This has been a very strange and sad week in the Boston area, but I was determined to close out the week on a positive note. Tomorrow is the deadline for making enrollment decisions for most of our admitted students, which means that we’ll soon welcome a new class to Fletcher (YAY!), but also say goodbye to many applicants who have made the decision to pursue another opportunity. (We wish you all the best in your future studies!)
But even as we try to answer the last minute questions of applicants making their final decision, our work is interrupted by the events of the week. Tufts University is closed today while law enforcement officials pursue suspects in Monday’s crime. Admissions staffers will try to keep up with your questions by email.
I want to revisit the terrific positive spirit that usually surrounds the Boston Marathon. Our two-year Admissions intern and friend, Hillary, took pictures from the post where she and other Boston-area Returned Peace Corps Volunteers distribute water at each year’s event. Here’s a photo that another RPCV took of Hillary.
And then there’s the spirit that accompanied the unexpected events of the day. This article features Brennan Mullaney, MALD student. Maybe Brennan was your interviewer if you visited last fall!
In such a strange week, I’m grateful for my long connection to Fletcher and all the fantastic students, such as Brennan and Hillary, who make every day interesting. As Dean Bosworth wrote to the community earlier this week:
Yesterday’s events remind us, in an all too poignant and tragic fashion, of the important work that lies ahead for all of you (and us) in advancing Fletcher’s mission of understanding and mutual respect, and making our interdependent world more safe and secure.
We look forward to resuming Fletcher’s mission on Monday.
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.
I’m writing at about 10:30, the time when Fletcher starts to buzz each day. There were students in Mugar Café when I grabbed my coffee at 10, and I’ve already met with a visitor. In other words, Fletcher is back to normal. But it’s hard for me to have the blog ignore what happened yesterday and carry on as usual. I think I’ll hold off one more day before returning to more admissions-ish topics.
For now, I’ll acknowledge that yesterday was a sad day indeed. Patriots’ Day, with the annual running of the Boston Marathon, is generally a happy day. Whether we know someone running the race or not, we celebrate this long-lived event and its annual demonstration of athleticism, perseverance, and strength of will.
Today, while we keep those wounded by the attack in mind, for most of us it’s a sunny day like many others, at least at the surface. Our lovely Boston, and its surrounding cities such as Somerville and Medford, is the home of a million people and the temporary home of thousands and thousands of students. Yesterday we experienced a temporary discontinuity in our easy love of this beautiful city. Today, we’re back to express our affection for our interesting, historical, international, diverse, intellectual, technological, fun home. Those of you who live nearby know that Boston is already moving forward. Those of you who are farther away should know that this is a strong place that will not be defined by a single event, however sad.
Finally, a word about the University’s response. With a large number of runners in the Tufts Marathon Team, there was an intense effort to ensure the well-being of all students and members of the community. Two students, not from Fletcher, were injured but are reported to be recovering. The University arranged transportation from Boston to the Medford campus, and notified us of its availability through the excellent emergency notification system that has been in place for several years. Fletcher students, many having experienced emergencies in other locations, quickly established a mechanism to account for each other. An interfaith gathering took place on campus last night, and students and staff have learned of the availability of counseling. All in all, a quick and thorough response to the events, which makes us proud to be part of Tufts.
What started out as a lovely cool and sunny marathon day has ended with sadness. Blog readers might want to know that all Fletcher runners have been heard from. Students established a google doc on which they reported back about themselves or on classmates they have heard from. The Tufts University Medical Center is attending to many of the wounded, and the University is working to contact all Tufts runners.
Thank you to friends around the world who are thinking of Boston right now.
Today is Patriot’s Day, a public holiday in only Massachusetts and Maine. The Admissions Office is closed, as is the rest of Tufts University, so that the Tufts Marathon Team members don’t need to worry about classes. (Well, maybe the University is closed because it’s a public holiday — not only because of the Marathon.) In any event, send us your questions by email, and we will respond on Tuesday.
A current student, Ayako, graduated from Wellesley College, right on the Marathon course. There’s a Wellesley tradition to cheer on the Marathoners, and Ayako’s successors have made this sign at her request, to support our team.
Tagged with: Boston Marathon
Though time is tight, students at local colleges might want to submit a pitch for a product in the Extreme Inclusion Competition.
Those without a product to pitch, as well as all other blog readers, may want to attend the Extreme Inclusion Conference on May 2, a conference exploring the role and impact of financial services in reducing poverty and generating well-being for marginalized populations. The conference will be hosted by Fletcher, in partnership with MasterCard Worldwide and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Here’s information from the conference organizers about the keynote speaker:
We are pleased to announce that Reverend James Lawson, Activist and Principal Strategist for the American Civil Rights Movement, will deliver the keynote address ”Demanding Inclusion.”
We are honored to have Reverend Lawson underscore the civic and economic power of systemically marginalized groups to catalyze change as we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington. Reverend Lawson is one of the extraordinary individuals profiled in A Force More Powerful. The film, PBS Series, and book challenge the common misconception that violence is the ultimate form of power in times of conflict. Martin Luther King, Jr. called Reverend Lawson “the leading theorist and strategist of nonviolence in the world.”
Reverend Lawson will be introduced by David R. Harris, Provost and Senior Vice President, Tufts University and editor of The Colors of Poverty: Why Racial and Ethnic Disparities Persist.
You can register for the conference here.
Tagged with: Conferences
In only four days, on Monday, April 15, Boston will host its famous annual marathon. In addition to well-known long-distance runners, you’ll find the Tufts Marathon Team, which includes a Fletcher squad. And one of the Fletcher runners is student blogger Scott Snyder.
Spring semester assignments are coming due and internship application season is in full gear, but I’ve also been concentrating on another yearlong goal — the Boston Marathon.
For the 10th year running (no pun intended) the Tufts Marathon Team (TMT), which consists of students, alumni and staff, will run to raise money for Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, mainly geared towards fighting child obesity. I had heard about the opportunity to run the marathon before I started this year, but didn’t realize how much fun it would be to train under coach Donald Megerle and with the team.
I ran my first marathon last summer in the grasslands of Inner Mongolia and trained all over Asia — Myanmar, Vietnam, Singapore, and cities throughout China. I didn’t think training in Boston, with a bunch of people who run at different speeds, would be as interesting and fun as that experience. Turns out it has been even better and has given me an outlet outside of the classroom — like so many of the opportunities here at Fletcher.
During this training process I have spent my weekends running the actual course — from Hopkinton, through Wellesley and Newton, to downtown Boston — so I’ll start the race having run the whole route and knowing all those brutal hills. I’ve run Heartbreak Hill about six times; if you don’t know the myth/story behind it, you can view it here. Along with my training partner, fellow Fletcherite Morgan Lerette, I trained on the route twice with Greg Meyer, the 1983 Boston Marathon winner with a time of 2:09:00 and the last American to win it. We got to hear plenty of stories about training in Boston during those two runs — luckily he’s a good storyteller.
Running is a passion of mine, and along with the TMT, Fletcher also has a running club, if you are not up for running 26.2 miles in April. There are also numerous other clubs here that can fit with your own personal and professional interests. All these clubs are student run and are always looking for new leaders to take them over. They bring in renowned speakers, put on conferences, and most importantly, sponsor our weekly Social Hours (really, Happy Hours) to educate the student body on the issues of the day.
So, not matter how busy Fletcher will make you academically, you can always find time to put in hours working on something that may be different from whatever you are doing in the classroom. Or, if you are a very studious individual, you can build on your academic interests through your clubs focus.
Scott’s photo above includes from left to right, second-year MALD student Mario, head of the Fletcher running club, Marathon-winner Greg Meyer, Scott, and running-partner Morgan. Fletcher TMT runners, whose profiles can be found on the TMT page, are: Natalie Bowlus; Oscar Camargo; Katherine Ferrari; Jacob Fromer; Amy Heading; Alex Kaz; Morgan Lerrette; Brennan Mullaney; Tomo Nagasaki; Maki Nakata; Jane Phelan; Davie Wallsh; and Annie Wanlund.
Before starting off my master’s degree at Fletcher, I had worked for several years in the public sector of my native Romania, and I had been academically and professionally trained in law and international security studies. It was not a surprise that, in my first year at the Fletcher School, I would pursue a fairly natural continuation of related studies.
Halfway through my degree however, I decided to step out of my comfort zone and leap into uncharted territory: energy and natural resources economics. My second-year coursework ranged from Professor Bill Moomaw’s clean tech and energy policy classes, to development economics and finance. While I was working on my master’s thesis on energy policy in China, I learned about a Global Consulting class that was pairing up a small group of students with different organizations to work on their designated projects. I chose an energy consulting project proposed by Hitachi, and six months into the project I was selected to continue working at Hitachi’s headquarters in Tokyo on renewable energy projects and policy recommendations. This extraordinary opportunity to work on tangible energy projects while furthering my education has unquestionably swayed me into the professional direction that I am pursuing today.
Five years after my graduation, energy has become central to my professional craft and it blends in seamlessly with the unparalleled interdisciplinary education in international law, finance, and economics that I received at Fletcher. In my work, I assist governments in Sub-Saharan Africa — primarily in Namibia, Mozambique, Rwanda, Kenya, Nigeria, and Lesotho — to enable the development of grid-connected renewable energy projects, to mobilize independent power producers, and to facilitate the formation of competitive electricity markets in their respective countries.
Tagged with: Five-Year Updates
The morning after the Open House for us, but we know that many of yesterday’s visitors are continuing a school-by-school tour of the east coast, so let’s stay with the topic of choosing a grad school.
Responding to last week’s blog reader survey, one wag of a respondent asked: What sets Fletcher apart from X and Y? Please make my choice easier . Of course, the reader didn’t write X and Y, but rather the names of two of our friendly competitor schools. I’ve taken out the names because we never say anything negative about our peers. Not even when they create copycat admissions blogs.
But I digress.
So relying on the power of the Social List, I asked students to tell me why they chose Fletcher. Here, in no special order, are the responses.
Three things. First, the flexibility of the curriculum, which personally I preferred over more structure. Second, the fantastic professors who are very rooted in practice. Third, the dynamic energy of the students, who have more diverse experiences and perspectives than I think I’ve seen anywhere else!
The sense of community I perceived among Fletcher students I met before enrolling was one of the biggest factors for me. I also liked how flexible one could be academically at Fletcher.
The key feature of Fletcher that led me to enroll here was the focus on the intersection of the private and public sectors. I’m interested in how private businesses can work with public sector institutions, and my experiences here at Fletcher, inside and outside the classroom, have helped me further my pursuit of such a career. I applied and was accepted to several joint degree (MBA/MA in IR) programs and Fletcher was able to combine both of these aspects without my needing to enroll in such a three-year program.
I chose Fletcher because I love public service. I plan to work for an international organization, and later return to Colombia to serve my country and further international cooperation in the fight against drug trafficking. Accordingly, I decided to come to The Fletcher School to learn the necessary skills in the area of international law. I want to focus on how international agreements can affect state behaviors on security and foreign policy, and the importance of including human rights in public policies related to security and transnational crime. The Fletcher School is an international forum of leadership. I have access to world-leading professors and experts in international law and security, and that has been awesome! I want to dedicate this period of my life to my education, and in the long-run devote all of my energies to working toward a better future for Colombia.
I chose Fletcher for two main reasons. First, and most important from my perspective, was the incredible sense of community at Fletcher. In all of my interactions with alumni, current students, administration, and faculty, I felt a truly unique sense of community that I really admired and wanted to be part of. Visiting Fletcher confirmed that for me, when I got to see for myself the collaborative and supportive nature of the student body, and just how open, inviting, and incredibly diverse Fletcher students are in their experiences and passions. In addition, I chose Fletcher because of the flexibility of its curriculum. I find it extremely valuable that I have so much autonomy over the classes I take here. I like being able to broaden my academic experience with classes in several fields that interest me (development economics, diplomacy, and gender studies). Having no specific core requirements has left a lot of flexibility to study what I am most passionate about, while still leaving me the opportunity to challenge myself with difficult ‘core-like’ courses (statistics, econometrics, etc.) when I choose to take them.
I just want to respond to one concern that I’ve heard raised about Fletcher, in comparison to some other schools: “I’m not sure if suburban Medford is where I want to be for my mid-twenties” — i.e. I’d rather be in the heart of an urban center with lots of exciting diversions for twenty-somethings. First of all, Fletcher isn’t very far at all from plenty of exciting cultural diversions in Davis/Cambridge/downtown Boston, etc. But I think in general, making a decision about grad school based on whether the location has those types of things is not necessarily very fruitful. The reality is that grad school is a lot of work, and no matter where you’re located, you won’t have that much time to be exploring cities and going to clubs/plays etc. That isn’t really the purpose of grad school, after all. That definitely doesn’t mean that grad school has to be all work and no fun — it just means that in your free time you may be more focused on getting to know the interesting people around you, which you can do whether you’re in a hip club or at a dinner party at someone’s house. I think of my mid-twenties as the last time I’ll be able to really fully immerse myself in an academic community, both a community inside of the classroom and outside, whereas I’ll have more than enough time to live in the heart of big cities for the rest of my life.
Finally, there’s this story:
I decided to enroll in Fletcher after a fairly circuitous path. When I was an 18-year-old international relations major, I always considered Fletcher the place one would naturally aspire to go for grad school. However, instead of following my intended path of becoming a diplomat, I graduated wanting to become a community organizer and urban farmer. Years later, after a variety of professional experiences related to sustainable agriculture and community development in Chicago and Thailand, I thought that urban planning and environmental policy programs would be the best fit for my graduate education. Therefore, I applied to graduate programs that were apples and oranges when compared to each other: urban planning, public policy, agriculture, and environmental management. Fletcher was the only APSIA school to which I applied, and the only one that was explicitly internationally focused. I knew in the back of my mind that Fletcher was the only place that would truly allow me to explore the wide variety of interests I had, particularly as related to human security, systems thinking, environment and resource policy, and international development.
There were multiple aspects of Fletcher that ultimately led me to enroll here. The first was flexibility, both in the admissions process (I deferred so I could stay longer in Thailand to work and travel) and in academics. The second was financial. Fletcher seemed to be the only school that truly understood my situation after volunteering in Thailand for a year. The third, and most important, was the community. Given the fact that I couldn’t attend the Admissions Open House, I relied on Skype and email to contact as many Fletcher students as possible from Thailand. While I waited weeks to hear back from students at other schools, Fletcher students responded promptly and at length. What I loved from the students was a continuous theme of “Tell me about yourself and allow me to help you figure out how your interests could fit in at Fletcher. We want you to make the best decision for YOU, not because ‘Fletcher is the best place.’” Today, I could not see myself anywhere else. The community has been outstanding and, thanks to my Field Studies in Global Consulting class this semester, I’ve rediscovered my passion for urban planning and housing issues, and will be self-designing a field of study in international urban planning and development.
As you can see, students come to their decision in different ways, but I hope you’ll note the two key themes that emerge: flexibility in the curriculum, and the community. They’re two of the consistent qualities of a Fletcher education.
Tagged with: Why Fletcher?
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