Archive for IFEP

Program Assistant Introduction: Steven Reid MIA ’20

Steven Reid was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. He is a second-year Master of International Affairs student concentrating in International Finance and Economic Policy and specializing in Data Analytics and Quantitative Analysis. After graduating from Villanova University with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Latin American Studies, he worked in government and higher education budgeting and finance in Boston, Massachusetts.

What has been the most challenging part of your SIPA experience?
The constant flow of activity and the time management. There is always something going around campus/assignments due/a speaker you want to see. It took some practice in the beginning of first semester before I got the hang of getting my work done, enjoying all there is to offer on campus and being social with my SIPA classmates. Another challenging aspect of SIPA has been understanding the need to say “no” sometimes. It is stressful and demanding to attend all the events you want to go to, do your assignments and be social, so sometimes its important to say no to certain things. Prioritize and take time for yourself.

What has been the best part of your SIPA experience?
Definitely the people. The demanding nature of SIPA brings people together very quickly. There is a lot of group work in SIPA so the connections you make are very important. I have met some of the coolest people in my life here, and I have gotten very close to them in only a year. The community here is a huge mental resource for me when I feel overwhelmed.

What surprised you most about SIPA after you arrived?
The speed of graduate school. Everything happens much faster than undergraduate. I had been out of school for 5 years before I came to SIPA, so the learning curve for graduate school was steep. Assignments are handed out quickly after class begins and the semester becomes a whirlwind of papers, memos, problem sets and other assignments. The months fly by. At the end of the semester, I was surprised at how much work I had done in three months.

How did you find the core curriculum at SIPA?
It’s intense. It is a lot of quant-heavy coursework. For the person who has not dealt with a lot of quant and economics courses before, it can be daunting. But the professors and TAs provide a lot of support.  I knew that quant and econ were going to take up a lot of my time the first semester, so I focused most on those two classes. I was lucky that my prior experience to SIPA dealt with a lot of math and econ, so I was already kind of comfortable with those topics.

What advice do you have for current applicants?
Don’t worry about trying to be the perfect student profile for SIPA. SIPA is very interested in individuals who have unique stories and histories. Just tell your story. Spend a lot of time on your application as well. SIPA wants to get to know who you are, so the more time you put into your application, the more detail you can give and the better picture SIPA has of you.

What was the most challenging aspect of the application process?
The GRE. I didn’t have the best GRE scores so I thought that I definitely was not getting accepted into SIPA, but lo and behold, I did. Test scores are just one part of the application, so do not worry too much if you didn’t do the best on them.

Did you have a lot of quantitative experience when you applied to SIPA? How did you perform in those classes?
I had taken economics courses during undergrad  so I had some understanding of what we were going to be studying. I had some level of comfort with quantitative subject matter having had worked in the budgeting and finance fields. Even with my experience, the classes were still tough. But I studied hard, asked for help from my professors and TAs and did fine in the quantitative courses.

A View from the Class: Diego Folly de Andrade MPA ’19

The SIPA Office of Alumni and Development is pleased to share A View from the Class, a SIPA stories series featuring current SIPA students, recently graduated alumni, and faculty. In this issue, we feature recent graduate SIPA Diego Folly de Andrade MPA ’19. A second-year Master of Public Administration (MPA) candidate, Diego is concentrating in International Finance and Economic Policy with a specialization in Advanced Policy and Economic Analysis. He is a fellow in SIPA’s International Fellows Program, a Lemann Foundation SIPA Fellow, and a World Bank Graduate Scholarship Program Fellow.

What were you doing prior to attending SIPA?
I worked in the Brazilian Government as a Labor Inspector at the Ministry of Labor and as an International Advisor to the Government Secretary in the Brazilian President’s Office. As a Labor Inspector, I actively participated in the formulation and regulation of the National Occupational and Safety Health (OSH) Policy and helped to improve the living and working conditions of people living in Rio’s poorest communities. I also participated in the Mobile Group for Slave Eradication, helping to release workers from degrading work conditions.

As an Advisor to the Government Secretary, I articulated public policies to promote social development and to facilitate the social dialogue between civil society and Government, and participated in the development of an institutional framework to implement Sustainable Development Goals across Brazil.

Why did you choose SIPA?
SIPA is highly rated with outstanding professors and public practitioners. Moreover, its programs attract diverse and international students with successful career experiences.

What have been some of your standout experiences at SIPA?
I participated in a Capstone workshop with Free The Slaves, researching and developing a monitoring and evaluation tool to measure the socio-economic status of participants in programs combating child domestic servitude in Haiti. I also did a summer internship at Eurasia Group Lab, assessing Brazilian political risk during the presidential elections. I competed in SIPA’s Public Policy Dean’s Challenge Grant student competition. My team, Citizap, is developing an Artificial Intelligence (AI) – based virtual assistant that connects people with public agencies in their place of residence. The goal is to improve the quality of public services provided, strengthening digital governance and public engagement in city management.

What are your plans now that you graduated from SIPA?
I plan to return to Brazil and to help design public policies that focus on promoting decent work, sustainable development, and social inclusion.

Is there anything else you would like to add?
I am grateful to Columbia and SIPA for this amazing experience. I am also thankful for my fellow Seeples for making me feel integrated into the community, for the unique experiences and views, and for the bond of solidarity built during this time.

I look to education as a means of transformation and overcoming obstacles. Throughout my life, the generosity of people who I did not know well helped make my education possible. Thanks to the support and hard work of my parents and to the scholarships and fellowships I have received, I been able to achieve my dreams of studying at highly ranked universities. I hope to do the same for others and dream of ensuring fundamental rights for all Brazilian citizens, so that in the future, all children have the chance to follow their dreams and achieve what they once thought was impossible.

Why I chose International Finance and Economic Policy as a Concentration

When I was looking at graduate schools initially, I knew I wanted to focus on my three interests: women’s economic empowerment, entrepreneurship and finance. It was very important for me that I found a school that allowed me to pursue all three. The International Finance and Economic Policy concentration was ideal in that it provided me with coursework in both finance and economics.

My first year courses included macroeconomics and microeconomics, as well as corporate finance and international capital markets. All of which gave me a strong background in financial and economic policy and allowed me to apply the skills I learned in the classroom in a real world context. The International Finance and Economic Policy concentration is also ideal in that it has three separate tracks: International Finance, International Economic Policy, and Central Banking. This meant that I could tailor my coursework to focus specifically on international finance.

I chose the International Finance track because I knew that my interest in promoting women’s economic empowerment through entrepreneurship required that I have knowledge of accounting, corporate finance, as well as emerging financial markets. Additionally, the International Finance and Economic Policy concentration had a global focus, which allowed me to look at financial systems and economies on an international scale. This was very important to me considering that my main interest is to help women entrepreneurs and 51% of SME’s globally are owned and operated by women. Additionally, my specialization in Gender and Public Policy was a great way for me to combine my interests in both finance and gender. Much of the work that I did in my IFEP classes served me well in my gender classes, particularly in the realm of evaluating economic and financial systems through a gender lens.

Photo Source: Carol M. HighsmithPublic Domain

Seeples Spotlight: Qiuyuan Huang

Qiuyuan Huang is currently a second-year MPA student at SIPA. She graduated from Peking University in China in 2015 with a dual degree in Finance and International Relations. During college, Qiuyuan once interned with Carnegie Endowment for International Peace as a research assistant, where she did political risk analysis for overseas investment. She has also been the research assistant to Prof. Jong-Wha Lee, Former Chief Economist of Asian Development Bank, in the summer of 2014. She researched on the development of Renminbi Internationalization, China’s government public expenditure on human capital, and reviewed policy analysis of BRICS Bank and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. After joining SIPA, Qiuyuan further developed her interest in macro-economic policy through courses and researches. During the summer, she interned with the S&P Global Ratings, one of the top rating agencies in the world.

[please note this Q&A has not been edited]

What’s your summer internship experience been like?
I have been interned with S&P Global Rating during the whole summer. I worked as summer associate in the global economics and research team. My primary job is to research on U.S. macroeconomics and wrote reports and interpretations on economic indicators for weekly publications and quarterly forecasting. I performed statistical computing and smoothing techniques to analyze and display economic and financial market trends.  Besides doing research and writing reports, I presented research findings to senior economist and chief economist at S&P. Being able to present to these economists is exciting but also stressful. Usually they would ask a lot of questions during my presentation, so I need to be fully prepared and clear about every point I am talking about.

How has the internship prepare you for the future career?
This internship is definitely a challenging one and I have learned a lot from it. I have covered various economic topics, including U.S. business cycles, infrastructure investment, minimum wage, income inequality, corporate repatriation tax, etc. My supervisor is a senior economist and he gave me instruction and advice on my research topic and methods. I have always been interested in macro-economic policy and political risk, and working in a rating agency is among my top career choices. This internship has given me hands-on experience in S&P and I really my time here. I am still interning with S&P for the fall semester, working two days a week. For now I am not sure whether I could get a full-time offer at S&P, but I am actively seeking for opportunities.

How did you obtain your internship?
This internship position is posted on the SIPAlink, and I  submitted my CV through the portal.  After that I took three rounds of intense interviews and was luck enough to pass them. I thinks SIPAlink is a good place for internship hunting. There positions posted are relevant and most of employers may have some corporation with Office of Career Office, so SIPA students could get some advantages applying through SIPA link.

What are your goals for the second year?
There are many books I plan to read. Most of them are about economics, political science and American culture. Also I would like to know more people here at SIPA. The first year went by so quickly and I felt I didn’t spend enough time getting to know more people. SIPA students came in from various backgrounds with exiting stories. So during the second year, I would like to attend more events and make more friends here. Besides, I decide to further develop my quantitative skills through classes.

What is one course that you particularly recommend?
One of the courses I would like to recommend is Asian Financial Market, This course focuses on financial crisis in Asian countries, mainly ASEAN-10, Japan, Korea, China, and India. It gave an overview of history, status quo and future prospects of the financial markets in Asia. We also analyzed economic and financial policies in Asia. I think this course would be really helpful to those interested in Asia financial market. You could have an better idea about what is going on now, and what to expect for the future after studying what happened in history.

[Photo courtesy of Quiyuan Huang]

what I did this summer

Internship in Country Risk Management at J.P. Morgan

Prior to attending SIPA my experience was in banking; however the reason I chose SIPA for my graduate studies was to transition into a role that offers more of a macro and international picture, allowing me to work in a field where macroeconomics, capital markets, and risk meet and of course a role where I am challenged every day and get to learn and apply my skills. I had the chance to work in Country Risk Management (CRM) at J.P. Morgan during the summer. It all started with three representatives visiting SIPA to host an information session in the fall of 2013. What followed was an application process, consisting of four phone and four in person interviews.  I consider myself fortunate that I received the opportunity to be a part of the team and the culture at the bank, because this is a dream job for a SIPA student. It was a 10 week internship, starting in June with a couple of weeks of training. The first week I was part of the Sales & Trading (S&T) Markets Training group, where about 100 interns were trained on basics, such as what is equity, what is a bond through how markets are supposed to behave to how financial derivatives fit into the bank. The second week, I took part in a more risk specific training to be prepared for my eight weeks at the desk. Before the training weeks were completed, students were formed into groups of four to prepare a case study to competitively pitch to senior management.

After some valuable training I was excited to finally join my CRM team and to apply my skills learnt and advanced at SIPA. The team in CRM was relatively small on a global basis and therefore I had a chance to work closely with colleagues also based in London and Hong Kong. The eight weeks were packed and I had several deliverables on top of assisting with ad-hoc tasks. However, it was a super learning experience and with the great support of the team I was able to master my objectives successfully. My summer objectives were based around the main work the team does, such as internal ratings of countries and measuring the exposure risk the bank experienced.

The summer program was well structured. Each intern had a junior and senior mentor, who assisted the intern throughout the summer. Throughout the program there were also different social and professional events. Social events consisted of visiting a New York Yankee game and having dinner at different places. The professional events included senior speaker series with management from the bank. These were all very interesting; however I would say the highlight was when Jamie Dimon spoke to us and shared his experiences in banking and at J.P. Morgan.

My summer experience at the bank has been wonderful and it was great to meet so many professionals with whom I look forward to staying in touch and working together in the future. It may be the fall semester only; however the sooner you start looking for your dream internship, the higher the chances that you will be working there during the following summer. Good luck!

 

by Andreas Maerki, MPA International Finance and Economic Policy Dec ‘14

 

"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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