Archive for Alumni News

SIPA Alumna pens open letter to her students

SIPA alumna Zaina Arafat, MIA ’09, shares an op-ed on Vice.com, “What I Should Have Said to My Students as Their Muslim American Teacher.” Here are the first two paragraphs:

You don’t look Muslim. You hardly even look Arab. You pass for nearly everything and anything else. People ask if you’re Italian or Spanish or Greek. Israeli. Sometimes Mexican, occasionally Argentine.

For four years, you taught a class in the Midwest, in a swing state. You loved and respected your students, and they loved and respected you—they worked hard for you and for one another, they valued your feedback, they hugged you before Thanksgiving and Christmas, they came to you after breakups and family deaths and roommate quarrels. On the third to last class each semester—far enough in so they couldn’t drop, but still two classes away from course evaluations—you’d tell them that you’re Muslim. Many of them were surprised. You don’t look Muslim. What does a Muslim look like? you’d ask. They weren’t exactly sure, they’d say, but not like you. They’d admit that when they first saw your name in the course directory, they weren’t sure what to expect. They thought you’d have an indecipherable accent (they imply that they’re happy you don’t). They thought you’d be wearing a headscarf. You’d smile, you’d laugh a little. You wouldn’t mention that while you may not look like a Muslim, you are one. You carry your Qur’an from city to city, for years you fasted during Ramadan, you love your religion, you’re heartbroken over the way its been hijacked by extremists. You travel to predominately Muslim countries once or twice a year to see your family. You wouldn’t mention these things. Instead you’d ask if they had ever met another Muslim. We had one in our town, an earnest, young, male student offered.

Read the rest of Arafat’s powerful letter on Vice.com.

[Photo by Hernán Piñera/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)]

Meet the SIPA community

There are many reasons people choose to apply and come to SIPA — one of the main reasons is the people who make up the SIPA community.  Students come here with a set of experiences and they leave here with another set of experiences; coupled with experiences they gain once they leave… Stir in some solid academics, resources and networks and you have the making of an influential global leader.

But it all starts with a visit to the Columbia campus in New York — throughout the year prospects meet with current SIPA students, speak with faculty and discuss opportunities with administrators.  Then they leave and find themselves crossing paths with alumni… in Paris, Jakarta, Oklahoma City, Seattle, Perth, and Nairobi.  And before you know it, you want to be a part of the family.  However, if you want to go stealth, it’s best not to mention SIPA (and definitely do not carry a SIPA bag) because you will find yourself in conversation with another fellow seeple, where ever you are in the world.

Admission decisions have gone out to many and the connections being made are in full bloom.  We have connected hundreds of newly admitted students with alumni around the world and soon they will be getting together in person to have a drink or a meal.  Just last week, we had the opportunity to meet some of our newly admitted students in San Francisco.  They attended a lecture on “Corruption in Latin America” presented by one of SIPA’s newest faculty, Professor Paul Lagunes  — alumni and staff were also in attendance — bringing the community together on the west coast.

We’re looking forward to meeting our newest students in New York next week at Admitted Students’ Day — many flying in from other continents.  The ‘meet and greets’ continue with other social and academic driven events around the world in the next few months until the students arrive to start their adventure at SIPA in August.

SIPA provides committed students with the necessary skills and perspectives to become responsible leaders. In 1954, students hailed from six countries outside the United States and graduates worked in 17 different nations. Today, nearly half of SIPA’s 1,200 students are from outside the United States and the School’s 18,000 alumni work in more than 155 nations around the globe.

The connections at SIPA are strong and expanding.

Things to think about (do) before you apply for grad school

As the summer draws to an end, many people contemplate going to graduate school.  There are a lot of reasons to go back to school but you should decide if those reasons are good enough reasons to spend a year or two (or three) studying and taking exams and incurring debt while you are out of the job market.  You should also consider what is it that you hope to do when you graduate.  If you are thinking about pursuing a career in global public policy (because almost every aspect of life is affected by policy decisions and because you want to make an impact on the global community); getting into a highly competitive, highly impactful organization takes a higher level of training and expertise that a master’s degree can provide.

Going into a graduate program is a big investment in your career and it’s a way to focus on your passion.  Graduate school programs are very specific, so you should know what you want to get out of it before going into it.  You should look at going to graduate school to enhance and develop certain skill sets that will help you achieve a specific job that you want to have post-graduate school.

The piece of paper you get after you finish a program is not going to guarantee anything; it’s the experiences in and around graduate school such as the networking opportunities with students, faculty, and alumni, how you position yourself through the courses you take, the student organizations you may be involved in, events you attend, the internships and assistantships you obtain; your graduate school experience will make the difference on the impact you hope to have, personally and professionally.

You should research the various programs – make sure it’s the right program that offers you the concentration you are interested in studying that will help you get the job in a specific field that you had your eye on.  Start your research early.  You should visit the school/program websites, speak with the admissions offices, attend information sessions, sit in on a class, meet with a professor doing research in your area of interest, review course descriptions and curriculum outlines, and take the time to speak with students and alumni to get their perspectives about the program and life after school.

Find the right school and program that aligns with your interests and will get you the access to the opportunities that matter.

Ever wonder what SIPA’s Office of Career Services offers?

SIPA’s Office of Career Services (OCS) provides students and alumni with the necessary tools to successfully manage their immediate internship and full-time job search as well as their professional development throughout their careers.  Among OCS’s services are individual advising on a range of career-related topics; a required professional development course; career events; recruitment and employer outreach programs; and professional networking opportunities.  Students and alumni are encouraged to partner with OCS and dedicate time to independent research and networking to build bridges with the professional world.  (See more)

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT REQUIREMENT

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 )

 

Learn more about pursuing a graduate degree in international affairs

We’re heading down to DC on Wednesday, June 19th.  Spread the word.  If you are in the area and want to mingle with admissions representatives, alumni and current students; you should plan to stop by.  If you can’t make it to this one, we’ll be back again on July 18th.

Representatives from the following graduate international affairs programs will be available:

  • Columbia University – School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA)
  • Georgetown University – Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service
  • Johns Hopkins University – The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS)
  • Princeton University – The Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs
  • Tufts University – The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy

Registration will start at 5:30 p.m., presentation begins at 6:00 p.m.  If you are interested in attending, you may register in advance through the Summerfest 2013 Eventbrite link: http://summerfest13.eventbrite.com/.

The event will be held at Johns Hopkins University (SAIS), Kenney Auditorium, 1740 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20036.  The easiest method of transportation is via Metro. SAIS is about a 5-minute walk from the Dupont Circle Metro stop (Red Line).

Hope to see you there.

 

 

"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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