Currently viewing the tag: "Internships"

Over time, the blog has included many brief references to, or longer descriptions of, student internships, including some responses to an informal survey I sent out last year, asking about academic year internships.  Recently, the Office of Career Services added a feature to their website, offering comments from students on their summer internships.  The comments range from appreciation for a special opportunity to observe a nation in transition:

Being in Myanmar during this time of transition for the country was fascinating.  Through this internship, I was also given the opportunity to visit parts of the country that are not accessible to tourism.  The professional and personal growth I experienced through this internship was invaluable.

To making valuable contacts:

I had the opportunity to collaborate with many important people working in the Asia-Pacific region, including the U.S. Ambassador to the Asian Development Bank, the Director of the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies and former Deputy Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM), and the former U.S. Ambassador to APEC.

To gaining deeper understanding of the work of an organization and a field:

I really appreciated being engaged in research in human rights abuses, in many countries, working with different researchers, and types of research (i.e. outputs).  I gained insight into how Human Rights Watch works as an organization, and how human rights research looks from a non-academic perspective.

To developing key skills:

Professionally, it was a great opportunity to work in French on a daily basis, learning how to communicate and articulate key technical concepts in development work, as well as understand the ever-changing and evolving context of economic development work in Burkina Faso.  At the end of my internship, I delivered a consulting presentation highlighting the work I had accomplished, in French, to the senior officials of MCA-BF and MCC.

We’re at the point in the spring semester when students who haven’t already pinned down an internship for the summer will finalize their choice of opportunity.  These comments from summer 2013 are a good reminder that Fletcher students do some great work, and make real contributions to their organizations, each summer.

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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.

Justin EttingerI 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!

Returning to the second-year student bloggers, we pick up Scott’s story as he considers the post-Fletcher future that awaits him after graduation next May.  As you’ll read, to Scott’s surprise, the learning and exposure he gained at Fletcher have caused him to reconsider his planned career path.

Scott SnyderIt’s interesting being a graduate student (and the ripe age of 32) and confused about the type of work I want to do after Fletcher.  I came in with a very set plan: to use the Master of International Business (MIB) program to transition from the global health sector to the field of international economic development, by filling gaps resulting from my lack of work in the private sector.  I was focused on international organizations, such as the World Bank, or consulting firms that would value my non-profit work and mindset but would also (thanks to the MIB program) be confident in my abilities to understand financial markets.

Fletcher offered me the chance to meet and listen to many individuals who worked at the organizations I had originally targeted.  Unfortunately, around February of last year, after multiple career panels, information sessions, and my own research, I started to question whether this career track would be the right fit for me.  At the same time, I was enjoying all my business courses and dissecting cases — especially within the areas of strategy and business development.

Coming to this realization in February/March was a problem because I had to completely switch my internship search, and by the time I did, most of the internships I had pinpointed were already filled.  I made the best of this situation by taking a position in May that was similar to my previous work (but was salary based — always a good thing) and then took the remainder of the summer to do something very exciting.  I used the time to cycle across the US — from the west coast of Oregon to New York City — raising funds for the charity run by one of my best friends from college, the Ace in the Hole Foundation.  (If interested in that journey, you can read about it here.)  It was the experience of a lifetime, but it didn’t boost my future job search the way a summer internship could have.

Which leads me to where I am in the first semester of my second year at Fletcher.  I have decided to cast a wide net and to try to meet with as many people as possible this fall, to help focus my job search, which should start this winter.  I have learned a lot already, namely that I’d love to focus on technology, health/wellness, and, if possible, to work at a start up or even start a venture of my own.  My current classes — Starting New Ventures, at Fletcher, and Strategy and Technology, at Harvard Business School — definitely have had an influence on my current thinking, but I’m also continuing to speak with individuals outside of that realm.  Making up for lost time last summer, I also have an internship in downtown Boston at a hybrid venture capital and creative agency, which has given me exposure to multiple industries that could interest me.

With these commitments, and a couple more classes, I have found myself busy.  It’s a different kind of busy than my first year, when most of my time went into tough, but great, classes.  As a second-year MIB student, I have completed the program’s core courses and I have the flexibility to choose classes that allow me explore new avenues.  I’m actually excited for the whole process, even if it will be a challenge.

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I still haven’t run into Roxanne, our student blogger, now in her second year, but just before classes began she was kind to send me a report on her summer in Colombia.  In a busy week, there’s nothing like being able to draw on unexpected blog contributions!  Here’s Roxanne’s report on a fascinating summer.

As I type these words, I sit surrounded by papers full of Fletcher information: 2013-2014 course offerings, capstone project submission forms, registration requirements for international students.  September has always been my favorite time of year because there is a sense of renewal and possibility in the air — not to mention that it is the start of fall!  Anyone who has spent time in New England, as I did as a college student in Boston, can appreciate the crisper air and the first signs of leaves turning red.

Roxanne ColombiaDespite my love of fall, I am not quite ready to part with the lingering memories of the summer.  As Jessica mentioned in an earlier blog post, the majority of my energy this summer was channeled towards a field research project in Colombia.  Under the guidance of Professor Dyan Mazurana, and in affiliation with local organizations, I designed and implemented a study on the gender dimensions of enforced disappearances.  Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court lists enforced disappearance as a crime against humanity and defines it as:

Enforced disappearance of persons means the arrest, detention or abduction of persons by, or with the authorization, support or acquiescence of, a State or a political organization, followed by a refusal to acknowledge that deprivation of freedom or to give information on the fate or whereabouts of those persons, with the intention of removing them from the protection of the law for a prolonged period of time.

In Colombia, similarly to other countries with a high reported rate of enforced disappearances, the majority of the missing are men and the majority of the surviving family members who initiate and/or lead the search process for the missing are women.  As part of my research, I interviewed both surviving family members of the missing and “key informants” — government, NGO, and international organization officials who could discuss the topic in their professional capacity.  Through these interviews, I sought to shed more light on a number of questions: How does enforced disappearance impact the surviving family members of the missing person?  Where and how do surviving family members of the missing fit within the victims’ groups and their narratives?  How does the memory of the missing, and the experience of their family members, figure into the creation of collective memory?

The process of creating this summer project provided a glimpse into the rituals of the academic world.  First, I consulted with both Professor Mazurana and the local partners to set the parameters of the research and understand how the local context in Colombia would affect my research design and methods.  Then I sought the approval of the Institutional Review Board, the organization that ensures that all research involving human subjects is ethical.  This involved devising interview questions, drafting consent forms, and thinking of strategies to protect my interviewees’ privacy, confidentiality, and security without subjecting them to unnecessary risks or costs.  Once I arrived in Colombia, the focus shifted to identifying whom to interview, with an eye towards the inclusion of multiple, diverse voices and perspectives.  Journalists, government officials, NGO leaders, victims’ group advocates, academics, jurists, and community leaders are among the groups that helped me with my research.  The fall and winter will consist of processing the data I collected and identifying patterns that emerged from the research. I am looking forward to developing more robust qualitative research skills in order to complete this task.

A few other experiences round up my summer: speaking alongside Professor Mazurana at the Fletcher Summer Institute for the Advanced Study of Non-Violent Conflict on the topic of gender and non-violent movements, presenting my work on wartime sexual violence at the Women in International Security conference in Toronto, Canada, serving as an international consultant to an organization in Pakistan seeking to conduct a conflict assessment on access to education, and riding a tandem bike across Boston on every beautiful day this summer could muster.  I must admit to feeling fatigued, inspired, grateful, overwhelmed, and lucky all at once.  Free time during the next few days will hold catch-ups with Fletcher friends, sleep, and outdoor adventures, before the air gets too crisp.  Next time you hear from me, I will have fully entered my second year at Fletcher!

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Maybe Mirza’s internship report yesterday made you wonder about other students’ internships, or maybe you want to read internship reports from further afield.  Or maybe you’re not really interested in internships, but you still want to know what people are doing.  If any of those is the case, you’ll want to check out two sources of info.  The first is the Fletcher Admissions Facebook page, where we’re posting photos that students have sent from wherever they are in the world.  Scroll through and check them out.

The other source of information and stories about summer break activities for Fletcher students is their own blogs.  I asked some students if I could share their writing with Admissions Blog readers, and I hope you’ll want to read what they’re up to.  In alpha order, here they are.  If they tweet, I’ve included their twitter pages, too.

Madeeha Ansari, writing from Boston and Pakistan. (@madeeha_ansari)

Andra Bosneag, in India, writing as a Peace Fellow with The Advocacy Project.

Charles Dokmo, writing from N’Djamena, Chad while working for an NGO.  (@chuckdinchad)

Nathan Kennedy, offering post-graduation opinions and analysis.

Diego Ortiz, spending the summer in Tokyo and Mexico (@diegomex0718)

Zane Preston has been in or near Cairo.

Phoebe Randel, working in Nairobi.

Emerson Tuttle is in Rome working for the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization and traveling around the Italian countryside.

Stefan Wirth, like Scott and Joel, is biking across the U.S., but going at it from a different direction (east to west, from Delaware to Oregon).

One last blog would be that of our friend Roxana, who also tweets.

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Unlike most of my Fletcher classmates, I am doing my internship in Boston this summer.  It’s just across the river and a couple of subway stops away from Fletcher, so it has been quite an easy adjustment for me.  I am working at the State Department of Higher Education where I am exploring how new educational technology initiatives can help close achievement gaps in public higher education in Massachusetts.  I was lucky to find a paid internship, as part of the Rappaport Institute Public Policy Summer Fellowship Program.  (For the incoming students interested in Greater Boston and public policy, I would highly suggest visiting their website to learn more about the application process for the following summer.)

I discovered the fellowship by chance.  The Office of Career Services (OCS) organized an information session in the fall which I (randomly) decided to attend.  I really liked what I heard, so I followed up, kept in touch, went in for an informational interview, and submitted my application in mid-January (in fact, just before leaving for the Fletcher ski trip).  I took a bit of a risk by not exploring other internship opportunities (not recommended!), though I knew that if my application were not selected, I would still have time to research other opportunities.  By March 1, my application was accepted, and I could remove the “summer internship” item off my stress to-do list.

I started my internship a couple of weeks ago, and am still learning about the department’s work.  Unlike perhaps some other internship positions, I was given the freedom to choose the work I would do over the summer.  This has been both exciting and challenging.  It’s great because I can tailor my learning and focus on my specific interests; the challenge is to remain exceptionally disciplined with my time and persistently take initiative.  So far, so good — but I do admit that, occasionally, it is nice to simply be assigned a task with a deadline.

Nevertheless, what I have discovered with my summer internship is that this opportunity gives me and my classmates an additional network, on top of the expansive and tight-knit Fletcher network.  I have already met many wonderful individuals, and am predicting some lasting professional relationships and friendships.  As at Fletcher and elsewhere, the key is to get involved and be proactive, and take full advantage of the experience.  While this has been great, I do miss my Fletcher classmates.  Soon after the academic year’s end, you realize just how meaningful the Fletcher friendships really are.  Luckily, there are a good number of us still in the Boston area, so it does not feel as secluded as it must feel for those interning in places such as Liberia or Nepal.

Another thing that I learned is that taking some time off between the academic year and a summer internship is helpful for sanity.  Many of my Fletcher friends have done this: visiting family, going on short vacations and road trips, or simply staying put in the Boston area and reading fiction.  (Fiction gains a whole new meaning in the life of a Fletcher student after two semesters of case studies).  I personally was fortunate enough to visit Europe for two weeks, which was a welcome change of scenery.  I would highly recommend taking your mind off anything school or work-related for at least a couple of weeks — your body and brain will be eternally grateful.

Finding a summer internship is a stressful activity for many Fletcher students, balanced as it is against a demanding academic schedule and a vibrant social environment filled with extracurricular activities — as well as many work and personal responsibilities.  In the end, however, almost everyone finds exactly what s/he is looking for, and literally everyone finds something meaningful to do over the summer months.  A couple of tips from my experience are to start the internship hunt early on (mid-fall semester), connect with Fletcher alums, use OCS resources, talk to your classmates, be persistent, and don’t stress too much.

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My informal survey earlier in the summer yielded quite a few blog topics, most of which relate to the application process and which I’ll be covering over time.  But several survey responders were incoming students, and I’m going to cover their questions here.  If you’re an incoming student with additional questions, please post them in the comments section below.  Note that the questions below are fairly specific — I’m assuming that more general questions are easily answered through other sources.

Q:  What opportunities are available in the fall for part-time jobs and internships?

There are a number of sources of information on campus jobs, including the Fletcher student email list, the Career Services intranet site, and the Tufts “JobX” site.  There are a great number of jobs available, ranging from the most education-enhancing research to wallet-filling dining services work.  Some positions will be reserved for “work study” students, but many are open to all students — grad or undergrad, U.S. or international.  As for internships, this past blog post may be helpful.  The bottom line — most students who wish to work during the academic year will find a position that suits them.

Q.  How should I approach class “shopping day”?

That is a good question.  Shopping Day can be both helpful and overwhelming.  Helpful in providing a quick and easy forum for gathering information about a few classes you’re deciding among.  Overwhelming if you want to test every class previewed during the day.  This past post provides details, as well as a sample Shopping Day schedule.  Another sample schedule can be found in this post.  An important thing to note is that not all classes are represented during shopping day — the focus is on those that are newly developed or offered by new faculty members.  Once the Shopping Day schedule for the coming semester is available, select a short list of classes to attend and don’t forget that other students may have information to supplement what you uncover on Shopping Day.

Q.  Is there a club/campus organization day for club “shopping”?

Why yes, there is.  The student organization fair usually takes place on either the first or second Friday of the semester.  It’s a fun opportunity to learn about a bunch of organizations.

Q.  What are the benefits of the broader Tufts campus, outside of the Fletcher buildings?

That is another great question.  Although Fletcher’s three attached buildings (Cabot, Mugar, and Goddard Halls) offer all the basic academic services Fletcher students may need, including Ginn Library and a small café, students shouldn’t limit themselves to these interconnected walls.  Just venture across Packard Avenue and the University offers a campus center, the bookstore, a larger library, two dining halls and several other eatery options, a newly refurbished and enlarged gym, and other basic student-life amenities.  Plus, there’s a great program of music offerings at the Granoff Music Center, right near the Aidekman Arts Center and its interesting visual art exhibits.  And, for snowy winters, there’s a great hill for sledding.  The campus is relatively compact, but still provides the leafy setting that a New England university should — and this campus overlooks Boston, reminding us that we may not be in the city, but we’re never far away.

Q.  What should I, as an international student, know before my first trip to the U.S.?  What should I bring and not bring?  How can I open a banking account?

Traveling to a new country, particularly to live there for at least a year, is daunting indeed.  It may be helpful to remember that about 40% of Fletcher students come from outside the U.S., so there will be plenty of people who share your experience once you’re here.  And the U.S. students (particularly those from the local area) love to share information about their home!  But knowing you will be well taken care of when you get here doesn’t help when you’re trying to prepare.  While Fletcher has its own International Student Advisor, you may also want to check the resources of the Tufts International Center, especially the webpage on settling in, which covers many of the basics.  As for packing, that is surely a challenge.  Depending on how you’re traveling, your luggage weight allowance, and how much you can have shipped, you may find that the decision is made for you:  bring basic clothes and all the essentials (toothbrush, etc.) to get you through your first few weeks.  The weather will be mild, so you can have winter clothes shipped to you, or you can purchase what you need.  Once you’re settled here, you’ll have a better sense of what you might need to buy or have sent from home.

That covers the questions from incoming students, though I welcome additional questions you might want to post as a comment.  I’ll be turning to the questions from future applicants in the coming weeks.

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Time for another round of thanks and farewell to a graduating student.  Maliheh contributed several posts to the blog this year, despite a heavy in-class and out-of-class workload, and a PhD admissions process that involved twenty schools and one lucky program that she has chosen to attend.  I first “met” Maliheh more than a year before she enrolled in the MALD program, when she first corresponded with our office.  Once I met her, I became a huge fan.  As much as I’ll miss her at Fletcher, I wish her the very best in her coming years of academic toil.  But before Maliheh leaves Fletcher, she offers this last post.

malihehIt is just that time of the year when everyone at Fletcher is finishing exams and preparing for their upcoming internship or new job.  I was preparing for my own internship last year at this time.  Everyone would tell me about Fletcher’s incredibly rich alumni network, but before experiencing it myself, I had no clear idea what a valuable resource this network can be.

From the first day I started my work at the World Bank, I tried to expand my professional connections by networking with people in other departments at the bank.  To my surprise, in almost every department I could find a Fletcher alum with whom I could meet and talk.  Even non-Fletcher people knew very well about Fletcher and would remind me that two current World Bank vice presidents are Fletcher alumni.

Working in the MENA region at the bank, it was not uncommon to hear people speaking in Arabic or Farsi, which I also used in speaking with my supervisor most of the time.  You can imagine that it is not easy to pick out English words exchanged in the middle of a conversation that is not in English, but “Fletcher” is a different kind of English word!  One day, in the midst of a long conversation in Farsi with my supervisor, and in a quite crowded venue, I said “Fletcher” to refer to a specific theory I had learned in one of my classes, and then returned to Farsi for the remainder of the conversation.  The woman sitting next to us picked out that one word and turned to me.  She asked, “I heard you say Fletcher.  Are you a Fletcher alum or student?”  And a very nice conversation followed from there!  Later I thought again about what I had heard before coming to the World Bank about Fletcher’s network, and felt very proud to be part of this extensive and supportive community!

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Continuing the internship theme that Roxanne kicked off for us yesterday, today we’ll consider the question of internships during the academic year.  We’re often asked about the opportunity to pursue an internship alongside classes, and it’s slightly tricky to answer.  On the one hand, YES, you certainly may pursue an internship!  Absolutely!  And many students do.  On the other hand, it’s not the culture at Fletcher to push students out the door to those internships (except during the summer, of course).  Like so many choices students make (Should I pursue a dual degree?  Exchange semester?  Language study?  Cross-registration?), the decision on an internship depends completely on the individual student’s academic and professional objectives.  There’s plenty going on at Fletcher and elsewhere on the Tufts campus — you won’t be bored if you commit yourself to two years of doing everything there is to do here.  On the other hand, if you tell us you have an internship, we’ll tell you that we’re glad to hear you’re taking advantage of that opportunity!

All of that said, I asked current students about their academic-year internships, and here’s what I found out:

Bob, first-year MALD:  I work as an intern with the Tufts Office of Sustainability, which is located just a short walk from the Fletcher School in Tufts’ Miller Hall.  I spend around 10-15 hours here per week, and some of my work can be completed at home.

Nathan, second-year MALD:  I have done work for two outside organizations while at Fletcher.  The first, in my first year, was at a small governance and peacebuilding organization in Cambridge, about a 30-minute walk from campus.  I worked 16-20 hours during the fall, and scaled back to 8-10 during the spring.  It was enriching to combine the academic environment with a more applied one, but I had to work during normal business hours, which was inconvenient for scheduling study groups and meant missing other opportunities at Fletcher.  This type of work comes down to balancing the experience (and need for extra income!) with the opportunities and community available on campus.  I decided not to continue this during my second year.  My second internship, which I’m doing currently, is a long-distance, on-my-own-time consultancy.  This, of course, means more flexibility but less direct engagement with the organization and the material.  It still involves sacrifice, but it’s less a cause of stress in my life, and I do appreciate having at least one toe in the real world while at an academic institution.

Justin, second-year MIB:  I worked at Converse in Latin America strategy 18-20 hours per week this year.  I was able to do my capstone on Converse’s three-year strategy for Brazil.

Marie, second-year MALD:  I worked at Conflict Dynamics International for about 9 hours a week last fall and this spring.

Katie, first-year MALD:  I have had an internship for both the fall and spring semesters of this year.  It is at WorldTeach, an international education nonprofit in Cambridge (it was formerly affiliated with Harvard).  The internship is 10 hours per week, or 40 hours per month.

John, first-year MIB:  I intern with the U.S. Commercial Service (a division of the Department of Commerce).  I intern at the downtown Boston office, 10-15 hours a week.  My responsibilities include market research and creating market entry strategies for Massachusetts companies to export and expand operations overseas.

Michael, first-year MIB:  I have been working at State Street this semester.  I am in the enterprise risk management division, in the probability of default group.  My group worked on calculating the counter-party risk of broker-dealers for regulatory purposes.  It is very quantitative.  I work approximately 15 hours a week, all on-site in downtown Boston.  The internship is paid on an hourly basis, and I found it through a posting from Fletcher OCS.

Leila, second-year MALD:  Last spring I did an internship at Mercy Corps’ Cambridge office.  I worked 10-12 hours a week with the Director of Governance and Partnerships.  My main tasks were to help with logistics for their Partnerships summit in Bangkok, and to conduct research for an internal paper on private-sector partnerships.  I found out about the internship through an OCS email.

Albert, second-year MALD:  I’ve been interning on the Governance and Peacebuilding team at Conflict Dynamics International both this past summer and during the year.  The internship is focused almost entirely on research in the areas of governance and peacebuilding, particularly in Sudan, South Sudan, and Somalia.  I worked 16 hours a week last semester and am working 12 hours a week this semester, paid on an hourly basis.

Cherrica, first-year MALD, and Chris, first-year MALD both intern at CargoMetrics, downtown Boston, 10-15 hours each week, paid, and say:  It’s a technology-enabled hedge fund founded by Fletcher alums.  They prefer you to work in the office but on occasion they are flexible and allow you to work from home.  Great office with several Fletcher grads and students.

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My thanks to Roxanne for her comprehensive description of the process.  Take it away, Roxanne!

First of all, it was so wonderful to meet many of the prospective members of the incoming class last week! We are sad to part with our second-year students soon, and getting to hear the stories of the incoming class gave many of us a lot to look forward to! One of the questions that emerged through these conversations was about the Fletcher summer internship search process. While it is very challenging to speak about a universal Fletcher experience, given that interests vary widely in this diverse community, I would like to shed some light on how some Fletcher students begin to think about their summer internships. Feel free to also browse the post I wrote about this topic in February, right before the DC Career Trip.

Setting goals for the summer: The first, and perhaps hardest, step in the internship search process is defining the summer experience we each wish to have. Some Fletcher students consider themselves “career changers,” shifting away from the professional field in which they worked prior to Fletcher and towards new endeavors. Other Fletcher students wish to use the summer to build their international or field experience, so they are explicitly looking for opportunities outside the United States. Yet other students wish to conduct research that will culminate in a capstone project, thesis, PhD proposal, or other document — either in parallel to an internship or instead of one. Some classmates wish to obtain or apply particular skills, such as quantitative analysis, crisis mapping, or practicing a language. Yet others want to remain in the same sector they were in prior to Fletcher, but wish to diversify the organizations and partners with which they have worked by building new institutional relationships over the summer. As you can see, there is no pattern that defines every Fletcher summer experience: The locales that host us for the summer range from Boston to Japan, from the public to private sector, from paid consultancies to research initiatives, and from entirely new endeavors to a return to beloved projects.

The critical role of mentorship: Mentorship is a critical component of developing a clearer sense of our goals for the summer. Conversations with professors or guest speakers at Fletcher events, as well as informational interviews with alumni, help us clarify our vision for what we seek to accomplish over the summer. Prior to both the New York City and DC career trips, the Office of Career Services compiles a lengthy list of alumni, including their professional affiliations and contact information. Students arrange many chats with alumni both during the Career Trips and outside of them in order to better understand potential summer opportunities. Informational interviews continue through the spring and they often end with a clearer “next step” for the students or an introduction to someone who may be of further help.

The Fletcher network does not just consist of faculty, staff, and alumni; rather, students themselves are an invaluable resource to their peers. During the second semester, many emails are sent on the Social List (our beloved and informal email list) asking if fellow students have worked in X country or with Y organization or if they know a particular individual. Many coffee chats emerge from these emails and it is always a delight to put each other in touch with people we have met or places we have worked, in the hope that we can create more opportunities for our peers.

Applying to summer positions: The Office of Career Services plays an instrumental role in coaching students through the application process. Once we have identified the types of opportunities we wish to apply to, we can make appointments with Career Services staff to review our résumés and cover letters, conduct mock interviews, receive assistance in negotiating potential compensation — or even in proofreading our communications with potential employers! For students who wish to conduct research or work on a Fletcher-affiliated project, whether in the Boston area or beyond, conversations with professors and campus centers that are supervising these initiatives are an important part of building future relationships.

Funding the summer experience: The availability of funding differs greatly among the various sectors in which Fletcher students immerse themselves for the summer. There are many opportunities to fund the summer experience for those who have received an unpaid internship. The Office of Career Services has a simple application for summer funding, and these resources are supplemented by other research centers on campus that can provide financial support, such as the Tisch Active Citizenship Fellowship Program or the Feinstein International Center. Some professors  and departments make grants available for language study or for internships in a specific sector or region of the world. Additionally, there are Boston-area resources, such as the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School Summer Fellowships, that are accessible to Fletcher students because of the partnerships between Fletcher and the funding institutions. Students in the private sector or those who have secured paid consultancies for the summer may follow a slightly different process.

Pre-departure preparations: There is never a dull moment at Fletcher, even with an internship and funding secured! The months prior to departing for the summer are filled with building skills that may be essential for our research or employment, from training ourselves in statistics or ethnographic interviewing to brushing up on language skills and conducting pre-thesis research. In the next month, I will also be offering a “blogging and social media” workshop for Fletcher students, so we  can compile a document of our online presence, enabling us to follow each other’s summer journeys and learning. A classmate is in the process of compiling a Google Map with Fletcher summer internship locations, so we can find community wherever we go. The bottom line is that this is an exciting, exhilarating process, which — like most other processes at Fletcher — requires putting ourselves out there, being curious and open to learning, and leveraging the power of this community to create opportunities for all.

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