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….