailors the coursework and in-class lectures to his students. The small student ratios provide a hands-on experience that is uncommon in many tier one schools.”
Belzak credits his Northeastern education with helping him land his latest career achievement: The Obama Administration recently selected him as the director of legislative affairs at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
“I enjoy working for something larger than myself and helping people,” he says. “I also thrive in dynamic and politically charged environments where I can serve my country.”
Belzak hopes to someday run a part of the U.S. government’s national security apparatus, in a role where he can help defend the country from foreign enemies or in an emergency response position.
He also hopes to return to Northeastern.
“As a result of the outstanding education I received at Northeastern,” he says, “I’m considering obtaining my PhD here.”