When thinking about policy graduate schools and careers in the U.S., Washington, D.C. seems to be the hub of policy. They have multiple schools, tens of thousands of jobs in policy, and the entire U.S. federal government is based in of the city. Many prospective SIPA students wonder, “Why go to SIPA in NYC when I can be so close to the action in D.C.?” 

I’m here to tell you how I answered that question.

I knew that I was going to be living in D.C. once I graduated. As a 2017 Rangel Fellow, my entire career will be between U.S. Embassies abroad and the State Department in D.C. So naturally, I applied to policy schools in D.C. even though I felt my grad school calling was in New York.

But I was hesitant. I thought if I went to the Big Apple, I would be missing out on the networking opportunities in D.C. that would boost my future career. But I knew that D.C. was not really for me in terms of the graduate schools’ curricula or the bureaucratic culture. If I went to D.C. for graduate school, I knew I would likely be miserable as the Capital lacks the diversity and cultural aspects that was so appealing in NYC. I definitely had some deciphering to do in which was right for me.

I’m proud to say now that choosing NYC over D.C. for policy school was the right move for me personally AND career-wise.

First, being in NYC does not remove you from the D.C. network of policy. SIPA has thousands of alumni based in D.C., and it’s very easy to reach out to them. We also have a D.C. career conference every January in which SIPA students get the opportunity to connect to government agencies, think tanks, or private companies working out of the Capitol. Even on days you want to attend an event in D.C., the train can get you there in three hours, so you could possibly make a day trip of it.

Second, and personally, New York was the right city for me. Compared to D.C., New York’s arts scene is drastically larger. There’s Broadway, hundreds of music venues, thousands of art galleries, and enough museums to rival the Smithsonian. The food scene here is much more diverse, with cuisines from every country and culture you can think of. The bureaucratic culture of D.C. also tends to bring similar people whereas New York’s multifaceted job market brings a plethora of different kinds of people to the city. The diversity and options of New York are unparalleled.

Overall, I know I made the right decision with coming to SIPA over my D.C. options. I’m still gaining the career network I was hoping for while feeling fulfilled in my creative exploration and personal interests. Come to SIPA and experience the same.