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Trevar D. Kolodny

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Questions and Answers with Adam Smith Society Members.

Trevar D. Kolodny | Washington D.C. Professional Chapter

TrevarTrevar is currently working with the International Affairs Division of the Alcohol and Tobacco Trade and Tax Bureau, within the Treasury Department. After graduating from Cambridge University in England, he attended law school in California. During law school, Trevar served as president of his school’s branch of the Federalist Society and spent a semester working for Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Despite passing the California bar exam, he was not enthusiastic about the combative world of litigation, so he became an investment advisor for a high-net-worth family trust in Malibu. Trevar’s desire for something less passive and not purely analytical—something more active and tangible—led him to attend business school at Darden. He served as vice president of the Darden branch of the Adam Smith Society. Following Darden, Trevar received a Presidential Management Fellowship, a prestigious hiring track into the federal government for recent graduate students. 

How would you compare British higher education with American, based on your experiences in both?

British higher education is much more academically focused. Observe the millions of dollars that American universities pour into things like athletic programs, administration, and bureaucracy—I’m still amazed that my law school and MBA professors all seem to have their own secretaries—not to mention the legions of student-services professionals all over campus, the quality of the student cafeterias, and the relative luxury of student housing after students leave their freshman dorms: you see nothing on this scale in British universities.

In this vein, I find it fascinating that so many U.S. campus activists advocate for socialized education and hold the UK and Europe up as a model. A strong argument can be made that their model serves student interests better—just look at the obscene levels of student debt over here. But that socialized system is made possible only by a much leaner infrastructure than these activists appreciate.

What prompted you to choose a career in government after business school?

I wasn’t planning to head into government when I entered business school. At Darden, I concentrated my recruiting efforts on finance; and for my MBA internship, I worked in corporate finance for American Airlines at its Dallas headquarters. The flight benefits, which I took advantage of every weekend, easily made it the best summer of my life—I went to Charlottesville, DC, home to LA, Maui, Boston, Mexico, and New Orleans, and the benefits didn’t expire until ten days after the internship, so I was able to end it all with a ten-day first-class round trip to London. But I didn’t like the work itself; by the end of that summer, I was really sick of modeling and wanted to find a career that was more well-rounded.

In contrast, I found the federal government to be a great place to work on big issues while using a broader, more stimulating, skill set. I hold a JD as well, so providing technical advice to negotiators on how trade negotiations may interact with our regulatory structure is right up my alley. I no longer build financial models, but the business fluency is helpful when understanding how the regulations and trade priorities affect what is, domestically, a highly regulated $200 billion industry.

It definitely helped that I was accepted as a Presidential Management Fellow. As a PMF, the federal government hiring process was significantly streamlined for me, and I’m on a fairly speedy promotional and pay-raise track. I don’t know that I would have gone into government if not for the PMF program, so I’m quite grateful for how this has all turned out.

What's your favorite drink?

Jennie Spencer-Churchill gave modern civilization two priceless gifts: her son Winston; and there is a story that she invented the Manhattan, which she named after the borough in New York City.

Incidentally, the Manhattan Institute showed impeccable taste in naming itself after her cocktail.


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