Currently viewing the tag: "Annotated Curriculum"

With less than three days until the Class of 2017 gathers to start their celebration with toasts, speeches, and diploma collecting, let’s take a look at the curriculum that Adnan put together for himself in the past two years.  We often say (with likely complete accuracy) that no two students ever take precisely the same set of classes in the MALD program and I hope these annotated curricula help make that clear.  Note that Adnan pursued three Fields of Study.  Only two are required, but many students will complete a third.  And also note that Adnan audited two classes.  A “certified audit” is noted on the student’s transcript.

Pre-Fletcher Experience
I worked as a staff reporter and later an associate editor at Newsweek in Lahore, Pakistan.

Fields of Study
International Information and Communication
International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution
International Business Relations

Capstone Topic
Self Determination in the Context of the Kashmir Conflict.

Post-Fletcher Professional Goals
I would like to pursue a career at the United Nations.

Curriculum Overview

Semester One

International Communication
Social Networks and Organizations – Part I
Social Networks and Organizations – Part II
Global Political Economy
International Legal Order

Returning to school after a five-year gap was exciting, but it also required a great deal of readjustment.  With my background in journalism, I knew International Information and Communication was going to be one of my Fields of Study, so I took the core/required class for it and also both halves of Social Networks.  International Communication with Professor Gideon, whom I had also chosen as my faculty advisor, was among my favorite classes because of the wide range of topics it covered that I could relate to my work experience.  Social Networks offered a fascinating new way of discovering hidden connections in data sets.  It also helped me acquire hard skills like using social network analysis software such as UCINET and NodeXL.  Looking back, I think opting to complete my breadth requirements in my first semester with foundational classes like International Legal Order and Global Political Economy was a wise decision because it strengthened my base for future coursework in international relations.

Semester Two

Strategy and Innovation in the Evolving Context of International Business
Data Analysis and Statistical Methods
Theories of Conflict and Conflict Resolution
The Arts of Communication
Contemporary South Asia (Certified Audit)

International Business was another interest, and I loved that I had the option of contrasting my IR coursework with such classes.  In Strategy and Innovation we studied real-life cases of some of the world’s leading businesses and came up with creative solutions to actual challenges they faced.  An important lesson I learned here was how complex problems can be tackled by asking the most basic questions about the task at hand.  Statistics offered a great opportunity to sharpen my quantitative skills, and Arts of Communication was a unique experience.  Not only did we learn that public speaking, like any skill, can be improved tremendously through rigorous practice, but we got the chance to hear speeches from our classmates and learn things about them we would not have otherwise.  In my second semester, I also decided that I wanted to learn about conflict resolution — it’s applicable everywhere and the Field of Study is a Fletcher flagship.  The core/required class I took provided a solid base for understanding the roots of a variety of conflicts.  Contemporary South Asia didn’t fulfill any of my requirements, but I couldn’t miss the opportunity to study with Professor Ayesha Jalal, a renowned Pakistani historian whose work I had been following long before Fletcher, so I audited it.  I’m glad I was able to do it because it was the first time I looked at South Asia, where I had lived most of my life, through an academic lens, and it provided a fresh perspective on my knowledge of the region.

Summer Internship
UNICEF in New York.

Semester Three

Foundations in Financial Accounting and Corporate Finance
Processes of International Negotiation
Nationalism, Self Determination and Minority Rights
Media, Politics and Power in the Digital Age (cross-registered at Harvard Kennedy School)
Cultural Capital and Development (Certified Audit)

Corporate Finance, the core requirement for the International Business Relations field, was the most challenging class I took in my third semester.  The syllabus was extensive and the workload rather heavy, but looking back it’s also among the classes from which I gained the most practical knowledge.  International Negotiation was also an extremely practical class.  In addition to learning negotiation techniques and practicing them during simulations in class, the assignments that required us to rigorously analyze a conflict of our choice and propose strategies for negotiation taught me a step-by-step method of approaching intractable problems.  I took Nationalism, Self Determination and Minority Rights purely out of an interest in understanding the cause of modern day conflicts and found my Capstone idea here.  Cross-registration at Harvard is a great opportunity we are offered, one I had wanted to pursue since my second semester.  Media, Politics and Power in the Digital Age, taught by Nicco Mele who runs the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at HKS, perfectly complemented my International Communication class from my first semester.  Whereas the latter was more academic and theory-based, the former looked at current issues in the digital world and linked them to politics.  After reading the syllabus for Cultural Capital and Development, I was too intrigued to ignore it, so I audited the class.

Semester Four

Peace Operations
The Historian’s Art and Current Affairs
Introduction to Economic Theory
Independent Study with Professor Hurst Hannum for my Capstone Project

It’s hard to believe my final semester is now over.  Time flies at Fletcher, and I’ve hardly had a chance to reflect on the past two years.  This semester I completed my Negotiation and Conflict Resolution Field of Study with Peace Operations.  What I liked most about it is that it brought together elements of international law, conflict resolution, politics, and history.  A guest speaker in one of our classes said, “peace operations really are the arena of international politics.”  I couldn’t agree more and feel it’s a great class to take in one’s final semester.  Leaving my economics requirement hanging till my last semester was probably not the brightest idea, but with everything else I was trying to squeeze in, it never fit into my schedule earlier.  The Historian’s Art and Current Affairs was my favorite class this semester.  It pushed me to think critically and place decision makers in context to understand the policies they pursued.  I left each session with a life lesson, in addition to some very peculiar facts.  Did you know whales are crucial to security?

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Commencement is coming up soon and three of our student bloggers — Tatsuo, McKenzie, and Adnan — will soon be moving on.  Today, let’s look at how McKenzie pieced together her MIB curriculum.

Pre-Fletcher Experience
Senior Associate, PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP

Fields of Study
International Finance and Banking
International Political Economy

Capstone Topic
Managing Impact: How Impact Funds Can Go Beyond Measuring to Manage Impact Performance Throughout the Fund Lifecycle

Post-Fletcher Professional Goals
Help build the impact investing field and channel more capital to investments that provide both financial and positive social or environmental returns

Curriculum Overview

Semester One: 5 credits

Strategic Management (½ credit, Summer pre-session)
Foundations in Financial Accounting and Corporate Finance
Financial Statement Management
Managerial Economics (½ credit)
Global Investment Management
Emerging Africa in the World Economy

Activities:

The first semester of the MIB program is dominated by core courses that really build the foundational finance, accounting, and strategy skills of a typical business program.  This also means that, as a cohort, we take nearly all our classes together, which is a key driver behind the really strong bonds among MIB students.  Of our core courses, I really enjoyed the economic theories underlying business decisions discussed in our Managerial Economics course.  My favorite course of the semester, however, was Global Investment Management.  I wasn’t sure it was a good decision to take it in my first year, given my business experience to date had focused on strategy, management, and operational efficiency — in short, nothing related to investing or portfolio management.  Perhaps as a result, it is probably the course in which I learned the most at Fletcher in such a short period of time, and it helped me build a strong relationship with Professor Patrick Schena, whose support and mentorship has been an invaluable part of my Fletcher experience.

Finally, I’m a strong believer that the Fletcher “curriculum” is incomplete without mention of the extracurricular activities that abound at this school.  The activities we pursue are more than likely the talking points we use in interviews for summer internships and jobs.  I knew early on that the Fletcher Social Investment Group (FSIG) was one student club that I wanted to be actively involved in, so I joined an FSIG advisory project while also competing in the CFA challenge.  Last, these activities wouldn’t be complete without mention of the periodic MIB “family dinners” and other social events like Culture Nights and Los Fletcheros concerts that make Fletcher the unique community that it is.

Semester Two: 4 credits

Marketing Management (½ credit)
Macroeconomics
International Financial Management
Global Private Equity: From Money In to Money Out (½ credit)
Political Economy of Development

Activities:

  • FSIG advisory project and transition onto FSIG management team for 2016-2017 school year
  • Two-week off-campus certificate program in impact investing and social enterprise management, through the Middlebury Institute for International Studies

In my second semester, I nearly completed my core MIB requirements, with the exception of International Business Transactions.  My favorite courses of the semester were Global Private Equity and International Financial Management.  The first, because much of the coursework involved practical applications of private equity concepts.  For example, we had to develop and pitch an investment thesis as though we were raising a fund.  And later in the semester, we conducted due diligence on real companies whose management we were able to interview to develop our investment recommendation.  International Financial Management surprised me in the extent to which our conversations went beyond finance to the strategic imperatives at the foundation of corporate financing decisions, which help companies manage many types of risk exposure.  I really got a lot out of the course.

On the student activities front, besides transitioning into the CEO position of FSIG, I also took two weeks “off” during the semester to attend a training in impact investing.  I’m not sure that I’d recommend swapping 10 hours in Fletcher classes for 40 hours a week of training — plus catch-up work for Fletcher in the evenings — but by strategically taking only four credits this semester and choosing project teams that were willing to work around my schedule, I was able to make it work.  Plus, the network I built through the certificate program helped me score an exciting summer internship with Edge Growth in South Africa.

Summer Internship
Edge Growth (Johannesburg, South Africa)

As I wrote in a prior post, my time with Edge Growth was a great learning experience.  My boss, Jason, really pushed my thinking about how companies need to evolve on multiple levels when transitioning from their startup phases to more targeted growth and scale phases.  As mentioned, I used my internship as an opportunity to confirm my interest in impact investing and in working with emerging market companies, which definitely colored how I think about the firms I targeted in my job search.

Semester Three: 5 credits

International Business Transactions
Leadership: Building Teams, Organizations, and Shaping Your Path
Econometrics
Market Approaches to Development
Independent study (capstone)

Activities:

  • FSIG management
  • MIINT team lead (part of FSIG)

By far one of my favorite courses at Fletcher, and one I recommend everyone take, is our new professor Alnoor Ebrahim’s course on leadership, teambuilding, and organizations.  I had managed small teams working as a consultant, and Professor Ebrahim’s course provided the perfect time and space for me to reflect on my own leadership style, while learning from the experiences of others in this 100% case-based course.  Professor Ebrahim has an uncanny knack for facilitating discussion and connecting insights from across cases to bring a classroom and content to life.  I also took Econometrics, which allowed me to hone my technical skills and prepare for a spring course on Econometric Impact Evaluation.

Outside of classes, most of my spare time was spent working with Fletcher’s MIINT team to source and screen potential impact investments.  I really enjoyed this portion of the MIINT competition in particular, as it exposed me to a multitude of innovative business models and entrepreneurs who are using market-based solutions to profitably improve the lives of people in emerging markets.

This semester was also the point at which all my activities, coursework, and summer internship experiences converged.  I reached out to connections I’d made in South Africa who turned into resources for the MIINT competition.  I found myself having business development calls for MIINT that led to partnership opportunities for FSIG advisory projects, or drawing on concepts from my International Business Transactions course to think through the risks associated with a potential MIINT investment.

Finally, at some point in this semester, I realized just how far I’d come since my first day in the August pre-session.  I had taken a leap of faith from a comfortable job and had bet on a non-traditional business program, and I felt it was all worth it.  All I had to do was land a job that fit my long-term career goals and enjoy the rest of my time in school, and I could consider grad school at Fletcher a complete success.

Semester Four: 4 credits (that felt like 8…)

Econometric Impact Evaluation
Global Financial Services
The Arts of Communication
Business at the Base of the Pyramid (Harvard Business School)

Activities:

  • Received funding for January capstone travel and research from the Dean’s Research Fund and the Institute for Business in the Global Context
  • FSIG management (transitioned to new leadership)
  • MIINT team lead (continued from fall)
  • TA, International Financial Management
  • Finished capstone!
  • Found a job!

In retrospect, my fourth semester at Fletcher is about twice as loaded as I had intended it to be.  Business at the Base of the Pyramid at HBS is my favorite class, but I would argue that responsibilities outside of class have dominated my time.  I’ve pretty much been running full speed ahead since January, when I received funding to conduct interviews in Nairobi, Kenya to support my capstone.  February flew by, and included a trip to California on a career trek offered by the organizers of the MIINT competition.  In March, I entered multiple rounds of interviews for a few dream jobs, juggling them with multiple Skype sessions and another trip to the west coast, along with my TA responsibilities, coursework, and futile attempts to create time to finish my capstone.  And then I traveled to Philadelphia with Fletcher’s MIINT team for the official competition.  While the hectic hustle has been well worth the chaos, I’m excited to have officially ended my job search (!), passed FSIG off to an amazing new leadership team after spring break, and wrapped up the MIINT.  This has left some down time to spend with the amazing friends I’ve made, before we graduate and move off to all corners of the globe.

I never quite knew what to expect from grad school, especially given the diversity of paths that Fletcher students take.  As I sit here, with only two weeks until I graduate, I cannot believe how quickly the time has flown by or how much I’ve managed to squeeze into just two short years.

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Throughout these past two academic years, you’ve been reading the stories of three students, Tatsuo, Adnan, and McKenzie.  Now it’s time for them to describe their academic pathways for us in their “annotated curriculum” posts.  The first of these is from Tatsuo, who spent three semesters at Fletcher and his fourth semester in an exchange program in Paris.

Pre-Fletcher Experience
Administrative (Legal/Policy) Officer, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, Tokyo, Japan

Fields of Study
Law and Development
Modern Maritime Issues and American Foreign Policy (self-designed Field of Study)

Capstone Topic
“The Needed Technocratic Bureaucracy for Transport Infrastructure Development in LDCs: An Assessment of the Case of Civil Aviation Policies in Timor-Leste” (Advisor: Professor James Fry)

Post-Fletcher Professional Goals
Return to the Ministry as a deputy director to manage Japanese infrastructure policies, including overseas development aid projects.

Curriculum Overview

Semester One

Law and Development
Development Economics: Policy Analysis
Foundations in Financial Accounting and Corporate Finance
Crisis Management and Complex Emergencies

In my first semester, I took two courses on international development studies, which was my top priority for study at Fletcher.  Additionally, I took two courses on finance and security.  These were not the focus of my professional career, but I had heard that the school has a long and deep tradition in the field of security studies and it has also developed resources for business studies.  All of these courses were good for connecting me with Fletcher’s traditional and more recently developed strengths, and it was a good foundation for me as I planned my academic life at Fletcher.

Semester Two

Global Maritime Affairs: International Trade, Security, Energy, and Environmental Issues at Sea
Science Diplomacy: Environmental Security in the Arctic Ocean
The Foreign Relations of the United States Since 1917
International Investment Law
The Islamic World: Political Economy and Business Context (0.5 credit)

Based on my experiences in my first semester, I decided to make my course range broader than what I originally expected.  I had already planned to choose Law and Development as my first Field of Study, and I thought I would also have another development-related second Field.  However, I changed my mind, and decided to design my own Field of Study.  I selected from Fletcher resources linking multiple fields, including security, science, and business to form “Modern Maritime Issues and American Foreign Policy,” and I included various courses ranging from conventional diplomatic studies to emerging fields in science and business.

Summer Internship
The Asia Foundation, Timor-Leste

A second-year MALD student introduced me to the Timor-Leste office of the Asia Foundation, a global international development NGO.  The vice director of the office was also a Fletcher alumnus and he gave me an interesting opportunity to experience the realities of international development.  As I described in a previous post, I focused on policy development for the Timorese civil aviation market based on my practical experiences in Japan and academic studies at Fletcher.  It was the first time for me to live in a “least developed country” and also a great opportunity to connect practical expertise, academic theory, and the actual needs of the people in the field.

Semester Three

Grand Strategy in Diplomacy, Past and Present
Building Long-Term Relationships and Sharing Value with Stakeholders
Political Speechwriting
African Key Economic Issues
Economics and Globalization
Japanese Politics and International Relations (audit)
French A1 (audit)

In my third semester, I studied at Sciences Po in Paris through a Fletcher exchange program.  I took diplomacy and development courses similar to those that I took at Fletcher, in order to compare different perspectives and approaches.  Additionally, I learned about areas in which France leads the world, such as project management and public relations.  I enjoyed not only great French cuisine and wine, but also unique approaches that were very different from what I studied in the U.S.

Semester Four

The Strategic Dimensions of China’s Rise
Cross-Sector Partnerships
International Humanitarian Response (offered jointly by Tufts Friedman School and Harvard School of Public Health)
U.S.-European Relations Since the Fall of the Berlin Wall  (0.5 credit)
Cities, Infrastructures, and Politics: From Renaissance to Smart Technologies (audit at Harvard Graduate School of Design)

In my fourth and final semester, I am taking courses that I chose based only on my curiosity, because I had already taken all my required courses.  Cross-Sector Partnerships and International Humanitarian Response are practical and case-study-based courses that are good for wrapping up my study and internship experiences in the MALD program.  China’s Rise is also a very realistic security studies course, taught by Professor Yoshihara from the U.S. Naval War Collage, that can test what I learned about diplomacy and security.  I expect to acquire another European perspective from U.S.-European Relations, taught by Professor Scharioth, a former German Ambassador to the U.S.  I also wanted to extend my perspective by auditing a Harvard Graduate School of Design course that introduces the views of designers and architects.

When I am back with the Japanese Government, many and various tasks are waiting for me, from economics to security to East Asian security crises to preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.  I am very excited to tackle these issues by using the skills and experiences that I acquired in my two years at Fletcher.  It will be very interesting and exciting.  At the same time, however, I wish I had one more year, or at least one more semester, at Fletcher.

Three student bloggers will graduate on Sunday, Alex, Aditi, and Ali.  They’ve all been particularly great to work with and I’ll miss them!  You can expect to see their words of farewell in the coming weeks, after they have graduated and had a chance to process their experience.  For today, we have Alex’s Annotated Curriculum for his two years in the MIB program.

Pre-Fletcher Experience
Strategy Consultant, Monitor Deloitte in Washington, DC
General Manager, Valsek Nutritional Foods in Addis Ababa

Fields of Study
International Energy Studies (self-designed Field of Study)
International Finance and Banking

Capstone Topic
The PPA Crutch: The Implications of Renewable Energy Power Purchase Agreements in New England (Advisor: Professor Kelly Sims Gallagher)

Post-Fletcher Professional Goals
Develop business models and financing mechanisms to bring renewable energy to scale in new markets

Curriculum Overview

Semester One

Foundations in Financial Accounting and Corporate Finance
Financial Statement Management
Strategic Management (½ credit, Summer pre-session)
Managerial Economics
The Arts of Communication
Climate Change and Clean Energy Policy
Managing Operations in Global Companies: How the World’s Best Companies Operate (Audit)

My first semester was all about laying the groundwork for a meaningful time at Fletcher.  The core MIB classes, especially Finance, helped our cohort develop the key business skills necessary to be successful at Fletcher and beyond.  Perhaps more importantly, taking a few classes as a group really brought the MIB class together, which has been invaluable both academically and personally.  I also greatly enjoyed my elective classes like Communication and Clean Energy Policy, as mentioned in previous posts, and the professors have turned into great mentors over time.

Semester Two

International Business Strategy & Operations
Marketing Management
Macroeconomics
Political Economy & Business of the EU
Engineering, Economics, and Regulation of the Electric Power Sector (at MIT)
Global Private Equity: From Money In to Money Out (Audit)

In my second semester, I finished up my MIB requirements and started to delve deeper into my energy concentration.  My business classes felt very much like B-School, in terms of the content they covered and the hard skills they built, with one big difference: I was taking them at an international affairs school.  As such, my professors and classmates brought an incredible depth and breadth of international experience to bear, and the policy context was always discussed.  I also took an enlightening Electric Power Sector class with a bunch of engineers at MIT, which really got me into the nitty-gritty details of how power systems work.  Also, Fletcher’s Center for International Environment and Resource Policy sponsored me to go to an energy conference at which I was able to wrangle an internship during the semester at Commonwealth Bay, a wind-energy private equity firm, where I performed market analysis and due diligence on wind projects.

Summer Internship
BlueWave Renewables

One of my professors introduced me to BlueWave Renewables, a solar-energy developer, where I got an exciting opportunity to apply what I had been learning in my classes and to gain further exposure to the thriving cleantech ecosystem in Boston.  As discussed in my previous post, I helped build out a platform for community solar, a new business model designed to bring solar to the three quarters of Americans who cannot own their own solar panels.  Thanks to my business and energy classes, I was able to hit the ground running and make an impact in a short period of time.

Semester Three

International Business Transactions
Large Investment and International Project Finance
Petroleum in the Global Economy
Leadership: Building Teams, Organizations, and Shaping Your Path
The Art and Science of Statecraft

The third semester was my first opportunity to truly cast a wide net across the amazing diversity of classes offered at Fletcher.  International Business Transactions covered topics such as contract law, which, although it may sound dry, is where “the rubber hits the road” in business; I discovered this when I was starting a business in Ethiopia, and it is one of the reasons I decided to come to Fletcher.  Project Finance and Petroleum complemented each other very well, and contributed to my Field of Study requirements.  Leadership, which was taught by a great professor on loan from the Harvard Business School, provided a valuable soft-skill counterpoint to more analytical courses I had taken so far.  Finally, Statecraft was an interesting foray into the mental models of one of our well-known professors, renowned equally for his colorful analogies and for his direct language.  On top of all this, I also worked with the wonderful Fletcher Social Investment Group to lead a team of classmates on a consulting engagement for EverVest, a renewable energy financial analysis software startup.

Semester Four

Energy, Entrepreneurship, and Finance
International Energy Policy
Political Economy and Business Context of Latin America
International Financial Management
Management, Finance, and Regulation of Public Infrastructure in Developing Countries (at Harvard)

My fourth and final semester has been great because the foundation I have built up over the last year and a half has enabled me to engage with the material in a way I could not have done before.  My two energy classes are a nice culmination to the thrust of my studies here, and indeed they provide timely input as I wrap up my thesis for the capstone requirement.  International Financial Management, affectionately dubbed “Jacques Deux” after the French-American professor who has taught a notorious regimen of finance classes for decades, proved to be as difficult and enlightening as promised.  The Infrastructure class at the Harvard Kennedy School has provided another good perspective on the matter, and a chance to meet new like-minded people.  Finally, I have supplemented my studies by conducting energy policy research for a Fletcher alumnus at EnergySage, an online marketplace for solar.

I am excited by my prospects post-Fletcher, but know that I will be sad to leave this place.  Throughout my two years here, I have had the pleasure to work with supportive professors and a diverse yet cohesive set of classmates.  As demonstrated above, Fletcher has also consistently opened doors for me, both at other top-tier schools and at cool companies.  I know I will look back fondly on my time here, and now understand more and more why the Fletcher community is so strong.

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Less than a month remains before graduation in May.  Let’s take a look at the two-year Annotated Curriculum of Aditi, one of our graduating bloggers.

Pre-Fletcher Experience
Dasra, Mumbai, India
PRS Legislative Research, New Delhi, India

Fields of Study
Development Economics
Design, Monitoring, and Evaluation (self-designed)

Post-Fletcher Professional Goals
Technology for development; monitoring and evaluation

Curriculum Overview

Semester One

I came to Fletcher with an interest in technology for development and in design, monitoring, and evaluation.  I was lucky to start my year off with the Design and Monitoring module, where I not only learned a great deal, but also made some of my closest friends at Fletcher.  I also decided to take some basic quantitative classes such as statistics and quantitative methods in order to help me feel more prepared for classes down the road.  Social Network Analysis and Corporate Social Responsibility were courses I took to try and explore new areas — although I came to Fletcher with a very clear sense of what I wanted to do, I also wanted to make sure that I tried out some new subjects.

Semester Two

After spending winter break with friends in the warmer climes of New Orleans and Austin, I returned early to Fletcher to dive into Evaluation, the second module of the Design, Monitoring, and Evaluation (DME) course series.  My spring semester was focused on specific skills I knew I wanted to gain before the summer and before second year, so that I would have the option to take courses that I found more challenging.  I took my econometrics class at the Friedman School in downtown Boston since the Fletcher course was over-subscribed, which turned out to be a great experience.  In addition to furthering my knowledge of monitoring and evaluation, I also brushed up on basic research methods and had the chance to learn more about financial inclusion, a topic about which I had heard a lot but never had the chance to formally study.  The semester was also made more challenging by the fact that I was working more hours a week at my campus job than I could realistically handle, but in retrospect, I’m glad I took the opportunity to earn a little extra money for my summer internship!

Summer Internship
Manos de Madres, Kigali, Rwanda

Since I already wrote about my summer internship, I’ll just say a few quick words about how my academics at Fletcher fit into it.  My courses in design, monitoring, and evaluation and financial inclusion really gave me the tools to apply to my work with Manos de Madres — from conducting a Theory of Chance exercise with the team in Kigali, to thinking through how the savings group program could be improved, I found myself falling back on my Fletcher classes time and again.  I also spent some time over the summer conducting research for my Capstone Project.

Semester Three

I returned to Fletcher early once again, this time to be the teaching assistant for the DME course series.  I hadn’t had much of a break or a holiday over the summer, but decided to dive right into my year and challenge myself with my courses.  I had taken so many requirements in the previous year in order to build up to taking a certain set of classes, and I was loath to let any of those go — and so I ended up (very happily) over-extending myself and learning more in one semester than I could ever have imagined.  By the end of the year, I couldn’t believe my newfound comfort with numbers, or the confidence with which I could read and interpret statistics.  Although the course load was incredibly hard, I don’t think I have ever worked harder or been prouder of myself.  On the flip side, I didn’t have quite as much fun enjoying all the other wonderful things that Fletcher has to offer, and so I decided that come spring semester, I would focus on a select few things and aim to do them well, while spending time enjoying the full Fletcher experience.

Semester Four

After a rushed and exciting trip back home to India for a friend’s wedding, I came back early as the teaching assistant for the Evaluation module of the DME series.  In true “senioritis” fashion, I realized I had left some of my requirements to the end of my time at Fletcher, and found two of my credits filled by those courses.  Given that I wanted to focus on my Capstone, I enrolled in an Independent Study with my advisor, Professor Jenny Aker, and then took two half-credit courses in topics that seemed very interesting to me but that I had little knowledge of.  So far, the semester has been a good balance, and I have been careful not to overcommit, to make time for enjoying friends, lectures, and all the other events that Fletcher has to offer.

Of course, I also have to make sure that I find time to apply to jobs and figure out what comes next for me after this wonderful journey — so cross your fingers and hope that my next (and last!) post on this blog as a Fletcher student brings good news!

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Throughout their time at Fletcher, the Admissions Blog’s student writers primarily discuss their extracurricular lives, whether through student activities, internships, or the job hunt.  But I have been asking all the second-year bloggers to provide an overview of their academic work by creating an “annotated curriculum.”  As you’ll see from Ali‘s notes below, a lot of thought went into her course selections for the MIB program and, in the context of her other posts, I hope it will paint a picture of her curricular life.  (Note that (1) MIB students take an “overload” of five credits in two of their four semesters, and (2) Ali switched programs directly before starting her first semester.)

Pre-Fletcher Experience
Program Manager, Fulbright Commission, Brussels, Belgium

Fields of Study
Strategic Management and International Consultancy
International Business and Economic Law

Post-Fletcher Professional Goals
Investor relations and corporate responsibility

Curriculum Overview

I came to Fletcher to learn how to promote private-sector investments in international social and environmental initiatives.  As I prepare to leave, I’m confident I’ll be able to use my new corporate finance vocabulary and arsenal of corporate responsibility strategies, gleaned from the classes below, to do just that.

Semester One (5 credits)

Registering for Fletcher’s Strategic Management summer pre-session course was one of the best decisions of my Fletcher career.  Coming from Belgium’s public sector, I wanted to introduce myself to basic business concepts and arrive early to campus to give myself time to adjust.  I enjoyed the course material and MIB students so much that, by the time the Fall semester started, I switched from the MALD to the MIB program myself!  The Admissions team made the application/transition process easy, and my decision resulted in a more structured curriculum with the opportunity to take more credits overall.  I slowly strengthened my quantitative skills in the Corporate Finance, Accounting, and Managerial Economics courses similar to those found at most business schools, and supplemented them with two electives in Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability to familiarize myself with the field.  These courses gave me the confidence I needed to assume leadership of Fletcher’s Net Impact Club and begin networking with corporate responsibility professionals from Coke, Southwest Airlines, and other leading companies at the network’s 2015 annual conference.

Semester Two (5 Credits)

The second semester of my first year was full of more MIB requirements – marketing, regional studies, macroeconomics, and stats.  My regional EU studies course was particularly insightful because Professor Laurent Jacques is an EU citizen and provided a firsthand perspective of the political and business environment there.  Luckily, I still had room for two electives since this course and marketing were only half credits, so I took International Business Strategy & Operations and Lean Six Sigma, for which I cross registered at Tufts University’s Gordon Institute.  International Business Strategy & Operations was one of my favorite classes at Fletcher – I enjoyed working with classmates to make recommendations about where to invest in sovereign bonds, and I used the class paper I wrote about Brown-Forman’s internationalization opportunities as an incubator for my capstone project this year.  Lean Six Sigma is such a practical skill to have, and the Gordon Institute offered me a certificate for completion of the course.  Being able to cross-register between schools like that is an oft-overlooked Fletcher benefit.  Overall, I recommend taking five credits each semester the first year for MIB students because – even though it was stressful with internship hunting – I’m even busier spring semester this year!

Summer Internship
Global Sustainability, YUM! Brands (KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut), Louisville, KY

I was blessed with a wonderful summer internship at YUM! Brands.  Thanks to some networking and hard work, I landed a position on the Global Sustainability team, where I reported directly to the Chief Sustainability Officer on water stewardship and ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) Investor Relations strategies.  You can read more about my internship here, so I’ll spare the details.  What’s worth noting is: I was able to transition to the private sector; after living abroad for two and a half years, I really enjoyed working at home; and I received my internship offer only a few weeks before the semester ended.  People spend most of spring semester at Fletcher worrying themselves away about internships.  Overall lesson: don’t do that to yourself!  It all works out in the end.

Semester Three (4 Credits)

Ah, the last year of graduate school.  It was time to take it easier with four credits so that I could pursue a part-time job.  I ended up obtaining a great position as an intern ESG analyst at Breckinridge Capital Advisors – a $22 billion investment advisor in downtown Boston.  You can read about how much I enjoyed breaking out of the Fletcher “bubble” to commute downtown and try my hand at investment management here.  I would definitely suggest waiting until second year to pursue a significant internship, though it was hard to balance with the intense set of Corporate Law classes listed above.  I was pleased with the classes used to fill my International Business & Economic Law concentration – especially Mergers & Acquisitions – but it was probably too much to enroll in them all at once.  Spread them out!  By my third semester, I was also winding down my leadership of Fletcher’s Net Impact Club, as well, so I recommend throwing yourself into club activities and leadership roles in the first year while you can.

Semester Four (4 Credits)

In my final semester, I’ve chosen to enroll in a lighter course load with a capstone-based independent study course to give myself the time I need to continue interning at Breckinridge, apply for jobs, and complete a really awesome capstone project and report.  My internship at Breckinridge lets me solidify my new learning from graduate school, and applying for jobs has been a full-time job in itself!  Soon, I hope to return to my hometown in Kentucky to work for a company in the corporate responsibility or investor relations space.  My activities at Fletcher continue to keep me in touch with companies I’d like to work for – my colleagues from my internship at YUM! Brands will come to Boston in February for a Net Impact Career Summit I’ve helped plan — and my capstone project will send me back to Brussels and Amsterdam this month to do field research for my Brown-Forman business proposal.  It’s all coming to an end so fast.  I’m excited for what’s ahead, and I hope to finish the semester strong!

Ali, ski trip

Ali, second from right, on January’s student-organized ski trip.

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This is the first year when providing an “annotated curriculum” is a mandatory (o.k. — strongly suggested) topic for graduating student bloggers.  Here’s Diane‘s review of her four semesters in the MALD program.

Pre-Fletcher Experience
Oxfam Australia, Australia
Jewish Aid Australia, Australia

World Food Programme (internship), Nepal

United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) (internship), New York

Fields of Study
Development Economics
International Negotiation & Conflict Resolution

Post-Fletcher Professional Goals
Humanitarian policy

Curriculum Overview

Semester One

  • Agriculture and Rural Development in Developing Countries
  • Humanitarian Action in Complex Emergencies
  • Econometrics
  • Law and Development
  • Quantitative Methods (1/2 credit)

In the summer before arriving at Fletcher, I made the decision to pursue studies in food security in Africa, a topic I am passionate about.  I also really wanted to strengthen my economics skills.  I arrived at Fletcher excited by the many and varied classes in areas I wanted to study.  I jumped right into it, taking a heavy load in my first semester.  After placing out of the basic economics requirement during Orientation, I was able to get my quantitative, economics, and law requirements out of the way this semester.  I enjoyed taking Humanitarian Action in Complex Emergencies, as this class is offered jointly by Fletcher and the Friedman School of Nutrition and it was held at the downtown campus.  It was a heavy first semester load, and I am not sure I would recommend to incoming students that they take 4.5 credits.

Semester Two

  • Development Economics: Macroeconomics Perspectives
  • Econometric Impact Evaluation for Development
  • Microfinance and Financial Inclusion
  • Strategic Marketing for Non-Profit Organizations
  • French (audited)

After practicing my French over winter break in Montreal, I came back to Fletcher for my second semester, determined to pass my language requirement.  I am pleased that I focused on it this during my first year, because I was quite stressed about the requirement, and by spring break I had passed both the written and oral exams.  I decided to try out some different classes at Fletcher, and found myself learning about technology for development, and loving the topic.  Both the marketing class and Prof. Wilson’s Microfinance class were outside of my comfort zone.  They were both probably the most interesting and practical classes I have taken at Fletcher.  My Development Economics and Impact Evaluation classes helped me complete my Development Economics requirements.  I also spent the semester applying for internships for the summer.  In the end everything came together, I finished my first year at Fletcher, and spent my summer interning with Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) in Northern Ghana.

Summer Internship
Innovations for Poverty Action, Tamale, Ghana

I was keen to use my summer to gain more field experience, and I really wanted to work on a research project.  After taking Econometrics and Impact Evaluation in my first year, applying to IPA seemed like a natural choice.  My offer from IPA came through on the day of my last exam, right before I flew home to Australia for a couple of weeks of R&R.  I then spent about 2.5 months with IPA in Ghana.  It was great from the perspective of allowing me to further develop skills and knowledge I had gained in my first year at Fletcher.  It was also useful from the perspective that I was able to rule out impact evaluation as a future career choice.  This allowed me to refocus my second year at Fletcher in a different direction.

Semester Three

  • Processes of International Negotiation
  • Microeconomics
  • Managing Operations in Global Companies: How the World’s Best Companies Operate (1/2 credit)
  • International Economic Policy Analysis (audited)
  • Exercising Leadership: The Politics of Change (Harvard Kennedy School)

I returned to Fletcher with some new goals.  I decided to go back to basics a little bit, so I took Microeconomics, which I loved, as Prof. Tanaka included a lot of very practical applications.  I also took Processes of International Negotiation, which fulfilled my DHP requirement.  I wasn’t super keen on taking this class, but I ended up really enjoying it, and continued on to make this one of my Fields of Study, fulfilling the other requirements in my last semester.  Because I had always been interested in logistics and business operations, I decided to take Managing Operations.  It was fast and furious, and I learned a lot really quickly and enjoyed the business focus.  I also decided to finally take the opportunity to cross-register at Harvard.  I really wanted to take a management or leadership class, and ended up in Exercising Leadership.  It was a great experience, as the class was all about personal leadership failures.  I enjoyed getting off the Tufts campus two days a week and exploring Harvard Square some more.  I also worked as a Research Assistant at the Feinstein Center, which was almost like taking another class, as I worked 10 hours each week on a research project.  I really enjoyed this experience; I learned some important skills and became a better researcher.

Semester Four

  • Leadership on the Line (Harvard Kennedy School January term)
  • Negotiation and Mediation in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
  • Engaging Human Security: Sudan and South Sudan
  • Seminar on Program Monitoring and Evaluation (Friedman School of Nutrition)

My parents came to visit over winter break, and it was great to show them a little of the country I have called home the last two years.  I left my parents a few days early, because I was enrolled to take a J-term class at Harvard.  This was a follow-on to the leadership class I took in the fall.  It was a fantastic experience, however J-term classes do cut into the first week of the Fletcher schedule, which makes it a more stressful start to the semester.  But after attending classes full time for two weeks, and a final paper, I was done, and able to take three classes the rest of the semester.  Again, I worked as a research assistant for the Feinstein Center, and served on the Admissions Committee, so I was glad to be taking a lighter course load.

I decided that, given I had finished most of my requirements and completed the economics classes I had wanted to take, I would select classes that interested me on a more personal level.  This led me to take the Israel-Palestine negotiations class.  This has definitely been the most interesting class I have taken at Fletcher.  Prof. Rouhana had a guest speaker involved in the negotiations almost every week.  We were then invited to dinners with the guest speakers, and it was a fabulous opportunity to engage in study of the conflict in a really focused way.  I also decided to take the opportunity to take a class with Prof. Mazurana and Prof. de Waal on Human Security in Sudan and South Sudan.  This was a great way to bring together a lot of what I had learned at Fletcher and also fill some gaps in my knowledge.  I also cross-registered at the Friedman School to take their M&E class.  It was fun to spend a day a week at Tufts Boston campus, particularly as the weather got nicer and I could walk through the Boston Common on my way to class.  I decided that I would work on my thesis over the summer, building on the final paper I am writing for the Sudan class, while I look for work.

As I wrap up my two years at Fletcher and begin my search for my next job, I can honestly say that the diversity of classes I have taken here has allowed me great flexibility in the type of roles I am able to apply for.  That, as well as access to other schools in the area, is why I have enjoyed the Fletcher curriculum so much.

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With Commencement only about five weeks away, we’ll be reading only a few more posts from graduating bloggers Diane and Liam.  Today, Liam provides his “Annotated Curriculum,” in which he lays out his academic path through Fletcher.  (You might also want to read Mirza’s Annotated Curriculum from last spring.)  It’s worth noting here that Liam’s Fletcher experience is not typical for the majority of students, but it does represent that of a significant subset — officers who are sponsored by their branch of the U.S. military.  Their coursework looks much the same as that of any other student, but they rarely pursue a summer internship and they don’t need to find a post-Fletcher job.  Finally, Fletcher students must fulfill a Capstone Requirement, for which many students write a traditional academic thesis.  It’s not uncommon for the terms Capstone and thesis to be used interchangeably.

Liam, MALD 2015, United States

Pre-Fletcher Experience
U.S. Army Infantry Officer; deployments to Iraq (2007-2008) and Afghanistan (2010, 2012)

Fields of Study
International Security Studies
International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution (INCR)

Capstone Topic
U.S. Army Security Force Assistance in Iraq and Afghanistan

Post-Fletcher Professional Goals
Return to the Army with a broader understanding of global affairs and the role the Army can play in them; selection as an Infantry Battalion Commander

Curriculum Overview

Semester One

  • Role of Force
  • International Organizations
  • Processes of International Negotiation
  • The Globalization of Politics and Culture for Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan

My first semester helped me lay the foundation for my coursework at Fletcher.  I met with my academic advisor, Prof. Shultz, very early in the semester, which set me on the right path for my course load, as he helped lay out a logical course progression.  Role of Force and Processes of International Negotiation were both mandatory courses in my Fields of Study — setting the stage for all my follow-on classes, and I wanted to knock out my ILO requirement early on with International Organizations.  I rounded the semester out with one regionally focused course, which balanced perfectly.  I found the semester to be an excellent mix of papers and final exams, which kept me from having a frantic end of the semester.

Semester Two

  • Policy and Strategy in War
  • Analytical Frameworks
  • Modern Terrorism and Counterterrorism
  • Peace Operations

Following what I had learned in the fall, I focused heavily on Security Studies this semester, although Peace Operations also counted towards my coursework in the INCR Field of Study.  I fulfilled my quantitative requirement with Analytical Frameworks, which taught me a lot of valuable skills.  Again, this semester was a good mix of papers and finals that enabled me to budget my time throughout the spring.  At this point I also started working with Professor Shultz on my capstone ideas so I could spend time over the summer doing research.

Summer
Army ROTC, MIT

The Army required that I be “gainfully employed” over the summer, so I spent my days helping out at MIT’s ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps) program.  The cadets were all gone at training for the summer, so I worked on information-sharing platforms for the unit to use in the fall, but also found myself with plenty of time to do baseline research on U.S. National Security Strategy, as well as where the Army fits in a changing environment, to help frame the “big picture” for my capstone.  I also had a fair amount of time over the summer to work on my Spanish skills on my own, as well as publish several military-related blog posts.

Semester Three

  • Internal Conflicts and War
  • Gender, Culture, and Conflict
  • Foundations of International Cybersecurity
  • Crisis Management and Complex Emergencies

This semester proved to be very challenging, as I had five group presentations with group papers due, but then had no finals.  Needless to say, the second half of the semester was a blur.  It was a very Security Studies heavy semester, but the gender course with Prof. Mazurana and Prof. Stites really stood out for me, and helped me understand an aspect of conflict that I’d never put much thought towards during my time in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Lastly, I used the Internal Conflicts class as the incubator for my thesis and was able to finish the majority of the Iraq portion of it.

Semester Four

  • The Strategic Dimensions of China’s Rise
  • Introduction to Economic Theory
  • The Historian’s Art and Current Affairs
  • Capstone Independent Study

I made the mistake of putting off my economics requirement until my final semester, so I had to use a class credit for it during the spring.  I decided to go with an Independent Study with Professor Shultz to finish my thesis and ensure I had the time necessary to put effort towards it.  I was a history major as an undergraduate, so Prof. Khan’s new class really interested me.  Last, with U.S. National Security Strategy “pivoting” to the Asia-Pacific, I wanted to get at least one course in that region into my coursework.

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We’re down to the last few posts from Roxanne, Mirza, and Scott, our graduating bloggers.  For this post, I asked Mirza to create what I like to call an annotated curriculum, in which he would describe his path through Fletcher and reflect on how everything weaves together.  Like most Fletcher students, he’s honest about his non-linear path, as we can see by comparing his thoughts just before graduation to those in his first semester or  at the start of his second semester.

Mirza Ramic (MALD, 2014)

Pre-Fletcher Experience
Musician (self-employed)
Business Associate positions at various startups

Fields of Study
International Information and Communication
International Organizations

Capstone Topic
Communications and information policy and regulation, and the question of global governance

Post-Fletcher Professional Goals
Hoping to help international organizations, non-profits, and private sector firms (or anyone, really) formulate effective and creative digital communications and online branding strategies

Curriculum Overview

Semester One

  • Processes of International Negotiation
  • International Communication
  • Econometrics
  • Internal Conflicts and War

My Fletcher academic path might be a bit more on the “strange” side, but considering the rich diversity of Fletcher student backgrounds and interests, perhaps it’s not so left field.  I came to Fletcher pretty determined to be a “Business MALD,” with business and economics courses lined up in my carefully planned academic spreadsheet.  After a couple of days at Fletcher, I changed my strategy and instead decided to try a little bit of everything: conflict resolution, security studies, statistics/economics, and communications.  I also wanted to get some of the breadth requirements out of the way early, and two courses (Negotiation and Econometrics) did precisely that.  I placed out of the economics exam offered at the beginning of the semester, so I was able to take Econometrics and skip the introductory-level economics course.

Semester Two

  • Analytic Frameworks for International Public Policy Decisions
  • Entrepreneurial Marketing: Building a Winning Business Plan
  • Political Economy After the Crisis (Harvard Law School)
  • Values, Interests, and the Crafting of U.S. Foreign Policy (Harvard Kennedy School)

At the start of the spring semester, I was confused.  I had no idea which direction I wanted to go in, and was considering returning to my original plan of a business-oriented MALD degree.  I knew I definitely wanted to venture outside of Fletcher, so I took two courses at Harvard.  One was excellent, another not so excellent, but both were valuable in different regards.  I also took a business course at Fletcher, and enrolled in Analytic Frameworks since my thesis advisor, Professor Carolyn Gideon, taught it and her International Communication class in the fall semester was by far my favorite course thus far.  Looking back, I should have fulfilled some more requirements during this semester, as I finished my first year without having completed a single Field of Study and without having met all my breadth requirements.  Still, I don’t think this is unusual for Fletcher students as some of us tend to be all over the place.  So if you’re in a similar situation, no need for panic whatsoever. 

Summer Internship
Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, Boston, MA
The Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston Public Policy Summer Fellow

Toward the end of my first semester, I began developing an interest in education, learning, and in particular, higher education reform.  This seemed to be a natural extension of my interest in communication technologies and technological innovation, and especially after observing how learning could be enhanced in university classrooms, I became quite passionate about the ways in which technology could transform education.  As a result, I applied for the Rappaport Fellowship for Public Policy offered through the Harvard Kennedy School, and was fortunate enough to be selected as one of the 14 Rappaport fellows.  This allowed me to pick the state agency I would want to be involved with, and the Department of Higher Education was an obvious choice.  There, I spent 10 weeks working with public institutions on various forward-looking initiatives advancing public higher education in Massachusetts, focusing on technology-based projects in particular.  It was a great experience for many reasons, and helped me tailor my professional interests and academic direction.

Semester Three

  • Starting New Ventures
  • International Organizations
  • Social Networks in Organizations (1/2 credit)
  • Independent Study – Thesis (1/2 credit)
  • Transforming Education through Emerging Technologies (Harvard Graduate School of Education)

I came into this semester quite focused.  I took a course at the Harvard Graduate School of Education to advance my knowledge of the educational technology field, after spending an entire summer learning as much about the topic as I possibly could.  This was a great decision.  I met some great people, forged new relationships, and significantly extended my network.  Moreover, my class project would turn into paid work the following semester, and may extend beyond this semester.  I enrolled in International Organizations because I had to fulfill my last breadth requirement.  I was not too happy about this, as I had been avoiding ILO (International Legal Order) courses since the beginning of my Fletcher career.  I was a bit of a curmudgeon in the first week of class, and did not know what to expect from a visiting professor.  Well, I would discover that I was 100% wrong on all accounts, as this turned out to be a highly intellectually stimulating class with a top-notch professor who I just absolutely loved.  In fact, after swearing to avoid ILO, I decided to enroll in International Criminal Justice in my final semester with the same professor, John Cerone, and even decided to make International Organizations one of my Fields of Study.  I think most Fletcher students would agree that a great professor can make all the difference in the world.  For me, it made me appreciate and pursue a field I previously felt no interest in.  Yes, this can happen in your second year, and it is absolutely thrilling.  At the same time, I continued taking business courses, now focusing more specifically on entrepreneurship, new ventures, and innovation, with the idea that I might eventually go into the world of educational technology startups.

Semester Four

  • Strategy and Innovation in the Evolving Context of International Business
  • International Criminal Justice
  • U.S. Public Diplomacy
  • The Shapes of Utopia (Harvard Graduate School of Design)

My last semester has featured a combination of requirements and electives.  Another business course to solidify my understanding of innovation and new ventures; a course on U.S. public diplomacy to expand my familiarity with communication in the public sector; the aforementioned International Criminal Justice course to pursue my newly discovered interest in international law; and, well, yes, a course at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.  This class was recommended to me by a classmate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and I decided to give it a shot.  It’s been an amazing course — highly theoretical and philosophical — and precisely what I wanted from my last semester of graduate school.  This really affirms my belief that almost every field has some relevance to international relations: the Shapes of Utopia course has been as much about economics, politics, and sociology as it has been about architecture.  I would indeed recommend venturing out and taking advantage of all the academic and learning resources and opportunities that Boston has to offer – even if it seems like you’re not exactly following your chosen academic trajectory.

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