This has been an exciting week for Fletcher entrepreneurs and competitors. Participation in business competitions, both in our local area and beyond, has been an increasingly common aspect of the graduate school experience for many Fletcher students, and 2017 brought some noteworthy successes. Here’s a run-down of the wins that students have achieved after a year of preparation for end-of-year competitions.
First, in Tufts University’s own $100K New Ventures Competition, Peter Sacco, F17 has taken first place in the $50K Social Impact track for Adelante Shoes, winning $16K in cash and the remainder coming from in-kind services. Adelante is also a 2016 Ideas Competition winner. Peter has pioneered a new Living Well social impact model right here at Fletcher.
Even more locally, Meghan Li, F18, is the 2017 Fletcher D-Prize winner for her fintech nonprofit ComeonGirls, and she has won $10K plus in-kind mentoring and support worth up to $20K to spend the summer “interning” with her start up. She will be piloting her scholarship platform on WeChat, matching donors in China with deserving girls in rural Western China.
And, shifting back to the Tufts $100K, Daphne Warlamis, F17 and her team at Lithio Storage took third place in the General/High Tech Ventures track.
Finally, exciting news for a Fletcher team that has taken second place in the in the highly selective, international MBA Impact Investing Network & Training (MIINT) Competition at the Wharton School. The Fletcher team beat out top MBA programs such as NYU-Stern, Columbia, and Dartmouth-Tuck to receive up to $25K for their agtech startup. The Fletcher team members, all due to graduate in May 2017, are McKenzie Smith, Michael Cretz, Mayu Tanaka, Alex Chamberlin, and Ashraya Dixit. That’s McKenzie, our student blogger!
This is quite a testament to the growing focus on entrepreneurship here at Fletcher! Congratulations to all the Fletcher entrepreneurs and competitors.
Tagged with: Business competitions
Thanks to a group of student-leaders, this week at Fletcher is Leadership Week, featuring daily activities that all link to the leadership theme. Here’s what the line-up of early evening activities will bring us.
Monday, April 10
Public speaking and presentation workshop, led by two Fletcher students.
Tuesday, April 11
Panel discussion featuring diplomatic, military, private, and nonprofit perspectives on leadership within and across those sectors. Panelists include Fletcher’s State Department fellow, a military fellow with the International Security Studies Program, a leader of the Fletcher Consulting Group, and other students.
Wednesday, April 12
Leadership workshop with Professor Alnoor Ebrahim.
Thursday, April 13
Presentation and discussion of The Leader’s Bookshelf by Dean Stavridis, hosted by Ginn Library, followed by a reception sponsored by the dean’s office.
As preparation for the sessions on both Wednesday and Thursday, take a look at this video, in which Professor Ebrahim interviews Dean Stavridis.
Tagged with: Dean Stavridis
One of the questions we hear most often at this time of year asks whether students often work on campus and, if so, how they find their jobs. That makes this the perfect opportunity to introduce “Q&A with Cindy” — a new occasional feature in which our Graduate Assistant Cindy will answer some of the questions popping up most often in the Fletcher Admissions inbox. Obviously, Cindy has found herself a job, so let’s have her describe the process.
Even before submitting my application to Fletcher, I was already thinking about how I would support myself while in graduate school. The reality of a Fletcher education is that the tuition and average housing cost you will pay is expensive, but I like to consider it an investment in my future career and professional network. That being said, I started researching right away how to obtain a job either on or off campus.
The JobX website became my best friend the summer before coming to Fletcher, when I was already living in the area after completing my work as a teacher. This website is run by Tufts University and utilized by both employers to post jobs and students to explore what opportunities are available. If you click on “Students” then “Find a Job,” it takes you to a page where you can filter for both on- and off-campus jobs and also whether the job is “work study.”* I was able to get in touch with several employers through this website to obtain more information about positions. I looked at jobs within the Study Abroad Office, Tufts Student Services, The Tisch College of Civic Life, and various undergraduate departments. I was lucky to obtain a summer job before starting at Fletcher, which gave me extra money for living expenses.
My second best friend (or enemy, depending on how many messages I received each day) was my email inbox. At the beginning of my first semester, I was inundated with emails about student organizations, events at Fletcher, classes being offered, and, luckily, available jobs at Fletcher. After sorting through what was important and what was not, I came across an email from the Fletcher Office of Admissions about an open position. One thing led to another, and I am now happily working as a Graduate Assistant with the Admissions Team.
Aside from my particular job, there are other types of employment available to students. You can reach out to professors who teach at Fletcher or at the undergraduate level who may be looking for teaching or research assistants. There are also tutoring positions, sometimes available through the Fletcher Graduate Writing Center. For those of you who are comfortable with the dorm lifestyle, you can look into becoming a Graduate Residence Director. Of course, there is always the option of doing your own off-campus hunt for retail, food service, or other jobs that fit your weekly schedule.
One thing to keep in mind is that whatever job you take will mostly help to cover your living expenses. Realistically, your job earnings will not contribute much towards chipping away at your tuition. Despite this, I hope some of the job information provided above has been helpful to you.
Good luck and happy job hunting!
*Note that people use the phrase “work study” in two ways. One is simply to refer to a job that fits a student schedule. The other is an official program for U.S. citizens and permanent residents. Some offices will only hire students who have the official “work study” funding, though many will not impose that restriction.
There are some cool things happening in the security studies area here. It’s always a vibrant program, but incoming students will experience a fresh element. Starting in September, a new “Bridge Professor,” with a focus on cybersecurity, will join us on a dual appointment with the Department of Computer Science in the School of Engineering. Professor Susan Landau will be only the second Bridge Professor to be appointed since the University created these cross-disciplinary positions. The search committee felt her background, straddling the technical and the policy areas, was unique. Here’s a Tufts Daily article that provides more details.
In a week when much of my time has been dedicated to newly admitted students, I’d like to turn to one of our 2011 graduates. Imad Ahmed arrived at Fletcher with a varied set of experiences behind him during the five years after he had completed his undergraduate degree. While in the MIB program at Fletcher, Imad pursued an exchange semester in Paris, and five years out, he’s continuing his education.
My Fletcher MIB taught me International Finance and International Business and Economic and Law. Though I had read economics for my undergrad degree at University of California, Berkeley, my five years prior to Fletcher had nothing to do with either of these fields. I co-ran a successful fundraising office for an unsuccessful U.S. presidential campaign in 2004, documented national and provincial campaigns to encourage women to run for office in Pakistan in 2005, worked as a journalist, and finally worked as an entrepreneur in London, seeking to create jobs in Pakistan.
After Fletcher and my semester at HEC Paris, I returned to London to work in frontier market private equity. I was excited about the jobs we would and did create. I was less excited about extracting value from negotiating hard against an African parastatal. The Rwandan government then recruited me to assist them in negotiating infrastructure with private developers, which I did for four years, as well as serve as a Special Policy Advisor to their Secretary to the Treasury. I served competently, in large thanks to my Fletcher education and subsequent investment associate training. Also in large part due to Fletcher, I was never short of friends in Kigali, where I proudly held our flag and congregated our community. I met 100 Fletcher classmates (sometimes while out dancing after midnight!), student interns and alumni (sometimes on the opposite side of the negotiating table!).
Besides providing me with new skills and networks, Fletcher reoriented my mindset. The uber-travelled student body motivated me to double the countries I’d lived in, and to add a fourth continent to match the class average. (With six countries to my name now that I’m five years out, I might have fallen behind!)
The mature students at Fletcher doing their second master’s degrees brought rich tales and richer philosophies. One of them started work life as a chef, before becoming an international banker. His words about periodically returning to school to sharpen one’s toolkit and to reflect remained with me, and allowed me to think of my own return later. (He himself is now a research director and PhD student at Fletcher.)
The consistent theme to my career has been that I’ve operated as a critical idealist, finding gaps in the value of my work. Following on from my work in Rwanda, I am now pursuing a PhD at University College London. I am assessing how governments can prioritize infrastructure projects for the purpose of most effectively reducing rural poverty.
In a now yearly blog tradition, I’ve reached out to student organization leaders and members and asked them to provide an “Annual Report” for their group. I look forward to sharing details on the amazing work (or fun) that these groups have been doing in their “free time” throughout the year. With thanks to the FSIG team, here is the first of the reports.
Fletcher Social Investment Group
Passionate about impact investing or social enterprises and keen to explore these fields further at Fletcher? The Fletcher Social Investment Group (FSIG) is a student-run organization dedicated to the study and practice of impact investing, as well as the development of the next generation of leaders in social investment. To accomplish these goals, FSIG facilitates opportunities for Fletcher students across three core areas: advisory services to social enterprises, investment analysis and due diligence for angel investors, and research and education on impact investing.
Over the past academic year, FSIG members took on nine client-facing advisory projects, focused on domestic and foreign market entry strategies, business model design for new customer segments, and pre-fundraising valuation support. Within due diligence, FSIG teams provided support in the form of deal assessment and sector-specific research to Investor’s Collaborative, a network of angel investors in the Boston area, and Kiva, a crowdlending platform that recently started lending directly to social enterprises. Combined, FSIG’s Fall 2016 and Spring 2017 advisory and due diligence services are worth more than $50,000 in pro-bono support.
Five FSIG members continue to compete in the MBA Impact Investing Network and Training (MIINT) competition, through which they have been able to step into the shoes of an impact investor and develop a thesis, source, screen, diligence, and ultimately pitch a social enterprise at the competition. This month, our team will travel to the Wharton School to pitch their company against those of 24 other top business and graduate schools. We wish our team luck at the competition and hope they’ll bring home the top prize — $50,000 investment in the company they pitch!
For members who cannot commit to a client-facing project, FSIG also holds a number of events throughout the semester. In 2016-2017, these included a special leadership workshop for our team leads, taught by Professor Alnoor Ebrahim, a skill-based session on valuing early-stage start-ups taught by Professor Pat Schena, and a video conference on the topic of raising capital from the perspective of social entrepreneurs.
The 2016-2017 academic year also saw FSIG further its commitment to facilitating career opportunities in impact investing and social enterprises through a Boston Career Trek, held in partnership with peer organizations at Harvard Business School and MIT Sloan.
“This outward spring and garden are a reflection of the inward garden,” writes Rumi, my favorite poet. Jalaluddin Rumi — for those of you who don’t know — was a 13th-century Persian Sunni Muslim poet, jurist, Islamic scholar, theologian, and Sufi mystic. I love his poetry because his metaphors are so powerful, and I constantly find ways that his words relate to my own life experiences.
Spring break was quite rejuvenating. Unfortunately the Fletcher Pakistan Trek did not work out, so instead I went home to Alexandria, VA. I soaked in the sunshine during the annual Washington, DC cherry blossom festival, drank lots of Pakistani chai and Kashmiri kahwa, and ate a ton of my mom’s delicious homemade foods. The nourishment was much needed, as it brought back to life my exhausted soul. My “inward garden” is now full of excitement for the second half of this semester, prayers for my final exams and projects, and well wishes for my peers who are graduating in May.
When I arrived back on campus last Monday, I smiled ear to ear when I noticed — quite literally! — an “inward” tree blossoming near the Ginn Library’s main entrance. This wasn’t just any tree, however. Instead of cherry blossoms or flower buds, strips of pure white, pastel green, and soft peach cotton pieces hung from its branches.
I knew what this was: it was a “Wish Tree.”
Let me back up and tell you a little about how this tree came about. Over winter break, Ginn Library solicited photographs from students, staff, and faculty for their Perspectives Gallery, an exhibit that “highlights world cultures with the hope of promoting understanding and tolerance.” I submitted a few shots from my time in Turkey, and much to my surprise, two of my photographs were selected for the gallery. One of these photos depicted an unusual tree that, when I first saw it, gave me a weird sense of déjà vu, but moments later, took me down memory lane.
The tree reminded me of driving up the curvy, dirt road towards our home in a mountainous village in northwestern Pakistan, when we would always pass by a tree, outside of a cemetery, draped in colorful scraps of cloth. When I would wander the road on my own, this tree served as a familiar landmark that I was close to home. During these excursions, I always wondered why people forgot to pick up their laundry from the tree.
On a visit to Pakistan in summer 2011, I finally asked my father why people tied cloths to this tree and left them there. He explained that the cloths were a physical representation of prayers or wishes that people were asking God, and because trees are sacred creations and symbols of life, people hoped to connect with God through nature. Often the prayer or wish is related to health or fertility, but it could also be a request for help, guidance, repentance, strength, or hope.
When I stumbled upon the “Wish Tree” during my travels in Cappadocia, Turkey last year, I was reminded of my father’s words. But unlike the tree from my childhood, this tree had noticeably more white cloths than colorful strips, and instead of being next to a cemetery, it rested next to a rack of broken pottery. In Islam, white symbolizes purity and peace, and is the color that is worn at funerals. I was captivated by the irony of this scene — the colorful pottery hanging by a dried up riverbed, horses roaming in search of grass or water, deserted caves longing for their inhabitants and worshipers; yet the living tree reaching toward heaven in the clear blue skies, its branches heavy with wishes, dreams, and hopes of people from around the world. I would never have realized at first glance that this abandoned scene was home to such a beautiful spiritual life.
Tying cloths to trees is an ancient tradition that is actually quite common across many cultures around the world. The ritual is practiced by the Irish, Scottish, Thai, Chinese, Tibetans, and even Native Americans, to name a few.
When I shared this story with library staff members Cynthia Rubino and Anulfo Baez, they were inspired to bring the Wish Tree to Fletcher. Thanks to their creativity and efforts, anyone who walks through the Ginn Library can now jot down wishes and hang them on the tree. I invite all visitors to Fletcher this spring to stop by Ginn, grab a black Sharpie and a piece of cloth from the basket, and make a wish. And because you’ll be in the library, here’s a reminder from Rumi: “Raise your words, not voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.”
7:35 this morning found me elbow-to-elbow with my Admissions pal Kristen, registering visiting prospective students who are at Fletcher for the Admitted Student Open House. We sent them off to the coat racks and to breakfast, and then we heard from Dean Sheehan about his own path to Fletcher. (Dean Sheehan is the dean for all sorts of things that aren’t academic.)
The next set of comments came from two current students — who both shared tales of internships/jobs already arranged with the support of Fletcher alumni — and then the crowd was divided by degree program for program-specific introductions. The remainder of the day is a constant challenge in decision making: attend a class; attend a student panel; visit an office; participate in a roundtable. At 5:00, we hope they’ll remember to swing back to Admissions and grab their bags.
Good idea, pink bag student! You won’t have trouble recognizing your suitcase.
Even after our formal activities have wrapped up, there’s an open event at 5:30, Fletcher Reads the Newspaper, which gathers a group of interdisciplinary Fletcher experts to discuss a current news topic. The Fletcher Reads the Newspaper series is, according to the announcement, “a platform for integrating the skills and contextual knowledge that are central to a Fletcher education, where panelists and audience members participate in examining the problem – and the solutions – through multiple disciplinary lenses.” The subject for this evening’s session is:
Resolved: “The US and international system of checks and balances will contain the extremes of the Trump Administration”
Visitors in the audience will be more than welcome to participate, alongside current students.
I admit, the Admissions staff will not be joining the discussion. We’ll be on our way home, where I think it’s fair to say, we all look forward to swapping shoes for slippers. We’ve been on our feet and enjoying meeting people whose applications we remember since 3:30 yesterday. The Open House is a really fun event, but just crazy enough that we’re also happy to wrap it up at the end of the day.
It’s noon now and I’m going to grab my box lunch before heading off to a few lunchtime discussion sessions, to check in with the faculty leaders. Then back to Admissions to answer questions, a student panel at 3:20, more questions at 4:30, and farewells at 5:00. A long but happy day!
Tagged with: Open House
This year, several offices at Fletcher worked together to create a single resource for “Support for Experiential Learning.” The resulting webpage serves as a clearinghouse of grant and fellowship opportunities offered to current Fletcher students by research centers and administrative offices to support independent research, conference participation and attendance, and other professional development opportunities. These grant funds are separate from summer internship funds that are offered by the Office of Career Services (and generally won’t be used to support summer internships).
Along with the information resource came a new financial resource: The Fletcher Educational Enrichment Fund, administered by the Admissions Office, which provides grants of up to $3,000 to pursue research, scholarly or professional events, and other similar activities throughout the academic year. Other experiential learning resources currently offered are:
- The IBGC Student Research Fund, which provides up to $2,000 to support travel and research directly relevant to international business, inclusive growth, and emerging market enterprises.
- CIERP Travel Grants, which award travel fellowships (maximum $1,000 in an academic year) for students working with the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy to conduct research, travel, or attend relevant conferences.
- The Feinstein International Center awards summer research grants of up to $3,000 for overseas positions and up to $2,000 for U.S.-based positions related to complex emergencies, humanitarian assistance, refugees and migrants, natural disasters, and food security issues.
- The Hitachi Center for Technology and International Affairs provides summer research grant funding. Projects must have some technology component and be for a capstone or dissertation.
- The IHS Fellowship supports Institute for Human Security doctoral students with grants and fellowships up to $15,000.
- The ISSP Sarah Scaife Foundation, administered by the International Security Studies Program, provides tuition assistance and research support to MALD and PhD students.
Together, these funding sources make it realistic for students to pursue learning opportunities they might otherwise need to forego and further expand the definition of a Fletcher education.
Most winters in the Boston area include a mix of cold and mild days. That doesn’t mean that a little adjustment isn’t necessary, especially for folks from tropical climates. Student blogger Adi made such a climate adjustment this year.
From the moment I received my Fletcher admission letter, people have been warning me about winter in the Northeast region. Most people like to specifically point out “the winter of 2015,” which apparently was the worst the state had seen in years. So I started my Fletcher journey curious, trying to understand how bad it could be exactly, but also quite nervous, considering I come from Indonesia, a tropical country. (The only snow we see is in Hollywood movies.) Even when I lived in Seattle as an undergraduate, snow was not a big concern. I remember back in my sophomore year, we had two inches of snow and the university declared a snow day. That’s how much we didn’t get snow in Seattle.
My wife had already been in Boston for six months when I arrived. She flew into the city during the winter (January to be exact), so she had quite the shock adjusting from Indonesia’s heat to Boston’s snow. Thus, she was the one constantly reminding me to buy the right jacket and snow boots to be sure I would survive my daily commute from Boston to Medford. This semester, Fletcher had two snow days due to storms in the Northeast region. With this amount of snow, Seattle would have had more than a month worth of snow days. Now we’re at the end of March, when people say, “Winter is over and spring is arriving.”
I had one conference that was held while a mini blizzard was happening outside. (Luckily everyone made it to and from the conference safely.) This was a conference I was organizing with a couple of classmates called “Innovate Tufts: Fletcher Disrupts,” and it involved participants from other schools, including Boston University, MIT, and Harvard, as well as professionals from the Boston, DC, and NY areas. We had some contingency planning to do as we sweated over the possibility that one of our conference days would have to be rescheduled or cancelled due to the snow storm. Luckily, everything went according to plan. I am quite proud that none of the speakers cancelled due to the weather, and all-in-all we executed a successful conference amid the “nor’easter” storm.
There were, of course, other stories about how this weather impacted my daily activities as a Fletcher grad student. I slipped once on my way to campus from the Davis T (subway) station. In fact, that whole journey from Davis to Fletcher was made more interesting by the icy roads. What would usually take me no more than 15 minutes ended up being close to half an hour, as I powered through to get to class (thankful that I decided to leave home early that day). But all in all, I would say that my first winter in Massachusetts was not as bad as people warned me it would be, and it was actually quite enjoyable. The snow days gave me extra time to catch up with readings and schoolwork that were starting to pile up. The air felt fresh on my walk to campus. And you really had to enjoy the beautiful places around the Fletcher/Tufts campus that emerged after the snow covered the ground. My wife and I found some great spots to take pictures with all the snow.
In terms of how the climate affected my grad-school flow, I would say it did not affect me as much as I thought it would. Throughout the winter, classes still happened as scheduled, and professors didn’t let us off the hook for late assignments just because of a little snow. I did need to adjust to the early sunset, as opposed to during my pre-session course in the summer when I was able to get drinks with classmates after my 5:00 p.m. class and the sun was still there. But other than that, winter didn’t get in my way.
Though my first winter was quite pleasant, I’m still glad that spring is arriving now, which means fewer layers of jackets. Next year’s winter could be worse, could be better, or it could be the same. Either way, I would say I mastered enough of the learning curve to adapt my activities to winter in the Northeast.
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