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Washington D.C. Career Conference

One topic that sometimes will come up when prospective students are considering where to do go to school are the pluses and minues of geographical location.  Geographical location of a school is a logical topic to consider and I thought I would provide a bit of input to complement the entry below, submitted by current student Lacey Ramirez.

There are certain tangible benefits of going to school in a particular place.  If you go to school in New York you will be close to the United Nations for example.  However, if you were to go to the United Nations today and stop ten people that work there, it would be highly unlikely that all ten graduated from a school in New York.

I would say the same for Washington D.C.  I have several friends that work in D.C., however none of them went to school in the greater D.C. area.   In short, and I am not providing earth shattering insight here, you do not need to go to school where you wish to work.  I went to school in Portland, Oregon and have worked in Pusan, South Korea, Santa Clara, California, and New York City.

Another fact that you might be interested in is that the second largest network of SIPA alumni in the world is located in Washington D.C.  We do understand the desire of our students to have exposure to what Washington D.C. has to offer and one part of this is our annual Washington D.C. Career Conference.

In addition to the article below on the 2011 Conference, I think you will find the following former blog entries to be useful as well:

Without further delay, here is the entry composed by Lacey that she wrote after attending this year’s conference.

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A very important question one has in choosing a graduate school is what kinds of employment opportunities will come from a particular school.  This was a central question when I was looking at programs, and I was especially interested in those that offered some kind of professional development.  At SIPA professional development is a core component of the curriculum.

Each year we are required to take a day-long professional development course.  The courses are tailored to meet different interests of students in the program, and include the following topic areas: private sector, international students, career changers, media and communications, and international/nonprofit sectors.  Courses are taught by successful SIPA alumni and professional recruiters.  I have often used the resources and materials that I gained from these courses in my internship and job searches.

Another really interesting professional development experience offered at SIPA is the Washington DC Conference, which is a 3-day event offered during winter break.  I participated in the conference this year, and it truly was a great experience and central to the job search I am initiating as I enter my last semester.  The conference provided a great opportunity for me to gain exposure to my different fields of interest and practitioners.  Also, the conference is only open to SIPA students making it really easy to maneuver and feel comfortable.

The first day of the conference included panels on different sectors and covered topics such as corporate social responsibility, urban and social policy, international development consulting, security policy, energy policy, multilaterals, and the list goes on and on.  It was challenging for me to narrow the ones I wanted to participate in!!  Admittedly, I am not typically a huge fan of panels, but I was incredibly impressed with the practitioners who led them.  The panels were also mediated by a staff member from the SIPA Career Center, and the audiences were just the right size for questions.  The best part was being able to approach the practitioners after the panel and exchange contact information!!!

The second day of the conference was a series of site visits.  The visits included many different offices in the federal government, consulting firms, development banks, think tanks, and private practitioners.  It was a whirlwind of visits and also provided an opportunity to connect with specific offices of interest.  I also realized in a site visit that I am extremely interested in a particular organization that I will be applying to this spring.  The best part is that I have a series of contacts that I now know, and I can email them for guidance through my application process.

The evening of the second day of the conference the Career Center organized an event at the Four Seasons Hotel in Georgetown that was a little more informal event with hors d’oeuvres and drinks.  SIPA alumni in the DC area were all invited to the event, and it gave us another venue to get advice from seasoned professionals and recent grads.  I also appreciated that it was a little more of a relaxed environment in which to network.

The final day is reserved for one-on-one informational interviews.  The SIPA Career Center sends out a list of SIPA alumni available to participate in the interviews. I then sent out a number of emails to alumni working in offices of particular interest to me.  I was able to set up about five interviews, and it was a fantastic process.  The ones I chose were different from the ones I visited on the 2nd day, and it really helped me to narrow down organizations that I am specifically interested in and the potential job opportunities that fit my interests.

The best part of the conference is it provided current students exposure to a number of varying fields ranging from security policy, humanitarian affairs, development, and even included private sector opportunities in finance and economics.  I was able to cover my range of professional interests, and I know several other people who also felt satisfied with the experience.  I have made some amazing contacts through the whole process, and I have a new sense of confidence about applying for jobs.  I am very pleased that I chose to participate in the conference, and it truly was a great benefit to me.

Summer 2010 Internship – Post 5

This is the fifth entry in our recap of summer internships completed by SIPA students working in the Admissions Office this year.  Beatriz Guillén is a second year student concentrating in Economic and Political Development. 

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How to do an Internship, get married, and go on your honeymoon in the same summer

Photo BeatrizI am originally from Spain but have worked and studied in Italy, Mexico and Venezuela, which can be a prototypical profile of a SIPA student. This summer I add an additional international component to my life, and married a Salvadorian Dow Jones correspondent who, oddly enough, is also at SIPA doing a dual degree with the Journalism school.

But I also had time to do my internship. I worked for Enterprise Solutions to Poverty (ESP) an organization based in New York City that mobilizes leading corporations and emerging entrepreneurs to build competitive and inclusive growth strategies that engage large numbers of low-income people as suppliers, distributors and consumers. ESP’s goal is to support companies in increasing the income and assets of over of low-income people. I started working at ESP a few hours a week since last February, and then began working full time during the summer.

While working at ESP I focused on agribusiness, decentralized distribution, financial products and profitable social services. Over the last four years, ESP has mobilized the leaders of over 150 large companies and entrepreneurs in India, China, Mexico and Colombia, with activities initiated in Kenya and Brazil. Part of my work at ESP included:

  • Working on a range of rural finance initiatives in China, including work with China Mobile and the Agricultural Bank of China on building out rural payments and banking in China.
  • Developed fruit and vegetable initiatives with leading agribusinesses in Colombia.
  • Was part of the team that worked with Novartis in financing rural health providers in Novartis’ massive Arogya Parivar rural health initiative in India.

For someone that had never worked before in the United States, working in New York was a challenging experience. Moreover, working in development with the private sector gave me a new perspective on how to tackle with development problems and find innovative solutions.  I didn’t have the opportunity to travel during my internship, but since I worked with Colombia, China, and India I sometimes had to adjust my working hours to those of our partners in different countries!

Overall, I can say that the experience was great and helped me a lot in my career.

Although I didn’t travel with my internship, I traveled to my hometown, Barcelona (Spain), as I said, to get married. Yes, it is possible to combine your personal life with your studies and with an internship. I started working in my internship in February so that I could take a month of for the wedding and the honeymoon. The wedding was great with people from all around the world. After the wedding we flew to Sicily and spent a couple of weeks traveling around the island enjoying the food and visiting ancient Greek ruins, medieval towns and enjoying the beaches.

These are some of the pictures from the trip to Sicily.

bgbp1San Vito Lo Capo

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Agrigento

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Monreale Monastery

Career Services – From Day 1

CaptureOCS

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.

Summer Reflections 2010 – Post #3

John Hughes just graduated from SIPA and during his second year of study worked in our office.  He is spending the next two months 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.  I asked him to reflect a bit on his experience as a SIPA student and contribute to the blog over the summer.  This is his third entry.

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One of the things people rightly often ask when thinking about SIPA is what sort of job prospects people have after completing the program.  This is indeed a great question, since a major reason for attending a professional school for many people is landing a job that they otherwise would not be able to get.

This was definitely true in my case, and I found that SIPA offered many resources for me to do this.  First, during your first semester SIPA has everybody take a one-credit career development course.  There are a number of different sections of this course, each one focused on something different to suit different interests.  For example, there are courses on job searches for career changers, job searches for consulting, job searches for careers in development etc.  These are typically offered at the beginning of the semester, and provide a good foundation for students to begin thinking about the job search immediately.

SIPA’s Office of Career Services also offers a number of services to students to help them in their job and internship search.  These include résumé and cover letter critiques, mock interviews, and countless guides on careers in different sectors.  Career Services also posts internships and jobs that they find daily to a site accessible to students only, and students are free to apply to any of these.  Some are offered through alumni or through companies that have a strong relationship with SIPA, and others are simply interesting positions that the Career Services staff has found that they wish to alert students to.

The Office of Career Services also brings in companies and organizations throughout the year for recruiting sessions, and sometimes these recruiting sessions are combined with on-campus interviews.  To be completely honest there were not a huge number of these interviews in the last couple of years due to the recession, but those of you incoming or thinking of applying should have many more such opportunities.  Even when times were bad as of late SIPA still managed to bring quite a few banks, consulting companies, non-profits and governmental agencies to campus, to name a few, and I know some classmates who got jobs and internships through these opportunities.

The greatest resource that Career Services provides, however, is the alumni database.  This is truly where SIPA outshines its competitors in my opinion.  Because we are such a large school with students with so many varied interests, we literally have thousands of alumni working in every type of field.  SIPA students have access to a searchable database where they can find alumni through field of interest, location, sector or a number of other criteria.  I found that all of the alumni that I e-mailed through this database (and I e-mailed quite a few) were very receptive to hearing from current students.  Every one that I talked to was willing to do an info interview over the phone at a minimum, and most offered to do one in person.  The majority helped put me in touch with other people to expand my network, and a couple even helped me to get interviews.

The caveat to all this is that getting a job after school really is the result of how much work you put in to get one.  Though academics are of course important, the job search needs to be your number one priority while in school.  This means that you should treat the job search just like a class, and spend at least a few hours each week working towards your goal.  My advice is to go beyond this and spend as many hours as possible doing this (as long as you manage to still have some fun), and I can confidently say that things will work out if you put in such effort.

I’ll be leaving New York in August to go work for the State Department as a PMF.  This position, ironically, came about through a standardized test rather than networking.  However, every other opportunity I had this year was the direct result of speaking with people who knew other people who knew of a position etc.  Almost everybody else I know here that is currently working got a job the same way, so I can’t stress enough the importance of reaching out to people while you are here.  This extends beyond just e-mailing alumni, of course, and includes things such as attending networking events, attending lectures by people in fields you are interested in, talking to professors and classmates about people they may know in fields that interest you, and hitting up friends and family for any connections.  Don’t be shy.  The more that you put yourself out there the easier it will be for you.

It’s easier to forget this advice once you’re actually here and you have 3 mid-terms and a paper staring you down.  However, it’s important not to lose sight of why you came:  to get a job.  Keep that in mind and you’ll be well on your way to being in the position in the future to have current students contact you about your great job.

SAO to the OCS in the IAB

SIPA, like most organizations, is not immune to acronyms and slang.  The title for this entry might sound like a line from a rap song. It would not be uncommon to hear something like the following around our building:

“After I got out of my SAO appointment I had to drop by OCS to talk about my EPD project and integration of my APEA work.  Then I had to get to the penthouse of IAB and for my PMF meeting and you know what that’s like during rush hour.  To top it all off, the elevator was lit up like a Christmas tree.”

Translation . . .

“”After I got out of my Student Affairs Office appointment I had to drop by the Office of Career Services to talk about my Economic and Political Development project and integration of my Advanced Policy and Economic Analysis work.  Then I had to get to the 15th floor of the International Affairs Building and for my Presidential Management Fellows meeting you know what that’s like during the change between classes.  To top it all off, every single button in the elevator had been pressed meaning we would have to stop on all floors on the way up.”

Speaking of OCS, they send out a weekly newsletter and here are just some highlights from the recent edition:

OCS Highlights of the Week

  • • Need help funding your internship abroad? Let OCS help you! See page 4 for more details.
  • • Please share your employment news with OCS by using our new Report a Hire feature on SIPAlink.

See page 3 for details.

Dean’s Breakfast Series: Chris Osborne,

CEO of Troika Dialog USA

The Dean’s Office and the Office of Career Services announce the sixth

in a series of breakfast and career conversations with prominent professionals.

Please join us for breakfast and a career conversation with

Mr. Chris Osborne, CEO of Troika Dialog USA, and Dean John

Coatsworth on Tuesday, April 20, 2010 from 8:00 to 9:00am in 1501

IAB.

Overseas Security and Abduction Prevention

(OSAP) Seminar

Back by popular demand, the SIPA Office of Career Services presents

The MASY Group’s Overseas Security and Abduction Prevention

(OSAP) Seminar for students of International/Public Affairs, Business

and Journalism who are destined for Iraq, Afghanistan and other conflict

or high risk areas. Space is limited. The event will take place in the OCS Conference

Room on Thursday, April 15, 2010, from 2:00 to 3:00pm.Register on

SIPALink and please send a 50 word e-mail statement of need to:

jpy2103@columbia.edu by Monday, April 12, 2010.

Social Media: Networking to Advance Your

Career

Topics include:

– The differences between “personal” and “business” social media.

– Engaging your business network using social media.

– Business networking net-iquette.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

151 East 25th Street , 7th Floor

(between Lexington and 3rd Ave.)

Registration 5:00 PM

To RSVP:

Please go online to www.baruch.edu/spa and click on the event

Sponsored by the Baruch College Alumni Relations Office,

SPA Alumni Committee, and SPA Career Services Office.

SIPASA Happy Hour, Sponsored by OCS

SIPASA, OCS and the Alumni Relations Office invite you to your final

happy hour on Tuesday, April 20, 2010. Come grab one last drink,

network, and share your work experience and your future plans in NYC,

DC, and beyond! In preparation for the happy hour, please provide us

with any of your past experience and your career plan that you wish to

share by completing the form through this link:

http://www.sipa.columbia.edu/ALUM/networking

Chris Hill MPA Internship Grant

SIPASA is pleased to honor the life of former MPA student, Christopher

Hill, with a scholarship fund for continuing MPA students undertaking

public interest summer internships with government or nonprofit organizations.

Christopher died in March 2000, while still studying at SIPA,

after a courageous battle with cancer. Christopher’s friends and family

created and funded the first year of the scholarship. MPASA fundraised

to continue the scholarship in subsequent years. SIPASA took over this

scholarship in 2007 with the merger of MPASA into SIPASA. The Dean

of SIPA continues to match any funds raised by students for this scholarship.

"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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