Washington D.C. Career Conference

One topic that sometimes will come up when prospective students are considering where to do go to school are the pluses and minues of geographical location.  Geographical location of a school is a logical topic to consider and I thought I would provide a bit of input to complement the entry below, submitted by current student Lacey Ramirez.

There are certain tangible benefits of going to school in a particular place.  If you go to school in New York you will be close to the United Nations for example.  However, if you were to go to the United Nations today and stop ten people that work there, it would be highly unlikely that all ten graduated from a school in New York.

I would say the same for Washington D.C.  I have several friends that work in D.C., however none of them went to school in the greater D.C. area.   In short, and I am not providing earth shattering insight here, you do not need to go to school where you wish to work.  I went to school in Portland, Oregon and have worked in Pusan, South Korea, Santa Clara, California, and New York City.

Another fact that you might be interested in is that the second largest network of SIPA alumni in the world is located in Washington D.C.  We do understand the desire of our students to have exposure to what Washington D.C. has to offer and one part of this is our annual Washington D.C. Career Conference.

In addition to the article below on the 2011 Conference, I think you will find the following former blog entries to be useful as well:

Without further delay, here is the entry composed by Lacey that she wrote after attending this year’s conference.


A very important question one has in choosing a graduate school is what kinds of employment opportunities will come from a particular school.  This was a central question when I was looking at programs, and I was especially interested in those that offered some kind of professional development.  At SIPA professional development is a core component of the curriculum.

Each year we are required to take a day-long professional development course.  The courses are tailored to meet different interests of students in the program, and include the following topic areas: private sector, international students, career changers, media and communications, and international/nonprofit sectors.  Courses are taught by successful SIPA alumni and professional recruiters.  I have often used the resources and materials that I gained from these courses in my internship and job searches.

Another really interesting professional development experience offered at SIPA is the Washington DC Conference, which is a 3-day event offered during winter break.  I participated in the conference this year, and it truly was a great experience and central to the job search I am initiating as I enter my last semester.  The conference provided a great opportunity for me to gain exposure to my different fields of interest and practitioners.  Also, the conference is only open to SIPA students making it really easy to maneuver and feel comfortable.

The first day of the conference included panels on different sectors and covered topics such as corporate social responsibility, urban and social policy, international development consulting, security policy, energy policy, multilaterals, and the list goes on and on.  It was challenging for me to narrow the ones I wanted to participate in!!  Admittedly, I am not typically a huge fan of panels, but I was incredibly impressed with the practitioners who led them.  The panels were also mediated by a staff member from the SIPA Career Center, and the audiences were just the right size for questions.  The best part was being able to approach the practitioners after the panel and exchange contact information!!!

The second day of the conference was a series of site visits.  The visits included many different offices in the federal government, consulting firms, development banks, think tanks, and private practitioners.  It was a whirlwind of visits and also provided an opportunity to connect with specific offices of interest.  I also realized in a site visit that I am extremely interested in a particular organization that I will be applying to this spring.  The best part is that I have a series of contacts that I now know, and I can email them for guidance through my application process.

The evening of the second day of the conference the Career Center organized an event at the Four Seasons Hotel in Georgetown that was a little more informal event with hors d’oeuvres and drinks.  SIPA alumni in the DC area were all invited to the event, and it gave us another venue to get advice from seasoned professionals and recent grads.  I also appreciated that it was a little more of a relaxed environment in which to network.

The final day is reserved for one-on-one informational interviews.  The SIPA Career Center sends out a list of SIPA alumni available to participate in the interviews. I then sent out a number of emails to alumni working in offices of particular interest to me.  I was able to set up about five interviews, and it was a fantastic process.  The ones I chose were different from the ones I visited on the 2nd day, and it really helped me to narrow down organizations that I am specifically interested in and the potential job opportunities that fit my interests.

The best part of the conference is it provided current students exposure to a number of varying fields ranging from security policy, humanitarian affairs, development, and even included private sector opportunities in finance and economics.  I was able to cover my range of professional interests, and I know several other people who also felt satisfied with the experience.  I have made some amazing contacts through the whole process, and I have a new sense of confidence about applying for jobs.  I am very pleased that I chose to participate in the conference, and it truly was a great benefit to me.