Archive for career – Page 2

Life After SIPA

For you readers of this blog – prospective applicants and incoming students – life after SIPA probably feels far, far way down the line. And it sure is, but time flies, especially when you are having fun, so it doesn’t hurt to at least imagine how life will be once you are done with grad school. And let me tell you, this is a major milestone in life, or at least it feels like one to me today. It’s a milestone I somehow crossed, leaving me standing on the other side quite excited about my future, but also bewildered with uncertainty;  thinking – a bit obsessively, I must admit – about every possible combination of what life could be saving for me in the near future.

blog life after SIPABefore being a grad student, life had already given me the pleasure of plenty of uncertainty. When I was in primary school, I remember constantly thinking how being part of the middle school cool kids would feel. When I reached my last year of high school, I designed all sort of surreal life plans, which I spent hours trying to seriously decide between – would I be a famous biologist who would finally find the cure for cancer? Or a surprisingly young ambassador to the UN?

The end of college brought with it something similar to how I feel today. On the one hand, I felt the world was really my oyster, as my mom likes to say. I felt free and strong, and deeply trusted that nothing could stop me. On the other, I had no clue of how would I actually make the best out of this massive oyster laying in my hands. Would I enjoy my job? Would my colleagues like me? Would it be easy to make good friends in a new city? Or would I be the one sneaking out to lunch early because I had no one to go to lunch with?

In the end, it all turned out well. It really almost always does, but it is sometimes hard to remember that when we are surrounded by this large cloud called ‘uncertainty’. I am again on route to start a new job, in a new organization, in a country where I’ve been away for so long that seems almost as if it is new. We all are. We are leaving dear friends behind, and the comfort of the classes, coffee shops and bars in Morningside Heights — that had started to feel like home.

We, the graduates, are about to begin ‘Life After SIPA’. I have no doubt it will be awesome, no matter which one of those imaginary stories ends up working out. Most likely, it won’t be any of those, but instead it will be something so unique that we can’t even imagine it now. In a couple of years, when you prospective applicants are also on this side of the boat, I hope we can be an example of how things end up working out well. So for now, no need to think too much about Life After SIPA, although having some surreal imaginary stories never hurts.


Mariana Costa Checa


Summer 2011 Internship Post #2 – Dara Stofenberg

Dara Stofenberg is a second year MIA student concentrating in International Security Policy.


One of things I am most grateful for at SIPA is the wide variety of employers across sectors who come to the school to recruit for their organizations. On any given day, there are multiple employers from think tanks, NGOs, the U.S. Government, and consulting firms coming “to sell” their organization to SIPA students, whom they view as potential future employees. It was through this process that I found my summer internship at Booz Allen Hamilton in Washington, DC. Over the course of my 10 week experience, I provided analytical support, conducted research, and wrote papers to help the firm better support some of its security sector clients.

Booz Allen Hamilton is a top government consulting firm and contractor, as well as one of the Fortune 500 largest public companies. The firm has been ranked consistently by FORTUNE magazine as one of the “100 Best Companies to Work For,” and this summer I learned that it is easy to see why.  “Collaboration” is perhaps the most important word at Booz Allen. Teamwork drives everything the firm does. Whiteboards and discussions are the modes that drive the way work is conducted. Bouncing ideas off of colleagues, regardless of their tenure, is a consistent feature of the work day. This aspect creates an energizing and friendly environment where people are happy to help and mentor one another.

Coming from SIPA, where students are no stranger to doing things in groups, all of the group projects, homework assignments, presentations, and study sessions, I participated in during my first year definitely helped prepare me to excel in this environment. Like at SIPA, working in a group environment at Booz Allen fostered some great relationships. I interned in a small cohort with 13 other students from other great international and public affairs schools, including two other Columbia students. I look forward to being in contact with these individuals both personally and professionally throughout my career.

I feel very fortunate that I was able to work directly in my area of interest and in an engaging environment where diversity, development, and merit were highly valued. If not for SIPA, I probably would not have had the opportunity to have gained this incredible experience.

Summer 2010 Internship – Post 6

This is the sixth entry in our recap of summer internships completed by SIPA students working in the Admissions Office this year.  Carrie Dorn is a dual degree student pursuing her Masters in Public Administration and Social Work.  This is her third year at Columbia University and she is focusing her studies at SIPA in the Management and Urban/Social Policy tracks.


Carrie DornMy summer interning in New York City unexpectedly turned into my own exploration of the city, social policy and my future career goals.  I knew that summer in NYC would include sticky weather and suffocating subway stations, but also the fun of sidewalk cafes, free outdoor movies and festivals galore.  While many SIPA students started packing their bags for summer internships and vacations abroad in May, I buckled down and focused on my search for a NYC government internship– an inevitably slow process, that had started months before.   At what felt like the last possible moment, I was interviewing for a few internship positions at three different agencies.  At last, in the midst of final exams, I secured a position working at the New York City Department of Homeless Services assisting the Director of Executive Projects and Operations.

Luckily, I was very familiar with the NYC Department of Homeless Services (DHS).  In my Urban Politics course I had analyzed the agency’s funding sources, policy initiatives, and budget allocations in a 30 page paper.  From an outside, academic perspective, I had my own thoughts and recommendations about how DHS could improve their programs and functioning.  Little did I know that I would get the opportunity to contribute to the change process myself.

In my internship I was able to see the whole spectrum of programming at DHS.  At first I was assigned some of the intern tasks that I had anticipated such as compiling data and proofreading reports.  One day out of the week I traded the commute to Wall St. to venture up to the Bronx, at the central intake office for homeless families called Prevention Assistance and Temporary Housing (PATH).  There I saw the challenges of managing a 24-7 operation where more than 100 families each day come to request emergency shelter.  I studied up on the legal shelter eligibility guidelines and counseled homeless and at-risk families via the PATH hotline to best direct them to community resources.

I also assisted with preparations for the second year of Advantage Academy, a joint program between DHS and St. John’s University, that offers a fully subsidized Associate Degree to those in the NYC shelter system.  I had the chance to welcome the new student cohort and brainstorm how to improve retention rates, student outcomes and support systems.

Then, the internship blossomed into something bigger for me when I had the opportunity to sit in on meetings about the functionality and design of a case management system that is advancing the way that DHS operates and interfaces with other agencies.  I learned about implementation of this system, from stakeholder collaboration to the logistics of training employees.   In meetings, the voices of my professors would sometimes echo in my head as I watched how the concepts of organizational culture, regulation, federalism and accountability unfolded in real time.

I couldn’t have anticipated a better summer experience, becoming familiar with the process and challenges of city government.  My internship at DHS confirmed my interest in wanting to administer and develop social programs in the future and it also sparked my appetite for more knowledge about how to effectively run organizations.  By the end of August, I had scrapped my plans to take fun electives and instead signed up for cost-benefit analysis, human resource management and law for non-profit managers.  Now that the summer months have quickly transitioned into the school year, sometimes I do imagine the type of “field work” I that could have accomplished in some exotic beach locale, but all in all it was very rewarding to have braved city life in an NYC summer .

Career Services – From Day 1


From day 1 at SIPA, the Office of Career Services plays a huge role in the career development of our students.  Our goal is to prepare our students for careers in international and public affairs and this includes personal professional development.  Services for our students include:

  • Employer Information Sessions
  • Workshops
  • Career Fairs
  • Conferences

To get a taste of the services, resources, and opportunities available to our students, click here to view a recent edition of our Career Services Newsletter.

Policy Professional Training – For All Sectors

Graduates of our program go in a lot of different directions.  Policy training can benefit those interested in all three major sectors: profit, not-for-profit, and public.  A policy based mindset can help individuals succeed in all walks of life, and policy training can actually open doors.

Recently Sandhya Chari, a current student that used to work at Google and is now pursuing Economic and Political Development at SIPA, took a moment to interview Gabriel Stricker, an alumnus of our program currently working employed with the storied company.

GabrielStrickerName: Gabriel Stricker
Degree Program: MIA
Concentration: IFB (now International Finance and Economic Policy)
Graduation Year: 2001
Current Position: Director, Global Communications & Public Affairs
Organization Name: Google, Inc.
Organization Location (city, country): Mountain View, CA

Describe your background prior to attending SIPA?

Before attending SIPA I worked on political campaigns – some international, some in the US.  Nearly all of them were for underdog, progressive candidates… and many of them lost.

What are you doing now?

I’m currently Director of Global Communications & Public Affairs at Google, where I head Search communications – addressing everything from web search and other search properties (such as Maps, Earth, News and Books) to issues pertaining to partnerships, content, and the use of intellectual property.

Why did you choose to attend at SIPA?

I really wanted to get a solid grasp of finance and business, but in the context of international affairs.  It was clear to me that the theories of commerce and trade were best understood in that context rather than in a vacuum.  I was also impressed that International Affairs students had to have fluency in a second language.  That prerequisite alone made for a diverse student population, and one in which people approached things differently if only because they brought some entirely different worldview to the table.

What was it like to attend graduate school/work in New York City?

It was just amazing.  You’d read about folks in the New York Times one morning, and that night they’d give a lecture in your class – or maybe they’d actually be teaching your class!  I’ll never forget taking finance and accounting from Andrew Danzig who was an adjunct in the evening, and by day was a financial analyst at the Federal Reserve Bank.  It was incredible to get instruction from someone who was putting the principles he taught into practice every single day.

What’s your most vivid impression or recollection of SIPA?

I remember taking a course on privatization, and our professor began the class by explaining that he had just flown in from Russia where he had been providing guidance on privatizing its telecommunications industry.  There were so many times when instructors’ real-time experiences were far more compelling than any textbook could ever achieve.

"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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