Archive for MIA

A View from the Class: Sarah Goddard MIA ’19

The SIPA Office of Alumni and Development is pleased to share A View from the Class, a series featuring current SIPA students, recently graduated alumni, and faculty. In this issue, we feature recently the graduated Sarah Goddard MIA ’19. Sarah earned a dual degree Master of International Affairs concentrating in Urban and Social Policy with a specialization in United Nations Studies. She also has a Master of Public Health degree concentrating in Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health.

What were you doing prior to attending SIPA?
I taught English at a high school in Toulouse, France. Afterwards, I served a year with AmeriCorps in Western Massachusetts at an affordable housing nonprofit, working on a community health and public safety project in a low-income urban area. This opportunity inspired me to apply to SIPA.

Why did you choose SIPA?
I chose SIPA because of the ability to combine my interest in urban and social policy with a degree in international affairs, and SIPA’s course offerings in community development, gender, and international relations theory inspired me. I also chose SIPA because of its location and access to the many opportunities and resources in New York City, including the United Nations. Attending the admitted students’ day and walking through the campus with future peers and colleagues solidified my decision.

Why did you choose your particular areas of study?
I chose urban and social policy because I wanted to bridge the gap between my pre-SIPA professional experiences working internationally in education and domestically in urban community development. I decided to specialize in United Nations Studies because I wanted to become more familiar with international organizations, and I became increasingly interested in the UN through internships, coursework, and exposure to the Sustainable Development Goals while at SIPA. I applied to the dual degree program with the Mailman School to better focus on the links between urban and social policy and health.

What have been some of your standout SIPA experiences?
At the end of my first year, I interned at the United Nations Development Programme in New York in their HIV, Health and Development group. This was the first time I really saw my interests in health and social development come together professionally, and it was exciting to gain first-hand experience in the UN system.

For my SIPA Capstone, I chose an Economic and Political Development (EPD) Workshop related to urban development and the Sustainable Development Goals in Colombia. This was a defining part of my SIPA experience. I got to travel with a great team to do fieldwork in multiple cities, and our project was selected for a microgrant from the Sustainable Development Solutions Network and as a top project to present at the UN’s High Level Political Forum.

What have been some of your favorite SIPA courses?
I have taken a number of great courses with great professors at SIPA, but two courses stand out. The first is Yumiko Shimabukuro’s course on Comparative Urban Policy. Professor Shimabukuro made the course extremely dynamic and engaging by bringing in real life examples of urban policy failures and successes that brought the material to life. Beyond that, she transformed the class into a supportive family and became a mentor to many of us, and for that, I am grateful.

The second is Barbara Magnoni’s course on Working with the Private Sector for Development Outcomes. Professor Magnoni brought to the course expertise in private sector development and used many case examples from various sectors to make the material engaging and relevant. More importantly, she orchestrated a supportive classroom environment where students could debate and provide constructive feedback. Opportunities like this have shaped my experience at SIPA and are what make SIPA such a unique place.

What are your plans after SIPA?
I recently accepted an offer to work at Global Communities, an international development nonprofit, as a Program Officer in the Governance and Global Health pillar.

A View from the Class: Divyam Nandrajog MIA ’19

The SIPA Office of Alumni and Development is pleased to share A View from the Class, a series featuring current SIPA students, recently graduated alumni, and faculty. In this issue, we feature newly graduated SIPA alumnus Divyam Nandrajog MIA ’19. Divyam graduated in May with a Master of International Affairs (MIA), concentrating in International Security Policy (ISP) and specializing in Technology, Media, and Communications.

What were you doing prior to attending SIPA?
I studied law at the National Law University, Delhi in Delhi, India. I was particularly interested in criminal law and how it governed state-citizen interactions. I worked on several research projects on criminal justice involving rights of under-trial prisoners, criminal process re-engineering, and analysis of cases under Indian drug laws.

These projects involved visits to Tihar Jail, one of Delhi’s larger prisons, for data gathering and interviews of under-trial and convicted inmates to better understand and place their cases within the larger criminal process for analysis. The projects aimed for both immediate and systemic impact. One involved assessing under-trial inmates’ eligibility for bail under special provisions of the criminal procedure code. Another project focused on identifying and mitigating procedural bottlenecks and causes for systemic delay in trials under special laws.

Why did you choose SIPA?
I chose SIPA for its ISP concentration that delves into various topical components of the subject and offers students flexibility in concentrating their studies on particular aspects of international security.

How would you describe your SIPA experience?
I really enjoyed my classes in cybersecurity and defense analysis. The professors teaching them bring a wealth of professional experience and detail that makes courses in these subjects extremely practical and readily applicable by graduate students starting out in the field.

How has SIPA affected you?
No two resumes at SIPA are the same. The diversity of backgrounds, approaches, and thought that the student body brings together presents a welcome and formidable challenge to norms and approaches assumed to be settled. The key lies not in isolated points of view but in the bridges we build between them, shaping the process as much as it shapes us.

Are there particular SIPA experiences that stand out?
My studies and work under Professor Jason Healey, first as his student and intern and subsequently as his research assistant, were a highlight of my time in SIPA. The past year was an incredible learning process. The sheer breadth of research I was exposed to under his guidance enriched my studies and learning in a way few other experiences can match. The freedom I was given to conduct my own research on topical subjects in cybersecurity allowed me to further develop my interests, build upon what I learned in classes, and apply it in practical ways.

I also benefited from several interactions with policymakers and industry leadership whose insights have been of great practical value in contextualizing my learning and taking it further.

What are your plans now that you have graduated from SIPA?
I hope to work in cyber threat intelligence and cybersecurity and defense policy.

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt: MPA/MIA v. JD

This piece was co-authored by Julia Chung, my fellow program assistant at the Admissions Office.

RBG
Image result for shrug emojiMadeleine Albright

For those of you who don’t know the International Affairs Building, where SIPA is housed, is directly attached to Columbia Law School. It is a very subtle reminder of the decision we, Julia and Samantha, made two years ago before they started graduate school. Julia, studied for the LSAT for a year after graduating undergrad, fully anticipating a career in law. Samantha, worked as a legal assistant for three years at a law firm in Washington, D.C., and similarly thought law was in her future.

Today, both Julia and Samantha are SIPA second-year MPA and MIA students respectively, and both made the crucial decision to pick graduate school over law school. We recently had a conversation about the decision to go with public policy instead of a legal degree:

Why did you want to go to law school in the first place?

Julia: In undergrad I thought that if I wanted to do public service and civil rights, the path was a law degree. I thought that to make the change I wanted to see in the world, I needed to do it through litigation. With this limited perspective on career paths, I studied for the LSAT in my senior year in undergrad and the year after graduating. (As a side note, my family told me that because I was good at arguing, I should be a lawyer. Don’t think that was sound career advice though!)

Samantha: I wanted to go to law school because I wanted to work in policy, and had met a lot of people in the industry, who happenstance all had law degrees. I thought that was the way it worked. After I graduated undergrad, I took a job with a law firm in Washington D.C. in order to gain experience in the field. It was sort of a test run, which I recommend everyone interested in law do before deciding on whether to go or not. It was long hours, a lot of work, but I loved it. Despite the intensity at times, the experience really made me think the life was for me, but I still was not 100% sold. I wanted to do policy, and I had yet to work with someone that was doing work in that realm.

What changed?

Julia: After taking the LSAT, I spoke to a Vassar alum who was a lawyer and he said: Only go to law school if you actually want to practice law or if you have $150k to spare. He said that I seemed to have passions other than law and I should pursue those first. Taking that advice and knowing that my heart was in civil rights, I started working at a community-based organization in Flushing, Queens, doing civic engagement work. After two years of working with many lawyers, I decided that the great work they did was not for me. I realized that law wasn’t my tool to make the changes in the world I wanted to see. I didn’t want to be worrying about legal precedence or writing briefs. I wanted to be more on-the-ground and not limited to finding solutions through law.

Samantha: A coworker was talking to me about how he was going to graduate school for a degree in international affairs, and this really piqued my interest. I started researching graduate institutions around the world, to see what kinds of programs were out there for international affairs and security policy. That’s when I came across a couple of schools whose programs really spoke to me. I ended up speaking to one of the partners I worked for about my career trajectory, and he told me not to go to law school unless I was 100% sure it was for me. He also said that we no longer live in the days where you need a law degree to inform policy. Since I was not 100% sure of whether law school was for me, despite my experience, I chose to apply to graduate school.

Why did you choose Columbia SIPA?

Julia: I looked at graduate school to switch career paths. I wanted to shift from community organizing to something else, even though I wasn’t sure exactly what “something else” was when I applied to graduate school. I came to SIPA because it is a full-time program that is academically rigorous with a strong student community, and has a strong Urban and Social Policy program with practitioners teaching courses. I sat in on Mark Steitz’s “Data Driven Approaches to Campaigns and Advocacy” and knew instantaneously that SIPA was right for me. I knew that SIPA would teach me the hard skills I needed to take the next step in my career.

Samantha: I chose SIPA because I felt the MIA program and the International Security Concentration would provide me with both the theoretical and practical foundation I needed to pursue my future career goals. I also liked the fact that SIPA’s cohorts are very diverse, and that I would be studying with students from all around the world. I felt very welcomed at SIPA when I came to visit during the application process.  I think I had some preconceived notions of what SIPA and Columbia University in general were going to be like; however, everyone was very welcoming and I just had a feeling that I was in the right place.

How will an MPA/MIA degree work towards your future?

Julia: I came to SIPA knowing that I needed more hard skills – policy analysis, data analysis, memo writing, program evaluation, etc. SIPA provided those hard skills and the opportunity to explore different policy areas. I came to SIPA only interested in civil rights, but will be leaving in May with knowledge on urban sustainability, design thinking in the public sector, and technology used in international crisis response. I think my MPA degree prepares me to think critically on today’s most pressing issues, but also gives me tools and the network to be able to address them. I also think that with a MPA degree, I have more flexibility to create the career path I want than I would have if I went to law school.

Samantha: I believe the MIA will help me in my future endeavors because it helped me develop both hard and soft skills which can be applied to the jobs I am seeking in the foreign policy and international security fields. In law school I would not have been required to take a quantitative analysis course, or a cyber-security course, and I think these courses have really helped inform the way in which I evaluate the world around me. While law school would be useful in terms of understanding legality and jurisdiction for policy, I believe the MIA program has given me the opportunity to think critically about current international security policy issues, in order to better understand the nuances the make them complex and challenging to resolve.   

Do you have any regrets about your graduate school decision?

Julia: None – I’m excited to graduate and put all that I’ve learned to test!

Samantha:  I have no regrets about choosing to get my MIA at SIPA.  Every now and then I do think about law school and reflect back on when I made the decision to not pursue a JD. I remember where I was in life, and what career goals I had at the time that made me think I was not 100% ready to get my JD. If you asked me today if I think law school is in my future, I would say “yes.” But if you asked me if I could go back in time and remake the choice between and MIA and JD again, would I choose differently? I would say “no.” This has been a life-changing experience for me, and I would not change a thing.

Look, if you are a prospective applicant of SIPA and you still can’t make a choice, feel free to call or drop by the Admissions office and talk to a current student or Admissions Officer.

And don’t worry, if you decide that you want both an MPA/MIA and a JD, you can also apply for a SIPA/Law School dual degree. For more information, you can take a look at the website here.

Startup Sesame Features Jennifer Kanyamibwa MIA ’16

We’re resharing this post of featuring Jennifer Kanyamibwa MIA ’16 and dual degree student, with the permission of Startup Sesame.

“Here at #SesameHQ, we believe in the potential for entrepreneurs to change the world, so we make sure our Sesamers are meeting the right people, at the right event & at the right time. We’re proud to have an international pool of mentors & experts helping us support our startups.

Joining this group of #RockstarMentors, we’re excited to introduce you to Jennifer Kanyamibwa, Senior Design Program Manager for the Design and User Research Team at Twitter!

Serendipitously, Jennifer and Suzanne first met in San Francisco during a visit to #SlackHQ, where Jennifer was previously working as Design Studio Manager.

Check out our recent #MentorSpotlight interview with Jennifer 😉

Let’s start with a quick snapshot of your academic & professional background; what path did you take?

I lived, worked and studied in New York City, Brussels, Berlin and San Francisco and hold a Master in International Affairs with a focus on Technology, Media & Communications from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) and Master in Public Policy with a focus on Public Management from Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, Germany. Both my academic and professional experiences provided me with a global understanding of how technology works in every facet of human life.

Tell us more about your experiences in government and finance and how they relate to tech?

Well, I started my career working in the New York City Mayor’s Office in the Bloomberg administration for the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services so all of New York Cities agencies and programs that have to do with public assistance, homelessness services, public hospitals as well as the research and evaluation components of understanding if programs were effective in serving the citizen of New York City etc…these were major programs with many challenges and opportunities and since it was the Bloomberg administration, I learned about the importance of using research and evaluation to solve problems and understand metrics — similar to many approaches used to understand users and metrics in technology.

New York

In terms of finance, I worked as a Global Project Manager at Bloomberg LP where I received my formal project management and operations skills. I managed global finance projects including an award-winning, year-long project where I led Engineering, R&D and Global Payroll teams in São Paulo, Tokyo, Hong Kong, London and New York City in the design and implementation of a new global payroll system. After this project I had such a world of experience in (1) Working cross-functionally (2) Breaking down complex issues in order to achieve big results and (3) Understanding the global impact of improved technologies and the cultural competency needed to manage and inspire global team — -these are lessons I have brought to every job and tech since then. Whether it be the consultative work I did with Nike, my current board work as Ambassador Council member for International Crisis Group or even the academic work I did in grad school at Columbia University and the Hertie School of Government in Berlin, Germany — these three lessons are my guiding lights.

Since you are new to Twitter, what are some things you are looking to achieve with your role?

At Twitter, we (my manager and myself) are building up the Strategy and Operations arm of the Design and User Research Department. What this means is that as the Design and User Research Department scales, I am building out the processes and cultural components to ease collaboration and amplify effectiveness, not only across product disciplines, but also between the increasingly complex world of Product Design and User Research. We are the arm that does all the strategic and operational things to retain and find talent and to scale and buildout a world class design org at Twitter. It’s a very exciting role that combines my passions and expertise in design ops, program management, operations and strategy.

Twitter Headquarters (SFO)

What are some of your favorite books, magazines or podcasts that inform and/or relate to your work?

In terms of magazines, I love Communication Arts it’s an amazing publication that covers the best in graphic design, advertising, photography, illustration and interactive media. Its very creative and really inspiring. I also love the book Designing Design which is a great book on design thinking by Japanese graphic designer Kenya Hara.

My favorite design podcast is Revison Path which is a weekly showcase of the world’s leading Black creatives, graphic designers, web designers, product designers and web developers. My love for learning more about design was a direct result of working with extremely talented designers at Slack and Tech Open Air. Particularly Angelica MckinleyChris ReathViet Huynh (all based in the Bay Area and NYC) Amit Barnea and John Michael (both based in Berlin)

I am also super inspired by the cultural and artistic writing of Antwaun Sargent (who is a prominent art critic, prolific writer and a friend) his work is creative, passionate and forward thinking — all things I believe are also critical to good design.

Last but certainly not least, what is your experience with Tech events?

I actually got my start in tech with Tech Open Air (TOA.life Editorial) in Berlin, Germany. I had a position as Special Advisor to the CEO/Founder Niko LeWoi (aka Mr. TOA) (great boss and mentor!). I started off doing research around tech policy issues for example driverless cars and then I ended up working on presentations about emerging tech ecosystems and finally working with the Program Team, Production Team and the Design Studio at TOA with projects and during the entire festival, I shadowed the CEO it was AMAZING!

I also got to speak at Pirate Summit in Cologne, Germany. I spoke on two panels: Getting More Women into Tech and The Future of European Tech Ecosystems: London, Berlin, Paris. Pirate Summit (PIRATE.global) was such a unique and exhilarating experience; and I had A LOT of fun and learned so much from all the international presenters and attendees.”

SIPA Stories with Katie Jacobs Stanton and Mayor Eric Garcetti

We hosted an energetic and busy Summerfest NYC yesterday and met so many fantastic people. Thank you to all who came to network with us and the other top policy schools. If you’re in the D.C. area and are interested in graduate programs in international affairs, stop by Summerfest D.C. tonight.

A common question from prospective students last night was about how the MIA, MPA, or MPA-DP program would help them in their future careers. Who better to answer this question than two former students / current alumni?

Katie Jacobs Stanton (MIA ’95) shares how her SIPA education was applicable across her career in government and technology. She is the chief marketing officer of Color and former VP of global media for Twitter.

For a different perspective, Eric Garcetti (MIA ’93) was elected Mayor of Los Angeles in 2013 and speaks to how he wants Los Angeles to “become an example of how we bring folks across cultures together to build a new city.”

You can meet more of the people devoted to addressing public policy challenges at SIPA Stories.

"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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