One area of advice I didn’t anticipate from students, but which makes total sense, was that incoming students should step back and evaluate their goals for Fletcher. Those who focused their advice in this area said:
I wrote down a list of personal goals for the two years. Academic and professional goals are pretty easy to come by, and you’ll get a lot of structured support at Fletcher in those areas. But I definitely recommend thinking about what you personally want to get out of the experience. I refer back to that list I wrote two years ago all the time as I try to prioritize, or just to get some perspective.
Set goals that you want to accomplish during your Fletcher education (specific skills to be gained, etc.). Identify the skills you will need to pursue the career you want after graduation. Talk to current Fletcher students, Fletcher alumni, AND alumni of the other APSIA schools (so that you know who you will be competing against when you graduate!).
I wish that I had taken the time to sit down and bullet-point my goals for grad school. What skills do I want to get out of this? What do I want to improve/work on? What do I want to learn that is completely new to me? Yes, all of these things change and evolve, but once you’re in it, you’re so caught up in the excitement that it is hard to extract yourself back to that initial bird’s-eye view.
There were also a few students who wished they had done a little more internship/job/career planning in the summer before they enrolled:
I wish I had made a greater effort to connect with Fletcher grads in the D.C. area (where I was based prior to Fletcher). Having connections helps a lot with internship leads.
If you have a sense of what kind of internship you want to do in the summer between the first and second years, start gathering information early. The more you wait, the more stressful it will get, as you’ll have to deal with many other obligations: papers, exams, etc…
It would be a great use of time to get in touch with people in the fields that you might be interested in working in, and do informational interviews by phone or in person. This would help guide your studies at Fletcher (very helpful given that the flexible curriculum offers options that can be hard to choose between), and the networking you do now would probably set you up well for getting back in touch regarding an internship or a job later on.
Tomorrow…the rest of the advice.
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