Currently viewing the tag: "First-year alumni"
I recently heard from Justin, a 2013 grad, who offered to share his reflections on his first months since graduating. I love volunteers! And here is Justin’s report.
As I reflect on my experience at Fletcher, I can hardly believe it’s been three years since I made the decision to attend graduate school. In early 2011, I was living in New York and working as a manager at a Big 4 consulting firm. Though I was making a good living, I felt that my career had plateaued, and I wanted to burnish my credentials to pursue the international business career I had always dreamed of. Fletcher’s MIB program offered exactly what I was looking for — core business training within the context of a school famous for its international affairs curriculum. So I went for it. And three years later, I can happily say it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
I entered Fletcher with a clear mission: to position myself for a great job when I graduated. While I certainly worked hard in the classroom, I also made networking one of my top priorities from the start. By constantly speaking with alumni and attending events, I developed a clear sense of the path I wanted to take by the end of my first year, and my efforts generated three internship offers, all through alumni connections. I ultimately chose to work in Latin America strategy at Converse Inc. (a Nike subsidiary).
Converse opened many new doors for me. A successful summer led to an offer to continue working part-time during my second year (Converse is based in Boston), and I used that time to develop my capstone — a three-year commercial strategy for the brand in Brazil. Working part-time on top of studying full-time was certainly a major commitment, but it enabled me to apply context to all of the new skills I was learning in the classroom. The Fletcher alumnus I worked for, Dave Calderone (F’87), was an excellent mentor who exposed me to many facets of the global footwear industry. He played an instrumental role in my education. And the day after graduation, I started working full-time for Dave as a Strategic Planning Manager for Latin America at Converse.
After a few months, I made a personal decision to move to San Francisco. I’m now working as a Senior Manager of Business Development for the Old Navy brand at Gap, Inc., where I’m responsible for adding new markets to Old Navy’s international franchise portfolio. In the coming year, I’ll be traveling extensively around the world to visit retail markets and meet with potential new franchise partners. I’ll be negotiating contracts, examining import/trade implications, constructing financial models, and truly building a global business. It’s a job I could only have dreamed of before Fletcher.
My life has changed significantly over the last three years. I now have lifelong friends all over the world. I’ve been to 10 new countries on three continents. I think about global business issues in an entirely new way. And I got the international career I had hoped for. Deciding on graduate school is a major life decision indeed, but it works if you work it. So be deliberate, be decisive, have an open mind, and go for it.
Oh, and one last thing. Support Los Fletcheros!
More and more Class of 2013 alumni are feeling settled in their new lives, opening (I hope) the door for me to feature more of their stories. For now, I’m happy to introduce Margot Shorey. Margot, a two-year veteran of the Admissions Committee, visited the office a month ago, and I asked if I could persuade her to write for the blog. Happily, I could. So here’s her story.
Before Fletcher, I was living and working in Washington, DC — a city I have always been drawn to — with some medium-term stints in Africa. While at Fletcher, I struggled to figure out if I wanted to take a position in the field, finding a way to implement projects related to my interest in African security, or to return to DC to focus on U.S. policy in Africa. This decision was not easy for me, as some of the best experiences in my short pre-Fletcher career occurred while working with project teams in Chad and Senegal. On the other hand, I was sometimes very lonely abroad, missing my friends and community back in DC. I had learned a lot about the challenges of implementing USAID projects, but wanted a broader perspective to ask why the U.S. was even running such programs in Africa. Particularly with everything I learned at Fletcher, I sought an active role in shaping U.S. policy in such a critical region. I really wasn’t sure what direction I wanted to go in.
Whew! These were hard questions that stressed me out even more than a three-hour, all-you-can-write, grade-determining Role of Force exam. (In December 2011 I didn’t think anything could stress me out more than that.) Luckily, all my classmates and friends were struggling with the same decisions and were there to talk them out with me. From conversations in the Hall of Flags, to advice from our senior military fellows, to Togo-New York-Cambodia gchats during summer internships, I aired my anxieties and listened to how my friends were thinking about their post-Fletcher lives.
For now, I’ve decided to return to DC, where I’m working for the Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS), one of five regional centers of the Department of Defense. I support academic outreach programs with members of the African security sector on civil-military relations, respect of democratic values, and other U.S. security priorities on the continent. Recently, for example, we held a three-week program in DC for 60 rising African security sector leaders. I conducted research and prepared background materials for the participants on ethical leadership, served as the point of contact for over 30 guest speakers, and got to interact with some amazing participants. Recently, while discussing guest speakers with colleagues for an upcoming program, I kept saying, “Oh, I know her, she went to Fletcher and is awesome,” or “She went to Fletcher. I don’t know her personally, but I’ve heard Professor Shultz rave endlessly about her, so she must be great.” After hearing quite a bit of this, my coworker turned to me and asked if we could populate the guest speaker list exclusively with the Fletcher network. Yep — I’m pretty sure we could.
Through my job, I’ve been able to gain a deeper understanding of the security challenges in Africa, as well as the U.S. policy structure, and I’ve started to build a network within the Africa security community here in DC. But I’ve also learned a lot about what it means to work for the U.S. government, which has been at times a bit frustrating. Although I certainly enjoyed my time with Netflix during my brief paid vacation in early October, the government shutdown presented a serious planning challenge and threatened to cancel our program altogether.
Living in DC is not all about work, of course. Fortunately, many of my friends from before Fletcher are still here, but there is also a large Fletcher crowd from my class, who I see often. The best part is that everyone is always up for a new adventure, even if it doesn’t involve leaving DC. We’ve splurged on an après-ski event at a fancy hotel bar, just because it seemed fun, tried some of the hundreds of new restaurants in the city, hosted birthday/holiday/just-because parties, and will be delivering holiday meals to seniors together. I run into Fletcher people on the Metro, at work programs, at networking events, and at social gatherings where I didn’t know anyone from Fletcher would be. It’s true — Fletcher is everywhere in DC.
So, I know I made the right post-Fletcher decision for me. But do I get a tinge of envy when I hear about my friends who are currently traveling the world? Of course I do — I wouldn’t be a Fletcher grad if I didn’t.
Tagged with: First-year alumni
Last month I needed to contact our volunteer interviewers and I used an email list that included recent grads. Though I apologized for including them in the email, I also invited them to write about their post-Fletcher lives for the blog. Instant success! In the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing reports from several of our newest alumni. The first report comes from Ana Garcia, who reflects on her current work and provides some thoughts for our new students or applicants.
My first memory of Fletcher goes back to the day I entered the Hall of Flags. I walked in, looked up, and there it was, the Fletcher flag! I had finally made it: after all the effort, the paper work, and…a “suggestion” to take an English language course during the summer. Two years and two months later, I find myself here, writing about my activities, now as a Fletcher graduate.
I belong to the amazing Class of 2013 MALD group, which included many like me who wondered how we were going to make it all the way to graduation day. And like many of my classmates, I thought that I would fly out into the world right after getting my diploma. Instead, Cambridge, Somerville, and Boston are still my home. I currently work at Conflict Dynamics International, a not-for-profit organization that focuses on preventing and resolving violent conflicts. My work here is linked to two extremely interesting projects: one that aims to identify the main constraints for humanitarian access in countries in conflict; the other one focused on violations of children’s rights in conflict and post-conflict settings. It sounds like a Fletcher type of job and it is! (Given, also, that most of my coworkers are former classmates. Yep, the Fletcher alumni community starts close to campus.)
Staying in Boston, while many of my friends have left the city for Washington, DC, New York, or their home countries, was the first surprise of my life as a Fletcher grad. The second surprise of my postgraduate life was realizing how intense being a Fletcher student was. Suddenly, I have found myself with TIME: time to be by myself or with my friends, to walk, to watch endless t.v. shows. Despite those feelings, I would never have missed all the all-nighters with my study groups (yes, you will have those), all those coffee refills, cultural nights, and house parties. Fletcher is a place to learn, but also to live, to fail, and to challenge yourself.
Fletcher gave me the chance to do things and meet some of the most important people in my life, often not in class. Organizing cultural nights, dancing the waltz, participating in debates about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or painting the cannon in pj’s are all things I encourage current students to do. You may not know it yet, but you gain skills from those experiences that are as valuable in a work environment as any class you can take.
My summer has been extraordinarily fun, but also professionally rewarding. I had the opportunity to collaborate in different interesting projects on negotiations and humanitarian aid while I also brushed up on my Arabic skills. Boston has been, and currently is, the place where I will continue the transition toward that job for which I came to Fletcher, and this will happen during this Fall. In the meantime, I have learned the most important lesson of all: Don’t rush, take your time, don’t be hard on yourself. At Fletcher, we are all overachievers, smart and creative people. We will do great things. For now, I’ll be ready and open to the uncertainty, the world of opportunities and options that is out there.
Tagged with: First-year alumni
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