Every year, SIPA welcomes a small group of five-year students from the undergraduate colleges of Columbia University and students directly from their undergraduate institutions. While starting graduate school can be a big leap to the professional world, every moment at SIPA is an opportunity for professional development, whether it’s joining a student group, attending networking events, or connecting with your classmates.

In November, SIPA’s Office of Career Services hosted a panel of five-year students who are in their second year at SIPA to discuss “What I Wish I Knew as a First Year.” Below are some highlights from the discussion: 

Kaitlyn Menegio-Stahl MIA ’21

“I wish I had joined student organizations. When classes were done for the day, I either went home to take a nap, or I went to work, or I did homework. And I wish I hadn’t done that. 

Even though everything’s online, you can still socialize with people. There are events like this, there are events happening all the time, go look on SIPALink, go look on CampusGroups, your class WhatsApp or Facebook page. Events are being posted everywhere. Go to them and join a student organization so you can be a part of planning those events and meet other people.”

Kinza Haq MIA ’21

“With OCS, if I say I’m interested in a company, they will do everything they can to connect me to three people or four people who have gone to SIPA but who are interested in that company, which is just such an invaluable resource in terms of networking and getting to know people. I dived headfirst into OCS my first week there at SIPA.” 

Kaitlyn Menegio-Stahl MIA ’21

The last thing I wish I did more my first year is celebrate my accomplishments. Even an accomplishment like “you got into SIPA!” That’s pretty incredible. Don’t discount that. Shout it from the rooftops. It’s cool. And you should be really proud of yourself. And even if you get a good grade on a paper, or you weren’t understanding a topic and all of a sudden it just clicks for you, celebrate that. It’s really exciting. It’s worth being proud of.