Currently viewing the tag: "Internships"

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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The final word of the week on the Office of Career Services and the career trip to Washington, DC comes from Roxanne, who is using the trip to think through her internship objectives.

Prior to arriving at Fletcher, permanence was fleeting.  My work with women affected by conflict drew me from one country to the next, uprooting me from one community only to parachute into another.  In addition to the questions this model raised about the continuity and sustainability of impact, the lifestyle also made me crave tucking the suitcase away and putting down roots.  The depth of these roots was not important; I did not, at the time, long to own a home of my own and grow old there.  But when I arrived at Fletcher, I found myself relieved that I could have a permanent address that, in turn, allowed me to build routines and relationships that were difficult to sustain while I did field work in conflict management.

For the first five months after arriving in the U.S. to enroll at Fletcher, I did not board a single flight, perhaps out of a resistance to burst the bubble of permanence I have come to cherish.  I finally traveled for the New York City Career Trip, organized by the Office of Career Services to allow students to consider their career and internship options.  This week, I am heading to Washington with my classmates for the DC Career Trip and the itinerary is packed with site visits at international organizations, government agencies, and NGOs.  The internship search requires each of us to consider a set of questions:  Do I wish to remain in the U.S. or work internationally?  Am I hoping to use the summer experience to gain insight into a potential career track, build a relationship with a new organization, deepen an existing relationship with an institution, or try something entirely new to me?  Am I honing a specific set of skills, diversifying my experience, or attempting to create a medley of all possible options?

Self-reflection is the first, and perhaps the most critical, step of the process.  Identifying mentors and soliciting input is a necessary next step.  Through conversations with professors and career advisors here, as well as in late-night discussions with classmates, we each seek to figure out which organizations and opportunities suit our personal and professional priorities.  Once we have honed a list of organizations that interest us, the process of networking kicks into high gear.  That is where Fletcher’s current students and alumni are the most powerful resource, helping their peers connect with current or former employers or with organizations of interest.  It is a season of email writing, of introducing new colleagues to old supervisors, and new friends to old mentors who may be able to guide them.  Many of us have scheduled informational interviews during the DC Career Trip to gain a better understanding of the professional trajectory in our fields of interest and of the best way to prepare for a career in them.

To that end, during the DC Career Trip, I will be having coffee with a Fletcher alumna with vast experience in the intersection of gender and conflict.  I will also participate in a site visit to a research and policy group that focuses on women in conflict areas, and attend a panel on conflict resolution-related opportunities.  At each of these events, I will be reflecting on the skills I need to develop, the questions I should be asking of myself and others in this field, and the roles and careers in this field that I may not have otherwise been aware of or considered.

A lot of these professional questions intersect with the personal questions I was considering prior to coming to Fletcher:  Am I envisioning a career in constant motion?  Do I picture myself living internationally or within a particular country?  In the field or at headquarters?  Working with the UN, as I once did, or with a different agency?  In a research and policy-oriented role or on the implementation side of projects?  Stay tuned for the answers in my next installment of the Student Stories series….

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Incoming Fletcher students have their first interactions with the Office of Career Services during Orientation, which means everyone focuses early on sharpening professional profiles and identifying internship opportunities.  Today, Maliheh tells us how she built her partnership with OCS.

My experience with the Office of Career Services at the Fletcher School has been wonderful.  From the first day, the staff has gone above and beyond in supporting me with my career search.  As an international student, I was facing unique challenges as I sought to build my career and find an internship.  Aside from employment restrictions imposed by U.S. immigration regulations, I was concerned about cultural differences that could affect my ability to successfully present my qualifications.  I was surprised to learn how different an American résumé looks from a résumé I might prepare for employment in my home country.  I had heard something about “networking” as a job-search strategy, but didn’t know that in the U.S., the primary way people get professional positions is through networking appropriate and effective contacts.  I didn’t even have any idea on how I could begin the networking process.

In my search for a summer internship, I relied on the help of Career Services.  The diverse skills and knowledge of the OCS staff matches pretty well with the diverse student body at Fletcher.  Getting a job or an internship in an international organization can be challenging, but there are many opportunities to get your “foot in the door,” which all need a good knowledge of the organizational structure and business culture in that organization.  Before I began my search for an internship within the UN and the World Bank, Career Services helped me in building my résumé and tailoring it to the needs of these organizations, and they helped me to find the appropriate way to approach my contacts.

Initially, I would stop by OCS every other day to ask very detailed questions on how to correspond with my contacts, but gradually I could be more independent than that.  Their assistance helped me find a place where I truly enjoyed working, the World Bank. During my summer at the World Bank, I was amazed to discover how many Fletcher alumni are working there, including two of the bank vice presidents, Rachel Kyte and Hassan Tuluy.  Using the Fletcher network, when I was at the bank, I was offered another internship position at the World Resources Institute, where I had always dreamed to work.  After two months of research at WRI, I received an award that is offered to WRI’s best summer researcher.  I mention this not to brag, but to say that all Fletcher students have the opportunity to gain the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in their careers.

About one year ago, as a first-year MALD student, I was filled with fear and stress about the internship search.  I knew that finding a substantive internship can be difficult even for U.S. students, and the challenge would be greater for me, an international student.  By the end of the spring, having drawn on the support of OCS, I was fortunate to be able to select from several internship offers.  Now, as a graduating MALD student, I am extremely grateful for the resources offered within Career Services as they helped me in reaching the next phase of my career path.  Looking forward to my next job search, I no longer have the fear I felt only a year ago.

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A member of the faculty recently sent around a note pointing us toward this Washington Post technology column that describes work done by a Fletcher student during his summer internship.  The student (Josh Rogers) wrote his thesis under Prof. Salacuse’s supervision.  I thought blog readers might want to see this record of a summer internship’s interesting and valuable result.

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