Archive for Washington DC

Jumping from NYC to DC; My advice to students who want to work outside of NYC

Note from Admissions: Congratulations to the eight SIPA students selected to join the Presidential Management Fellows Class of 2019! Only ~8.7 percent of applicants were selected to become finalists in this prestigious U.S. government development program for 2019. We thought this would be a good opportunity to check in with other SIPA students who are heading to Washington D.C.

When I first considered applying to the State Department’s Pickering Fellowship, I was unsure whether it was worth my time. I assumed that students from D.C. studying International Affairs would have a considerable advantage, since I attended a small liberal arts college in Los Angeles where I studied History and Government. However, when speaking with alumni of the fellowship, I was told that my non-D.C. background could help my application for the State Department and other employers throughout my career. After receiving the fellowship, and having worked in D.C., I would agree with this sentiment.

Ultimately, I believe that employers look for talent and people with new and interesting ideas, regardless of where an applicant is from. Therefore, I would urge anyone considering SIPA to apply, even if they want to pursue a career in D.C. afterwards; here at SIPA, you’ll learn and grow in ways that will make you competitive for any job in any city.

SIPA’s greatest resource is New York City. As a student of policy, you will have endless opportunities to engage with experts and leading organizations in your field who are working in arguably the world’s most dynamic city. Because of SIPA’s location, you will also have access to world class faculty and students who are pursuing careers in everything from finance to humanitarian work.

SIPA also offers a very holistic curriculum and attracts students from the around the world who want to study in a global city. I can honestly say that I have learned as much from my peers as I have from my classes.

In turn, you may actually have an advantage over students who are in D.C. or any other city, partly because of everything that SIPA students are exposed to in New York.

Personally, I know of many students who are fully committed to working in D.C. after graduating, myself included. Many of these students use their summer in between their first and second year to pursue an internship in DC, as an opportunity to build a relationship with a potential employer and to get an idea of what they would ideally like to do full-time.

SIPA has relationships with almost every major organization in D.C. and therefore students are made aware of internship and full-time job opportunities available in D.C. all the time. Almost any employer in D.C. will recognize Columbia University and SIPA, and you will not be at a disadvantage during the recruiting process.

In terms of community in D.C., SIPA students end up all over; some work for the State Department, some work for think tanks like The Brookings Institution, and others end up at NGOs like Human Rights Campaign. Since SIPA’s Office of Career Services has strong relationships with alumni and organizations with heavy SIPA representation, it is easy to get in contact with alumni, who are always happy to offer advice or maybe even an opportunity at an interview.

I always tell people, living and studying in New York is never a bad choice. If you are interested in SIPA’s program offerings and think it is a good fit academically and socially, then consider applying/enrolling, even if you don’t plan to be here long-term!

Summer Internship at the U.S. Treasury

I just returned from DC to NYC and from a great summer at the Department of the U.S. Treasury. Working as an International Economist Graduate Intern in the Office of South and Southeast Asia was a great opportunity to work with intelligent and smart professionals. My previous professional experience has been in the private sector and therefore gaining the understanding of how the government works was a valuable experience. The Treasury is the official source for the White House to receive advice on domestic and international economics, finance and budget related issues.

US Treasury

This summer, approximately 165 interns from colleges and universities across the country contributed their time and expertise in a variety of roles throughout the Treasury Department, working in the offices of International Affairs, Economic Policy, Domestic Finance, and more.

It is great to know that my analysis of macroeconomic trends, briefings about financial markets, country and systemic risks in South and Southeast Asia supported senior officials with policy making for the United States at home and abroad. I was assisting the desk economists of India, Indonesia and Myanmar. It was a very busy summer, especially after the Fed’s announcement of potential “tapering”. The markets experienced a great sell off and funds outflow from the emerging and frontier markets in the South and Southeast Asia. Specifically, India and Indonesia suffered a great weakening of their currencies, a widening of the BOP deficit, and a slow-down in the growth rate.  These market movements required our office to determine the overall risk of these affected countries to the world economy in general and to the United States in specific. The active markets helped me to get involved in many great projects with quick turn-around times and therefore get lots of valuable hands on experience.

US Treasury Secretary, Jacob Lew

One of the highlights was that we got to meet and take a group picture with Treasury Secretary, Jacob Lew. During an internal event we also had the chance to see the Fed Chairman, Ben Bernanke and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. I highly recommend the U.S. Treasury as a place to do a summer internship and get practical experience to contribute to significant and meaningful work. Best of all is that this internship confirmed my interest to pursue a career in country/sovereign risk analysis. Still left to determine is if it will be the private or the public sector.

DC was also a great city to explorer after work and over the weekends. Happy hours and cultural events are very popular and a great way to connect with other interns and Washingtonians. DC is different than NYC and therefore great to spend some time there. I enjoyed the city a lot and made many great new friends as well as deepened my network with existing SIPA colleagues and Alumni, who also got to spend the summer in our capital.

The U.S. Treasury (main building), main entrance

The U.S. Treasury (main building), main entrance

The National Mall and the U.S. Treasury (Main building) to the right

The National Mall and the U.S. Treasury (Main building) to the right

Andreas Maerki is a MPA degree candidate who joined us this spring as a J-termer and will graduate in 2014.  He is concentrating in International Finance and Economic Policy (IFEP) at SIPA.


Learn more about pursuing a graduate degree in international affairs

We’re heading down to DC on Wednesday, June 19th.  Spread the word.  If you are in the area and want to mingle with admissions representatives, alumni and current students; you should plan to stop by.  If you can’t make it to this one, we’ll be back again on July 18th.

Representatives from the following graduate international affairs programs will be available:

  • Columbia University – School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA)
  • Georgetown University – Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service
  • Johns Hopkins University – The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS)
  • Princeton University – The Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs
  • Tufts University – The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy

Registration will start at 5:30 p.m., presentation begins at 6:00 p.m.  If you are interested in attending, you may register in advance through the Summerfest 2013 Eventbrite link:

The event will be held at Johns Hopkins University (SAIS), Kenney Auditorium, 1740 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20036.  The easiest method of transportation is via Metro. SAIS is about a 5-minute walk from the Dupont Circle Metro stop (Red Line).

Hope to see you there.



We’re on the road… again

We will be at the Aid & International Development Forum (AIDF) on WEDNESDAY, June 6th (9:00AM – 6:00PM) and THURSDAY, June 7th (9:00AM – 4:30PM) at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center – Hall D in Washington, DC.  If you plan to attend the forum, come by and say hello to Alvin Carter, our newest member to the SIPA Admissions family.  He’ll be waiting in E1 in the Education Zone.


directions & parking to Washington Convention Center


"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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