Archive for Spring2017

Career Coaches: another perk for our Seeples

If you did any research before applying to graduate school, you’re probably aware that SIPA has its own career office dedicated to SIPA students. That means that SIPA’s Office of Career Services (OCS) has only one job: to help current SIPA students enhance their networking skills and job/internship hunt. For me, the key takeaway is that OCS is just here to assist SIPA students. Not Law School students, not Teachers College students, and not Columbia College (undergraduate) students. And that’s a big deal.

You may recall yesterday years from undergrad when you were fighting for face time with your Office of Career Services. (I know I did!) You had to schedule appointments weeks in advance and they were impossible to reach via phone. That’s not an issue at SIPA. OCS is just here for its Seeples and we wouldn’t have it any other way. The offer a variety of services to help current students and alumni find their career paths, such as networking events, on-campus recruitment sessions, career advising, and internship grants.

One service that I believe is often overlooked, is SIPA Career Coaching (SIPACC) by experts in the field. SIPACCs are full-time professionals who volunteer throughout the year to offer industry-specific knowledge to current students who just don’t know which direction to go. Sessions run 30 minutes and current students can sign up for them in SIPAlink, our job and internship database. Typically, you can expect to pay $100 or more for a one-on-one career coaching session, but the wonderful volunteers with SIPACC offer this service for free!

In the sessions they’ll:

  • Dispense industry-specific job advice in their field(s).
  • Share their knowledge about various career opportunities related to the advisee’s SIPA concentration or specialization.
  • Establish steps that should be undertaken by the advisee in order to advance in a particular industry.
  • Offer other career advice at their discretion.

On another note: this isn’t a one-time thing. SIPA students and alumni can sign up for three coaching sessions per semester! So add this to the “win” column for why SIPA is the place for you. We hope to see you in the fall.

Columbia University unveils new campus sustainability plan

Just in time for Earth Day last week, Columbia University pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 35 percent in the next three years through a mix of energy conservation and efficiency measures under its first campus sustainability plan.

The three-year plan, released a day before Earth Day, represents a practical fulfillment of the sustainability principles that university President Lee C. Bollinger announced at the beginning of the academic year. It sets clear targets for shrinking Columbia’s carbon footprint and reducing waste by improving efficiencies in campus operations, boosting composting, recycling and public transit-use, and investing in energy-saving technology.

“At Columbia, we have long understood the profound threat climate change poses to the future of our planet and the role our community should play in confronting it,” Bollinger said. “Through our actions, policies, and behavior, we provide a model for the kind of global response we seek. Most significant in this effort is the basic research conducted by Columbia’s faculty and actively engaged student body working in schools and departments across the University.”

More than a year in the making, the plan was produced with extensive input from students, administrators and faculty scientists—many of them world leaders in the sustainability field. The plan’s overarching goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by zeroing in on energy use and conservation, transportation and waste management.

“Columbia has led pioneering research on the environment, and how our actions will affect future generations,” said Executive Vice President for University Facilities and Operations David Greenberg. “With this plan, Columbia is taking concrete steps to limit our own contribution to climate change. Setting measurable goals and actionable strategies will allow us to track our progress.”

Read more about Columbia’s sustainability goals and stakeholder involvement here.

Join Seeple Groups for the camaraderie

The fall 2017 class has around 400 students (MPA/MIA) from around the world with different skills, ideas, and professional backgrounds. Do you appreciate the diversity of perspectives, but are concerned about becoming being just another a number? If that’s a “yes,” then that’s exactly why SIPA came up with Seeple Groups (SIPA + People = Seeple). As a Seeple Groups leader, I wanted to share with all of you the value of this initiative. Launched last year for the Class of 2018, the program is designed to do two things: provide incoming students with dedicated support and to foster interdisciplinary camaraderie that cuts across degree programs (MPA and MIA) and areas of study (concentrations and specializations).

Each Seeple Group consists of around 40 first-year MPA/MIA students, and they are led by select second-year students, known as SIPA Peer Advisors (SPA). Advising deans are also paired up with each group. SPAs, like me, provide wisdom from experience on university resources, course selection, and student life. In other words, we’ll tell you where the least-crowded libraries are; how to navigate the school bureaucracy; how tough a professor is; where to find free food; and where the best happy hours are at. (You know, the important stuff.) In all seriousness, if you’re running into issues as a student, the chances are high that someone else has been through it and resolved it. And if the SPA don’t have the answer, they’ll find someone that does.

For example, during orientation week, we had a first-year student from Asia who discovered that his initial housing plans fell through due to circumstances beyond his control. His family was also due to arrive two weeks later. I don’t think we would have learned how dire the situation was if we hadn’t approached him. Leveraging the network of the SPAs, we managed to find a unit that fit his needs. Result: crisis averted.

The groups as a whole build community within the unit through various events planned by SPAs and their group members. The events range from community service and house parties to ice skating in Midtown and secret Seeples gift exchanges. The ultimate goal of Seeple Groups is to provide a vector for students to build meaningful and life-long friendships. It’ll be one of the first networking platforms you’ll encounter at SIPA. You’ll likely form into problem set teams for Quant and Econ. And even if you feel like it’s not working out, there are countless other opportunities to build new relationships (concentration/specialization happy hours, student organizations events, and student-led cultural and policy excursions around the world to name a few).

I was in Seeples Group B aka “the Rumble Bees” (the groups are named after animals/insects). My favorite part about being a SPA is watching the bonds form within the group. I remember meeting the gang during orientation week and doing ice breakers to get everyone to loosen up. Now, I see them lounging together on campus and tagging each other on Facebook during late-night study sessions. When I was deciding between graduate schools, the strength of a school’s network was a key factor for me. SIPA created Seeple Groups to do exactly this.

[Photo courtesy of Gloria Oh (Seeple Group B Peer Advisor) | Andrew Liu (first row, left) attempting to buzz like a bee with Seeple Group B aka “the Rumble Bees”]

GEN Day 2017 at SIPA

In solidarity with the Columbia undergraduate First-Generation Low Income Partnership (FLIP), SIPA students celebrated GEN Day 2017 on April 10, 2017, to honor and highlight the experiences of first-generation students at Columbia University and at SIPA.

As defined by FLIP, first-generation typically refers to being the first generation of one’s family to achieve the level of education one is pursuing, however, due to distinctions in how one defines family and status, being first-generation can be defined as having a different intellectual, emotional, and academic support system.

Here are brief snapshots into the lives of SIPA first-generation students, as compiled by current student Alejandra Bz.

(Can’t see the images below? You can access them on Facebook here.)

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Speak up for what’s right, says Congressman John Lewis

Civil rights icon keynotes 20th annual Dinkins Forum

SIPA’s 70th Anniversary festivities kicked off on March 30 as a selection of boldface names from New York City’s political world joined students, faculty, and alumni at Miller Theatre for this year’s David N. Dinkins Leadership and Public Policy Forum. Headlining the event was keynote speaker John Lewis, the civil rights icon and U.S. congressman whose home district is centered on Atlanta, Georgia.

The annual forum, which marked its 20th year, is named for the SIPA professor who served as New York City’s first African-American mayor. The event continues to provide a platform for analysis and dialogue that addresses many of the challenging issues facing urban policies, programs, and initiatives.

Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger opened the evening, saluting Lewis’s experiences in the civil rights movement and his lifelong support for equal rights. Without such a “lived sense of where we have been,” Bollinger said, “we cannot really understand where we are and where we must go.”

Dean Merit E. Janow of SIPA introduced the forum’s namesake, David Dinkins, who spoke briefly about the history of the forum and past speakers such as Charles Rangel, Al Gore, and Hillary Clinton.

In welcoming Lewis, Dinkins noted that he had “stood on [Lewis’s] broad, strong shoulders for the last 50 years, along with Americans of all races, ages, and creeds.

“And so have you,” he added, addressing the gathered audience.

Relating some of the congressman’s life experience, Dinkins described how Lewis—a son of Alabama sharecroppers—was active in protesting for freedom, as he participated in sit-ins, bus rides, and marches. Most significant was the 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery known as Bloody Sunday, in which Lewis suffered a fractured skull at the hands of police troopers. Lewis would go on to be arrested 40 times between then and today.

Taking the stage, Lewis spoke about how he was told as a child that segregation of the time was just “the way it is” and not to get in the way. However, with encouragement from a schoolteacher, Lewis read everything he could, he said—about Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr., and others.

He was inspired, he said, to “find a way to get in the way, to get in good trouble, necessary trouble. And I’ve been getting in trouble ever since.”

Using the cadences of a preacher and alternating between quiet and booming tones, Lewis said his philosophy is that “when you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have a moral obligation—a mission and a mandate—to speak up, to speak out, and get in the way.”

Lewis recounted his memory of the march in Selma, where he thought he was going to die. But he was taken in, he said, by sisters at a nearby Catholic hospital, who took care of him. Recently, he reconnected with three of those sisters, who recognized him, and they hugged.

“We must never, ever forget the bridges that brought us across,” he said.

“Sometimes you’re called to turn things upside down, to set it right side up,” Lewis said as he concluded his remarks. “Teach the students, teach the young, because the young will teach us. And they will lead us to a better place [where] no one is left out or left behind.”

The forum also featured a panel discussion on “Reframing Economic and Political Citizenship,” moderated by Ester Fuchs, director of SIPA’s concentration in Urban and Social Policy. Participants included faculty member Michael A. Nutter and guests David Goodman, Verna Eggleston, and Michael Waldman. The panelists discussed at length the transformations U.S. citizens are experiencing to their civil, economic, and political identities under the Trump administration, and what we need to be doing to preserve the hard-fought victories of the past and expand our vision of rights for the future.

— Matt Terry MIA ’17

Watch complete event

 

"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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