Archive for Meet Seeples – Page 2

Navigating SIPA one event at a time

Thanks to Theotis Sharpe MPA-DP ’20 for this post.

At SIPA, you will spend a lot of time on the 4th floor of the International Affairs Building catching up with friends in between classes and getting some free food. In those short conversations, it is difficult to understand and appreciate who people are and the why behind their passions.

Early last month, I organized the first-ever SIPA Story Slam in collaboration with the SIPA Diversity Committee and Taylor Light, SIPA Student Association Student Life Chair, on the theme “Lost in Translation.” In attendance were over 100+ students listening to 5 minutes stories from students and faculty storytellers.

We all have different perspectives, we have different backgrounds; the way we actually express those identities of ourselves, is different. So, the Story Slam was a great event to showcase that.

I would like to provide a glimpse into what it takes to plan a successful event at SIPA:

Partner with another student, or another student organization, to combine resources, expertise, and to reach the widest audience possible.

If you are part of a student organization, apply for SIPASA funding at the beginning of the semester, or apply for funding through the Diversity Committee event grant. You can also reach out to other departments/institutes on campus whose mission aligns with that of your organization or event. For example, earlier this semester, the SIPA Pan African Network (SPAN) partnered with the Institute of African Studies and the MPA-Development Practice office to organize a lecture on Digital Democracy in Kenya.

Plan early – book a room through the room reservation portal, print and post event flyer on the 4th floor, 6th floor, and stairways. Utilize WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram to advertise…. Oh, and remember “Free food” is one of the best incentives to get people to your event!

Sometime last year, I sat in my office in downtown Phoenix, reflecting on where I wanted to take my career. I came to the realization that I wanted to work on the African continent focusing on financial inclusion and building financial infrastructure. I had other offers to pursue my graduate studies but, in the end, I chose SIPA because it provided me with a formidable opportunity to build my network and learn the skills to be able to create the greatest impact on the African continent.

At SIPA, I have had the opportunity to do just that. I have been fortunate to travel to three different countries and work on a business development platform that champions the formalization and growth of informal businesses in Sub-Saharan Africa. In addition to the aforementioned project, I have been able to get involved in various ways. Currently I am a member of the SIPA Diversity Committee and serve as the President of SIPA Pan African Network (SPAN).

All in all, there are many opportunities to learn and get engaged at SIPA. One of the greatest value SIPA has to offer is providing you with a platform to explore your interests outside of the classroom. Pursue your passion, challenge yourself, and most importantly, have fun!

Theotis Sharpe
MPA-DP 2020
SIPA Pan African Network – President

 

Your Frequently Asked Questions, Answered by Current SIPA Students!

Hello! The Admissions team would like to say congratulations to all Admitted Students! We have been receiving a lot of questions on a variety of topics, from housing options to SIPA’s quantitative coursework. We decided to compile our answers to some of your most frequently asked questions. Feel free to drop other questions in the comment!

What is SIPA’s quantitative coursework like? Will I be able to pass macro/micro economics?

Samantha: The quantitative coursework for the core courses at SIPA consist of three courses: Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, and Quantitative Analysis (statistics). Usually students take Micro in the fall semester, and Macro in the spring semester. However, Quant can be taken in any of the four semesters, but most students complete it in either of their first two. The workload is going to be a bit heavy, as you have homework, recitation, lecture and exams for all of these quantitative courses, but it’s all doable. You don’t need to be an expert in either of the three areas in order to do well in them, but getting in some practice before hand can’t hurt. In order to prepare yourself for the coursework I recommend completing the summer math tutorial SIPA provides, as well as attending the Math Boot-camp during orientation. However, If you’re still panicked about the fact that you’re going to see numbers and have instantaneously forgotten all the math(s) you’ve ever learned, remember you are going to be ok and I guarantee you will pass.

Julia: I would also say that the weekly homework are done in groups so some of the stress is shared. Many students don’t have an economics or statistics background (like me!) so you won’t be alone! The professors are also very approachable and helpful if you are struggling.

What is the SIPA community like as a whole? Or for a specific concentration?
Dylan: The SIPA community is generally very open and welcoming. Before arriving at SIPA, I assumed that most people would be very competitive and serious. While everyone here cares about their academics and career, I have found the opposite to be true; in general, people are very supportive and friendly. I think one of the other benefits of having such huge incoming classes is that you are always meeting new students. So on top of it being a friendly, collaborative environment, I’ve never really felt like I lacked opportunities to meet new people.

I’d say most people end up befriending people within their concentration. Makes sense right? You take a lot of classes with them, you probably end up at the same events, and you naturally share a lot of similar interests. As a USP concentrator, I met most of my USP friends my first semester and we’ve remained close since then.

What is the recruitment/job-hunt like at SIPA? Does the Office of Career Services, or SIPA in general, support students?

Julia: SIPA students have very diverse interests, so there isn’t a standard way students go through the internship or job search. When I was looking for my summer internship last year, I used the Office of Career Services internship database, which is a detailed account of all the internships previous students have done, to give me an idea what I could be interested in doing. I then applied for internships through the job/internship portal on SIPAlink. I would also say the info sessions that OCS organize are helpful as well. I just went to an ACLU panel discussion last week that was inspiring and exactly I needed to motivate me in my current job search!

What is something you wish you knew about SIPA before attending?
Dylan: I wish I knew more about cross-registration and dual-degree options at SIPA. That was more me not doing my due diligence on researching SIPA’s program offerings before attending, but it is something all students can do if they prepare in advance.

What has been the best/worst part of your time at SIPA?
Dylan: The best part has been developing my interest in anti-corruption policy and journalism. I came from a very theory focused Political Science background, and SIPA was the first place where I was able to really dive into policy.

Worst time has definitely been the quantitative coursework. I appreciate it and I begrudgingly recognize its importance. But it can be an enormous pain! That being said, everyone who comes to SIPA will pass the core quantitative classes. Do not fear!!

Julia: My best time was traveling with other Seeples on student trips. Last summer I went to Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, and this winter break I went to Israel. It’s a great way to learn more about the politics and history of the region, but also spend quality time with your fellow Seeples.

What are the housing options like in the Columbia area? How much can I expect to pay and where should I generally look?

Samantha: I would say that most students who do not get Columbia student housing generally live near or north of campus. Most of us live in shared apartments in Morningside Heights, Harlem, and Washington Heights. Living with roommates helps keep the cost down, and living near or north of campus is 1. Convenient and 2. More affordable. While rents vary, I say students usually pay anywhere from $900-$1500 a month in rent. The farther north you go from campus the less expensive apartments become, so if you’re looking to cut costs I recommend looking uptown. The benefit of living near campus is that it is close enough for you to walk to, so you wouldn’t have to pay for transit expenses to get to school like you might need to if you live further north.

How do you manage time between classes and internships/work?

Dylan: This is a hard question to answer because it really depends on the classes I’m taking and the way assignments are structured for each class. Some weeks, I’ll have no assignments due besides reading for class. During those weeks, I obviously attend classes, work around 15 hours at SIPA Admissions as a program assistant, and do my readings either in the afternoon after classes or in between classes while I’m still on campus.

Other weeks, it’ll feel like my professors conspired to absolutely slam me with assignments. In those cases, I’ll usually plan on working 11am – 5/6pm-ish on weekends (at least) and then work in the afternoons after classes are finished and in between classes. If I’m particularly stressed with my program assistantship work, I may ask to take a few hours off and make them up at a later date. Most SIPA jobs are understanding and flexible with students.

A quick April update

We assume you’re all as busy as we are this April, so here’s a few updates on what’s been going on at SIPA:

Tomorrow is our Admitted Students’ Day event for the incoming SIPA Class of 2021. We’re excited to welcome them to Columbia University’s campus to meet the SIPA community of faculty, alumni, current and other admitted students! The Office of Admissions and Financial Aid will be closed tomorrow for the event, so please be patient with us if it takes a little longer to get back to your calls or emails.

Are you following @columbia.sipa on Instagram yet? Current SIPA students Kier Joy and Daniel White led a virtual tour of the International Affairs Building and led an admitted student Q&A. We’ll add their answers to Instagram soon, so here’s a sample: One admitted student asked “How does the size of the student body impact your ability to find community?”

  • Kier: “The advantage of being in a larger policy school is that there’s bound to be someone who’s interested in what you’re interested in! For example, I’m interested in the intersection of policy, blackness and America – so I created a WhatsApp group with black students at Orientation and got very involved with SIPA Students of Color on campus.”
  • Dan: “Classes are big enough to have discussions, but small enough that you can’t hide.”

To give prospective students a sample of the rigorous academics at SIPA, faculty members have been leading condensed virtual lectures and Q&As with prospective students. Thanks to all of you who joined in – we hope you learned something new! Here’s the first Faculty Webinar from Vice Dean Scott Barrett on “International Cooperation to Limit Climate Change.” Let us know what you think!

To those of you who have given feedback on what blog content you’d like to see, know that we have some SIPA students working on answering your questions. Wishing everyone a great week, and looking forward to meeting you admitted students tomorrow!

Join the Columbia Journal of International Affairs

I’m Shalaka Joshi, second-year Masters of Public Administration student with a concentration in International Security Policy and a specialization in Technology, Media, and Communications. Prior to graduate school, I was an Associate at the public affairs firm Dewey Square Group in Washington, D.C, and I have an undergraduate Political Science degree from the University of Texas at Austin. While my family is from India, and I was born there, I grew up in the suburbs of Houston, Texas.

When applying to graduate school, I knew I was looking for an institution where I would not only learn about the important issues of the day, but would also prepare me to be forward thinking about the challenges that we face. Being at SIPA has sparked my interest in the intersection of technology, policy, and politics, and how this nexus of ideas is impacting our lives. It has also provided me opportunity for growth, intellectual fulfilment, and close friendships with my wonderful peers.

The Columbia Journal of International Affairs has been around since 1947, making it the oldest student-run academic publication in the world. I first learned of it when a flyer announcing that the Journal was looking for assistant editors caught my eye early in my first semester at SIPA. Because I was intrigued with the idea of students leading the conversation on the public policy challenges of the future, I applied to join the board as an assistant editor on the digital team.

Currently, I am the Managing Editor of the Digital and Online Team, where I help to manage our website and social media presence. My goal for the past year has been to build the Journal’s digital presence so that more people know of the work we do, and we can further share the ideas in our pages. We have done this by livestreaming the launch events for our two most recent issues: “Contentious Narratives” and “The Fourth Industrial Revolution,” by developing our social media presence, and by publishing interesting analysis around important events both current and historical, such as the Brazilian elections last year and the centenary of the end of World War I in 2018.

We live in a world in which policy discussions have become divorced from the public conversation. It is my hope that the Journal continues to try to break through this divide and engage with everyone, and leads the conversation on the public policy challenges of our time.

The next issue of the Journal will examine “The Dynamics of Global Feminism.” For this issue, we have announced a student essay contest and a visual arts contest, a great way for SIPA students to win money and be published alongside experts, academics and policymakers. We invite everyone, including future SIPA students, to engage with us and carry the legacy of the Journal forward for the next 70 years.

Follow us on social media on Facebook and Twitter for the latest issue of the Journal, and as an example of how you can get further involved with life at SIPA.

Photo Credit: Shalaka Joshi and the JIA, including the header photo of the JIA special launch event.

Why SIPA? New York City is where the world comes together.

Decisions came out earlier this week, and we’re excited to welcome our admitted students to Columbia SIPA. Admitted students will have a multitude of global events and webinars to get more information about what it’s like to be at SIPA. (To our Fall 2019 applicants, regardless of your decision, check back with the blog next week for next steps to consider.)

Congratulations again to all of the admitted students. We leave you with this video featuring Kier Joy MIA ’19.

Happy weekend, everyone.

"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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