#ElliottProud: Briana Suarez

Blog_ #EP Suarez

Briana Suarez graduated from the Elliott School with a degree in Security Policy Studies in 2018, concentrating on Conflict Resolution and Intelligence. Building on her undergraduate degree in International Relations from the State University of New York, New Paltz, the SPS program allowed her to combine her interests in humanitarian aid and war studies, bridging her understanding of both and their relevance during warfare. Briana worked at GW in different departments and previously interned with Doctors Without Borders (MSF) prior to her graduate studies.

Describe your current position and what are your primary responsibilities?

I am the International Admissions and Operations Manager at the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs (APSIA). I am responsible for connecting prospective students with leading graduate schools in international affairs and public policy, such as the Elliott School, and providing them with the resources and opportunities to apply, afford, and achieve a career in this field. This includes webinars on applying to graduate schools, panels, info sessions, fairs, and so forth. Additionally, I work with these graduate schools to make them better and help them in continuing to make their students positive agents of change. 

What professional organization, websites, or Elliott School courses, would you recommend for students interested in your field, and why?

One of the most critical courses I took during my time at Elliott was the “Writing for Policymakers,” taught by the distinguished Professor Chris Kojm. The amount of writing, editing, and restructuring done in that short period made me a more critical and concise writer. Policymakers and professionals do not want to read term papers or reports about these topics nor do they have the time. And yet, you are often tasked with briefing and teaching them the context behind these topics in 2 pages or less to help them make a well-informed decision. If you are unable to convey your argument and points in a concise manner, no amount of passion or conviction can help you succeed. I eagerly recommend this course, especially if taught by Professor Kojm.

What part of your career do you find most challenging and how do you stay motivated?

I find the most challenging part to be getting the word out about all of the amazing opportunities available for students. There are so many resources at the disposal of prospective and current graduate students from how to pay for graduate school all the way up to how to network and get a job in your respective field. I stay motivated by reminding myself of the important work I am doing and remembering that having someone like myself to guide students during their graduate school application and process makes the world of a difference. Finally, I remind myself that I want to see the international affairs field more representative of individuals like myself. My work helps in changing the landscape and face of the field to include more diverse voices and perspectives; to include more underrepresented individuals, be it women, minorities, those with disabilities, and so forth. That keeps me going when I feel like the work is overwhelming.

If you could throw a parade of any caliber, what type of parade would it be?

A parade that celebrates wine, cheese, and bacon with free samples from different vendors. Lots of confetti, giveaways, and the aforementioned things.

The #ElliottProud series highlights Elliott School MA alumni and seeks to answer common questions posed by prospective, current, and incoming students. The views expressed by alumni profiled do not necessarily represent those of organizations they work for, are affiliated with, or the Elliott School of International Affairs. For more information or to submit questions, e-mail esiagrad@gwu.edu.

#WeAreElliott: Joe Florino

Blog_ #WAE Florino

Joe Florino is in his second year of my MA program in Security Policy Studies. He is currently interning with the State Department, and have interned at two think tanks earlier this year: Hudson Institute here in Washington DC and Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi, India. Before joining GWU, Joe received his BA in Criminal Justice with a minor in International Studies from Fairleigh Dickinson University and interned with ATF in New Jersey.

Where do you currently work, intern or volunteer, and how does it fit in with your career goals?

I currently intern with the State Department, and this fits with my career goals because I am considering both civil service and Foreign Service. I am looking into applying soon for the FSOE and looking into postings on USA Jobs, and this has given me an opportunity to see the State Department first hand and learn about the various opportunities from the people I work with.

What has been your most challenging work, intern or volunteer experience since starting your program at the Elliott School and how did you overcome it?

The most challenging aspect of my internship is the amount of work and time I dedicate coupled with full-time graduate school. While this is relatively manageable, it is more intense this semester due to capstone and its associated work. The way I have overcome this problem is by working with my supervisor to coordinate days that I might have to miss work in order to meet with clients or professors for the capstone.

What piece of advice would you have given yourself when you started your program now that you’ve completed your first year?

Go to campus besides classes! There is always an event or something occurring on campus, and as a graduate student I often do not show up until night time. However, if you have the chance try getting to campus to explore and enjoy the various activities and events that happen weekly especially while the weather is still nice.

If you had to watch only 3 movies for the rest of your life, what would they be?   

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly; Inception; Interstellar.

The #WeAreElliott series highlights current Elliott School graduate students and seeks to answer common questions posed by prospective, current, and incoming students. The views expressed by students profiled do not necessarily represent those of organizations they work for, are affiliated with, or the Elliott School of International Affairs. For more information or to submit questions, e-mail esiagrad@gwu.edu.

 

#ElliottProud: Jacob Hart

Blog_ #EP HartJacob Hart is a research assistant with the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. He received his MA in European and Eurasian Studies at GW’s Elliott School of International Affairs and his BA from the University of Kentucky. Before joining NATO PA, he spent a year in the Senate as a Legislative Correspondent and completed internships on Capitol Hill as well as with the Center for European Policy Analysis.  

Describe your current position and what are your primary responsibilities?

Currently, I am serving as a research assistant with the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Brussels. My main responsibility is assisting the committee directors in research, writing, and editing for reports for our annual plenary session, this year in Halifax, Canada. Beyond working on the reports for the annual session I have been able to compose committee resolutions, and speeches for different parliamentarians from across the Alliance as well as drafting memos on research for future reports. Outside of work for the annual session, I create background documents for the committee and presidential visits.

What part of your experience at the Elliott School best prepared you for your current position? (Specific classes, student orgs, career development office, etc.)

The Elliott School Graduate Student Services (GSS) office was instrumental in my receiving this opportunity. My capstone for the EES program was crucial in developing the writing abilities that I use every day in working on reports to drafting memos. Additionally, I would not have received this opportunity without the Elliott School’s Career Center. Tara Sonenshine has become a mentor to me. She first told me about the Research Assistant Program as well as connected me with a fellow Elliott School Alum, who helped me to prepare for the interview and program.

How does what you’re doing now compare to what you thought you would be doing when you first started your program at the Elliott School

The NATO PA has far exceeded my expectations for what I would be doing following graduation. Before coming to The Elliott School I had a very narrow view of international affairs career opportunity, however, learning about the diverse world of prospects within the international affairs world has really opened me up to everything from think tanks to the Hill and even my current posting with a Multinational Organization in Brussels.

How do you feel about pineapple on pizza?

Personally, I’m a big fan of pineapple on pizza. We used to eat it a lot growing up, so it is quite normal for me. It wasn’t until later in life that I learned some people found this to be a bizarre pizza topping.

The #ElliottProud series highlights Elliott School MA alumni and seeks to answer common questions posed by prospective, current, and incoming students. The views expressed by alumni profiled do not necessarily represent those of organizations they work for, are affiliated with, or the Elliott School of International Affairs. For more information or to submit questions, e-mail esiagrad@gwu.edu.

 

#WeAreElliott: Cristina Guevara

Blog_ #WAE Guevara

Cristina Guevara is a second-year graduate student at the Elliott School of International Affairs, pursuing a Master of Arts in Global Communication with a concentration in International Development. She is interested in human rights and sustainable development, with a particular focus on Latin America. Last spring, she worked at George Washington University’s Institute for Corporate Responsibility, researching best practices and new technologies in sustainable development. This past summer, she was a Latin America Intern at Freedom House.

Where do you currently work, intern or volunteer, and how does it fit in with your career goals?

I just finished an internship at Freedom House, with the Latin America and the Caribbean Department. As a Panamanian student in the Master of Arts in Global Communication, my career ambitions lie within the fields of human rights and democracy in Latin America. My internship at Freedom House completely enhanced my educational experience at the Elliott School because I was able to immerse myself in some of the most pressing issues in Latin America including the rise of populism, government repression, and human rights violations, in countries such as Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Colombia, and Brazil.

What strategies have proven most helpful in making the most of your time at the Elliott School?

A highlight for me has been attending the many events hosted at the Elliott School, where I have been able to network with a number of experts in the field of policymaking who have given me great professional advice. I also recommend making appointments with the wonderful staff at the Office of Graduate Student Services, they have helped me navigate both my academic and professional life.

What advice do you have for first-year students who are starting their internship or work experience search?

Take advantage of all of the resources available to graduate students, they have proven extremely helpful to me. Some of these include the International Services Office (ISO), the Office of Graduate Student Services (GSS), as well as Handshake, a career platform that allows you to discover jobs and/or internships in your field.

What 3 items would you take to a desert island other than food or water?

A soccer ball, my mom, and a hammock.

The #WeAreElliott series highlights current Elliott School graduate students and seeks to answer common questions posed by prospective, current, and incoming students. The views expressed by students profiled do not necessarily represent those of organizations they work for, are affiliated with, or the Elliott School of International Affairs. For more information or to submit questions, e-mail esiagrad@gwu.edu.

Elliott School Graduate Open House 2018

Twitter_ Open House 2018-4

The Elliott School’s Institute for African Studies, spearheaded by Dean Reuben Brigety, is led by CSIS’s Jennifer Cooke and features experts like Ambassador Liberata Mulamula and Dr. Yolande Bouka. Get an in-depth look at this region with a degree from the Elliott School and join us for this year’s Graduate Open House on November 13!

#ElliottProud: Maria Dolores Vallenilla

Blog_ #EP Vallenilla

Maria Dolores Vallenilla is a Venezuelan lawyer with over 8 years of professional experience and a master’s degree in International Development Studies from the Elliott School of International Affairs. She is currently working at the Inter-American Development Bank to advance gender equality in the mining, oil and gas sector in Latin American and the Caribbean.

Describe your current position and what are your primary responsibilities?

Currently working at the Inter-American Development Bank as a consultant in the Extractive Sector Initiative and managing technical assistance to include a gender equality approach in mining, oil and gas policy. The policies and programs we are looking to implement do not only in integrating more women in the sector through formal direct and indirect employment opportunities but also thinking through policies and interventions that mitigate risks and maximize benefits to women in host communities that tend to experience the short-end of these investments when compared to men.

What was your experience with the job search post-graduation? Can you provide any wisdom for students who will start their job search?

Hard. As an international student with visa restrictions, I concentrated on International Organizations as soon as I started my master’s program. After working in part-time internships through summer and my 2nd year, I started applying for jobs early in 2016. Fortunately, I started working at the IDB 2 months after graduation and I believe that the IDS program was key to my career change and continues to be key in my career advancement.

Start early, develop a smart networking strategy, patience and perseverance are key for any DC job search.

What do you wish other people knew about your organization?

Working in an International Development Bank does have its perks, even after the short-contract to short-contract phase that can sometimes be exhausting. I have had the possibility to personally contribute by overseeing consultants who are devising policy; seeing that policy finally enacted is amazing.

 If you could be any animal, what would you be?

In this HEAT? A tortoise, so I can easily go into the water and hide under my shell during the summer months in DC.

The #ElliottProud series highlights Elliott School MA alumni and seeks to answer common questions posed by prospective, current, and incoming students. The views expressed by alumni profiled do not necessarily represent those of organizations they work for, are affiliated with, or the Elliott School of International Affairs. For more information or to submit questions, e-mail esiagrad@gwu.edu.

#WeAreElliott: Rahul Bhatia

Blog_ #WAE Bhatia

Rahul Bhatia is a second-year master’s candidate in the Security Studies Program with concentrations in Transnational Security and Asian Studies. His interests lie in the South Asian region and Environmental Security, specifically water-related conflicts. He is currently an intern with the Asia Program at the Woodrow Wilson Center. Rahul is an international student and was born and raised in India. He holds a B.A. in International Studies with a minor in Environmental Sciences from FLAME University, Pune, India. He has previously worked with a foreign policy think tank and a media firm in New Delhi.

When did you realize you wanted an international career and what inspired you to select your program/concentration at the Elliott School?

 Ever since I was a young boy, political history especially that of wars, monarchs, and revolutions has captured my imagination. Over the years my passion for political history grew stronger, but it was my exposure to Model United Nations in high school which made me realize that a career in international affairs was my calling. I went on to major in International Studies at the undergraduate level and inadvertently ended up focusing on security issues. I wrote my undergraduate thesis on United States foreign policy and Islamist Terror in Iraq and Afghanistan, and by the time I submitted it, I knew that I wanted to pursue the Security Policy Studies Program at the Elliott School.

What has been your most rewarding academic experience (i.e., in-class, with an institute/office, at an Elliott sponsored on/off-campus event) at the Elliott School?

 I can’t pinpoint a specific experience, but the time I have spent at the Elliott School has been very rewarding. I have found most my classes to be engaging and it has been a pleasure listening to some of the professors teach. I have only interned in Washington D.C. for a short period, but I can already see workplace applications of what is being taught at school. Apart from this, I really enjoy events organized by the Sigur Center for Asia Studies and the Institute for Middle East Studies – I feel they are intellectually enriching experiences.

What advice do you have for prospective students who are on the fence about applying to a graduate program at the Elliott school?

 The Elliott School is located in the heart of Washington D.C. – this translates to exposure to the field of international affairs, as well as, access to professional opportunities. It is a school of great repute and attracts some of the most knowledgeable and experienced professors. The graduate programs at the Elliott School are well structured and practical. Further, the  Office of Graduate Student Services is extremely helpful in terms of providing both academic and career guidance. Overall, as an international student, I have always felt welcome at the Elliott School.

The #WeAreElliott series highlights current Elliott School graduate students and seeks to answer common questions posed by prospective, current, and incoming students. The views expressed by students profiled do not necessarily represent those of organizations they work for, are affiliated with, or the Elliott School of International Affairs. For more information or to submit questions, e-mail esiagrad@gwu.edu.