LI Alumni Advice: Mariah Bastin – Never Stop Learning
Last week, I had the privilege of sitting down with one of Leadership Institute’s alumni, Mariah M. M. Bastin, who now works as a Public Affairs Specialist at the Department of State. Mariah is both a graduate of LI’s intern program and a former staff member, hired after finishing her internship. She shared with me some of the keys to her career success and some of the wisdom she has gained in her journey.  

First, you need to know something important about Mariah: she’s a rockstar.

By the time she was twenty-two, Mariah was fluent in three languages, earned a Master of International Affairs, and worked at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. Considering that, you would think she would have gone right to the State Department out of graduate school, but she didn’t.

Mariah applied to a highly competitive program, the Presidential Management Fellows Program, and then packed her bags to fly to Washington, DC for the first time. The application process and subsequent placement took nearly two years.

It was during that time Mariah learned about LI.

Mariah had gotten involved in politics only in her last year of graduate school, so she didn’t know much about the conservative movement when she arrived. I asked Mariah what drew her to the Leadership Institute and to apply to its intern program. For her, it was the opportunity to learn.

“If you really want to learn and understand what the conservative movement is, not just kind of go through life claiming to be part of it, then LI is the place to go,” said Mariah.

While at the Leadership Institute, Mariah interned in the Communications Trainings department. I asked her what she took away from that experience, and she said she learned a long time ago that everything comes down to communications: relationships, projects, life in general. In her internship, she learned how to communicate well and to teach others.

Her advice for young professionals when it comes to communication: learn to write a proper email and use appropriate etiquette in person. Your first impression when meeting someone for coffee isn’t your smile or handshake; it’s the emails you sent to arrange the meeting, so learn to communicate well by email.

Also, learn how to be cordial in all conversations. While you can share jokes and relax around some colleagues, some people expect you to be professional 24/7. It’s important to know the difference.

Mariah lives by the philosophy that everyone should be a lifelong learner. Something her parents taught her from a young age is that “there is always something to learn from an experience.” Everything you learn has an impact, even if you don’t know how it will in the future.

“Take things moment by moment, day by day, experience by experience.” Mariah did just that and now has her dream job, working at the State Department.

The philosophy of lifelong learning is more than just gaining knowledge. It is about equipping yourself to thrive not just in the here and now but also in the future. Mariah’s approach to life is to learn from everything: the great experiences, the bad ones, and all the small things in between. She continues to do that every day.

I’ll leave you with Mariah’s final and most important piece of advice: “Always seek out where you can be of assistance and where you can make someone else’s life easier, either professionally or personally.”

The Leadership Institute (LI) has trained more than 200,000 activists, leaders, and students. Like Mariah, many of those graduates have gone on to do remarkable things.