Archive for d.c.

We are visiting Washington, DC

The summer is a time to lounge by the pool, catch up on reading, explore a country, get more work experience under your belt, discover yourself… and possibly think about going to graduate school. 

If you are in the Washington, DC area on Tuesday, June 19th or Wednesday, June 20th and want to meet with an admissions representative to talk about how Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs fits into your educational and professional goals; find us at Summerfest held at Johns Hopkins SAIS at 6pm tomorrow evening or at the Idealist Graduate Fair held at American University from 5pm to 8pm on Wednesday. 

For our full recruitment schedule and for more information, please visit us on our website

APSIA Fairs In NYC and DC

Next week APSIA will hold graduate school fairs in New York and Washington DC.  The fairs provide a great opportunity to speak with representatives of graduate school programs focused on public policy and international affairs.  Free registration links for NYC and DC are below and the rest of the APSIA travel schedule can be found by clicking here.

New York City Free Registration:  Monday, October 3rd from 6:00 – 8:00 PM

Washington D.C. Free Registration:  Wednesday, October 5th from 5:00 – 8:00 PM

Summer 2010 Internship – Post 7

This is the seventh entry in our recap of summer internships completed by SIPA students working in the Admissions Office this year.  This time we hear from Lacey Ramirez, a second-year MIA student pursuing a concentration in Economic and Political Development with a specialization in Advanced Policy and Economic Analysis.


lacey_rI am very grateful that there is an internship requirement in the SIPA curriculum.  It forced me to take the time to seek out a professional experience in my field, whereas I otherwise would have taken a lovely summer vacation somewhere.  In the end this will make me a stronger professional candidate when it comes time to apply for a job after I complete my Master’s program.

When I was narrowing down the type of summer internship I wanted, I decided that I wanted to do international development consulting at a private firm.  This was an area of the development world that I had no prior exposure to, and I was very curious to encounter what it was like. In securing this position, I learned the essential value of networking.  It was by networking that I was able to make a contact at the private firm called Chemonics and have my résumé considered.

Chemonics is an international development consulting firm.  They mainly contract with USAID, and they are implementing and managing projects in all the major sectors in every major region of the world.  It was a very exciting opportunity, as it was a paid internship and would also give me the consulting/program management opportunity that I eagerly sought.

My internship was based in D.C. (sadly I didn’t get to go overseas), and my assignments were to work on three project teams.  One of the projects was working on public-private partnerships in the Philippines to increase the access to and sustainability reproductive health and family planning care.  Another project was a value-chain linkages project in Bangladesh, and the last project was a financial sector information sharing project.  I was not intimately involved in the creation or technical management of the projects, but I did learn a lot about program management and the many administrative/client relation tasks that go into project it.

I had many tasks and duties that required a high level of effort and multi-tasking, and most of my tasks were administrative in nature.  Some of my daily tasks included: budgeting, auditing, client/consultant relations, editing project deliverables, and grant program development.

Chemonics also provided several training courses to orient employees to the firm and the different work being done in the field.  I also had great relationships with my directors who have been practitioners in the field for many years, and they took the time to talk with me about how I might meet my career aspirations and goals.

Over all I had a great internship experience.  It definitely helped me to further articulate where I want to work in the field of development, and what knowledge and skills I would need to get there.  It also gave me a greater perspective of the type of job opportunities in my field.

Summer 2010 Internship – Post 2

This is the second entry in our recap of summer internships completed by SIPA students working in the Admissions Office this year.  Richard Parker is a second year MIA student concentrating in International Security Policy.


IMG00051-20100629-1646This summer was great. I returned back to my second favorite city, Washington D.C. for an internship with the Department of Homeland Security. Although I was hoping for an internship abroad, there is no other place I’d rather be than D.C. As an ISP concentrator D.C. is a great place to be for the networking opportunities. I mean most of the jobs I’ll be applying for are in the District so I guess it was a good thing I was there anyway.

My internship was enjoyable. I learned a lot and made some great contacts. I even got to go to the White House for an event on the South Lawn (and yeah the President was there). My internship was with the office of the Deputy Chief of Staff. Her staff was cool and very helpful. I mostly worked on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill situation. I attended daily briefings with senior staff and other department officials regarding response and cleanup efforts. I also worked on and edited an internal counter terrorism memo used by DHS staff and prepared clips which were included in the weekly report to the White House. Overall the experience was good and the contacts I made were great.

Another good thing about the summer was catching up with my classmates who were in D.C. SIPA (especially my classmates) were in full force this summer in the District. So there was plenty of time to hangout, grab a drink and talk about ‘our busy jobs’ during the summer.

But alas all good things must come to an end. The summer is gone and with it the good weather and my tan. But all is not lost, I’m back at SIPA and all my buddies are back and my schedule is pretty great too (No Friday classes!) Cheers to a great summer and cheers to an even better semester!

Summer Reflections 2010 – Post #7

John Hughes just graduated from SIPA and during his second year of study worked in our office.  He is spending the better part of the summer in the office to assist with projects and help fill in for a staff member on maternity leave.  John is set up for a job in Washington, D.C. and will be moving there in August (our second largest alumni network in the world is in D.C if you were interested).

I asked John to reflect a bit on his experience as a SIPA student and contribute to the blog over the summer.  This is his sixth entry.


I just finished speaking at one of our twice-weekly information sessions, where I was asked what sets SIPA apart from comparable schools.  I thought I’d recreate my response here, as I believe that it is true.

First, you have to think about what schools you are setting SIPA apart from.  The MIA and MPA, though largely similar in coursework at SIPA, have different rivals.  On the MIA side SIPA compares with schools like Georgetown, SAIS, Fletcher and GWU.  On the MPA side, however, SIPA compares with schools like Harvard, Woodrow Wilson and Syracuse.  SIPA is a top program in either degree, but the nice thing about it is that both groups of students are fully integrated.  This is one thing that sets SIPA apart.

Though some MPA programs have international components (i.e. Harvard) and other MIA programs have policy components (i.e. SAIS), none of the other top schools can boast that both student groups are integrated under the same roof.  The advantage of this comes in the diversity of student interests and career paths.  Public policy and international affairs are inherently intertwined, so it makes sense that future leaders in both fields would begin interacting in graduate school.

The single biggest strength of SIPA, in my opinion, lies in its massive alumni network.  This cannot be overstated.  SIPA has 16,000 alumni working in hundreds of different careers in hundreds of countries.  I don’t know of any other single factor that would be more important for a professional school.  SIPA students come here for the purpose of professional advancement, and having such a large alumni network to tap into to help with this advancement is very valuable.

Despite what you may hear or think, the majority of SIPA students find jobs through networking.  I’ve mentioned previously that some get hired through formal recruitment programs, which is true, but many more get jobs by contacting people who are able to put them in the right place at the right time.  I knew this to be the case coming in and therefore a large alumni network was important to me.

I found that every alumnus/a I have ever contacted from SIPA has been responsive, supportive and generally helpful.  Not all got me an interview, but they at least gave me things to think about that helped my search moving forward.  Also, I figured that not going to school in DC was not disadvantageous for my field of interest since SIPA had just as many or more alumni working in DC as the DC schools did.  I found this to be absolutely true.  That said, we also have more alumni in New York, London, Shanghai etc. than any other rival school.  This is something I highly recommend considering in your search.

Another big strength of SIPA I found was the incredible faculty.  It was wonderful to have so many classes to choose from.  However, what made these classes even more interesting was the people who taught them.  Most of your professors will be adjuncts.  Not all, by any means.  SIPA has many dedicated, knowledgeable, full-time professors.  However, there are many more who work full-time doing something else and who teach on the side.  At first blush this may sound like a disadvantage.  However, I should reiterate that it is a professional school.  These adjuncts don’t just have some other job; they have very interesting other jobs.

I had a finance professor who runs a hedge fund during the day and another who is the heading of global emerging markets at a large bank.  I had a security professor who worked for a certain intelligence agency in DC for many years.  I had an energy professor who was the head of scenario analysis planning at a large oil company before coming to SIPA.  There are many more like this.  These people are able to not only give you insight into how things really work in their fields; they are also able to shape the readings and coursework to give you the tools to enter that field.  They also tend to be a great networking resource.

The last advantage, as I mentioned on my earlier post about the World Cup, is the student body.  For me, studying international affairs with students from over 100 countries was a huge draw.  No other school can come close to SIPA’s diversity.  Being able to hear from classmates that have direct experience in the places we are studying adds a valuable element.

The student body is also really, really interesting.  Everybody I knew at SIPA had done something cool before graduate school, and all had (and still have) impressive goals.  After only two years I consider some of my SIPA classmates to be some of my best friends, and I am sure we’ll stay in touch for many years.

"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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