Archive for Career Services

Opinion: 4 ways to bring human rights into development work (via APSIA)

We’re resharing this post by the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs (APSIA), originally posted here.

APSIA brings leading graduate schools around the world which specialize in international affairs – including SIPA! We’ll be at the APSIA graduate fairs in Madrid, Paris and London this week. If you’re in the area, come meet SIPA admissions and find out more about an advanced career in public policy and international affairs.

4 ways to bring human rights into development work

Seventy years ago, the world laid out a common standard of fundamental rights for all people, which they said should be universally defended.

Now, the global environment is shifting. Nations that once led the way in promoting cross-border protections are retrenching. Scandals undercut major international development agencies when they fail to uphold these sentiments. Meanwhile, corporations — once vilified for their behavior — are building human rights into their work.

“Human rights touches every aspect of a company’s operations,” Margaret Jungk, managing director for human rights at Business for Social Responsibility, said in 2016. Today, corporations such as Facebook see “the responsibility [they] have to respect the individual and human rights of the … global community” — and hire accordingly, as stated in a recent job vacancy at the social media network.

Incorporating human rights into development work may require you to consider national politics, social media, sexual discrimination, and everything in between. To successfully navigate a new public, private, and nonprofit development landscape, four traits will be critical.

1. Context is key

Just as in broader questions of global development, human rights considerations are rarely clear-cut. Context matters. Are you trained to understand the economic, political, social, cultural, and historical factors at play? Can you identify the forces influencing a situation? Are you qualified to perform proper due diligence?

“Human rights work has to be focused within the contexts where development is playing out,” said Francisco Bencosme, Asia-Pacific advocacy manager at Amnesty International.

“In Myanmar, an entrenched system of apartheid can change the analysis of a seemingly positive housing project. [For example, under] the guise of development for Rakhine State, we have in the past seen new homes constructed for ethnic minorities on top old homes that used to belong to the Rohingya. It is these kind of development practices that need to take human rights contexts into account,” Bencosme said.

Seek out educational and professional opportunities that develop a flexible framework for evaluating decisions. One size will not fit all.

Mark Maloney, vice dean at the Sciences Po Paris School of International Affairs, explained: “Adaptability is a key skill … [one] even more important in humanitarian work because the stakes can be considerably higher when things go wrong.”

“For that reason, understanding the context, including relationships within and between parties, is a fundamental skill we try to develop through our Master in Human Rights and Humanitarian Action” he added. “This skill also maximizes the likelihood that our graduates will make the ‘right decision at the right moment’ when undertaking action on the ground.”

2. Be ‘client-ready’

Development professionals must tailor their work to many constituencies.

Have you practiced framing a discussion to make sense to diverse groups? Have you learned to persuade people while recognizing their different needs? Do you have the credentials to make people listen to what you have to say?

Learn to write and present arguments in clear, concise, and compelling ways. Work to improve your cross-cultural competencies. Expand proficiency in different languages. Look for opportunities to get close to the communities you want to serve, as well as to the funders, governments, and companies working on the ground.

“The human rights framework brings a human-centered analysis to the work of development professionals,” said Barbara Frey, director of the human rights program at the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

“This analysis starts with the question: Who is the rights bearer and who is the duty bearer in a situation? [It] tests how the consequences of actions can help or harm the clients [you] seek to serve.”

3. Develop connections

Access to individuals and information is critical to getting the job done.

With whom have you cultivated connections? From whom can you get critical information? Have you developed academic and professional networks to open doors?

Maintain relationships throughout your career via social media and in-person ties. Seek the counsel of former classmates, professors, or colleagues. Look for undergraduate or graduate schools with close ties to the field.

For example, students at the International Human Rights Center at Korea University’s Graduate School of International Studies incorporate concern for human rights into a wide range of activities. They build networks, workshops, and symposia in partnership with Human Asia, a human rights NGO in South Korea. According to the school, these opportunities prepare students to “serve as productive members of their organizations and to play leadership roles in the international community.”

4. Character is destiny

Easy answers do not always present themselves.

Are you bold enough to choose the difficult route? Can you withstand criticism from naysayers who cannot or will not envision anything beyond the status quo? Do you know how to rejuvenate your spirit when things look bleak?

“Forces larger than yourself will make you face some tough moral choices,” said Reuben Brigety, dean of George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs. From his time at Human Rights Watch and the U.S. State Department, he has counseled young professionals to realize that “your character is your destiny. Have courage!”

To succeed at the intersection of human rights and development, you must ask good questions. Tailor your approach; build diverse networks; and, cultivate an internal moral compass to navigate the changing human rights and global development landscape.

Six Ways that SIPA OCS Can Help with Your Career

SIPA Office of Career ServicesThe Office of Career Services (OCS) provides students and alumni with tools to manage their professional development. OCS offers a variety of services to help current students and alumni find their career paths, such as individual career advising; required professional development courses; networking events, on-campus recruitment sessions, professional networking opportunities, and internship grants. Throughout the semester, OCS organizes numerous activities and services aimed at informing students about their options in internships and full time jobs.

As a first year student, you will benefit from the professional panels where you can learn about possible employers and the procedure to apply to future positions. Some of the employers that have participated in these panels are: The Federal Reserve Bank of NY, the Central Intelligence Agency, Human Right Watch, Deloitte, Goldman Sachs, The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and Eurasia Group.

As career development is a tenet of SIPA’s core curriculum, the OCS supports students’ career paths in the following ways:

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT 

The Professional Development class, which is administered through OCS, heightens the awareness and involvement of students in career planning.  This mandatory half-credit course develops the skills needed to compete effectively in the international and public affairs job markets.  Instructors provide direction on writing resumes and cover letters, job search tactics, successful interviewing, networking, negotiating employment offers, and other key career topics.

INTERNSHIP REQUIREMENT

Students are required to conduct an internship as part of their degree requirement, and this is also administered through OCS.  The internship is typically done in the summer between the first and second year, although it can be completed at any time during the program.

INDIVIDUAL SERVICES

On an individual level, OCS career advisers provide students and alumni with career advice, job search strategy tips, resume and cover letter reviews, and general career information.  OCS also maintains the SIPA Career Coaching (SIPACC) program, which is comprised of alumni working in a variety of jobs who provide industry specific information and advice.  Students can arrange appointments once they have registered for classes in August through SIPAlink, our recruitment software.  (See more )

WEEKLY ONLINE NEWSLETTER

To update students on programming and services, OCS compiles a weekly newsletter that lists information on career events, fellowship opportunities, upcoming recruitment visits, job/internship postings, and other essential information for their job search.  (See more )

JOB DATABASE

OCS offers a database of current positions, including internships, for both current students and alumni in a variety of professional fields. The database, which can be access through SIPAlink, has proved to be quite useful to current students in helping them to find internships.

If you are curious on what other things OCS does, visit our past blog post or go to the SIPA OCS website: http://new.sipa.columbia.edu/careers/career-services.

CAREER COACHING

Finally, SIPA Career Coaching (SIPACC) is offered free of charge by experts in the field. SIPACCs are full-time professionals who volunteer throughout the year to offer industry-specific knowledge to current students. Sessions run 30 minutes and Seeples can sign up for them in SIPAlink, SIPA’s job and internship database. Within the sessions, SIPA Career Coaches will:

  • Dispense industry-specific job advice in their field(s).
  • Share their knowledge about various career opportunities related to the advisee’s SIPA concentration or specialization.
  • Establish steps that should be undertaken by the advisee in order to advance in a particular industry.
  • Offer other career advice at their discretion.

SIPA students and alumni can sign up for three coaching sessions per semester.

SIPA’s Office of Career Services is another reason why SIPA may be the place for you. We hope to see you this coming year!

Career Coaches: another perk for our Seeples

If you did any research before applying to graduate school, you’re probably aware that SIPA has its own career office dedicated to SIPA students. That means that SIPA’s Office of Career Services (OCS) has only one job: to help current SIPA students enhance their networking skills and job/internship hunt. For me, the key takeaway is that OCS is just here to assist SIPA students. Not Law School students, not Teachers College students, and not Columbia College (undergraduate) students. And that’s a big deal.

You may recall yesterday years from undergrad when you were fighting for face time with your Office of Career Services. (I know I did!) You had to schedule appointments weeks in advance and they were impossible to reach via phone. That’s not an issue at SIPA. OCS is just here for its Seeples and we wouldn’t have it any other way. The offer a variety of services to help current students and alumni find their career paths, such as networking events, on-campus recruitment sessions, career advising, and internship grants.

One service that I believe is often overlooked, is SIPA Career Coaching (SIPACC) by experts in the field. SIPACCs are full-time professionals who volunteer throughout the year to offer industry-specific knowledge to current students who just don’t know which direction to go. Sessions run 30 minutes and current students can sign up for them in SIPAlink, our job and internship database. Typically, you can expect to pay $100 or more for a one-on-one career coaching session, but the wonderful volunteers with SIPACC offer this service for free!

In the sessions they’ll:

  • Dispense industry-specific job advice in their field(s).
  • Share their knowledge about various career opportunities related to the advisee’s SIPA concentration or specialization.
  • Establish steps that should be undertaken by the advisee in order to advance in a particular industry.
  • Offer other career advice at their discretion.

On another note: this isn’t a one-time thing. SIPA students and alumni can sign up for three coaching sessions per semester! So add this to the “win” column for why SIPA is the place for you. We hope to see you in the fall.

2 things you should review prior to selecting your dream school

Congratulations, you’ve been accepted to SIPA! But you have too many offers, and it’s hard to decide. I know many of you are in these shoes so this post is meant to help you decide (and not sway you). To make an informed decision, key elements of the issue must be considered. Two of them will be discussed here: tuition and living costs and relevant employment opportunities.

For tuition and living costs, you’re right. SIPA is up there on the list when it comes to pricey graduate programs, and you pay for what you get. Aside from information you already know (Ivy League prestige with world-class faculty and a campus in one of the greatest cities in the world), you really need to ask yourself if you want to “cheap out” on an investment toward your life. But other programs awarded funding or more funding than SIPA? Consider that dilemma, and ask yourself how significant that number is. It’s one thing to get $10,000 over two years than, say, $80,000 in the same period. In other words, how much will it take for you to give up your dream school?

On that note, if you need some extra help strategizing how you’ll pay for graduate school, join us for the Financial Planning for Your Graduate Education Webinar on March 29 at 10:00 a.m. EST. You can RSVP here.

On relevant employment as a student, you’re probably thinking of paid/non-paid internships in a field where you’ll likely end up. This would be the disadvantage of choosing SIPA if DC is the target (although only to a slight degree). If you’re stuck on this point, you should take an honest look at what you want to get out of graduate school (in the near term). Is it building that academic/theoretical foundation and overloading on coursework, immersing yourself in student life and building meaningful relationships, and/or gaining valuable work experience? If you’re thinking all the above, you must hate sleeping. For some people, going back to school is meant to be a break from professional life. If building experience is a priority, you should consider how much the pay (if any), and exactly how substantive the work will be when going in part-time. Don’t forget about the mind capacity you’ll need for the time-consuming econ/quant problem sets waiting for you afterward.

And if you’re looking for additional insights into where SIPA students work, our Career Services tells you that and more here. For example, roughly one-third of 2016 graduates joined the public sector after graduation.

I had considerable work experience and clear goals coming into SIPA. Believe me, I love having money in my pocket, but going to my dream school mattered more. my biggest fear in life is living with regret. Besides, if I was going into debt regardless, I’d rather do it for something I most wanted. Developing an academic foundation and establishing a tight network were my goals for graduate school. In the end, the decision was easy.

Good luck and congratulations again!

[Photo courtesy of Garrett Coakley | (CC BY-NC 2.0)]

How to find an internship (or job) like a Seeple

Internships are an integral part of the student experience at SIPA. They open exciting new doors for our students and expose them to paths they may have never discovered if left to their own devices. While the incoming class doesn’t have to worry about finding an internship (or even a job) right now, it never hurts to learn the tricks to finding your ideal one. And SIPA offers several resources to make the job hunt easier. So one of our program assistants, Tinsley Corbett, MPA ’15, decided to share her job-hunting strategy with all of you. Thus, making it her farewell post on the SIPA Admissions Blog. (While Tinsley writes it from the vantage point of finding that post-graduation job, the tips are still applicable to new students looking for an internship upon enrolling at SIPA.)

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"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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