While I wait to fly home from Washington, DC, I thought I’d reflect on the big Idealist fair last night.  Strangely, I’m not finding a common theme for the questions asked at this or any of the fairs I’ve done this fall.  Some years, I feel like I’ve answered the GRE question continuously for three hours.  Not so last night.  A few GRE questions, sure.  But lots of other topics.

(The answer, by the way, is that Fletcher does not use any arbitrary score cut-off.  And if you haven’t taken the exam yet, the answer is that you should score as high as you possibly can.  A target that I would give you isn’t rooted in your reality. Just prepare for the exam so that you can manage your time and nerves, and get the maximum score that you, given your knowledge, can get.)

Not surprisingly for DC, there were a number of questions about security studies.  But I also had a lot of nice conversations about the work that students in the environment field (and the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy) are doing.  Again, no common theme.

I had two 2017 graduates helping out at the table — Cristina, who was a two-year friend of Admissions, and Adnan, who you all know through his posts for the blog.  Since I first met Adnan at a grad school fair, it was fun to include him in this one.

At one point, it didn’t look like the evening would go so smoothly.  My box of materials, which was supposed to be delivered by Friday, was instead delivered on Monday.  I had a firm Plan B for if it didn’t arrive (facilitated by Liz and Lucas, who packed up a bag of materials for me on Friday when I wasn’t at Fletcher), but it involved some running back and forth between the hotel and the exhibition center.  Not ideal.  The reward for our careful planning was that the box arrived at 2:00 and didn’t mess with my time at the fair at all.

With that, I’m heading to the airport and my flight back to Boston.

 

These past few weeks, I’ve been traveling a little more than usual (as the Admissions staffer who travels the least).  I’m heading off to Washington, DC today for the Idealist graduate school fair.  After this, I’ll be glued to my desk chair, which will make blogging easier, though it’s also nice to be out and about now and then.

If you’ll be at DC Idealist tonight, be sure to say hello.  I’ll have a 2017 graduate (or two) with me, so prepare your questions about the Fletcher student experience.

And meanwhile, I should note that all my Admissions pals are in and out of the office, too.  Kristen returned from India last week, and Dan will be back in the office today, following a week trekking around New England with some of our closest APSIA friends.  Check out our travel schedule to see if we’ll soon be somewhere near you.

 

At the Idealist fair on Monday, I had a nice long chat with a prospective student who is in the process of starting a business.  I was glad to be able to tell him how much great stuff is happening here in the entrepreneurial orbit.  Or, as the folks from the Institute for Business in the Global Context put it in a recent message:

Grad school is one of the safest spaces to test out your entrepreneurial skills in highly supportive and nurturing environment.  The Fletcher/Tufts ecosystem is filled with unique opportunities to stretch and learn, especially when it comes to venturing in the emerging markets and having social impact.

Some of the opportunities here for students are:

There are coaching opportunities available in the lead-up to the competitions.  And entrepreneurs aren’t limited to creating ventures!  They like to hang out, too, which they did last week at a “Venturing Social Evening” at a local café.

For more information about all the options for Fletcher entrepreneurs, follow the news on the IBGC Entrepreneurship page.

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Fletcher has launched a new research hub this year — the Center for Strategic Studies (CSS).  We’ve only just begun the fourth week of the semester, but CSS is already making news.  First, there was an announcement of Postdoctoral Fellows and a visiting professorship, in addition to previously named PhD research fellows.  (All the team bios can be found here.)  And these folks will be joining Professor Monica Toft, who developed the center at Fletcher.

Last week, Professor Toft jump-started Center-based discussion with a talk at the CSS Open House.  And today, we received information on the CSS Capstone Incubator Project.

With so much happening already, I’m sure I’ll have more to share about the Center for Strategic Studies as the year goes on.  For now, I’ll leave you with this conversation between Dean Stavridis and Professor Toft.

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It’s just before 10:00 as I write and I can say that our evaluative interview program is now in full swing.  All that was required was four members of the Admissions team huddled around the front desk to remind ourselves of the parts of the process that are hard to recall until they’re actually needed.  But I think we’ve got it now — high fives all around.  And the day’s first interview seems to have gone swimmingly.  Interviewer and interviewee emerged smiling.

I’ve already written a few posts to encourage all you applicants out there to schedule an interview.  We’re nearly fully booked this week, but there are plenty of appointments available for the coming weeks.  Whether you prefer to visit us on campus or participate in a Skype interview, sign up now to grab a convenient day and time.  (And if you visit campus for your interview, you can build an information session, class visit, or coffee with a student into your day.)

This afternoon, I’ll be zipping over to Boston University for an Idealist Graduate School Fair.  If you’re there, be sure to say hello.

With interviews and the fair this afternoon occupying my time, I don’t have much brain power left for blog creativity.  I’ll leave it to a professor/PhD-candidate duo to share their creative ideas with you.  The screen below will take you to an online discussion of their research.

 

I struggle every year to capture much of what’s going on at Fletcher.  My primary mission is to focus on admissions updates, and there are other sources for Fletcher in the news, but realistically, how much time can any of us spend chasing down current information?  So I try to give blog readers a sense of what’s happening with occasional updates.

In that context, I was happy to find the 2016-2017 annual report from the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy in my inbox.  In addition to the basics, the annual report provides a great snapshot of an active center and opportunities for students.  From conducting research to attending international climate talks, students from all degree programs who focus on environment issues have great options to broaden their learning, and gain skills and experience that goes beyond the classroom.

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Time to take a minute to focus on those folks who will apply by October 15 for January 2018 enrollment.  I fear that this group ends up receiving a little less care from us than they deserve, as October 15 is squooshed in between the rush of the semester’s start and the busy build-up to the following September’s enrollment process.

So, my prospective Januarian friends. What does it mean to start your Fletcher degree in January, rather than September?  First, let’s note that only the MALD, MA, and MIB programs allow January enrollment.  And then I’ll say that there’s effectively no curricular difference whether you start in January or September.  Sure, the MIB pre-session would end up being “pre” your second semester, rather than your first, and there are a few other sequencing differences.  But on the whole, the programs play out the same way whether you start in the spring semester or the fall.  Plus, by joining an already-in-progress student community, you’ll soon be swept in with the crowd and you’ll look like a pro.

One significant difference between January and September enrollment is that Januarians have two summers to work with.  Some students will pursue internships in both summers, while others might use one for research or language study.  For career changers, this can be very useful indeed.

As for the application itself, what should you be thinking about now?  With a little less than a month to go before the deadline, ideally you already have a master plan — testing is done (or at least scheduled), recommendations have been requested, and essays have been outlined.  If you’re not quite at that point, then get going on the test dates and recommendations.  You can always push yourself, but you can’t hurry former supervisors or professors.  And you certainly can’t make a test date appear where none exists.

If you’re planning to participate in an evaluative interview, remember that you should schedule your appointment for before the application deadline.  Check the schedule and find a time that works for you.  The interview program kicks off next Monday (September 25) and next week is nearly booked up already.  There are still plenty of appointments available in the following week, but don’t dawdle — grab your preferred time!

There.  That should get our prospective Januarians going.  But for anyone on the fence about when to apply, I’ll mention that while the spring semester starts with a little less hoopla than the fall, there’s something special about jumping into Fletcher alongside a smaller group of fellow students.  Most Januarian classes stay close throughout their Fletcher experience, even as they melt into the student community.

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I have two more posts to share from the Class of 2016 before I move on to last May’s graduating class.  Today, Nathalie Hudson tells us about her experience since completing the MIB program 15 months ago, much of her time apparently having been spent on an airplane.

My year since Fletcher can mostly be described as an international one — I’ve accumulated over 50,000 airmiles (yes, I realize my carbon footprint it terrible…) and visited 16 countries.  The year started with an MIB wedding in Japan, and my one-year milestone since moving to Addis Ababa with Dalberg Global Development Advisors is going to be marked with a training in Bangkok and a music festival in Uganda.  In between I’ve danced to Bollywood music at Dalberg’s global retreat in India, had tea with pineapple farmers in Guinea, hiked up mountains and celebrated a wedding with some Fletcher favorites in Argentina, and helped organize a 100-person Iftar dinner in Tanzania.  All this while adjusting to life in Ethiopia, and contributing to growing our Dalberg Addis office from three people to 10 people.  It’s been an exciting and challenging year, with a new city, a new job and a lot of new responsibilities.

The mobility of this year has not just been linked to my location, it’s also in the nature of the work, with no two weeks ever being the same.  My first project was in Conakry, Guinea, establishing the strategy for the Prime Minister’s new Delivery Unit, specifically its agriculture project.  We were tasked with choosing which sector to work in, and then developing a plan for how to grow the sector in the coming two years.  Our interviews with the Ministry of Agriculture and data analysis of agricultural production led us to discover the once large but now dwindling pineapple industry of Guinea.  We then went out to the fields of Kindia to speak with pineapple farmers, and even visited the Prime Minister’s office to discuss our project.  Having spoken to distinguished guests and officials at Fletcher certainly helped in my preparation, but nothing quite prepares you for having to answer a Prime Minister’s questions directly!

After six weeks in Guinea I went back to Addis, moving from agriculture supply chain strategies to developing a business plan for an infant nutrition and women’s empowerment program in Ethiopia.  As this project ended, I packed my bag again to go to Denmark, creating an emerging market strategy for a large corporate client.  My most recent project was based in Kenya, working with a large pan-African bank to review some of its strategies and partnerships through expert interviews with new and innovate start-ups, and data analysis to understand the biggest opportunities.  In between projects I’ve attended conferences, organized a private-sector business development week in Tanzania, relaunched Dalberg’s inclusive business practice area, and helped set up our Ethiopian office.  The learning curve starts over again after every project, so the pace of change is challenging, but it’s certainly never boring.

These different projects and experiences are informed by either the classes I took or the people I met at Fletcher.  When I first arrived in Guinea I was reading a paper on Guinean agriculture that I realized had been written by a classmate.  When I kicked off our work on emerging market strategy for the Danish company and looked through their annual report, I pulled out my accounting class notes.  And as I do all of these projects while reading through the news coming out of Europe and the U.S. on a daily basis, I go back to my Historian’s Art class memories to ensure my reactions are informed and measured.

My past year has not only been informed by Fletcher, but was also made possible by Fletcher.  My path into Dalberg, after applying four times previously, was through a Fletcher alum who generously gave me his time for an informational interview 18 months ago, and has now become my boss.  My adjustment to Dalberg was made, and continues to be made, much easier with two Fletcher alums becoming buddies/advisors and answering all of my questions and concerns.

And while packing a suitcase and traveling constantly may sound glamorous, life on a plane (especially when traveling through African airports) is not always fun.  My travels around the world have been made all the more enjoyable because I often have a Fletcher person to have coffee with or host me.  And of course, Fletcher weddings have been a great excuse for adventures and reunions.  Being located next to a hub airport in Addis has also meant I’ve had a few Fletcher visitors myself.

My faith in humanity also continues thanks to ongoing conversations with my classmates, over coffee or on social media.  With the world going a bit mad these days, the presence of Fletcher folks in my Twitter feed continues to give me hope that we’re not doomed just yet.  Professor Khan also gave his time this year, in between writing his latest book, to help me and other alums organize a Historian’s Art Alumni Discussion where we discussed The Trump Presidency as Contemporary History.  It was an incredible way to reconnect with former classmates, and feel the Fletcher vibe again, albeit this time via WebEx while sitting on the shores of Lake Kivu with a dodgy internet connection!

Fletcher prepared me for my new career as a consultant by encouraging me to think critically and with empathy.  It equipped me with lessons in corporate finance, business strategy, financial inclusion, and history, that I use daily (although I still wish I’d paid more attention in Corporate Finance).  It has also given me a network of friends and classmates around the world who are generous with their time and inspiring with their stories.  Last week I made Gold Status on Ethiopian Airlines, a fitting one-year milestone that shows how far I’ve traveled both literally and figuratively in my year since Fletcher.

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Tucked in the corner of a grand room at the Council on Foreign Relations, I enjoyed the APSIA graduate school fair on Tuesday.  With the curtains behind us, we looked pretty fancy.  Most of the evening is a non-stop talk-fest, but there were a few moments when I could chat a little longer with visitors.  I had two alumni with me, Justin, who worked in the Admissions Office for two years, and Atanas, who was a two-year student member of the Admissions Committee and who has sent me occasional updates since he graduated.  They’re both well settled in their post-Fletcher careers and lives, which is great to see.

Before the fair, I had a spare hour and I also met up with my friend and Fletcher alum, Charlie Scott, F94.  We caught up on general life stuff, but I also got the details on his upcoming crazy shenanigans.  (One of his past trips described here.)  He and his “Team See Possibilities” pals will be participating in a run/kayak (or was it run/bike/kayak) endurance challenge at and near the Great Wall in China.  I’ll share details in November when I have them.

I hear that the Washington, DC APSIA fair was also super busy for Liz.  Besides the opportunity to meet folks, the fairs give us a sense of what prospective students know about Fletcher at this point in their application year.  That’s useful for me as blogger — I’ll try to cover some key topics as September and October roll on.

My next fair will be Boston Idealist.  That’s a big one, and I won’t have as grand a setting for the Fletcher table, but I’ll look forward to meeting prospective students from the local area.

 

We’re kicking off our fall travel schedule this week!  By the end of the weekend, Liz, Dan, Kristen, and I will all have gone somewhere, whether for a day or for a more extended trip.  For an overview, check out our travel calendar.

As I write, I’m about to grab my bag and head for the T (subway) to South Station, where I’ll start my trip to the New York APSIA Graduate School Fair.  If you’ll be there, please be sure to say hi.  I have two alumni booked in to help and I’m looking forward to catching up with them as well as meeting future students.

 

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