Posts by: Jessica Daniels

Diane and I first met when she visited Fletcher about two years ago, and I conducted her evaluative interview.  Since her arrival at Fletcher in September 2013, representing the country of Australia, she and I have worked on several different projects together.  Her first post for her second year describes the perspective she brings after having completed a year at Fletcher.  

Broinshtein Diane 2Throughout my summer abroad, during which I interned in Northern Ghana, traveled to South Africa, visited home (Australia) twice, and finally made it back to Boston, I had time to reflect on the whirlwind that was my first year at Fletcher.  The academic year is extremely busy; long days are filled with classes, group assignments, individual study, talks by special guests, club meetings, and jobs.  I decided that this year there were some lessons I could take from last year and implement into my schedule.

Knowing what to say “yes” and “no” to is the first big lesson.  A student’s time at Fletcher is filled with amazing opportunities; however, the volume of these opportunities can be overwhelming.  I have learned it’s important to have one or two areas on which to focus my attention outside of classes.  For me, I enjoy being part of admissions activities, because they so heavily influenced my decision to attend Fletcher, and I have been active with the Admissions Office throughout the year.  The other area I am focused on is my Research Assistant position with the Feinstein Center.  This role provides an opportunity to build skills in an area in which I want to work upon graduation.  Fletcher also has so many wonderful social events, that I enjoy attending, such as the amazing Los Fletcheros (Fletcher’s resident cover band), and the cultural nights.  And I chose to take 4.5 classes this semester, so my weekly schedule is fairly full just attending classes and keeping up with assignments.

Because the schedule at Fletcher is so busy, this year I have committed to taking at least one day off a week and getting outside.  Whether it is kayaking on the Charles River, visiting local towns, hiking, a quick trip to New York, or being a tourist in Boston, it’s important to take time to leave the library and enjoy the sunshine while it lasts.  Fletcher, being located at Tufts University, also provides access to some excellent sports facilities; I personally enjoy going to the gym each morning, or playing squash with other students and staff from Fletcher.  Many students run with the Marathon team, or play tennis on the courts outside Fletcher, swim at the pool, or take advantage of the great facilities some other way.

One of the biggest decisions I made this year was to be more proactive in asking for help.  Asking for help at Fletcher is not difficult, whether it be booking a timeslot with the writing tutors, or seeing a professor during office hours.  The professors at Fletcher are extremely welcoming, and are keen to help students grasp the content they teach, happily taking time outside of the assigned office hours to sit with students and go over key concepts or help them understand an assignment.

These are just some of the lessons I learned last year and have implemented into my second year at Fletcher.  I am sure there will be many more lessons learned by the time graduation rolls around in May.

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With apologies for not revving up earlier in the semester, I’m happy to say that the Admissions Blog’s student writers are back in action.  We have three returning bloggers — Liam (MALD), Diane (MALD), and Mark (MIB).  Three first-year students — the “A Team” of Ali (MIB), Aditi (MALD), and Alex (MIB) — will soon be introducing themselves.

I’ve been fortunate that students frequently offer to write a post for the blog (as Aditi and Miranda did last week), and I sometimes give a new home to something they’ve written for a different medium (as I did with Colin’s Fletcher Fútbol report).  For the six bloggers who write over the continuum of the two years they spend at Fletcher, their posts should go beyond a single moment and leave readers with a sense of their evolution and breadth of interests over time.

Tomorrow, we’ll start by bringing back one of our returnees, Diane, who will talk about the perspective she brings to her second year.

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So here’s what I love about Fletcher students.  They are very committed to their studies and careers.  They offer support to undergraduates and they burst into the community and instantly create an organization and resource for students interested in technology.  But they are also really fun people, and a frequent autumn rallying point is the Fletcher Fútbol team.  Men and women with soccer/fútbol experience jump into their cleats and unite to compete with the teams from other area graduate schools.

When the team is successful, somehow the news even works its way to the staff.  Or sometimes it isn’t a mystery how we know.  Earlier this week, Colin, a first-year student, put his inner tabloid sportswriter to work with this Social List report on a match against Harvard Law School.

Chemistry may not be a course offered at Fletcher, but the members of Fletcher Fútbol clearly know a little something about it.  Coming off a disappointing loss in front of a home crowd to the business suits of Babson College last week, it would have been understandable for Fletcher Fútbol to be plagued with fears about their ability win a game, let alone score more than one goal in a contest.  However, buoyed by the enthusiasm that only a graduate school sports rivalry can create, and the camaraderie that can only be developed through shared struggle, they threw off the yoke of their previous shortcomings and played with a level of intensity that will surely leave the soccer gods pleased for weeks to come.

Upon arriving at the field, Fletcher Fútbol found the parking lot packed to capacity (somehow the stands were suspiciously empty though?) and intuitively sensed the magnitude of the game about to be played.  The chance had finally come to avenge the memories of broken noses that had haunted them since the 2013 season.  Only limited revenge would be possible though; certain members of the HLS team were supposedly unable to secure a legal injunction to protect themselves from the diplomatic wrath of Fletcher and thus they were only able to field 10 players for the game.

With the autumn air crisp and the stadium lights bright in the black night, it felt like all of Boston was watching as the game kicked off a little after 7pm.  From the start, Fletcher controlled the play in all areas of the field, moving the ball around at will.  But the team didn’t close on any of the opportunities they were able to create until Kiely unleashed a vicious volley from inside the eighteen that found the back of the net like a fish actively trying to be caught.  Unlike previous games though, this is not where the scoring would stop for Fletcher.  Albert and David would both score before the halftime whistle would blow.

In an attempt to reverse their fortune, HLS hoped to effectively counter Fletcher’s multi-pronged attack with a goaltending switch coming out of halftime.  It was all for naught though.  Minutes into the second half, Liam made a ballerina-esque run into the box and scored a goal, emphatically sending the message that the onslaught was not over yet.  Two additional goals followed.

At the end of the night, the imaginary scoreboard read 6-0 in favor of the diplomats from Fletcher.

And there you have it.  Sports is a natural focus for community building, and soccer/fútbol crosses international boundaries.  More than many Fletcher student activities, Fletcher Fútbol pulls the community together, whether on the field or on the sidelines.

Although Fletcher is its own unit of Tufts University, it can also be seen as the graduate program for the University’s International Relations department.  IR is one of the most commonly chosen majors for Tufts undergraduates and, because the major involves a relatively large number of requirements, the undergrad IR folks are pretty serious people.

Despite the occasional (o.k., annual) griping over undergraduates in Ginn Library, Fletcher students are genuinely supportive of their younger peers.  Here are two examples.

Last night, the Ralph Bunche Society (RBS) at Fletcher invited undergrads to learn about their experiences in the IR field.  RBS seeks to shine a light on the contributions that minorities and people of color have made in the field of international relations, and also to encourage students of color to consider educational and career opportunities in international affairs, which means this event was tied directly tied to the RBS mission.  The RBS Facebook page provides some nice descriptions of the presenters, who sought through their comments to pave the way for the undergraduates to follow in their footsteps.

On an ongoing basis, Fletcher students also guide undergraduates via the “Fletcher Mentors” program.  The program matches IR majors with Fletcher students who share similar academic or career objectives, in order to help the undergraduates develop their interests.  They might have one-on-one meetings, or attend group networking events, and there is an online discussion group.

Of course, having a robust undergraduate IR program also opens opportunities for Fletcher students to work as teaching or research assistants, and to attend relevant events sponsored by other units of the University.

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Recently two new (first-year) MALD students, Aditi Patel and Miranda Bogen, contacted me to ask if they might write about their interest in technology fields and their decision to attend Fletcher.  Today I’m sharing their great introduction to the field at Fletcher.  I should note briefly that while Aditi and Miranda are writing about their experience as MALD students, the opportunity to build in technology content is available to all students, especially those in the MIB and PhD programs.

We came to Fletcher because it is one of the leading schools of international affairs — but we also chose Fletcher because of its forward-thinking attitude toward technology, and its willingness to adapt its curriculum and resources to a changing world.

For us, it was critical to find a school that recognized the importance of technology in international affairs; from policy decision making, to crisis mapping, to the facilitation of international business.  It is almost certain that at some point in our careers, we will need the skills and vocabulary to communicate with both engineers and clients to ensure that technology is deployed correctly, regardless of whether these clients are governments, non-profits, or businesses.

Fletcher has ample opportunities for students interested in technology in international affairs.  Having recently created Tech @ Fletcher, the student club of the Hitachi Center for Technology and International Affairs, we decided to help students uncover those opportunities by gathering together some of the tech-related resources that we’ve discovered in our own application process and in our first few months on campus.

Fletcher’s flexible curriculum is ideal for “Tech MALDs” — students who are interested in focusing on technology.  Students can choose to complete one or both Fields of Study in a related discipline (International Information & Communications is a good place to start), you can focus on a different primary Field of Study with a technology angle by petitioning for tech-related coursework to count for your Fields (or using them as electives), or you can petition to create your own field of study.

Courses that have a significant technology component include International Communication (which includes a heavy dose of internet infrastructure and governance, digital media, and intellectual property), Social Networks in Organizations (this is hard-core social network analysis, not Facebook 101), GIS for International Applications (mapping technology), Foundations of International Cybersecurity, Innovation for Sustainable Prosperity, Financial Inclusion – A Method for Development, and others that are added from semester to semester depending on visiting faculty.

Fletcher students can also cross-register for courses at Harvard Business School like Launching Technology Ventures, Entrepreneurship and Technology Innovations in Education, and Strategy and Technology, or take advantage of the proximity to MIT with courses such as Corporate Entrepreneurship: Strategies for Technology-Based New Business Development or Fundamentals of Digital Business Strategy.

At Fletcher, we’re lucky to have the Hitachi Center for Technology in International Affairs, which acts as a hub for tech-related events and resources.  The center is very responsive to student involvement and will happily support student-proposed events that have something to do with technology.  The Hitachi Center hosts lectures, film screenings and even brought Google’s Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen to discuss “The New Digital Age” last spring.  The Hitachi Center also offers summer funding for students and faculty researching topics related to technology, which is a great resource for students looking to write their capstone on a topic in the field.

We were overwhelmed by the support we received from our professors and the administration to think about technology in the field of international affairs.  Professor Carolyn Gideon, who teaches International Communications and manages the Hitachi Center, focuses on information and telecommunications policy; Professor Jenny Aker is the deputy director of the Hitachi Center and studies the impact of information/information technology on development outcomes; and Dean Stavridis even moderated a panel of Fletcher alumni at the South by Southwest conference on “Foreign Policy in the Digital Age.”

All of our fellow students we’ve met have slightly different interests (technology and governance, cybersecurity, ICT4D) and we are excited to be bringing these quickly-evolving issues into the wider Fletcher community.  Over the rest of the year, we plan to use Tech @ Fletcher as a platform to create a curriculum guide for students hoping to create their own field or simply to build a solid foundation in tech as a part of other fields, work with the Office of Career Services to create more resources for students interested in a career involving technology, provide workshops and discussions on the tools we will need to manage technology-related issues in our future jobs, and communicate with our classmates and professors about the importance of technology, no matter what their main fields of study.

We both came to graduate school because we were convinced that we needed to better understand the implications of technology in our areas of study.  With all the support and encouragement we have received from Fletcher, we know we made a great choice in picking a school that meets these needs!

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October 27This morning’s weather was cool and crisp.  We’ve had some cooler days and some warmer days lately, but today truly felt like autumn.  Around here, it’s not uncommon to have trees that are still green and trees that are nearly bare side-by-side, as in this photo from my walk up to campus.  Looking at our schedules, the Admissions staff is also in autumn mode.  Though several travelers are now back in the office, several of us are on the road or soon will be.

What’s happening today?  Prospective MIB students are visiting, keeping us all busy as they come and go from the office.  In our new online application review system, I can see that nearly 1000 people have started applications.  A small percentage of those are for January enrollment, and we are busy reviewing them, getting to know this small group that will be with us very soon.  We need to finish reading the applications in time to allow the new incoming students to prepare to join us, and also in time to start on the Early Notification applications that will be ready for us on November 15.

Meanwhile, we’re selecting students to sit on the Admissions Committees for the MALD/MA and the MIB degrees.  The selected students don’t yet know they’ll be offered slots on the Committees, and yet we’re counting on them to attend the first orientation meeting on November 7 — less than two weeks from now.

One of my other current tasks is working with new student bloggers.  I’m regretting that I’ve let so much of the semester slip by, but I do have three returning bloggers and three new ones, and their posts will start appearing soon.

 

There’s fresh information on the Office of Career Services page of the website with details about the internships that students pursued in summer 2014.  The headline:  161 internships in 51 countries!  Of those, 19% were with the U.S. government.  Students provided the information directly via a survey.

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You might remember meeting Prof. Michael Glennon last year in the Faculty Spotlight series of blog posts.  Now, Prof. Glennon has a new book, National Security and Double Government.  He recently sat down with an interviewer at The Boston Sunday Globe to discuss “America’s ‘Double Government.’”  The Globe also included a nice review of the book.  With U.S. elections less than two weeks away, this is timely stuff!

 

In an unusual scheduling fluke, the entire Admissions staff has been in the office for the past two days.  Not for long, though.  Flights will soon be carrying my colleagues to California and to the midwest (Chicago and Minnesota), and then next week to Asia.

While not as glamorous, but with the advantage that it requires no flights or jetlag, I’ll be taking off in less than an hour for my tour of Boston’s western suburbs.  At noon, I’ll be at Wellesley College, followed by a late afternoon information session at Boston College.  (So crafty of me to fit them both in one day!)  It’s the perfect time to take a drive in that direction — the fall foliage is in full color burst — and we always receive great applications from graduates of both colleges.  Plus, at Wellesley, I’m looking forward to meeting up with not one but two alums working in the careers office.

Two colleges, alumni visits, fall foliage, and home for dinner.  A quick trip with lots of benefits!

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Today we’re hosting a PhD Visit Day.  Like all of our Visit Days (and there is one for MIB applicants coming up next week), the day is light on programming, but still draws together all the activities an applicant might want before applying to Fletcher.  In the case of the PhD Visit Day, this means that at 12:30, I’ll be eating lunch with our visitors and offering information about the program.

Are you interested in the PhD program but not here with us today?  It’s still easy to put together a day of relevant activities.  PhD applicants need to contact us directly to set up an interview, but you can arrange one for a day when there is an Information Session scheduled.  If you have questions about the program even after the session, any member of the Admissions staff can help you.

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