By Shelby R. Steuart

When Jack Slagle was an undergrad at UGA, he knew he wanted to be an Intelligence Analyst. He took all of the intelligence classes he could through UGA’s Center for International Trade and Security and he was admitted into the prestigious Security Leadership Program.

But as he got closer to graduating college, he realized that between having a serious girlfriend he wanted to marry and not having the money for the master’s program that he would need to be an intelligence analyst, he decided to look at other options.

As an undergrad, Slagle was also interested in trade. Although his advisors were a little apprehensive about giving the go-ahead to pursue it, he became interested in the prospects of getting a customs broker license.

Licensed customs brokers help companies import and export products while following the federal laws outlined by U.S. Customs and Border Control. Since Customs was merged with Border Control in 2003, punitive consequences for improper imports and exports have greatly increased and with that customs brokers have become more valuable.

Slagle passed the test and secured his customs broker license and received a job offer to be an international trade analyst for Georgia Pacific within a few months. After a few years at Georgia Pacific, Slagle was ready for a new challenge and casually applied for a job at Tesla through LinkedIn, not thinking anything would come from it.

He was on his honeymoon in Paris when he got the phone call asking him if he was still interested in being a Global Trade Compliance Analyst at Tesla. He excitedly scheduled a phone interview, one led to a few, and before he knew it, he was relocating his new wife and his three month old puppy to San Francisco.

What Slagle likes best about his current position is the excitement of having new challenges, even after three years. He smiles proudly as he says, “Everyday is a challenge and I learn something new.”

One challenge Slagle couldn’t have foreseen was the changes to trade that the current presidential administration is causing. “A lot of this stuff is unprecedented, I think the one thing that is really critical for anybody is just to be aware of the landscape.” The current outlook has reaffirmed to Slagle just how important it is to know about trade, whether you work in the field or not.

Slagle explained that the Trump Administration’s changes to trade-related policies are making people in trade compliance jobs even more valuable. “Because the administration has been prioritizing trade as an issue since day one, companies are definitely taking notice and looking for talented trade people.”

Although his decision to go into trade definitely paid off, I asked him if he still thought about becoming an Intelligence Analyst one day. He expressed that he didn’t have any regrets and couldn’t picture himself doing anything else. “I wasn’t sure if it would work out but I jumped in with both feet and it paid off.”