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There’s fresh information on the Office of Career Services page of the website with details about the internships that students pursued in summer 2014.  The headline:  161 internships in 51 countries!  Of those, 19% were with the U.S. government.  Students provided the information directly via a survey.

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Well, we finished off yesterday’s Open House in fine style, waving off a few of the last visitors (and their luggage) at about 6:00.  Each of us Admissions folk agreed that the sessions we attended went very well.  Adding it all up, we consider the day to have been a success.

Poking around the blog last week, I found a few posts that I had forgotten about, and that might be helpful for admitted students (and future admitted students) who didn’t attend the careers sessions at the Open House.  In 2010, I asked the Office of Career Services staff to describe their work.  Each member of the OCS staff focuses on a sector that is a typical objective for Fletcher students.  Though there are new names attached to some of the sectors, Phillip, the OCS director (and a participant in Admissions Committee meetings) confirms that the structure of responsibilities is the same.  So, below, please find links to past blog posts on OCS’s approach to sector coaching.

Of course, 2010 employment statistics aren’t very relevant now.  To round out the picture, you’ll want to check more recent career reports.

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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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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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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 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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I arrived at 51 Winthrop Street just as the Office of Career Services was getting set for their panel.  While Phillip was organizing, I grabbed a photo of Liz, Jeff, and Kristen.

And then a quick snap of the other OCS staffers who were standing by:

Finally, the presentation began:

Anyone not currently listening to Phillip might be attending a class or visiting with friends.  There are more classes at 3:20, as well as several special Roundtable Discussions.  Unfortunately for blogging purposes, I’ll be here in Admissions taking questions.  I’ll try to take a minute to grab a photo of the Roundtables.

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Each year, one or two Tufts University students are selected to guide their classmates through the process of thinking about and applying for U.S. Government internships and jobs.  To apply for this position of Federal Service Student Ambassador, the students must first have held a summer internship with the government.  This year, two second-year Fletcher MALD students, Amy Patanasinth and David Wallsh, were selected.  Here, Amy and David describe their yearlong role as 2010-2011 Federal Service Student Ambassadors.

Fletcher students are incredibly lucky to have a fantastic Office of Career Services as a resource.  While working with OCS, Fletcher students can also draw on us — the University’s two Federal Service Student Ambassadors.  We have been selected by The Partnership for Public Service, which aims to revitalize the U.S. government by inspiring a new generation to serve and by transforming the way government works.  Fletcher and other units of Tufts both attract students and produce graduates that are exactly what the federal government needs.  We help these students find and apply for internships and jobs with the government by holding workshops and advising students on an individual basis.

At Tufts, the Federal Service Student Ambassadors also work closely with the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service.  The Tisch College is a fantastic resource for all Tufts students.  It is a unique university-wide program that sets the standard in the U.S. with programming and research designed to promote higher education’s role in civic engagement.  We have also established relationships with various academic departments, including the political science department, which have advertised relevant opportunities to interested students.  Lastly, we have aimed to raise awareness in Tufts’s many other graduate schools about federal service opportunities in diverse fields, such as engineering, public health, urban and environmental planning, and many more!

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Many students at Fletcher want to pack up their professional skills and move to a new sector for their post-Fletcher careers.  In today’s blog post, the Office of Career Services career coach for the private sector provides suggestions for making a transition to a private sector career.

Students who are interested in working in the private sector after graduating from Fletcher frequently ask about strategies to get there.  I believe one of the keys to success in transitioning from the non-profit or public sector to the private sector involves — and I know this is not rocket science — NETWORKING!!!  As a career-changer, you might be overlooked on paper.  Networking gives you the opportunity to interact with people one-on-one and sell your enthusiasm and transferable skills.  This is especially true in an economic climate such as the one we’re in now, but networking is essential under any circumstances.  In fact, we in OCS feel so strongly about the importance of networking that we devote an entire Professional Development Program (PDP) session to this topic. The PDP is very interactive and it gives students the chance to practice the program’s content.

So, back to networking….In addition to the practice opportunity offered during the PDP, I highly recommend that students do a “mock informational interview,” which allows them to practice with an OCS coach.  Students who have taken advantage of the mock interviews report that, as a result, they have felt more comfortable when networking.

The student-organized private sector career trip to New York is another great way to get started on the transition to the private sector, providing a forum for putting those networking skills to work.  The trip takes place in the fall — classes are canceled to make it possible for students to attend — and it includes a number of site visits to employers, as well as small-group lunches with New York-based alumni.

Finally, the Fletcher alumni network is an outstanding resource for Fletcher students interested a private sector career.  Fletcher alums are typically very happy to help students, as well as fellow graduates.  Just today I was speaking with an alumnus from the 70s about his plans to change jobs, and he mentioned how incredibly responsive and helpful the Fletcher network has been to him over the years.  I was pleased, then, to hear him say how important he feels it is to “give back,” and offer support to other alumni and students!  Assistance provided by fellow Fletcher graduates could take a number of different forms, including reviewing a résumé, assisting a student looking to get a foot in the door of the alum’s company, offering an introduction to someone else in the Fletcher network who might be helpful, or providing an “ad hoc” internship for the student.

Making a career transition takes some effort, but with networking and the Fletcher network, a move to the private sector is possible, and is achieved by many members of every graduating class.

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Today’s post comes from the career coach for the U.S. public sector.  From the Admissions perspective, we know that many students start off with a vision of themselves in the most prominent agencies involved in international affairs (primarily Department of State).  Let’s hear how the career coach guides students to consider opportunities beyond the obvious.

Careers within the U.S. federal government continue to be an area where Fletcher graduates show particular strength.  Often when students arrive at Fletcher, they know they would like to work within the U.S. Foreign Service, intelligence community, or one of the federal agencies (Commerce, Energy, Treasury, USAID, etc.).  However, students quickly realize they need to focus further, as the roles and job opportunities within these agencies are as diverse as the academic interests of the Fletcher student body itself.

Our role in the Office of Career Services is to help students navigate these options with confidence and success.  We work closely with employers such as the CIA, Government Accountability Office, and Office of Management and Budget to understand each agency’s employment needs and then we coach students on how to be the best possible candidate for the job.  Most students meet with career coaches several times during their academic career – early in the fall to brainstorm possible best fits, and later in the spring to prepare for interviews that may lead to an internship or full-time position.  In the meantime, we work collaboratively on translating classroom knowledge into employer-relatable skills and achievements, with the aim of securing the job.

At Fletcher, strategic career coaching is augmented by deep career exploration through nearly 40 on-campus employer information sessions and the annual career trips to New York and Washington, DC.  A well-established OCS activity, the career trips offer students the benefit of attending some 30-plus career events in New York and over 60 events in D.C.  For first-year students, these events are great opportunities to hear from seasoned Fletcher graduates working at public sector employers such as the National Nuclear Security Administration, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, or New York Police Department Intelligence, as well as other organizations that connect to their interests, such as the Council on Foreign Relations.  During both trips, many of the employers have active recruiting components, and every year students secure internships and full-time jobs as a result.

The Fletcher School is a great choice for career-minded students who are also looking for a rigorous academic experience.  Equipped with the expertise and support of OCS staff, graduates aiming for jobs in the public sector can look forward to fruitful and engaging careers in every part of government.

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