Archive for Career Services

#UNGA 2019 Roundup

The U.N. General Assembly 2019 was on the 23 – 27 September 2019. It was a busy week as world leaders gathered in New York City for the 74th session of the #UNGA. 

This U.N. General Assembly comes during heightened tensions between the United States and Iran, and a worsening humanitarian situation in Venezuela. The war in Yemen as well the U.S. peace plan for the Middle East are likely to make headlines as well. UNGA also occurred days after millions of young activists and their supporters marched in thousands of cities worldwide to demand greater action on climate change. 

Nevertheless, the UN General Assembly hosts a much watched debate of leaders each year, and here at SIPA, it is a busy week for students, faculty and alumni alike.From interning to attending sessions at the UN and on campus, here’s a snapshot of what our Seeples have been up to this week: 

Supporting the Chilean Delegation for the UNGA

Martina Majlis, MPA ‘20, worked for the Chilean Delegation, specifically with Chile’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Teodoro Ribera, for the duration of the UNGA. She helped push forward the Minister’s comprehensive agenda, focused on addressing bilateral matters, deepened trade relationships and confronted regional issues, such as the crisis in Venezuela. 

Source: Martina Majlis, MPA ‘20

Understanding the impact of public-private partnerships

Nayana Nagapurapu, MPA ‘20 and Victoria Zhang, MPA ‘20, attended “Advertising for Good,” an event organized by the Lion’s Share Initiative of the UNDP (where they previously interned!) that discussed how to effectively use advertising to improve biodiversity around the world. Speakers were from leading advertising firms like JCDecaux, Finch, and Mars Inc. They shared how as little as 0.5% of their ad spend helped save ecosystems in Sumatra and Africa. Nayana’s biggest takeaway? The Lion’s Share Initiative proved how impactful public-private partnerships can be.

Source: Nayana Nagapurapu, MPA ’20

Columbia University World Leaders Forum hosted a speaker on multilateralism and the rule of law

Amid backlash, Columbia University hosted Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, Prime Minister of Malaysia. President Lee Bollinger wrote that “public engagement can sometimes be difficult, even painful. But to abandon this activity would be to limit severely our capacity to understand and confront the world as it is, which is a central and utterly serious mission for any academic institution.” At the event, Tun Dr. Mahathir affirmed that affirmative action policy in Malaysia has helped many Malays succeed and prevented racial tensions, and he addressed regional cooperation. The event was widely attended by Seeples, including Perry Landesberg, MIA ‘20, Melissa Tan, MIA’ 19 and Nabila Hassan, MPA ‘20.

Source: Facebook/Dr Mahathir Mohamad

Learning about global governance from the NATO Secretary General

Perry Landesberg, MIA ‘20, attended NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg’s address to the Columbia community which focused on the maintenance of security in a changing world. Stoltenberg remarked on the disappointing state of NATO-Russian relations but concluded that NATO’s mission of security cooperation among democratic nations was as essential as ever. He answered audience questions on subjects such as Ukraine’s accession to NATO, the future of Afghanistan after NATO’s withdrawal, and NATO’s preparedness for cyber attacks. The event was part of the Blinken Lecture. 

Supporting the Digital Financing Task Force at UNGA

As part of the Digital Financing Task Force Secretariat, Ralph Chow, MPA ‘20, aided in the organization of a high-level Summit titled “Good Servant, Poor Master: Capturing the Promise and Managing the Risk of Financial Technology for a Sustainable World” during UNGA. The Summit was co-hosted by the Permanent Missions to the United Nations of the Republic of India and the Kingdom of Netherlands, and was co-sponsored by the MetLife Foundation. The Summit was well attended by representatives from Member States, the Private Sector, as well as United Nations agencies and other multilaterals. 

Source: United Nations Secretary-General’s Digital Financing Task Force of the SDGs

A conversation on climate change, COP25 and artificial intelligence

Columbia SIPA’s Latin American Student Association – LASA hosted Minister Andres Cuove, Minister of Science, Technology, Knowledge and Innovation for Chile. Minister Cuove is the first Secretary of this recently launched ministry. Pablo Jorquera, MPA ‘20, Treasurer of LASA, reflected that Minister Cuove shared the challenges he faced to create the institution as well as his experience in the 2019 Climate Action Summit and his plans for COP25 in Santiago. He also explained how Chile is creating a policy in science and deciding priorities to use the STI for development. 

Source: Pablo Jorquera, MPA ‘20

Dreaming big at the African Women on Board [AWB]@UNGA event

George-Ann Ryan, MIA ‘20, and her fellow board members at the Sadie Collective were invited to attend the AWB@UNGA event where they rubbed shoulders with the Vice President of the Republic of Liberia, Hon. Chief Dr. Jewel Howard-Taylor and other distinguished group of leaders, innovators and dignitaries from around the world. George-Ann met Oby Ezekwesili, Founder of Bring Back Our Girls, a movement advocating for the speedy and effective search and rescue of all abducted girls by Boko Haram. 

The board of The Sadie Collective at AWB@UNGA
Source: George-Ann Ryan, MIA ‘20

Georgian President Cites Dual-Nationality as Strength in Columbia Speech

President of Georgia (and Columbia alumnus) Salome Zourabichvili delivered a World Leaders Forum speech and explained her nation’s value to Europe as a cultural leader and a valuable testing ground for engagement with Russia. Perry Landesberg, MIA ‘20 reflects that President Salome Zourabichvili responded to students questions and she defended her government’s assistance to regional refugees and positions on breakaway regions. She also cited her personal history – having grown up in France and becoming a Georgian citizen in 2004 – as a strength in her previous career as a diplomat and foreign minister.

Source: Perry Landesberg, MIA ‘20

Learning about development and refugee resettlement from the President of Rwanda

On September 26, Shelina Noorali, MPA ‘20, had the opportunity to hear Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, speak about development, refugee resettlement, technological integration and environmental conversation in the country. Students had the opportunity to engage in a Q&A session with the President. The panel was moderated by the Dean of Columbia SIPA, Merit Janow.

Source: Shelina Noorali, MPA’20

Exploring digital transformation as a sustainable development pathway

Nabila Hassan, MPA ‘20 along with other Seeples attended UNDP’s ‘Digital Future of Development’ event which explored how digital technologies enable breakthrough solutions to achieve Sustainable Development Goals, how trailblazers across sectors are shaping the future of development, and how the UNDP is hoping to put technology at the forefront of its efforts. 

Source: Nabila Hassan, MPA ‘20

Interested to learn more about International Organizations & UN Studies at SIPA? Find out more about how that specialization provides students with a roadmap of the international organizations that inform public policy and global action across borders here. You can watch this video to learn more about Seeples Day at the UN.

Tips for making the most out of your internship search

Applying for internships can be daunting. Here are a few tips to make it more manageable:

  1. Look through the OCS Internship Report Database on SIPAlink

In order to fulfill the internship credit, all students need to complete a comprehensive questionnaire about their internship experience. I found the OCS Internship Report Database on SIPAlink a great resource to get a better idea of what other students have done. (SIPA’s Office of Career Services, or OCS, is dedicated just to SIPA students.) Before I started applying for internships, I filtered through the different career fields and looked at what organizations or companies students interned at. If you see an internship that you’re extremely interested in, you can reach out to the student or even maybe the supervisor.

  1. Attend OCS’s concentration/specialization career panels and info sessions

Every week or so OCS sends out an email with all the career panels and info sessions they planned. Make sure to look out for the email and register for as many of the events as you can. It’s a great way to learn more about the field, talk to alumni, and make connections. I recently went to a resume workshop that an alumni led. He went through our resumes one by one and provided great advice.

  1. Reach out to Alumni on the Linkedin page

We have a “SIPA Alumni and Student Network” group on LinkedIn that, as of today, has over 8,000 members. I recommend reaching out to alumni to set up an informational interview. Alumni generally are very responsive and willing to help our their fellow Seeple. Please note that incoming students will be approved as group members beginning the week of orientation.

  1. Make a list of interesting places

We often have guest speakers in our classes who are doing amazing work around the world. I started making a list of organizations and companies I found interesting. When I was looking for internships, I started with that list.

Best of luck with your internship search!

Watch: The 43rd Annual SIPA D.C. Career Conference

Ana Guerrero MIA ’19 gave a micro view of the SIPA D.C. Career Conference; check out the video below for a macro view. More than 220 SIPA students took part this year, joined by over 200 SIPA alumni throughout the Conference’s panels, site visits, and networking events from January 16-18, 2019.

Read the full recap here.

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!

Energy & Environment Concentration Q&A

We’re just about halfway through our SIPA Concentration Webinar Series, where each Concentration Director gives an overview of their area of study, what they look for in strong SIPA candidates, and answer questions about their concentration. Professor David Sandalow and Concentration Manager Elora Ditton took the time to answer some extra questions about the Energy & Environment concentration from prospective students:

Q: Do you think the policy nature of the program would be valuable to someone who does not want to commit to only in the public sector? Are there any components of the program that address business concepts in energy and how they interact with policy?
A: Absolutely. Our graduates are equally employed by the private and public sectors. Particularly when studying energy and environment, it’s important to consider policy, business, technology and science and the interactions of these sectors. As such, our curriculum focuses on giving students a comprehensive understanding of how all the key stakeholders interact, while giving students the flexibility to cater the curriculum to their specific interests.

A handful of EE students come into the program looking for employment in the private sector, specific to energy. These students tend to take courses on financial modeling and markets related to energy, and intern at financial institutions or consulting firms.

With this said, you can’t work in energy and not know the regulatory policies that affect business decisions, and similarly, you can’t work in policy and not consider markets or the financial tools needed to fund projects/infrastructure. Considering this, though we are a policy school, many courses apply concepts from business/finance to energy issues.

Q: What are some of the career outcomes of SIPA EE graduates? Especially some of the climate policy graduates – do you see the majority of them working in NGOs, industry, finance, directly in governments, or some combination of these post-graduation?
A: A mix, particularly since we offer a broad range of courses which allows students to tweak the curriculum based on their career objectives.

For example, if a student knew they wanted to work in energy finance, we have a lot of courses specific to this (e.g. corporate finance, renewable energy project finance, international energy finance), so many of the students who go down this track end up in private sector jobs. If a student wants to focus in climate policy, we have equally the number of courses and opportunities here (e.g. climate change policy, environmental conflict resolution, environmental economics). These students might apply to be EDF fellows for an internship and may end up in local/federal government and/or NGO positions post-SIPA.

In other words, where students end up post-SIPA is largely determined by what their focus is during their time here. A benefit of SIPA EE is that we have the courses/curriculum to support a broad range of interests and outcomes. It also depends on if students are trying to stay in the U.S. or are going to work internationally (particularly for placement in government and the political landscape for climate policy).

Here are a few examples of recent employers: Rystad Energy, NYSERDA, International Finance Corporation, Connecticut Green Bank, Lazard, Bloomberg, Citibank, UNDP, The World Bank, Deloitte, Accenture, McKinsey & Company, ICF, ConEdison, GE, PG & E, EDF, the Earth Institute, the Nature Conservancy, WWF, ExxonMobil, CohnReznick Capital, Powerbridge, US DOE, USDS, and more…

Q: Hi there, can you talk about how the EE concentration would vary from the MPA-DP program? How does it break down within the MPA and MIA tracks? On a different note, I notice many policy professionals have a law degree. Please convince me that SIPA is a better option! Thanks so much!
A: The MPA-DP program is going to give you more exposure to hard sciences while EE focuses more on quantitative skills (e.g. economics, financial modeling, etc.). There will be more flexibility to fine-tune the curriculum to your interests in the MIA/MPA track whereas the DP curriculum is pretty set.

MIA/MPA gives you tools to design, incentivize, implement, and assess policies so you have more flexibility in application of the degree over a law degree, which is going to give you a very specific skill set. It really depends on your career goals and what you think makes the most sense for you.

Also, you can take law classes as a SIPA student! Environmental Law, for example, counts towards our EE policy requirement.

Q: Can you talk about SIPA Energy and Environment concentration as it relates specifically to energy in international development?
A: SIPA in general offers many courses in international economic and political development, and in EE, you will consider sustainability and other geopolitical and security issues related to energy and the environment.

Q: Is it difficult to catch up in SIPA for the Science and engineering part? I have not been exposed to professional undergraduate environment and energy knowledge.
A: Nope! We have many career switchers where this is their first exposure to energy and/or environment. Our classes are designed to give you the basic technical and topical foundation to address energy and environment with a policy and/or business application. With that said, since we are a policy school, though some of our courses expose you to science and technology, none of our courses are solely in the hard sciences or engineering (though you have access to these types of courses through the other schools at Columbia).


Two Admissions reminders for you Fall 2019 applicants:

1. It’s less than a month until the January 5th application deadline, and we have a few more admissions information sessions before then:

2. For those who want to hear straight from the Concentration Directors, here are the final webinars coming up:

"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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