My second-year student bloggers are busy people.  We last heard from Mirza in the summer, when he reported on his internship.  Today’s post will give readers a very good sense of why this is the first time we’re hearing from him since classes began this semester.

MirzaAfter some months of silence, I am happy to be writing again for the Admissions Blog.  My silence has been rooted in several factors: 1) Dealing with a busy academic schedule (nothing new at Fletcher); 2) Balancing a couple of paid job positions with my academic schedule; and 3) Attempting to be a responsible second-year student and remain fully engaged in the Fletcher community.  The first two months of my second year indeed proved to be quite chaotic, but I would describe this as controlled and happy chaos.  For me at least, the self-awareness that I am successfully managing my own Fletcher chaos seems to be the biggest difference between the two years thus far.

One striking change that I’m noticing as a second-year student is that I feel significantly more grounded as a member of the Fletcher community than I did last year.  I have come to understand more clearly who I am at Fletcher; what Fletcher and the people here can offer me and what I can offer them; when to say yes and when to say no to various events and social activities; how to assess my personal opportunity costs (chatting with a friend in the Hall of Flags for 15 minutes or spending those 15 minutes answering emails — the former increasingly taking precedence over the latter); and how to take advantage of this special time in my life to the fullest extent possible.  Having spent the summer back in the working world, this last point has been especially resonant.

This is not to say that the first year at Fletcher is less meaningful, but simply that by the time the second year rolls around, one is likely to have gained a better understanding of the nuts and bolts of this rich community.  One will also have figured out how to perform most effectively and efficiently in the general chaos that is graduate school.  For me, this meant becoming more strategic with my time.  While I have four paid jobs this semester, they each play an important role in enhancing my résumé with relevant skills.  A good amount of my work responsibilities have also directly complemented my academic coursework, thus bringing my overall learning into a cohesive whole.  For example, as an Academic Technology Fellow at Tufts University’s Educational and Scholarly Technology Services, I have been exposed to numerous web-based learning platforms and tools that have nicely complemented my coursework in a Harvard Education School course on education and technology.  My role as Business Director for The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs, on the other hand, has provided me with an opportunity to put into practice some of the skills acquired in my marketing and entrepreneurship courses at Fletcher.  Together, these connected experiences will allow me to tell a rounded story in my cover letter and résumé when it is time to jump into the post-Fletcher job hunt.

I have also really embraced what most Fletcher students would identify as the essential component of the Fletcher experience: our lively and passionate community.  So, besides academic and work obligations, I have tried to stay very active in Fletcher’s social life.  Whether supporting the Los Fletcheros on Thursday nights at Johnny D’s in Davis Square, attending events organized by the many Fletcher student groups (recent highlight: a lecture titled “Do Human Rights Matter?”), driving to Cape Cod with my classmates for Prof. Hess’s annual barbeque picnic, engaging in (somewhat) heated debates on the Social List, group-biking from Fletcher to Harvard, or offering to be a second-year buddy to a first-year student, I have become truly connected to and inspired by the multifaceted world of Fletcher.  Many of the people I have met here over the last year will undoubtedly play an important role in my post-graduation life, and these tight-knit social networks — strengthened through shared experiences in and outside of classroom — are what make Fletcher such a unique place.  Understanding how to balance this cornerstone of the Fletcher experience with my academic, work, and personal responsibilities has been an important accomplishment for me in my second year of graduate school, and has accordingly led to the aforementioned comfort of a “controlled and happy chaos.”

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