Just before everyone headed out of town, I asked our students, those graduating and those just completing their first year of studies, for advice they’d like to share with incoming students via the blog.  The idea came from a student who will join us in September.  He’s a friend of Peter’s and he supplied a list of the questions that keep him up at night.  I’m going to pull together the students’ responses today and continue in a few future blog posts.  First up — the question that, until recently, also kept our first-year students awake all night, which is:

Summer internships:  How are they arranged? When do students start moving on setting those up?  Did you receive formal support on the search from Fletcher, or just informal networking, for example with your professors or fellow students?

First-year MALD student Christine Martin said:  “I found my internship through an unusual route.  While applying through formal mechanisms, I also sent an email to a non-profit that was advertising for full-time employees in The Economist.  The organization, Twaweza, was exactly what I was looking for:  based in Tanzania, small, and committed to community-based development and engagement with the private sector.  In my email, I outlined two very specific areas that I could help them with, based on my experiences and interests, and my proposal was accepted.  The Office of Career Services and my professors at Fletcher taught me how valuable and effective it can be to take initiative and create your own position.”

MALD student Filipa Azevedo Jorge, who just started at Fletcher in January 2009, echoed Christine’s point:  ” I believe Career Services does a great job in posting available internships and coaching students on how to apply.  However, students need to be proactive.”

Erika Tabacniks (who also started in January 2009) wrote in that:  “As a Januarian, things move quite fast.  In your first week of school you are already told to start looking for internships. Pressure is on.  I actually spent the first six weeks of school doing research on websites, going through the postings on our Office of Career Services website, writing cover letters and sending resumes.  Don’t do that.  Well, do that, but don’t forget about your classes.  Doing the readings and keeping up with them is more important.  That said, be alert.  Some deadlines come by really fast.  You will also learn how to write a cover letter and a resume – it might seem useless at first, but this is quite helpful.

Fletcher helps, but most of the work is accomplished through your own connections.  Talk to friends, professors, friends of friends.  Try different ways of reaching the organization you want to work at.  If you don’t know where you want to work … well, they know what they are looking for.  Things happen when they are supposed to.  Be patient.  Oh, and Januarians get to do two internships as we are in school for two summers.”

Stay tuned for future installments of Advice from the Students!


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