Program Assistant Introduction: Dina Ufberg

We’re halfway through the PA introductions. Last week, I shared the Q&As with Eloy and Adriana. Today, you’ll hear from Dina Ufberg, who’s an MIA-MBA dual-degree student.

Dina is pursuing a dual degree that combines a Master of International Affairs and a Master of Business Administration focusing on social enterprise. After graduating from the University of Michigan, Dina was awarded a Fulbright to teach in universities in Hong Kong. From there she went on to work at Jerusalem Venture Partners in Jerusalem and New York, learning how startups and venture capital firms operate. Following her VC experience, she went on to learn about technology from a different angle; Dina worked at Scholastic in their education department.  It was through these myriad of experiences that she learned that she wanted to pursue social impact in the form of education technology.  Through her education at SIPA and Columbia Business School, Dina hopes to work for an education technology company.

Have you taken classes at other Columbia Schools?
“I have been fortunate to split my time at Columbia between the Business School and SIPA. I managed within those six semesters to even take an undergraduate language course. I must say that being able to take classes across multiple schools is a big advantage to being a Columbia student. You can expose yourself to different pedagogies and meet students across many fields.”

What most surprised you about SIPA after you arrived?
“What surprised me most about SIPA was the student body. Without a doubt each and every student that I met had a rich history both in terms of culture and work experience. I vividly recalling  my first Econ course, the first week at SIPA sitting next to a student who worked for the UN on a children aid project in India. Following that day’s lesson, we went out for coffee and shared our experiences pre-SIPA and surprised ourselves to learn that not only were we interested in the same field, but were unsure how we might be able to get there. Throughout our time at SIPA, we constantly email one another about events or speakers pertaining to this topic and work to help each other stay on track.  All-in-all I never expected to meet so many talented students in one place who were looking to make new friends and future colleagues.”

What advice would you give a first-year student?
“Be open minded. Try course that you ‘think’ you don’t know anything about. Be willing to take a class even if people say its extremely hard or that the workload is overly heavy. Be ok being uncomfortable!”

Can you describe the learning environment at SIPA?
“The group work was very dependent on the class, overall every course had an element of group work in addition to the individual work.  Group work is part of the professional world and having the experience of it in SIPA will make it easier to acclimate to group work in the workplace. Throughout my SIPA experience, I always felt that students wanted and were even eager to help one another. Late night study groups were a standard and even dinner parties to discuss  class readings. I believe that the more you give the more you get and this is very true of the SIPA learning environment.”

What has been your experience with the Career Services Office?
“The Career Service Office is there for your taking. As with most aspects of graduate school, you must we willing to put in the time or ask the questions in order to receive the answers. CSO was extremely helpful each time I was in the office, they provided me the resume review, career coaching, interview preparation and overall coaching. I believe that students who enter the office will come out of it feeling better grounded and more confident with their career decisions. Bottom line: go there and ask questions; be diligent because you must take the first step by going into the office!”

 [Photo courtesy of Dina Ufberg]