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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!
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.
It’s a transitional week — no longer the spring semester, but not yet the summer break. Students are either gone (off to interesting internships) or invisible. Among the invisible, many are participating in the Fletcher tradition known as Dis-Orientation. A fitting balance to the Orientation program that starts each academic year, Dis-Orientation is less preparatory and more celebratory. Here’s part of the Dis-O line-up, each event coordinated by a different student or team of students:
- Tours: Boston Duck Tour, Freedom Trail Tour
- Downtown outings, including a picnic in the Boston Public Garden, and a trip to the Museum of Fine Arts
- Parties, including a “Stoplight Party” (a party of multiple parties at the Fletcher-student-occupied Green House, Yellow House, and Red House)
- Movies, including (appropriately) The Graduate
- Sports, including a Red Sox Game against the Minnesota Twins
- Exercise, including a bike trip
- Farther-flung outings, including an amusement park
- And many activities ending with -ing: whale watching, clubbing, poker playing, storytelling (organized by our own student blogger, Roxanne), trampolining, and pub crawling.
The week wraps up with a class photo on Friday, after which graduating students will turn their attention to the weekend’s Commencement activities. More on that tomorrow.
Casey and Kamil, this year’s editors of Praxis updated the community on the journal’s newest edition. Here’s their news.
Last week we published the 28th edition of PRAXIS: The Fletcher Journal of Human Security. Today we’ve posted a blog introducing the issue. Check it out for links to the issue and all the articles!
We’ve published four articles this year and two Views from the Field:
- Tools of Change: Long-Term Inclusion in Peace Processes, by Adan E. Suazo
- Toward a Child-Oriented Approach to Reparations: Reflecting on the Best Interests of Child Victims of Armed Conflict, by S. Marie Miano
- The International Criminal Court as a Human Security Agent, by Lauren Marie Balasco
- Wellbeing Economics and Buen Vivir: Development Alternatives for Inclusive Human Security, by Tara Ruttenberg
- Tamil Sri Lanka in the Shadow of the Civil War,by Evan Thomas Rees
- Work and Play: Schools in Urban Slums, by Madeeha Ansari
Casey and Kamil
Tagged with: Praxis
As much as I love to see students at Fletcher — hanging out in the Hall of Flags, sitting in the library, wandering into a classroom — there’s also something nice about seeing them outside their usual habitat. That would be one reason I enjoy the annual “where is Fletcher” video. The other reason is the sheer joyfulness of it. So, blog friends, pull on your dancing shoes, and join Fletcher students (as well as our outgoing and incoming academic deans) as they dance their way around the world.
Time for another round of thanks and farewell to a graduating student. Maliheh contributed several posts to the blog this year, despite a heavy in-class and out-of-class workload, and a PhD admissions process that involved twenty schools and one lucky program that she has chosen to attend. I first “met” Maliheh more than a year before she enrolled in the MALD program, when she first corresponded with our office. Once I met her, I became a huge fan. As much as I’ll miss her at Fletcher, I wish her the very best in her coming years of academic toil. But before Maliheh leaves Fletcher, she offers this last post.
It is just that time of the year when everyone at Fletcher is finishing exams and preparing for their upcoming internship or new job. I was preparing for my own internship last year at this time. Everyone would tell me about Fletcher’s incredibly rich alumni network, but before experiencing it myself, I had no clear idea what a valuable resource this network can be.
From the first day I started my work at the World Bank, I tried to expand my professional connections by networking with people in other departments at the bank. To my surprise, in almost every department I could find a Fletcher alum with whom I could meet and talk. Even non-Fletcher people knew very well about Fletcher and would remind me that two current World Bank vice presidents are Fletcher alumni.
Working in the MENA region at the bank, it was not uncommon to hear people speaking in Arabic or Farsi, which I also used in speaking with my supervisor most of the time. You can imagine that it is not easy to pick out English words exchanged in the middle of a conversation that is not in English, but “Fletcher” is a different kind of English word! One day, in the midst of a long conversation in Farsi with my supervisor, and in a quite crowded venue, I said “Fletcher” to refer to a specific theory I had learned in one of my classes, and then returned to Farsi for the remainder of the conversation. The woman sitting next to us picked out that one word and turned to me. She asked, “I heard you say Fletcher. Are you a Fletcher alum or student?” And a very nice conversation followed from there! Later I thought again about what I had heard before coming to the World Bank about Fletcher’s network, and felt very proud to be part of this extensive and supportive community!
Tagged with: Student Stories
Today is the last day of classes for the spring 2013 semester, and it’s also the last day of Fletcher classes for (Dear) Ariel. There are many second-year students I will wish to thank in person or in the blog for their contributions to the community, and Ariel will be the first.
Ariel started work as an Admissions Intern in September 2011 and she is the quiet super-charged engine of the student staff. There’s no task that she doesn’t complete efficiently, and that includes writing a Dear Ariel column. A typical week had me sauntering over to her on a Tuesday at noon and asking if, based on questions turning up by email, she had any ideas for a blog post. By 12:30, a perfect piece of writing was in my inbox.
Ariel’s final column today returns to the basics of advising prospective applicants. Next year I’ll face the challenge of finding another writer who may come close to Ariel’s efficiency and skill. For now: Thanks, Dear Ariel!
Dear Ariel: Is my GPA competitive for Fletcher?
Every student admitted by Fletcher’s Committee on Admissions must be able to succeed in Fletcher classes, and the applicant’s academic profile is the most important aspect of an application. But academic potential (which is indicated primarily by GPA, test scores, and recommendations) is still only one part of the application. We seek students who, by virtue of their background, achievement, and experience, can contribute to the education of their peers and to the scholarship and practice of international relations. Even a strong GPA, in the absence of international and professional experience, does not guarantee admission. Since Fletcher students come from a broad range of educational backgrounds that utilize different grading scales, calculating an average GPA for all admitted students is impossible. Among admitted students who attended colleges or universities using a 4.0 scale, the middle fifty percent of GPAs has fallen in the range of 3.4 to 3.8 in recent years.
Tagged with: Dear Ariel
Returning to the questions blog readers asked me to cover this spring, Mirza is going to describe options for cross-registration. The opportunity to cross-register for up to a quarter of the classes a student takes toward a Fletcher degree is one of the factors that makes us say that no two students graduate with exactly the same curriculum.
One of the many great options at Fletcher is cross-registering at other graduate units of Tufts or Harvard University, or even beyond. (Keep in mind that MALD or MIB students are allowed to cross-register for four classes total during the two years at Fletcher.) With so many great higher education institutions in Boston, such cooperation and sharing of resources among different schools makes sense and you should by all means take full advantage.
Currently, in my second semester at Fletcher, I am taking two classes at Harvard — one at Harvard Kennedy School (Values, Interests and the Crafting of U.S. Foreign Policy) and one at Harvard Law School (Political Economy After the Crisis). They have both been challenging but intellectually rewarding, and have offered a slightly different perspective and learning environment from Fletcher. Combining such outside academic experience with the Fletcher experience has been, at least for me, extremely valuable.
Not everyone, however, will find cross-registering beneficial to their academic and professional path. For some, Fletcher offers exactly what they need, and this is perfectly fine. It can also be overwhelming to browse through hundreds of captivating courses at other schools, in addition to over a hundred amazing courses at Fletcher. Still, it is an option well worth keeping in mind as you think about the courses and fields that you’d like to pursue while in graduate school. One piece of advice is that you should not cross-register during your first semester at Fletcher. The incipient relationships that you form with your classmates are quite important, and you don’t want to hinder that vital component of the graduate school experience. As you settle in, however, venturing outside of Fletcher and Tufts will not be a problem, and will likely add considerable value to your academic growth.
Like almost everything in life, there are pros and cons to cross-registering. Here are a few tips, based on my experience, to keep in mind should you wish to cross-register:
- A different perspective (Always a good thing.)
- A new network (Also always a good thing.)
- A better awareness of the many free events, lectures, and seminars in the area. (These are the activities from which you will learn a whole lot — really worth exploring, and Harvard offers a great deal of them, all throughout the academic year.)
- Harvard Square (It’s quite lovely, but bring waterproof boots in the winter.)
- Access to the beautiful Harvard libraries (They are, indeed, quite nice.)
- Time spent traveling to Harvard Square (Not so bad, but in the rain and during midterms/finals… it can become a drag.)
- Group work taking place outside of Fletcher (So even more time spent traveling.)
- Conflicting class schedules between Fletcher and Harvard (Not usually a problem, but HBS especially can be tricky.)
- Nostalgia for Fletcher (It’s true — we’re all at Fletcher because we love it for one reason or another, so it’s possible to start missing your “real” home even if you’re away for just a short while.)
Overall, cross-registration is not a biggie, and there are so many great courses that it’s worth at least a quick look to see if something strikes you. The rest is just logistics — a bit annoying, but not enough to prevent you from taking a great class. A quick note regarding MIT, Boston University, and other Boston-area schools: they do not participate in the official cross-registration process with Fletcher, but it’s possible to take classes there with the instructor’s permission and a couple of logistical “tricks.” Feel free to talk to me about it if you wish to find out more — I’ll be taking classes at both MIT and BU next year.
Continuing the internship theme that Roxanne kicked off for us yesterday, today we’ll consider the question of internships during the academic year. We’re often asked about the opportunity to pursue an internship alongside classes, and it’s slightly tricky to answer. On the one hand, YES, you certainly may pursue an internship! Absolutely! And many students do. On the other hand, it’s not the culture at Fletcher to push students out the door to those internships (except during the summer, of course). Like so many choices students make (Should I pursue a dual degree? Exchange semester? Language study? Cross-registration?), the decision on an internship depends completely on the individual student’s academic and professional objectives. There’s plenty going on at Fletcher and elsewhere on the Tufts campus — you won’t be bored if you commit yourself to two years of doing everything there is to do here. On the other hand, if you tell us you have an internship, we’ll tell you that we’re glad to hear you’re taking advantage of that opportunity!
All of that said, I asked current students about their academic-year internships, and here’s what I found out:
Bob, first-year MALD: I work as an intern with the Tufts Office of Sustainability, which is located just a short walk from the Fletcher School in Tufts’ Miller Hall. I spend around 10-15 hours here per week, and some of my work can be completed at home.
Nathan, second-year MALD: I have done work for two outside organizations while at Fletcher. The first, in my first year, was at a small governance and peacebuilding organization in Cambridge, about a 30-minute walk from campus. I worked 16-20 hours during the fall, and scaled back to 8-10 during the spring. It was enriching to combine the academic environment with a more applied one, but I had to work during normal business hours, which was inconvenient for scheduling study groups and meant missing other opportunities at Fletcher. This type of work comes down to balancing the experience (and need for extra income!) with the opportunities and community available on campus. I decided not to continue this during my second year. My second internship, which I’m doing currently, is a long-distance, on-my-own-time consultancy. This, of course, means more flexibility but less direct engagement with the organization and the material. It still involves sacrifice, but it’s less a cause of stress in my life, and I do appreciate having at least one toe in the real world while at an academic institution.
Justin, second-year MIB: I worked at Converse in Latin America strategy 18-20 hours per week this year. I was able to do my capstone on Converse’s three-year strategy for Brazil.
Marie, second-year MALD: I worked at Conflict Dynamics International for about 9 hours a week last fall and this spring.
Katie, first-year MALD: I have had an internship for both the fall and spring semesters of this year. It is at WorldTeach, an international education nonprofit in Cambridge (it was formerly affiliated with Harvard). The internship is 10 hours per week, or 40 hours per month.
John, first-year MIB: I intern with the U.S. Commercial Service (a division of the Department of Commerce). I intern at the downtown Boston office, 10-15 hours a week. My responsibilities include market research and creating market entry strategies for Massachusetts companies to export and expand operations overseas.
Michael, first-year MIB: I have been working at State Street this semester. I am in the enterprise risk management division, in the probability of default group. My group worked on calculating the counter-party risk of broker-dealers for regulatory purposes. It is very quantitative. I work approximately 15 hours a week, all on-site in downtown Boston. The internship is paid on an hourly basis, and I found it through a posting from Fletcher OCS.
Leila, second-year MALD: Last spring I did an internship at Mercy Corps’ Cambridge office. I worked 10-12 hours a week with the Director of Governance and Partnerships. My main tasks were to help with logistics for their Partnerships summit in Bangkok, and to conduct research for an internal paper on private-sector partnerships. I found out about the internship through an OCS email.
Albert, second-year MALD: I’ve been interning on the Governance and Peacebuilding team at Conflict Dynamics International both this past summer and during the year. The internship is focused almost entirely on research in the areas of governance and peacebuilding, particularly in Sudan, South Sudan, and Somalia. I worked 16 hours a week last semester and am working 12 hours a week this semester, paid on an hourly basis.
Cherrica, first-year MALD, and Chris, first-year MALD both intern at CargoMetrics, downtown Boston, 10-15 hours each week, paid, and say: It’s a technology-enabled hedge fund founded by Fletcher alums. They prefer you to work in the office but on occasion they are flexible and allow you to work from home. Great office with several Fletcher grads and students.
My thanks to Roxanne for her comprehensive description of the process. Take it away, Roxanne!
First of all, it was so wonderful to meet many of the prospective members of the incoming class last week! We are sad to part with our second-year students soon, and getting to hear the stories of the incoming class gave many of us a lot to look forward to! One of the questions that emerged through these conversations was about the Fletcher summer internship search process. While it is very challenging to speak about a universal Fletcher experience, given that interests vary widely in this diverse community, I would like to shed some light on how some Fletcher students begin to think about their summer internships. Feel free to also browse the post I wrote about this topic in February, right before the DC Career Trip.
Setting goals for the summer: The first, and perhaps hardest, step in the internship search process is defining the summer experience we each wish to have. Some Fletcher students consider themselves “career changers,” shifting away from the professional field in which they worked prior to Fletcher and towards new endeavors. Other Fletcher students wish to use the summer to build their international or field experience, so they are explicitly looking for opportunities outside the United States. Yet other students wish to conduct research that will culminate in a capstone project, thesis, PhD proposal, or other document — either in parallel to an internship or instead of one. Some classmates wish to obtain or apply particular skills, such as quantitative analysis, crisis mapping, or practicing a language. Yet others want to remain in the same sector they were in prior to Fletcher, but wish to diversify the organizations and partners with which they have worked by building new institutional relationships over the summer. As you can see, there is no pattern that defines every Fletcher summer experience: The locales that host us for the summer range from Boston to Japan, from the public to private sector, from paid consultancies to research initiatives, and from entirely new endeavors to a return to beloved projects.
The critical role of mentorship: Mentorship is a critical component of developing a clearer sense of our goals for the summer. Conversations with professors or guest speakers at Fletcher events, as well as informational interviews with alumni, help us clarify our vision for what we seek to accomplish over the summer. Prior to both the New York City and DC career trips, the Office of Career Services compiles a lengthy list of alumni, including their professional affiliations and contact information. Students arrange many chats with alumni both during the Career Trips and outside of them in order to better understand potential summer opportunities. Informational interviews continue through the spring and they often end with a clearer “next step” for the students or an introduction to someone who may be of further help.
The Fletcher network does not just consist of faculty, staff, and alumni; rather, students themselves are an invaluable resource to their peers. During the second semester, many emails are sent on the Social List (our beloved and informal email list) asking if fellow students have worked in X country or with Y organization or if they know a particular individual. Many coffee chats emerge from these emails and it is always a delight to put each other in touch with people we have met or places we have worked, in the hope that we can create more opportunities for our peers.
Applying to summer positions: The Office of Career Services plays an instrumental role in coaching students through the application process. Once we have identified the types of opportunities we wish to apply to, we can make appointments with Career Services staff to review our résumés and cover letters, conduct mock interviews, receive assistance in negotiating potential compensation — or even in proofreading our communications with potential employers! For students who wish to conduct research or work on a Fletcher-affiliated project, whether in the Boston area or beyond, conversations with professors and campus centers that are supervising these initiatives are an important part of building future relationships.
Funding the summer experience: The availability of funding differs greatly among the various sectors in which Fletcher students immerse themselves for the summer. There are many opportunities to fund the summer experience for those who have received an unpaid internship. The Office of Career Services has a simple application for summer funding, and these resources are supplemented by other research centers on campus that can provide financial support, such as the Tisch Active Citizenship Fellowship Program or the Feinstein International Center. Some professors and departments make grants available for language study or for internships in a specific sector or region of the world. Additionally, there are Boston-area resources, such as the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School Summer Fellowships, that are accessible to Fletcher students because of the partnerships between Fletcher and the funding institutions. Students in the private sector or those who have secured paid consultancies for the summer may follow a slightly different process.
Pre-departure preparations: There is never a dull moment at Fletcher, even with an internship and funding secured! The months prior to departing for the summer are filled with building skills that may be essential for our research or employment, from training ourselves in statistics or ethnographic interviewing to brushing up on language skills and conducting pre-thesis research. In the next month, I will also be offering a “blogging and social media” workshop for Fletcher students, so we can compile a document of our online presence, enabling us to follow each other’s summer journeys and learning. A classmate is in the process of compiling a Google Map with Fletcher summer internship locations, so we can find community wherever we go. The bottom line is that this is an exciting, exhilarating process, which — like most other processes at Fletcher — requires putting ourselves out there, being curious and open to learning, and leveraging the power of this community to create opportunities for all.
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