Author Archive for Columbia SIPA – Page 2

A recap of the 2019 SIPA D.C. Career Conference

SIPA’s 43rd Annual D.C. Career Conference & Alumni/Student Networking Reception was held on January 16 – 18, 2019.

My name is Ana Guerrero, and I am a second-year MIA student, concentrating in International Security Policy and specializing in International Conflict Resolution. I am originally from the Dominican Republic but I grew up in Brooklyn. I had a myriad of jobs before SIPA, and I am hoping to use my degree to pivot into the Security sector.

For that reason, I was really looking forward to the 43rd annual SIPA D.C. Career Conference, so much so that I successfully applied to be the panel coordinator for the Security & Political Risk session. (I couldn’t attend last year because a group of classmates and I organized a relief trip to Puerto Rico to help clean up after Hurricane Maria.) Needless to say, for someone who doesn’t have direct work experience in the field, I felt that I couldn’t miss the D.C. Career Conference *Don Corleone voice* on this the year of my graduation.

I am very glad I made the most of my time at the conference. I had two coffee chats with SIPA alumnae in D.C., and I managed to make a connection with each of my panelists. My favorite panel – aside from my own – was the Foreign and Civil Service session, where we heard from people from the State Department, the FBI, and a former CIA employee. Their insights into government work and the fellowships to apply for were invaluable.

Panels aside, the site visits are another excellent resource because I got to see the workplace and talk to people I otherwise would not have met if I just attended the conference day’s events. I went to the National Counterterrorism Center, Elizabeth Warren’s Senate office, Albright Stonebridge Group (ASG), and led the site visit and panel of State Department employees. At the ASG session, a human resources representative talked about internship and employment opportunities to look out for in the coming months. Additionally, the networking reception on the last night allowed me to follow up on connections I had made throughout the week. THIS is why you attend a conference like this!

My one piece of advice to prospective students is to absolutely attend the SIPA D.C. Career Conference if they are open to working in Washington D.C. And if you want to work in D.C. and can attend both years as a SIPA student, do it!

The Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago Academic Scholarship for 2019/2020

The Financial Aid team would like to announce an upcoming scholarship opportunity through the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago’s Academic Scholarship Program. This scholarship is aimed to help Jewish college and graduate students with their education costs, and assistance is available for those with financial need who are pursuing careers in the helping professions. These scholarships range from $1,000 to $8,000, and are renewable.

The deadline to apply for the 2019/2020 academic year is February 1, 2019. The full eligibility requirements are listed on their website below, which includes availability for an in-person interview between March 1 and April 20, 2019. If you qualify and would like to apply this scholarship, we encourage you to add the deadline to your calendar as soon as possible.

Find the full scholarship details and eligibility requirements on their website at

As always, please check SIPA’s External Funding Database for other opportunities.

Welcome to SIPA, incoming Spring 2019 J-Termers!

SIPA wrapped up Orientation for the newest J-Termers yesterday — that means the incoming Spring 2019 class, called “J-Term” since they start the term in January. (Get it?)

Despite the chilly weather, there are several benefits to starting in the Spring term. First off, these Seeples (get it?!) have two full summers to do internships, compared to the one summer if you start in the fall. There are no MIA/MPA classes during the summer, and taking advantage of this is an excellent way to apply what you learn in the classroom.

Another advantage is that you have an extra semester to get to intimately know your other J-Term Seeples before the Fall class arrives in September. There are many advantages to having large and small cohorts and class sizes – and SIPA offers both experiences.

Being part of SIPA’s global alumni network across 150+ countries lends itself to invaluable experiences, and it all starts here on the Columbia University campus. On January 16 and 17, these 33 students were able to meet SIPA faculty, get information on classes for their respective concentrations, and tour our little corner of New York City.

To those still finishing up their applications for the February 5 deadline, know that these new students above were in your position just a few months ago: reading this blog, listening in on webinars, and emailing us with questions. We encourage you to take your shot at SIPA and submit your application. Don’t wait until the last minute – you have a zero percent chance of getting in if you never submit your application.

Welcome to the J-Termers 2021, and we wish you all the best at SIPA!

Congratulations to Rep. Elissa Slotkin MIA ’03

Yesterday the 116th U.S. Congress was sworn in, and it’s one of the most diverse groups ever, including the largest number of female members in Congress with more than 100 women in the U.S. House alone. featured 35 new women elected to the U.S. House of Representatives back in November, including SIPA alum Elissa Slotkin MIA ’03. You can watch Elle’s “We the People: Your Freshmen Congresswomen Recite the Preamble to the Constitution” here. In the accompanying article here. Rep. Slotkin states:

“This polarization and vitriol has been imported from Washington, and Michiganders can’t stand it. Michiganders didn’t use to fight about politics; we fought about sports. Women are refusing to stay silent when they see something contravening core values. They were the first and loudest to push me to do more, to heal the community.”

“I’m coming straight out of undergrad. Should I apply?”

When we here at Admissions talk about what we look for in a SIPA candidate, the first item on that list is professional experience: “Most successful applicants have had at least three years of work or internship experience relevant to their intended course of study.” But every year, the incoming class has a small percentage of students who come straight from undergrad.

We often have people asking us, “Should I apply if I’m coming straight from undergrad? What are my chances?” Only you know when the time is right to apply and attend graduate school – for some people that’s at age 22, and others maybe 32 or 42. (Regardless of your academics and experience, you have 0 chance of getting in if you don’t submit your application.)

An anonymous student who came straight from undergrad says, “Don’t Apply Yet, Undergraduates” in this piece on The Morningside Post, a student-run platform for SIPA experiences and opinions:

“If you are an undergraduate student thinking about applying to SIPA, don’t rush. Expose yourself to the best, most enriching experiences so you can to get the most out of a truly unique graduate program like SIPA.”

As another student who came to SIPA straight from undergrad, Dylan shares his thoughts:

“As a junior and senior in undergrad, I naturally got caught up in the anxiety that surrounds the job recruiting process. As young twenty-somethings, we are expected to make decisions that will shape the trajectory of our careers and our lives, with little experience to draw from.

I was fortunate enough to be awarded a State Department fellowship that made my decision much easier. However, I still felt like I lacked the skills and experience to know how to best take advantage of this opportunity.

Now, two years later, after completing three semesters at SIPA, I have a concrete idea of what I offer to State and what I hope to specialize in. I credit SIPA and Columbia for providing me with the skills and exposure to new ideas and fields that I previously knew nothing about. Now, as a prospective Foreign Service Officer, I hope to build upon my anti-corruption and good governance coursework, by applying what I’ve learned in the field.

While the decision to jump straight into graduate school after undergrad is a difficult one, it has been rewarding for me and most of my other peers who made the jump. Here are some things to consider before making the decision to apply.

I majored in Government and History in undergrad. I loved my undergraduate education; it was holistic, I developed my reading and writing skills, and I learned a lot about political theory. While great, I didn’t leave undergrad with a field or area of study that I knew I wanted to study in-depthly. At times, I was drawn to Latin American studies. Other times, I wanted to focus on human rights and post-conflict resolution.

This type of oscillating is natural; however, SIPA’s rigorous education forced me to think about these issues in ways I previously never had. In turn, after a few courses that threatened to draw me in a million different directions, I realized that I really loved two things: anti-corruption policy and writing.

At SIPA, I have access to world-class experts on the issue of good governance, who continue to serve as mentors. In terms of writing, I took a course with Claudia Dreifus, a New York Times reporter, who completely blew up my style – and changed it for the better.

I do not encourage students to apply if they have absolutely no idea what they’re doing post-grad and want to delay going into the professional world. However, if you have strong interests and a general idea of what fields/careers you want to pursue, going into graduate school immediately after undergrad is a great option. It provides you with perspective, exposure and ultimately the connections that can only be found in places like SIPA, where theory and practical application are taught by experts who are active in their field. By taking classes, completing internships and befriending your peers, you will slowly gain a better understanding of where your strengths lay, and how to begin your journey into the professional world.”

We hope this gives you more information in making your decision about graduate school. Know that you are the only person who can decide when the time is right for you; and that the Admissions Committee does see applicants that would be fantastic candidates after another year or two of working. Graduate school is a huge commitment in time, resources, and opportunity cost, and every candidate should make sure they can get the most out of their time in school.

"The most global public policy school, where an international community of students and faculty address world challenges."

—Merit E. Janow, Dean, SIPA, Professor of Practice, International and Economic Law and International Affairs

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