Currently viewing the tag: "Diane"

One of the opportunities I most value about my job is following students from their application phase, through their time at Fletcher, and then on to their post-Fletcher life.  A good example would be my connection with Diane Broinshtein, whom I first met when I was her application interviewer back in August 2012.  Then, after she had started her Fletcher classes, I reached out to her to write for the blog, and she was a trusty friend of Admissions throughout her two years in the MALD program.  Naturally, I’ve asked her to write an update on her first year post-Fletcher.  Those wondering what classes prepared Diane for her current work might want to read her Annotated Curriculum.

It’s hard to believe that a year has just passed since I finished at Fletcher.  In many ways I feel like I never left, and in other other ways Fletcher feels like a lifetime ago.

Diane in TurkeyIn my last post, shortly after I graduated in 2015, I explained that I was joining GRM International as part of their Young Professionals Program.  I moved from Boston to Brisbane, Australia and began my operations rotation.  On my second day of work, the company rebranded itself as Palladium, in order to unite a number of different brands under a new umbrella.  Because the company now included business areas other than those it did when I was first hired, the reorganization provided with me with some new and interesting opportunities.

In January, I moved to our London office to start a rotation with our Strategy Execution Consulting group. While it is not an area I considered working in prior to Fletcher, I felt the diversity of my Fletcher education prepared me perfectly to jump into the team.  In this role I helped bridge the divide between the international development side of the business and the strategy consulting side.  I found myself constantly going back to skills, knowledge, and coursework I learned at Fletcher to assist me whenever I was confronted with a new and challenging task.

My new rotation has taken me to Bristol, UK to join our Environment and Natural Resources team, working specifically on humanitarian projects.  It’s nice to be working again in a sector I know well and that I concentrated on in my studies.  A year out of Fletcher, three cities and three roles later, I have just begun to test the limits of what Fletcher taught me — I find myself using Fletcher in some way each day.

After Bristol, I am not sure where I will end up, but I know for certain that wherever it is, there will be a Fletcher network to support me.  Being part of the alumni community has been a wonderful experience.  In Brisbane I managed to squeeze in two visits from Fletcher friends, one who was working in Canberra and another working in Papua New Guinea.  But when I moved to London, I was even more connected.  London is a place where people are always passing through, so there were many Fletcher catch-ups over dinner.  I’m already trying to encourage fellow Fletcher grads to visit me in Bristol, but if they don’t come to me, I’ll see them when I travel in Europe.

Diane London

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When Diane first introduced herself nearly two years ago, she detailed her pre-Fletcher experience and her path from her home country of Australia to graduate school in the U.S.  Today, having graduated from the MALD program in May, Diane describes her path back home to Australia — though she may not be there for long.

It’s now two months since graduation, and where has the time gone?  Those last months at Fletcher were certainly fast and furious, with a mixture of finals, fun events, Dis-O, friends visiting, day trips around Massachusetts, graduation, and many sad farewells.

I decided to base myself near campus in Somerville during my job search.  It was really lovely to experience Boston in warmer weather.  Yes, it was much quieter than during the semester, but a walk past Fletcher always guaranteed running into another student I knew.  My job search seemed to be pointing me towards home, so I decided to book my flight back to Australia, and to hope everything would work out quickly.

I had come up with a strategy for my job search at the beginning of spring semester: given that time is always limited at Fletcher, I decided to apply for any fellowships or year-long programs where you rotate around the organization’s different divisions for training, as many of these companies only recruit once a year.  I left the bulk of my applications for individual job postings for after graduation.  I was lucky enough to progress past the first round of a number of the programs I applied for, which meant I spent a bit of time each week doing online testing and interviews through Skype.  This certainly helped to keep me motivated.

A few weeks before leaving Boston I received a job offer from GRM International to be part of their Young Professionals Program, allowing me to rotate around the company through different divisions and offices during the next couple of years.  This role felt like a really good fit, and allowed me to return to Australia for my first rotation.  Through the process of applying, interviewing, and accepting this role, I utilized the Office of Career Services on many occasions, which is another great advantage of being a student or graduate of The Fletcher School.

I planned some travel before heading home, visiting friends in Los Angeles and Idaho, including a trip to Yellowstone National Park. I was lucky enough to meet up with some Fletcher folks along the way who were home for the summer.

Coming home has been an adjustment, not only because it is winter here.  But after two years away, it is rather nice to be around friends and family again.

I am so looking forward to my next phase in life, after spending two wonderful years at Fletcher.

Diane and Dallin in Grand Teton National Park. Photo by Dallin Van Leuven, F15.

Diane and MALD graduate, Dallin, in Grand Teton National Park. Photo by Dallin Van Leuven, F15.

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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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As admitted applicants make their decision to enroll at Fletcher, they then turn their attention to arranging housing for September.  Our blogger, Diane, lived in Blakeley Hall last year (2013-2014) and gathered some thoughts on living there from her fellow dorm-mates.  I should note that the majority of our students live off-campus, in apartments in surrounding communities, but for some new students, a room in Blakeley is just right.  Also, last summer (2014), the Blakeley kitchen was renovated, expanded, and improved, taking care of some of the issues that existed a year ago.  Here are Diane’s reflections:

blakeleyFor many incoming students, particularly those new to Boston, the question of where to live can be quite daunting.  In my first year at Fletcher, I chose to live in Blakeley Hall, a dormitory specifically for Fletcher students.  Much like any housing situation, living in Blakeley has its advantages and disadvantages.  Blakeley has space for around 80 students.  Each student has a private bedroom within a suite that has a living room shared with one or two other students.  There is one bathroom on each floor, shared between four or five people (two suites).  The kitchen, common room, and laundry room are shared by everyone.  There are seven separate towers, each with its own door, and they do not interconnect.  So what does this mean for a student who chooses to live at Blakeley, and what kind of students decide to live there?  I interviewed a few students who lived there with me last year to capture the different experiences they had.

Eric, Canada:

1) Your favorite thing about living in Blakeley: My favorite things about living in Blakeley were the spontaneous moments of fun that were enabled by living with 80 other Fletcher students: participating in an impromptu cricket match or poker game; sharing a drink or meal with others on a Monday night, just because; and the always lively discussions on topics such as nuclear proliferation, Pakistani politics, or Tibet’s struggle for independence, which were a regular part of a dinner conversation.

2) Your least favorite aspect of living in Blakeley: Sharing a bathroom with four other people, sharing a fridge with 12, and having to go outside to get to the kitchen.

3) Your Blakeley memory: I will remember the kindness and generosity of my fellow Blakeley residents when they offered to share their home-cooked Indian meals, apple pies, and Thanksgiving feasts.

Justin, America:

1) Your favorite thing: The three-minute commute to class.

2) Your least favorite aspect: The towers are not interconnected.

3) Your Blakeley memory: Unexpectedly getting amazing spiced tea from Elba on the way to class in the morning.

Jessica, America:

1) Your favorite thing: My favorite aspect of living at Blakeley was the community.  I got to live and learn with 83 wonderful people.  Whenever I needed a break from studying, I always went to the kitchen to have tea and talk.  There were parties, barbecues, and Game of Thrones evenings.  There were midnight birthday celebrations and snowball fights.  Living at Blakeley helped me make many close friendships, and I am so grateful that I have those people in my life.

2) Your least favorite aspect: The shared kitchen.  So many people in one kitchen: it got rather cozy at times.  I got to try some amazing food, though!

3) Your Blakeley memory: My Blakeley memory is our “Pre-Thanksgiving Dinner” that was held the Sunday before the actual holiday.  Thanksgiving is a big celebration in my family, and I wanted to share the tradition with my friends.  With the help of many Blakeley residents, we made dinner for about 50 people — including two 20-lb turkeys, 15 lbs of mashed potatoes, 10 lbs of apple crisp, salad, stuffing, cornbread, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, brownies, and more.  It was incredible to see how many people pitched in to help with the cooking and the decoration of the common room.  It was a fun night, and it helped distract us from thoughts of our upcoming finals!

Deepti, India:

1) Your favorite thing: It’s the perfect place to get to know your new classmates well and adjust to a new environment or country!

2) Your least favorite aspect: The space constraint.

3) Your Blakeley memory: Impromptu conversations over food in the common kitchen!

Xiaodon, America:

1) Your favorite thing: Being able to duck back home for a coffee break between classes.

2) Your least favorite aspect: Overcrowding in the kitchen.

3) Your Blakeley memory: Too many.  Here’s a random one: epic essay-drafting all-nighter in the common room near exam period with Fedra, Clare, Cilu, Caleb, Juanita, and other sleep-deprived supporting characters.

Sid, India:

1) Your favorite thing: Feeling of community — I made friends from all over the world.  The kitchen was one of my favorite places (also one of the reasons that prompted me to move out) as I got to make new friends.

2) Your least favorite aspect: The kitchen and the laundry room were too far from my room, especially during winters.

3) Your Blakeley memory: FRIENDS!

Paula, America:

1) Your favorite thing: My favorite thing about living in Blakeley was the chance to become good friends with people from all over the world.  I think living in a dorm together inevitably builds a special sense of camaraderie among Blakeley residents that’s otherwise harder to come by in a graduate program.

2) Your least favorite aspect: My least favorite thing about living in Blakeley is having to share a kitchen with 80+ other people.

3) Your Blakeley memory: My favorite Blakeley memory is Thanksgiving 2013 — everyone cooked and ate together and there was truly a feeling of Blakeley being a second family for all of us.

Diane, Australia (that’s me):

1) Your favorite thing: Being able to take a nap between classes.

2) Your least favorite aspect: The kitchen, particularly if you don’t live in a tower that interconnects with it.

3) Your Blakeley memory: The snow day — everyone went to Fletcher Field and had a giant snowball fight, and then we came inside and made pancakes and hot chocolate.

So you can see, living in Blakeley can be lively, convenient, entertaining, and full of fun, but it also has its downsides, particularly if you like to cook a lot on your own.  I am glad I got to experience an American dorm, and was able to live for a year on the Tufts campus, which is beautiful in all seasons.

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Diane and I first met when she visited Fletcher about two years ago, and I conducted her evaluative interview.  Since her arrival at Fletcher in September 2013, representing the country of Australia, she and I have worked on several different projects together.  Her first post for her second year describes the perspective she brings after having completed a year at Fletcher.  

Broinshtein Diane 2Throughout my summer abroad, during which I interned in Northern Ghana, traveled to South Africa, visited home (Australia) twice, and finally made it back to Boston, I had time to reflect on the whirlwind that was my first year at Fletcher.  The academic year is extremely busy; long days are filled with classes, group assignments, individual study, talks by special guests, club meetings, and jobs.  I decided that this year there were some lessons I could take from last year and implement into my schedule.

Knowing what to say “yes” and “no” to is the first big lesson.  A student’s time at Fletcher is filled with amazing opportunities; however, the volume of these opportunities can be overwhelming.  I have learned it’s important to have one or two areas on which to focus my attention outside of classes.  For me, I enjoy being part of admissions activities, because they so heavily influenced my decision to attend Fletcher, and I have been active with the Admissions Office throughout the year.  The other area I am focused on is my Research Assistant position with the Feinstein Center.  This role provides an opportunity to build skills in an area in which I want to work upon graduation.  Fletcher also has so many wonderful social events, that I enjoy attending, such as the amazing Los Fletcheros (Fletcher’s resident cover band), and the cultural nights.  And I chose to take 4.5 classes this semester, so my weekly schedule is fairly full just attending classes and keeping up with assignments.

Because the schedule at Fletcher is so busy, this year I have committed to taking at least one day off a week and getting outside.  Whether it is kayaking on the Charles River, visiting local towns, hiking, a quick trip to New York, or being a tourist in Boston, it’s important to take time to leave the library and enjoy the sunshine while it lasts.  Fletcher, being located at Tufts University, also provides access to some excellent sports facilities; I personally enjoy going to the gym each morning, or playing squash with other students and staff from Fletcher.  Many students run with the Marathon team, or play tennis on the courts outside Fletcher, swim at the pool, or take advantage of the great facilities some other way.

One of the biggest decisions I made this year was to be more proactive in asking for help.  Asking for help at Fletcher is not difficult, whether it be booking a timeslot with the writing tutors, or seeing a professor during office hours.  The professors at Fletcher are extremely welcoming, and are keen to help students grasp the content they teach, happily taking time outside of the assigned office hours to sit with students and go over key concepts or help them understand an assignment.

These are just some of the lessons I learned last year and have implemented into my second year at Fletcher.  I am sure there will be many more lessons learned by the time graduation rolls around in May.

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When she was already in Ghana for her summer internship, Diane sent me this final blog post of 2013-2014.  I held it, thinking that September would be optimal timing.  Current students may want to know about Diane’s search for external scholarships, while applicants may want to know that such a thing is possible.  New posts from continuing student bloggers Diane, Liam, and Mark should return soon, and I’ll be adding new voices from among the first-year students.

For prospective students applying to graduate programs, the question of how to pay for a master’s degree is often a huge part of the decision-making process.

While Fletcher was my number one choice in programs going into the application process, the scholarship aid I received from Fletcher also made my enrollment decision very easy.  Nonetheless, Fletcher scholarships don’t generally cover the full cost of tuition, and certainly don’t include living costs, leaving me to figure out how to cover the rest.

Like many students who worked for a number of years prior to Fletcher, I had some savings, and I knew I would also need to take a loan.  As I did my financial planning, I realized that my savings would be gone by the end of the first year, and I would have to try to find ways to minimize the amount of debt I would be taking on.  This led me to the search for external scholarships.

As I reviewed scholarship opportunities, I found myself in the unfortunate position of being an international student from a developed country, but a country that itself offers very few scholarships for international study.  This left me searching for scholarships that I often couldn’t apply for.  I wasn’t very successful with my applications before starting at Fletcher, and I planned to submit more applications for my second year of study.

Once I was at Fletcher, I found my greatest resource to be my fellow students.  I took the opportunity to chat with other international students about scholarships they knew of, and shared information.  I also utilized the resources around me — in particular, I took advantage of the writing tutor program, to get feedback on my application essays before I sent them in.

This turned out to be a positive process!  I applied for two external scholarships for my second year, and was successful in receiving one of them.  Two of my Fletcher friends who had shared with me the process of applying for external scholarships were also successful.  This highlights one of my favorite things about Fletcher: the spirit of collaboration, and how this often leads to shared success.

The reason why the Fletcher staff is lonely all summer long is that our students are so successful in finding internships that meet their career objectives, with the result that they’re generally out of town.  Diane, our student blogger, tells us about her internship search, and shares a couple of photos from her summer post.

At Fletcher, the summer between the first and second years of the MALD or MIB program is open for students to use as they wish.  While internships are not required, students are encouraged to pursue one, and most do.  Others may prefer to use the time to develop their language skills, research or prepare their Capstone Project, or travel.

Ghana market Coming into Fletcher I knew the biggest gap on my résumé was my lack of field experience.  Therefore my goal for the summer revolved around going to a developing country to work.  I was hoping to find a research project that fit at least one of my interests: food security, mobile technology, or impact evaluations.

In January I began my search, reaching out to alumni at the DC Career Trip, speaking with second years about their experiences, and doing a lot of internet research.  My best resource became my professors, who were able to put me in touch with some of their contacts.  I sent a lot of emails, and got a few great leads; however, as the months went on, I still didn’t have an offer.

One organization that interested me and that I had identified early on was Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA).  Friends at Fletcher who had either previously worked or interned with IPA in the past informed me that the organization advertises internships quite late, so I kept an eye on the website, and applied while still continuing my search through my networks.

Right before exams I had a flurry of interviews for different opportunities, and on the day of my last exams, I received an offer to spend my summer in Tamale, Ghana with IPA.  As I had already planned to head home in a week, I packed my stuff the next day and flew to Australia where, in amongst catching up with family and friends, I organized my visa, booked flights, got immunizations and anti-malarial tablets, searched for a mosquito net, packed for some very warm weather, and got on a plane (or four planes, to be exact).

IPA designs and evaluates potential solutions to poverty using randomized evaluations and is based out of Yale University with offices across the world.  I am working on a project that involves offering rainfall insurance to farmers and I will be investigating whether this insurance can be made available through other organizations once the project is complete.  I am sure it is going to be a great summer, and look forward to returning to Fletcher in the fall to apply what I have learnt.

Ghana huts

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The School is super quiet today — there are no classes because many students are in Washington, DC on the career trip organized by our Office of Career Services.  And one of the DC travelers is student blogger Diane.  Last month, Diane joined the annual New York career trip, and she recently sent along this report.  I’ve been slow to prompt the student bloggers to write lately, and I’m glad that Diane is kicking off the spring semester for us.

In typical Fletcher fashion, the start of my second semester at Fletcher was extremely busy.  After returning from winter break, when I spent three weeks in Montreal practicing my French and training for a Boston winter (it reached minus 27 degrees Celsius in Montreal), I returned to Fletcher early to prepare for the semester ahead.  However, before the official start to Spring Semester, there was one more event to attend.

Among the best known aspects of Fletcher are its strong alumni community and the strength of the Office of Career Services (OCS).  OCS organizes a number of networking events for its current students throughout the year, and the New York career trip was scheduled for the weekend right before classes began.  I went to New York a couple of days early so that I could visit friends and meet up with old colleagues from the UN.  I don’t need much of an excuse to go and visit, and I was really excited to be back in town for a few days.

The career trip was a whirlwind.  I had booked myself for a full day of events and meetings, starting with two career panels in the morning.  These panels were a great opportunity to meet and hear from a number of alumni who work in my area of interest, humanitarian affairs, about the transition from Fletcher to the working world, as well as the different directions their careers have taken.

Next, along with two other students, I had an intimate lunch with a Fletcher graduate who now works at Smile Train.  It was a really interesting organization to visit, and the passion of this small non-profit was clearly evident by how much they are achieving with such a small staff.

After lunch, I rushed off to a site visit with One Acre Fund.  This was one of my favorite meetings, as this organization is so young and has such a special way of operating.  It really made me reevaluate what I hope to do once I graduate from Fletcher, and the type of organization I want to work for.

I then hurried to an event organized by the Fletcher Women’s Network.  This was a different experience from the rest of the day, as the alumnae here were less interested in my elevator pitch, and instead wished to inspire our group of young Fletcher women to aim to achieve anything we want, and to try to have it all.  It was really nice to see how supportive they were to current students, and it reminded me that this community lasts a lifetime.

The final event of the day was a reception where a few hundred students and alumni gathered to network and catch up over drinks.  I was lucky enough to end my day with some close Fletcher friends, having a belated birthday celebration over dinner.  Needless to say, I returned home exhausted and exhilarated, eager to start the semester and utilize all the advice I had just been given.

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Fletcher wrapped up fall semester classes on Monday, and today finds students tucked in quiet spaces studying for exams.  As the semester ended, student blogger Diane said she was thinking about how her classes fit together.  Here are her reflections.

DianeIn choosing my classes for my first semester at The Fletcher School, I decided to go with a mixture of fulfilling as many of my depth and breadth requirements as possible; choosing classes that I was most excited about; and taking the class I was most afraid of.  The end result was a diverse range of classes, which fit nicely together like a jigsaw puzzle.

For my first semester, I enrolled in Econometrics, Agricultural and Rural Development, Law and Development, Humanitarian Action in Complex Emergencies and Quantitative Methods (which was a module).  As I explained in my previous post, I am interested in food security issues, particularly in Africa.  Each of these classes has allowed me to view food security issues through a different lens, and has exposed me to new analytical frameworks I could never have imagined before starting at Fletcher.

In my Agricultural and Rural Development class, we learned about agriculture and food policy in developing countries from an economic perspective.  In Law and Development, we examined the role of law and legal systems in the economic and social development of developing countries.  This course has opened my eyes to a new perspective on food security issues; particularly highlighting how complicated legal systems that often exist around land can affect food security and resilience.  Humanitarian Action in Complex Emergencies specifically focused on conflict situations, providing a contextual understanding of the political dimensions involved in responding to humanitarian needs in such situations.

Econometrics, on the other hand, has shown me the importance of statistical analysis in development and humanitarian programming.  The professor combines her own research from Niger with the theory to provide context for the practical applications of econometrics.  I now grasp the importance of research-based programming, as a means of not only being cost effective, but also better targeting communities’ needs.  Quantitative methods was a six-week module that took place in the first half of the semester and that covered the basic quantitative foundation required for classes such as econometrics, microeconomics, and finance.  It was a great class to take in my first semester, boosting both my quantitative skills and my confidence.

The biggest problem that I have discovered at Fletcher is that there are so many different courses on offer, and I am constantly hearing about courses that others have taken that I would like to enroll in next semester or next year.  With only four semesters at Fletcher, I have learned that I need to be strategic in choosing classes, focusing on my goals and the skill sets I hope to gain during my graduate degree.  I am excited to see what my final selection of Fletcher courses will end up looking like!

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Allow me to introduce Diane, the next of our new student bloggers, who joins Liam, Scott, Roxanne, and Mirza on the team.  Today Diane will tell us how she made the decision to pursue graduate studies at Fletcher, where her Fields of Study are Development Economics and Humanitarian Affairs.

I thought I would introduce myself by telling you about my experiences prior to Fletcher, as well as how I ended up here, at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

After graduating with my undergraduate degree, I worked for a time in the East Asia unit of the Oxfam Australia Head Office in Melbourne.  In 2012 I left Oxfam and moved to New York to intern in the policy section of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), working on food security research and resilience policy.  I had previously interned with the United Nations World Food Programme in Nepal, during the 2008 food crisis, and was keen to gain more varied experience.

It was at my first job that I realized the importance of technical, management, and leadership skills in the workplace.  While I had spent my undergraduate degree learning about the theory of the development field, once in the workplace I recognized the difference between great managers and leaders and mediocre ones, and realized that if I wanted a long career where I would be able to make an impact and add value to the organization I work for, I needed to go back to school and learn these skills.  I started researching the type of programs that would satisfy both my interests and my aims for further study, and began to look out of Australia for this.

Diane at UNIn truth, my journey to Fletcher began just over a year ago.  While I was based in New York with the UN, I took the opportunity to explore different schools and programs in the U.S.  A colleague at OCHA noticed the GRE books on my desk and offered to discuss various professional international relations programs with me.  Being a Fletcher graduate, the colleague encouraged me to look at the Fletcher School.  I remember looking online and the excitement inspired by the course offerings, which would allow me to develop management and leadership skills while I pursued my interest in humanitarian affairs and food security.  I was soon on my way from New York to visit Fletcher for an evaluative interview.  It’s fair to say that my visit and interview went very well, as I find myself now a member of the 2015 class.

In the year following that interview, I returned to Melbourne to work with a small not-for-profit, running a women’s group and homework club for Sudanese refugees.  I also spent time completing the necessary requirements for graduate school applications, and preparing for my arrival (once I was accepted into The Fletcher School).  In late August, which is towards the end of the Australian winter, I spent 28 hours flying through four cities to finally arrive in Boston and begin my new and exciting journey as a MALD student at The Fletcher School.

After Fletcher (a topic that I feel we spend a lot of time discussing here — mainly due to the programs offered by the Office of Career Services), I plan on utilizing all the skills and networks I will have gained at Fletcher to find a research or policy role in the Food Security field.  My ultimate goal is to work for the United Nations in the field of Humanitarian Affairs. Fletcher’s amazing staff and professors, and the accomplishments of the alumni, have put me at ease at my ability to achieve my goals.

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