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Maybe Mirza’s internship report yesterday made you wonder about other students’ internships, or maybe you want to read internship reports from further afield. Or maybe you’re not really interested in internships, but you still want to know what people are doing. If any of those is the case, you’ll want to check out two sources of info. The first is the Fletcher Admissions Facebook page, where we’re posting photos that students have sent from wherever they are in the world. Scroll through and check them out.
The other source of information and stories about summer break activities for Fletcher students is their own blogs. I asked some students if I could share their writing with Admissions Blog readers, and I hope you’ll want to read what they’re up to. In alpha order, here they are. If they tweet, I’ve included their twitter pages, too.
Andra Bosneag, in India, writing as a Peace Fellow with The Advocacy Project.
Nathan Kennedy, offering post-graduation opinions and analysis.
Zane Preston has been in or near Cairo.
Phoebe Randel, working in Nairobi.
Emerson Tuttle is in Rome working for the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization and traveling around the Italian countryside.
Tagged with: Internships
Unlike most of my Fletcher classmates, I am doing my internship in Boston this summer. It’s just across the river and a couple of subway stops away from Fletcher, so it has been quite an easy adjustment for me. I am working at the State Department of Higher Education where I am exploring how new educational technology initiatives can help close achievement gaps in public higher education in Massachusetts. I was lucky to find a paid internship, as part of the Rappaport Institute Public Policy Summer Fellowship Program. (For the incoming students interested in Greater Boston and public policy, I would highly suggest visiting their website to learn more about the application process for the following summer.)
I discovered the fellowship by chance. The Office of Career Services (OCS) organized an information session in the fall which I (randomly) decided to attend. I really liked what I heard, so I followed up, kept in touch, went in for an informational interview, and submitted my application in mid-January (in fact, just before leaving for the Fletcher ski trip). I took a bit of a risk by not exploring other internship opportunities (not recommended!), though I knew that if my application were not selected, I would still have time to research other opportunities. By March 1, my application was accepted, and I could remove the “summer internship” item off my stress to-do list.
I started my internship a couple of weeks ago, and am still learning about the department’s work. Unlike perhaps some other internship positions, I was given the freedom to choose the work I would do over the summer. This has been both exciting and challenging. It’s great because I can tailor my learning and focus on my specific interests; the challenge is to remain exceptionally disciplined with my time and persistently take initiative. So far, so good — but I do admit that, occasionally, it is nice to simply be assigned a task with a deadline.
Nevertheless, what I have discovered with my summer internship is that this opportunity gives me and my classmates an additional network, on top of the expansive and tight-knit Fletcher network. I have already met many wonderful individuals, and am predicting some lasting professional relationships and friendships. As at Fletcher and elsewhere, the key is to get involved and be proactive, and take full advantage of the experience. While this has been great, I do miss my Fletcher classmates. Soon after the academic year’s end, you realize just how meaningful the Fletcher friendships really are. Luckily, there are a good number of us still in the Boston area, so it does not feel as secluded as it must feel for those interning in places such as Liberia or Nepal.
Another thing that I learned is that taking some time off between the academic year and a summer internship is helpful for sanity. Many of my Fletcher friends have done this: visiting family, going on short vacations and road trips, or simply staying put in the Boston area and reading fiction. (Fiction gains a whole new meaning in the life of a Fletcher student after two semesters of case studies). I personally was fortunate enough to visit Europe for two weeks, which was a welcome change of scenery. I would highly recommend taking your mind off anything school or work-related for at least a couple of weeks — your body and brain will be eternally grateful.
Finding a summer internship is a stressful activity for many Fletcher students, balanced as it is against a demanding academic schedule and a vibrant social environment filled with extracurricular activities — as well as many work and personal responsibilities. In the end, however, almost everyone finds exactly what s/he is looking for, and literally everyone finds something meaningful to do over the summer months. A couple of tips from my experience are to start the internship hunt early on (mid-fall semester), connect with Fletcher alums, use OCS resources, talk to your classmates, be persistent, and don’t stress too much.
At most times of the year, I would count on Fletcher to help me interpret an important international event. Even during this summer break, there have been comments on the Social List regarding the situation in Egypt — but not nearly as rich a discussion as I would expect in, say, October. Still, as events there play out, I thought I’d bring to your attention two Fletcher-connected sources of analysis.
The first comes from 2009 grad Zach Gold, who was interviewed recently by the University’s communications staff and offered his take on the situation. (Zach, I might note, was a real friend to Admissions and served on the Admissions Committee for a year. We remember him fondly!)
The second piece of analysis also comes from an alumnus, this time a freshly-minted graduate, Albert Trithart, who offered his views in a new piece on the Fletcher Forum website.
Tagged with: Fletcher Forum
This past weekend, I made a quick trip to visit friends in San Francisco. On my way home, I was watching the flight progress map on the seat-back TV and realized I might have been flying over Scott Snyder during his cross-country bike trip. The plane’s path later veered to the north, but the map nonetheless reminded me to update you on his progress. Scott’s recent blog posts describe their days in Wisconsin, and his fundraising page indicates he has passed the halfway mark on his goal to raise $12,000 for the Ace in the Hole Foundation.
The other aspect of this update is that (being a little slow to connect the dots), I only realized last week that Scott’s travel companion is a fellow Fletcher MIB student, Joel Paula, who is also blogging. Same trip, different perspective!
I have one more cross-country adventure to describe, this time an alum’s trip, but I’ll hold that for now so that you can catch up with Scott and Joel’s progress.
When she’s not offering valuable advice to incoming students, Roxanne is still keeping plenty busy. Last week, along with Prof. Dyan Mazurana, she presented a session at the Summer Institute for the Advanced Study of Nonviolent Conflict. Interested? You can get the details from the storify intro, (I love the way Roxanne is described as “a do-gooder of international proportions”), from the storify write-up, or from the video below. Watch the whole thing, or fast forward to Roxanne’s presentation, at about 1:07:30.
Roxanne is off to Colombia for the next phase of her summer. I’ll try to catch up with her a little later, once she has settled in there.
My little survey from a few weeks back yielded some very specific questions from incoming students. While I work on the answers, Roxanne is here to give you a big-picture view of what you should be doing and thinking about in the summer before you start your graduate studies.
I am writing these words at 1369 Coffee House, which was one of my favorite spaces when I was a college student in Boston. One of the indulgences of the early days of summer lies in exactly this moment: savoring a drink at a coffee shop, reading for pleasure, and watching the to-do lists temporarily shrink to include only leisurely items.
Therein lies my first piece of advice for the summer before you enroll at Fletcher: Embrace leisure. Allow your mind to rest for a while, and engage in the activities that make you happy. If it is possible, build in a few weeks of relaxation between the time your work commitments end and the time Fletcher obligations kick in. Arriving at Fletcher with a rested mind can make all the difference. While I am soon leaving for my summer work and research, the past two weeks have been full of picnics, tandem bike rides, a trip to Walden Pond, and other favorite Boston-area activities.
Use the summer to reflect on the experience you want to have at Fletcher: What do you wish to learn that you had not previously explored? Which types of skills do you want to build? Are there particular professors whom you would like to get to know? What other opportunities in the Boston area appeal to you? The answers to these questions shift constantly for most of us at Fletcher, and we welcome the evolution of our interests, but arriving here with a sense of goals and learning objectives — however vague and ever-changing — can be helpful in making the most of the experience. The summer is also a good time to talk to past mentors, whether professional or academic ones, and to solicit their advice about how to make the most of your upcoming graduate school experience.
If you are planning on taking the language exams early in the semester, or the economics and quantitative reasoning placement tests, it may be helpful to brush up on some of those skills — but do not let the process stress you. When I look back on my own summer before Fletcher, I wish I had worried less. Yes, it is important to fill out the paperwork Fletcher requires in a timely manner, to set up your email accounts, and to prepare logistically for the semester. Completing these steps will make your arrival here far less stressful, and it will enable you to delve into the community smoothly in August. At the same time, the Fletcher staff is incredibly supportive, these processes are fairly easy, and they need not intimidate or worry you.
Some of you will go through the new course catalog as soon as it becomes available to make a list of courses you would like to take; yet others will arrive in Medford without ever having looked at the course catalog. Let me reassure you that most of us change our minds about our preferred course choices multiple times before the semester begins, so do not feel pressure to make rigid choices. If you are inspired by browsing the offerings, by all means, go ahead! If, on the other hand, you’d rather wait until you get here and can solicit the opinions of your classmates or attend the so-called “Shopping Day” to watch the professors in action, know that many Fletcher students will be joining you.
Finally, I’d like to make some room for the pieces of pre-Fletcher advice that do not fit in the above categories, but reflect how I wish I had spent the summer before Fletcher:
- Read for pleasure. This is what a now-graduated member of the Class of 2013 had advised me, and it was the best piece of advice I received. It was a treat to spend the summer steeped in the literature of my choice without the pressure to highlight or take notes.
- Make some time to say goodbye to the place you have called home. Some of you will be leaving a place far away from your birthplace, while others will be leaving your homeland. Transitions are easier once you have carved out room for goodbyes and nostalgia.
- Relatedly, carve out some time to make Boston a home when you arrive. If you arrive a couple of days before Orientation, take the time to explore your new neighborhood or take the subway to Boston. Give yourself some time to discover what may soon be your new favorite restaurant or café, develop a new running or cycling route, a new morning routine. You will be part of this community before you know it, and there are many of us eagerly waiting to welcome you to the Fletcher family! Until then, have a wonderful summer!
Before I let too much time slip by, I want to bring readers’ attention to two new editions of student-run publications.
First, the editors of Al Nakhlah, Fletcher’s online journal focused on Southwest Asia, introduced its 2013 edition. The announcement noted, “This year’s articles range from an op-ed on contemporary women’s rights in Egypt to the geopolitical significance of religious fundamentalism in Central Asia to the legal implications of drone warfare in Pakistan.” Articles include:
“Equal Rights in Egypt: An Unlikely Opportunity,” by Faiqa Mahmood
“Lost in the Labyrinth: The Green Revolution and the Islamic Republic of Iran,” by Joel Hernandez
“Strange Bedfellows: Religious Fundamentalism and the Death Penalty in the U.S. and Saudi Arabia,” by Julia Brooks
“Mandate Iraq: Imagining a Nation,” by Natalie Bowlus
“The ‘Unmanned’ Conflict in Pakistan,” by Neha Ansari
“Legitimate Threat or Excuse for Repression? The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and Central Asian Stability Post-2014,” by Lesley Pories
“Terrorism in Iran: An Analysis of Non-State Militant Organizations in the Islamic Republic,” by Micah Peckarsky
“Navigating U.S.-Egyptian Relations in the Post-Mubarak Era: Strategies for Preserving American Interests,” by Micah Peckarsky
And, if that isn’t enough reading for you, the new editorial team at The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs announced the online launch of this year’s summer edition, noting “Inside you will find insights on former U.S.-Tehran relations from Bruce Reidel, veteran CIA officer and White House advisor, theories on Syrian political strategy from David Wallsh, observations on women’s education in Saudi Arabia from Marcia Grant, a discussion on the challenges faced by South Sudan by Jok Maduk Jok, and many others. This issue also touches on important transnational concerns. We explore these issues through an interview with David Killion, U.S. Ambassador to UNESCO, an article by Raymond Taras on the role of literature in international relations, and a discussion on the controversies surrounding the popularization of development aid, from Erik Shreiner Evans of the fake aid campaign ‘Africa for Norway.’”
Last week I received an email from student blogger Scott, who wrote about the cross-country trip from Oregon to New York, a distance of more than 3,000 miles, that he is undertaking accompanied by a friend. By the time I received the email, Scott had crossed through Oregon and into Idaho. (The photo shows him at his first stop, the Pacific Ocean coast of Oregon.) His message detailed the motivation for the trip:
On May 11th, 2006 tragedy struck one of my best friends and his family. Greg LiCalzi was my roommate freshman year at Union College, and although I was probably not the easiest person to live with at the time, we became great friends. Greg’s twin brother, Michael, was serving our country in the Marines when he died in a tragic tank accident in Iraq.
Two years later, with the support of his family, Greg founded the Ace in the Hole Foundation to remember and honor his brother’s sacrifice. The Foundation provides financial aid and material assistance to charitable organizations and causes. The Foundation’s support is administered directly to deserving recipients or through contributions to charitable organizations with which the Foundation has working partnerships. Through numerous events, fundraisers and corporate partnerships, Ace in the Hole has raised and donated over $300,000.
I have been unable to participate in many of the events for Ace in the Hole Foundation. Because of my previous job I was always out of the country or on assignment. I have been looking for a way to contribute with more than just a donation, and this summer I will have that chance.
Scott is using the trip to raise awareness and funds for the Ace in the Hole Foundation. His goal is to raise $12,000 by the end of his ride.
You can read more about the trip directly from Scott. He’s chronicling it through various media, most notably a Tumblr page and via Twitter. I’ll try to provide occasional updates on his progress throughout the coming weeks, or you can check out his Tumblr and spread the word about his trek for a cause.
Never mind the University’s offer of health insurance, retirement funds, or access to the Tufts gym, the most rewarding benefit of working at Fletcher is the opportunity to get to know our fantastic students. Unlike access to the gym, it is a benefit that I take advantage of every day. And that’s why the joy that students feel at their own graduation is mixed with a little sadness for me and other members of the Fletcher faculty and staff. It isn’t that we’ll never hear from these people again — in fact, there are some beloved members of the class of 2008 due back for this weekend’s reunion — but the nature of our contact inevitably changes.
Every year, I try to recognize those students who have regularly brightened my day. There’s no way to cover the entire list — this is a blog, not an encyclopedic resource — but I’ll single out a few groups, not that thanking them is a substitute for seeing them regularly.
For starters, there are the stalwart Admissions Interns who do the widest possible array of substantive and trivial tasks for us, always with good cheer. Farewell and good luck to Katie and (Dear) Ariel! Then there are the students who are selected to serve on the Admissions Committee. Thank you to this year’s rock star team of Lily, Bernardo, Felix, Margot, and Hillary (who did double duty as an Admissions Intern, starting her work with us before classes began two years ago). Thanks, too, to Elspeth, a Januarian who did her Admissions Committee service a year ago, but also spent some time with us this spring, turning data messes into beautiful reports. And more thanks to Violet, Juan Sebastian, and Heidi, who participated on the MIB Admissions Committee either this year or last. Finally, thanks and good luck to our wonderful, generous, and dedicated volunteer interviewers.
And, of course, there are dozens of others. There’s Patrick, whom I’ve known seemingly forever. And Maliheh whom I’ve so enjoyed working with on the blog. And PhD students including Erik, Courtney, and Ethan, all of whom have also supported the work of the Admissions Office. From here, it becomes difficult to isolate individuals, but thanks to the many people whose minute of conversation is well worth stopping for as we cross the Hall of Flags. Or students whose applications I promoted in Admissions Committee meetings, but who don’t know that, and also don’t know that I watch their progress through Fletcher to be sure they were a good bet. Or students who pepper the Social List with interesting (or “interesting”) bits of news, analysis, information, or humor, keeping us informed about students’ interests and concerns.
Naturally, I hope that all of these students and all their classmates enjoy their Commencement weekend and bask in the pride of friends and family. But don’t forget us after you leave Fletcher! Send a note once in a while. Connect with us via your preferred social medium. Most important: Do great things in your work and community that we hear about in the years to come. We’ll miss you, but we wish you all the best!
Tagged with: Commencement
For Fletcher students, the graduation ceremony is merely the (almost) final event in a weekend of togetherness. With the soon-to-be graduates only barely recovered from dawn to post-dusk Dis-Orientation activities, Commencement weekend kicks off on Friday (i.e. tomorrow) with breakfast and a graduation rehearsal at 8:00 a.m. The afternoon is unprogrammed (time to take visiting family around town for some sightseeing), but many will meet up again at 6:00 p.m. for a New England clambake, which is also the kick-off event for the Fletcher alumni reunion that runs in parallel this weekend.
Fletcher decided years ago to keep the focus on students during Sunday’s graduation ceremony, and a Class Day event was created on the Saturday of Commencement weekend for speeches, presentation of prizes, etc. The speaker for this year’s Class Day program will be our own Dean Stephen Bosworth, who is stepping down after more than a decade as dean. I’m sure it will be a bittersweet moment. Lunch will follow.
And then, finally, Sunday arrives. Students will kick off the day with a champagne breakfast, featuring toasts by the students selected by a vote of their peers. Champagne imbibed, students head off to the all-University ceremony (where Fletcher students are well known for their extra loud cheers when their degrees are awarded as a group), followed by the Fletcher ceremony, where each graduating student is handed a diploma by the dean (photos will be taken — smile!). Speeches will be delivered by peer-selected students and the recipient of the Paddock Prize for excellence in teaching, which went this year to Carolyn Gideon.
When the ceremony concludes, everyone works their way over to lunch via many hugs and well-wishes. All in all, a lovely event.
Tagged with: Commencement
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