Reports from the Class of 2015 have started to trickle in. Today we’ll learn about the path through Fletcher of Thomas Pols, an experienced medical doctor.
A year ago I was putting the final touches on my capstone and was in the midst of my job search while trying to enjoy every moment of my last few weeks in Medford. After having worked for Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in the years before starting Fletcher, I came to the U.S. in August 2013 with my mind set on continuing my career in humanitarian aid. Never could I have predicted how differently my career would develop instead.
Compared to the clear structure of medical school, the flexible and interdisciplinary Fletcher curriculum was completely new to me. Choosing from so many different topics to study while still being able to connect all these fields was an amazing experience that, over the course of two years, made me consider taking my career in new directions. Talking with Professors Scharioth and Wilkinson was a great way to test the ideas that I had for my post-Fletcher life and, with their encouragement, I decided not to go straight back to the humanitarian field after all.
After celebrating our graduation in May 2015, the first order of business of a small group of us newly minted alumni was to travel together through the Caucasus and Central Europe before starting with “real” life. For me, this meant a post-travel return to my native Netherlands and exploring opportunities here.
Because I wanted to explore many different opportunities, I tried to cast a wide net by doing some freelance consulting work for humanitarian NGOs, while also teaching part-time at Erasmus University in Rotterdam. Being on the other side of the classroom just months after graduating myself was a great experience. Focusing primarily on courses covering international relations and international law allowed me to use many of the skills and the knowledge I had gained over the previous two years. My work at the university also brought me in contact with many interesting people who helped me continue my search for a job that would combine my medical and Fletcher backgrounds.
One of these conversations led to an introduction at Royal Dutch Shell in The Hague, where I was amazed to see how much they appreciated the interdisciplinary education I received at Fletcher. A complex company such as Shell works in a difficult market, in difficult locations, while continuously under scrutiny; a great challenge for a Fletcher graduate.
After half a dozen meetings, interviews and assessments, I was offered a position as Global Health Advisor. Never would I have thought that this would be the next step in my career, and I can truly say that Fletcher made it possible.
Today, nearly a year after leaving my friends in Medford, I am back visiting them in Washington, DC (where it seems that our “sixth semester” is in full swing), before I start the next step in my career. I am actually writing this in DC after finishing Sunday brunch with a group of Fletcher graduates, who shared amazing stories of what they have been up to in the last year.
I won’t try again to predict what I will do in the future because, with a Fletcher degree, it seems any future is possible.
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