GW Alumni News recently featured an Elliott School alum, Marc Gorelick ’09! Marc is currently serving as a United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Foreign Service Officer in Afghanistan. Check out what Marc has to say about his job and career path in the full piece after the jump. Continue reading
OID: Hello from OID and thanks for talking to us today! Let's start with the basics: Who are you, where do you come from, and why did you pursue development at GWU?
My name is Kerry White, and I’m originally from the suburbs of New York. I ended up in development in kind of a circuitous way. I started my career in international journalism in Northern Ireland, then did Teach for America and taught for a few years.
Yesterday we held our second and last Prospective Graduate Student Open House for the Fall 2013. Thank you to all of those who attended!
For those of you who were unable to attend, don’t fret! You can watch the entire recording of the October Open House through the Web Video Initiative. You will hear from the Office of Graduate Admissions, Graduate Student Career Development, International Education and Programs, Academic Programs (skills courses), and Associate Dean Doug Shaw. There is also a Q&A session at the end that covers the majority of our frequently asked questions. Enjoy!
The thought of working while going to graduate school can seem pretty intimidating. However, most Elliott School students either intern or work while they are in the master’s program because of the evening classes. A crazy few of us even work full-time and go to school full-time. I’m a first-year Latin American and Hemispheric Studies program student and I also work full-time during the week. I have a part-time internship at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and I also work part-time as an office assistant in the Office of Graduate Admissions at the Elliott School.
I had about two years of full-time work experience going into the Elliott School, but none of that experience was in my field. I hope to graduate from the Elliott School with some great applicable experience for my future career. During the summer I started doing research on think tanks with a Latin American focus, and found a great opportunity at the Wilson Center in the Latin American Program. Interning at the Wilson Center has afforded me a great opportunity to blend what I learn in the classroom with hands-on work experience.
It definitely takes a bit of juggling to work and study full-time. Prioritizing has taken on a new meaning in my life. I’ve had to learn how to do more with less time, and keeping everything in perspective is crucial. While I spend a lot of my free time at the library or with my nose in a book, I do my best to maintain a life outside of school and work. For me this means staying involved in the activities I had pre-graduate school, like my alumni group and book club. Having friends outside the international affairs field helps to keep me sane and focused.
Graduate school will be over before you know it and I believe it’s really important to make the most out of your experience. DC is a great place to get a master’s degree in international affairs, and there are boundless opportunities to try out any field you have an interest in. For someone who wants to work in the international arena, there really isn’t a better place to either start or continue your career. As you begin your application process, make sure to really research your field and see what kind of opportunities you could pursue while in graduate school.
Our Open House is just 3 days away! Don’t forget to register at go.gwu.edu/October.
Our Open Houses are a great way to meet with faculty, students, and alumni of our programs and ask any questions you may have as you prepare to submit your application. You will also hear from admissions, international programs and education, career development, and academic programs about the GW Advantages.
We hope you are able to join us!
Stay tuned to read a post about what to expect and how to prepare for the open house later this week!
With the fall semester hitting full speed, we wanted to check in with Joe Martin from our Summer Series. To recap, Joe was planning on spending part of the summer in Oman studying Arabic and the later half of the summer near the Turkish/Syrian border implementing a project with the Syrian Emergency Task Force (SETF).
Joe described his time in Oman as “a wonderful experience.” This was the second summer he spent in the country but this year her traveled to Nizwa instead of Muscat. When writing about his experience, Joe said the following:
I love studying Arabic in Oman because it is one of the few places in the Middle East where one can truly be immersed in the language. Many Arab countries are heavily influenced by English and other European countries… However, Omani’s are a patient people who enjoy speaking Arabic with foreigners. Many haven’t interacted very much with Westerners, providing a more traditional experience and fun cross-cultural exchanges.
Joe’s studying did not go to waste. Upon returning to the Elliott School for the fall semester, he passed his Arabic exit examination for the M.A. in Middle East Studies! Congratulations Joe!
Unfortunately, Joe’s second half of the summer did not go as planned. Due to budget concerns the SETF project was unable to be implemented. However, Joe and the rest of the team plan to continue to search for funding partners and hope to implement the program as soon as possible.
We wish you the best of luck Joe!
The Elliott School’s International Affairs Review (IAR), a student-run publication, provides an engaging online forum for various topics in global affairs. Students have the opportunity to share perspectives on critical issues in short, op-ed style articles released weekly.
Published works cover regional developments like, “The risk of French military involvement in North Africa,” while book reviews spotlight suggested readings on a range of topics in international affairs.
Students may also contribute long-form academic articles, in the IAR’s biannual, peer-reviewed print journal. Now celebrating its 22nd year in print and 7th year on the web, the IAR provides graduate students from the world’s top international affairs schools a platform for unique policy discourse.
While anyone can submit their work, Elliott School students have the opportunity to serve on the editorial and writing staff, shaping the vision of the academic journal.
For more information visit: http://www.iar-gwu.org/
Every year we host on-campus open houses for prospective students. We are excited to announce the dates for this year’s events. Attendees will hear from faculty and staff about Elliott School graduate programs, study abroad opportunities, and career development. They will also have an opportunity to speak with current students and alumni of the Elliott School.
You are cordially invited to attend one of our Open House events for prospective students.
Please click on one of the dates below to R.S.V.P.
Thursday, October 10, 2013
6:00-8:00 p.m. EDT (Online and in-person)
For the first time, this open house will be webcast live so that anyone around the world can learn more about graduate degrees from GW’s Elliott School of International Affairs. Using the Livestream chat feature, Twitter (@elliottschoolgw), or Facebook, you can submit your questions and participate no matter where you are.
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
6:00-8:00 p.m. EDT (In-person only)
Information on visiting the school, as well as other recruiting events can be found on our website.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our office at
firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-994-7050.
We look forward to meeting you!
The Office of Graduate Admissions is frequently asked about students working and taking classes. While we can talk about working and attending the Elliott School, why not hear it from two students who are working and enrolled in the M.A. in International Development Studies? Check out the post below from the Organization of International Development blog.
As you can easily see through our previous Summer Series posts, Elliott School students travel around the world during the summer months. Incoming students are no different. Shirley Hsieh is an incoming M.A. student in the International Trade and Investment Policy program. Shirley recently graduated from the Elliott School with her B.A. and is spending part of the summer in Taiwan. Shirley received one of the many grants coordinated or advertised by the Sigur Center for Asian Studies.
The post below was originally submitted to Asia on E Street, a blog overseen by the Sigur Center, featuring student experiences, research, and other relevant information. It was published on June 26, 2013.
Shirley in Taiwan
During my first 2 weeks in Taipei studying at National Taiwan Normal University, I find myself mainly commuting around the city with Taipei’s Mass Rapid Transit System or simply known as ‘MRT’. The MRT system is a cheap, convenient and efficient way of transportation throughout Taipei and New Taipei city. It is similar to DC’s metro system (albeit cleaner and more frequent trips) consisting of 97 stations and 70 miles of track. The MRT is my main mode of transportation to and fro classes, city explorations and safely back home.
Another significant attribute of Taipei’s MRT is the use of each station space and passageway to support the works of local artists and the city’s creative aesthetics. In many busy stations, art works are exhibited within the station’s infrastructure to educate and aesthetically please commuters and travelers alike.
My first stop takes me to Zhongxiao Fuxing station. Two art exhibitions are displayed on either sides of the station’s passageway with one exhibition on traditional Chinese ink painting and the other mirroring a gospel oil painting exhibition by a local, deaf artist. These two art exhibitions juxtapose each other in many ways— the traditional technique of calligraphy against the Western oil painting technique – capturing both the traditional and modern spirit of this city.
My second MRT art exhibition stop is at the Nangang station which features the works of Taiwanese illustrator, Jimmy Liao. Liao’s work comes from his best-selling illustrated book, “The Subway” with six of his pieces incorporated into the station’s entrance, exits of escalators, passageways and on platform walls. The exhibition portrays former industries in Nangang and takes the audience on a nostalgic journey either to a childlike fantasy or back to their childhood memories of living in the local community.
Not only does Taipei’s MRT system provide a convenient and efficient mode of transportation to take me to my Chinese class and safely back home, but the use of these public spaces to support the works of local artists is creatively ingenious. I will continue riding the MRT and exploring this beautiful city through my linguistic journey through Taiwan.
Shirley Hsieh, M.A. International Trade and Investment Policy 2015,
Sigur Center 2013 Chinese Language Fellow,
National Taiwan Normal University, Taiwan.
We checked in with Alba to see how her position with Mercy Corps was going and she was excited to share her experiences on the ground!
This position has not only met, but in many ways exceeded all of my initial assumptions. I did not truly realize the extent to which I would interact with solar and fuel efficient stove retailers until my research started taking shape. The component of building relationships with local retailers and taking the time to listen and understand not only their challenges, but also their perspectives and views on how they can overcome these challenges, has been extremely rewarding and an all-around great learning experience.
Alba has been able to apply many aspects of her Elliott School education on the ground, but she shared one of the most beneficial uses of her classroom knowledge:
One of the most significant components that I have continuously applied throughout this research is the role of a development professional as a facilitator who works alongside existing actors to find sustainable solutions that can continue long after a donor’s/organization’s departure. In my engagement with retailers and energy company partners, I have strived to work with this role in mind and have also ensured that my overall research methodology is aligned accordingly.
Not everything is simple for Alba. She has had to overcome many challenges when performing her research and shared that
One of most significant challenges I have faced has been that of obtaining the full cooperation of energy company partners in extending different financing schemes to retailers. These financing schemes not only have the potential to increase the companies’ retailer base, but on a larger scale, could help us identify emerging wholesalers that can improve the cost effectiveness of doing business in the Acholi sub-region for energy companies. Attitudes surrounding this issue are slowly changing, especially as our research has collected preliminary data which shows that there is great merit in adopting novel sales offer to increase uptake of clean energy products; however, this continues to be a work in progress.
Not only is Alba using what she has already learned in her first year at the Elliott School, but she is also looking towards the future.
I definitely believe that I am forming relationships and networks that will help in my future studies/employment. Work in the field has introduced me to a number of actors, including actors outside of Mercy Corps, who are working as partners or visit the region to conduct research. Beyond the acquaintances, I have also been exposed to potential research topics that I may want to explore during the final year of my Master’s program.
Alba will continue to collect her data and compile her final report and recommendations for Mercy Corps by the end of the summer.
We wish you the best on completing your project Alba!
We recently checked in with Alejandro who is working with the International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC) in Africa. Alejandro was originally planning to spend the summer in South Africa, but due to a last-minute change, he is actually spending it in Nairobi, Kenya. He explained that his “assignments have mainly involved research regarding bilateral donor operations with the 49 Red Cross/Red Crescent National Societies in Sub-Saharan Africa…it has been a great learning experience to understand the intricate workings of such a diverse entity as the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.”
Alejandro is bringing what he has learned in the classroom to the field of international development. He explained:
“Eastern Africa has one of the greatest concentrations of international humanitarian and development actors in the world. Understanding the scope of the work of these organizations, the way they relate, and the international policy frameworks that guide many of their operations has been of great value. But at a more day to day level, there are certain skills derived from my studies, which have proven to be extremely valuable. These include many of the research and technical writing skills, as well as the range of activities in the project and program management cycle. One particular skill that has come in very handy has been SPSS knowledge gained from my quantitative research methods class last semester, which has allowed me to assist in data analysis processes of field surveys coming from refugee camp operations in the region.”
He has even formed an extensive network of development professionals in and outside of the IFRC.
“I believe this has been one of the most important and valuable aspects of being here. It’s very different to attempt to file endless applications for field positions, rather than actually being here and creating a professional network that can facilitate this process. In my time here I have had the chance to meet with multiple organizations for informational interviews, which have proven to be very valuable for a possible opportunity here after finishing my degree. Also, I have been able to target multiple potential clients for our Capstone project.”
Alejandro is hoping to spend the rest of the summer finishing his initial assignment. However, he is also working on being assigned to upcoming field missions. This opportunity will allow him to “learn more about on-the-ground implementation” of IFRC’s numerous programs.
We will be sure to check in with Alejandro again once the fall semester begins!
Last week we featured Julia Collins, a rising second year student in the Master of Arts in International Affairs program. Julia recently wrote a guest blog for anthropologyworks, a project of the Culture in Global Affairs research and policy program at the Elliott School of International Affairs. Check it out below!
Guest post by Julia Collins
The pounding rain muffles the sounds coming from the neighboring construction site. It is the rainy season in Southeast Asia and development season in Myanmar. With Myanmar’s recent debut on the global scene, it is the place to be for members of the development community.
In a recent edition of the Bangkok Post, Myanmar was mentioned more than three times in the business section alone. The articles reported on Japanese investment, Thai cement factories, and Norwegian sustainable tourism in Myanmar. Aid workers, foreign investors, economists, human rights activists, education specialists, you name it, everyone has caught Myanmar-fever.
The international spotlight is firmly fixed on this resource-rich, relatively untouched Southeast Asian country.
I intern at an independent policy research organization dedicated to the economic and social transformation of Myanmar. Led by Burmese economists, the think-tank recommends policies related to economic reform, poverty-reduction, and good governance. Professor Christina Fink, was instrumental in helping me find my internship. Her assistance along with the generosity of the Freeman Foundation Fellowship, enabled interning to become a reality, and for that I am deeply grateful.
I arrived in early June and am one of seven interns — four are also master’s candidates studying at Columbia’s SIPA, one is a law student from Yale and one a Burmese-American from Michigan State. We are fortunate to work alongside incredibly hardworking and intelligent Burmese research assistants, former political exiles, professors as well as a few foreign economists and lawyers. We often have internal trainings ranging from tax reform in Myanmar to media laws and hate speech to Myanmar’s role in the WTO to inform our research and endow us with a more comprehensive understanding of Myanmar’s reform process.
My work varies every day. Here is a vignette from one day. I am sitting with about 100 others, participating in a workshop in Yangon on the Future of Agriculture in Myanmar. USAID officials, local farmers, Myanmar economists, and foreign academics, lob interesting suggestions around the room. Providing farmers with cell phones to enable better communication and the sharing of best practices is one such recommendation. Uniting the various agricultural ministries (such as fish, livestock, and forestry) under one ministry was another. We break for tea and I walk outside, welcoming the fresh post-rain air and the pungent scent of tropical fruit.
Formerly the capital of Myanmar, Yangon gives off the feeling of a drowsy teenager awaking from a long deep sleep — more than 50 years in this case. Locals and ex-pats alike frequently speak about the many changes of the past year.
One of the glaringly obvious examples of these changes is the surge in the number of taxis on the street. “Car kyat dae!” or “car crowded it is,” is one of the phrases I hear most often. It is used to exclaim, “So many cars!” A friend who had visited Yangon in 2011 and came back recently was in awe of 2013′s renovated, spotless airport and the prevalence of new cars ferrying passengers across the city.
Inside and outside Myanmar there is much discussion about “Too much, too soon” — the impact of the large flow of foreign investment and aid to a previously very isolated country. It is important to keep the dangers of international involvement in mind and proceed cautiously. The extent to which this is possible however, is limited — Myanmar is transitioning rapidly and shows no signs of slowing down.
As the transition train gains momentum, skeptics are encouraged to board to avoid getting left behind. One of the biggest skeptics of the government’s genuine commitment to democratize is the Kachin Independence Army. It is the last major armed ethnic group to sign a ceasefire with President Thein Sein’s quasi-civilian administration. Kachin ethnic leaders, as well other minority ethnic group leaders, have fertile ground for their skepticism after a long history of broken promises.
The Hindu, a regional news site, quoted a Chin ethnic leader: “In 1947, the Panglong Conference led to the creation of the Union of Burma, and that had promised us federalism with autonomy and right to secession. But they backed out. We again signed ceasefire agreements in the 90s, but they never gave us political rights.” With Burma blooming on the world stage, there is an increasing amount of political space for civil society and ethnic group involvement; the time is ripe for national reconciliation, but it won’t be easy. The key lies in building trust between the mostly-Burman government and the justifiably skeptical ethnic groups.
Fresh from a short term study abroad course, Memory, History and Conflict — Dealing with the Past in the Aftermath of Mass Violence in the former Yugoslavia, I often wonder about the responsibility to remember in Myanmar. Perhaps one opportunity for reconciliation and trust-building is addressing the contentious history of this Southeast Asian country.
One of my Burmese colleagues commented on the different ethnic groups’ memories of the past and the value of addressing controversial histories. To paraphrase, she said: “Maybe I was raised in Yangon and my perspective might be different from my ethnic friends who were raised in their states and regions. There are huge inequalities between us, but we blame them for what they did and do to us, and vice versa; it [reconciliation] is still not going forward.”
Zyi Bekerman and Michanlinos Zembylas offer a useful theory that rephrases this blame-game and multiple versions of history issue. They argue that memory is not a linear dilemma with two opposite poles of forgetting vs. remembering but rather, a widening of memory to include others.
In Myanmar, the time is ripe for dialogue between and across ethnic groups and the government, remembering the past, and attempting to understand history from multiple viewpoints. Reframing and widening of the idea of memory could assist Myanmar’s transition by dealing with the country’s past to move forward with a consoldiated national identity.
Julia Collins is a research/program assistant for the Women and Water, South and Central Asia Project at the Elliott School and a master’s candidate studying conflict resolution and security policy studies.
Her areas of interest include post-conflict reconstruction, memory politics and dealing with the past, and promoting good governance in transitional democracies, especially in Myanmar. She graduated from UCLA in 2009 with a B.A. in political science, and minors in environmental geography and German. Julia has worked on Guam, lived in Hungary, taught along the Thailand-Myanmar border at a political training school for Burmese democracy activists, advocated for refugees at a Californian refugee resettlement agency, and worked for an NGO in Myanmar on development issues.
For the third installment of our summer series, we asked Alba Topulli to describe her summer plans. Alba is a rising second year student in the M.A. in International Development Studies program. Similar to Joe, Alba was also awarded funding through GW’s Knowledge in Action Career Internship Fund.
This summer, Alba will be interning with Mercy Corps’ Economic and Market Development program in Uganda. She is “designing and running a research project which tests the viability of experimental variations in sales offers to incentivize and, ultimately increase, uptake of affordable clean energy products for both retailers and consumers.” Alba is hoping to “to gain a better perspective on the challenges that businesses face in Uganda…(and) to better understand how businesses in Uganda are working through the finance barriers to create sustainable and scalable enterprises.” She is looking forward to “building close relationships with Ugandan enterprises who will be participating in the research project as well as learning from the wonderful team at Mercy Corps,” as well as learning about the Ugandan culture.
We wish Alba the best of luck in her research and can’t wait to hear about her findings!
Christina Walrond, a second-year graduate student in the Elliott School’s International Science and Technology Policy (ISTP) program, has found a niche for herself in the nuclear security field.
“I bridge the gap between the scientific and [non-scientific] policy communities,” Christina explains.
“When I began working at the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) after college, they asked if I wanted to learn about the technical aspects of the nuclear field. I did not have a science background — my undergraduate degree was in political science — but I found that I was able to understand the science and become both scientifically literate and policy relevant.”
Christina’s work and research enables her to see both technical and policy concerns in the nuclear arena and involves assessing the technical aspects of centrifuge programs in Iran, Pakistan, and North Korea, as well as global stocks of fissile material. Her work has been referenced or cited in New York Review of Books, The Washington Quarterly, PBS Frontline, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Guardian, The Atlantic, The Economist, TIME Magazine, Newsweek, Foreign Policy, Reuters, and Associated Press.
While working at ISIS, she co-authored a December 2010 paper looking at the Stuxnet virus that attacked Iran’s nuclear facilities. This paper was referenced widely in the media, including in a front-page article in The New York Times.
“ISIS’s work on Stuxnet found that the malware likely led to the failure of approximately 1,000 centrifuges at Iran’s largest enrichment facility,” said Christina. “The report assessed that the highly sophisticated worm manipulated the rotor speed of the centrifuges to cause this damage.”
Christina’s research also leads her to believe that the greatest challenge in the post-Cold War nuclear world will be managing ambiguity inherent to the proliferation of the nuclear fuel cycle.
“Iran is a good example of this challenge,” Christina says. “The Iranians claim that their enrichment facilities are for civilian use. However, they could readily be used to make nuclear weapons components. This ambiguity changes the way you have to look at deterrence within the international community.”
Her nuanced work and in-depth study of nuclear security is what makes the Elliott School’s ISTP program ideal for Christina.
“Not only is the Elliott School second to none on nuclear technology course offerings, but the flexible curriculum allows me to take bench science courses that include nuclear-relevant chemistry and physics to complement the technical knowledge that I already have,” Christina said.
Along with many of our students, Joe Martin also has an exciting summer lined up. Joe is one of the select students who will receive funding through GW’s Knowledge in Action Career Internship Fund. The fund aims to “encourage GW students to pursue high-quality, necessarily unpaid internships that foster their career exploration and enhance their academic program, while reducing the financial challenges associated with unpaid internships.”
In his own words, Joe has an exciting and complex summer ahead of him. He will first complete a six-week Arabic program in Oman. Joe received a grant through GW’s Institute of Middle East Studies Language Grant Program to help fund this opportunity. At the conclusion of the language program, Joe will travel to the Turkish/Syrian border to execute an education program “aimed at reducing landmine and unexploded ordinance incidents and collecting information for future mine clearing operations” with the Syrian Emergency Task Force (SETF). Joe has been working with the organization since last summer “supporting SETF’s policy advocacy work with government agencies and the think tank community, (and) growing their social media footprint.” He helped develop the program he will be implementing during his spring semester internship.
His original connection with SETF was facilitated by a classmate in the M.A. in Middle East Studies program. Joe met with the hiring manager and was hired on the spot!
When discussing what he hopes to gain from this summer’s experience, Joe said, “I am most excited to be involved in a project that will save lives. We have worked hard to raise the profile of the landmine issue since I started in January and began receiving reports of civilian casualties from the mines intended to stop refugee flows…I’m also excited to interact with Syrian activists, militia members, and civic leaders. These connections will deepen my understanding of the Syrian conflict and provide key contacts for my capstone project on local government institutional development in rebel-controlled Syria.”
Finally, Joe is looking forward to getting to experience the situation on the ground. “I am looking forward to experiencing Turkey and the border area of Syria. I have interacted with Syrians in the U.S. as I have become increasingly involved with the coalition of Syrian Opposition groups in D.C., but I have not had the opportunity to travel to Syria or the Levant yet. The office that I will be working from is located in Hatay, Turkey where the majority of Syrian activists, international organizations, and refugee camps are located. Spending time in this environment will be an exciting and enriching experience on many different levels.”
We, of course, wish Joe safe travels and the best of luck in his endeavors! We cannot wait to hear updates from him throughout the summer. Be sure to check out our recent posts about other students’ summer plans!
With the end of May quickly approaching, summer plans are solidifying and our students are embarking on some exciting summer adventures. We hope to share some of their stories through this blog series.
The first installment of this series will highlight Alejandro Guzman, a rising second year student in the M.A. in the International Development Studies program.
Alejandro will be working with the Africa Zone office of the International Federation of the Red Cross in Johannesburg, South Africa. He secured the position by discussing it with the Director of the Federation’s Africa Zone and quickly finalized the internship opportunity.
Alejandro is most looking forward to “traveling, learning from practitioners in the field, putting some of my newly acquired skills and knowledge base to work, and most importantly, to experience the realities of many of the most complex development environments in the world.” He is also hoping to gain “hands-on work in the field” and build his network. He said, “I certainly hope to establish working relations with possible capstone clients, as well as potential future employers. “
This week, the Graduate Student Career Development (GSCD) Office released its latest set of employment data. Every year, GSCD surveys the most recent alumni six months after their graduation to collect information on where they are employed, how much they are earning, and. what types of experience they had before attending the Elliott School.
You can find the full survey results on our website, but below are some of the highlights (93% of graduating students responded to the survey).
90% of respondents were employed at the time of submission. An additional 4% were continuing their education in a variety of programs.
34% of graduates are now working in the non-profit sector; 31% in the private sector; and 35% in the public sector.
52% of those students in the private sector are working in consulting or government contracting positions.
You can also find data from the last five years of the survey on our website. We are incredibly proud of our alumni and the important work that they are doing all over the world!
Five Graduate Student Career Development Staff
The Elliott School Graduate Student Career Development team is a great resource for our current students and alumni. They are experts in career coaching, employer relations, and career advice.
The Graduate Student Career Development teams organizes events throughout the year bringing around one hundred employers to campus. Our students are able to access a growing network of alumni and other contacts in D.C. and around the world.
For the graduating class of 2011, 91% of graduated students were employed while 4% continued on to further education.research. Our students would not be as successful without the resources of the Graduate Student Career Development staff!
We recently asked Ronny Carlton, a current M.I.P.P. (our mid-career program) student, to explain why he chose the Elliott School, his program and what he has enjoyed so far. Read what he has to say!
What drew you to the Elliott School and the M.I.P.P. program?
I’d started working on Capitol Hill almost immediately after my undergrad in 1998. But after more than a decade as a legislative aide, it felt like the time was ripe to finally fulfill my crazy dream to get that grad degree in international affairs.
It really wasn’t hard to choose the Elliott School. If you look at the top international affairs graduate schools in the nation, D.C. is home to several. Like most prospective grad students, I took the time to meet with the Admissions offices for each in our fair city. The Elliott School was among the first I visited, and I immediately had the sense that it would be my top choice.
The admissions office was extremely welcoming and informative. I could not have been more impressed with their knowledge and ability to answer questions – even those I didn’t know to ask, the “unknown unknowns” so to speak. It was clear how proud they were of the school, and I, frankly, needed the “hand-holding” they provided to explain the particulars of the MIPP program and the admissions process.
I was also really attracted to the Elliott School’s course offerings. There are so many interesting classes one can take that it can sometimes be a challenge keeping within the number of credit hours available per semester!
The real deal-sealer for me was the “practitioner” aspect of the Elliott School faculty. It is incredible how many of my professors were full time employees at one of the agencies in the foreign policy sector. These folks really know their stuff because many of them live it day-in and day-out. I can’t imagine too many schools can lay claim to such an array of on-the-job talent.
Who has been your favorite professor so far?
I’m tempted to name either of the two I currently have classes with! Actually, Yvonne Captain, the M.I.P.P. director, was among the best professors I’ve had, and she has been an outstanding mentor. The M.I.P.P. Seminar which she led was fascinating. She brought in ambassadors, scientists, business professionals, and others who brought unique angles on U.S. foreign policy. It was a true eye-opener every week. If I could, I would take that class again in a heartbeat!
What advice do you have for enrolling students?
Get to know the expert at advisors at the Graduate Student Career Development Center (GSCDC). Meet with them early, and meet with them often! It is a fantastic resource, not only for learning about job openings but also discussing how to strengthen your resume and improve interview skills. It’s great stuff!
Where do you hope to be after graduating?
If all goes as planned, in just three months, I’ll receive my Master’s in International Policy & Practice from the Elliott School. It’s hard to believe that the finish line is so close! I couldn’t have hoped for a better experience.
Honestly, I don’t have a single place in mind. Right now, I’m pursuing a couple of fellowship opportunities (thanks to the Elliott School), and I’ll take the Foreign Service exam later this fall. Where I land is an open question, but I’m confident that the Elliott School has prepared me for whatever is next.
Thanks so much Ronny for your thoughts! We really appreciate it and wish you well in your future!