Posts by: Jessica Daniels

Today is a public (and University) holiday, but I know one group of people who are likely to be working hard today — the students in the International Business Club organizing the Tufts Innovation Symposium, which will take place on Thursday.  Last week, second-year MALD student, Owen, saw the notice about the Africana Conference and sent along the information below about the Symposium. 

Innovative ideas hold the potential to widen access and to open economies, but innovation is meaningless if it is not responsive to the end user’s needs.  Today, more than ever, the ability to approach innovation from a customer-driven perspective is critical to a successful and adaptive enterprise.  This year, the Tufts Innovation Symposium will place YOU, the customer, in the driver’s seat to develop a comprehensive framework for inclusive innovation.

Learn more on Facebook and we hope you’ll register to attend.

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This year we asked our Admissions Interns to write a little more for the blog than simply their fall semester intros.  First to send me a post is second-year MALD, Justin, who covers a topic that is clearly on the mind of many of the applicants whose essays we’ve been reading — the process of applying to the U.S. Foreign Service.

Justin, 2Prior to taking off for the summer after my first year at Fletcher, I quickly photocopied the Office of Career Services’ U.S. Foreign Service Officer Test guide book.  With an internship lined up at the Department of State, I figured it was as good a time as any to begin to more seriously consider a career in the Foreign Service.  That summer I developed a habit of going through the guide during my morning commutes, and interning in the Office of Chinese and Mongolian Affairs proved invaluable in gaining a better sense of life as a diplomat.

While I was extremely grateful for the guide, upon my return to campus, I came to discover the abundance of other resources Fletcher had to offer students interested in the Foreign Service — the first being my fellow classmates.  My studying for the exam picked up in intensity once I registered for the test in August, which made the pressure of what was looming a bit more palpable.  However what was comforting is that one doesn’t have to walk the halls of Fletcher too long before bumping into another student interested in the Foreign Service.  I teamed up with a classmate who had registered for the same test and had experience with the process.  He and I compared notes and took practice exams together, making the studying much more manageable and enjoyable.

When I received word of having passed the exam, I quickly found myself immersed in the writing process for my personal narratives.  This phase of the Foreign Service application is arguably the most opaque.  In an effort to gather multiple opinions on my chosen topics and overall approach, I again made use of a few resources available on campus.  I first ran to the Office of Career Services, where I met with one of the coaches, who provided her thoughts on the professional experiences I was considering highlighting in my essays.  After typing up a first draft, I met with Fletcher’s current State Department Fellow, who was generous enough to set aside time to discuss a draft.  She was quite frank and very open in providing guidance, which was more than appreciated, as I found it surprisingly difficult to convey everything I would have liked within the word limits provided.

I later met with a student writing tutor.  It was my first time signing up for a meeting, and I was not disappointed.  I was impressed with how much revision we squeezed into the thirty-minute time slot.  At that point in the writing process, after incorporating the tutor’s advice, I felt much better than when I had started.  As time wound down, I had a quick meeting with the Diplomat in Residence, to get her initial thoughts.  It turned out to be a great discussion that spanned beyond the narratives themselves.  That should not have come as a surprise, as it was an insightful conversation with the prior Diplomat in Residence that led me to apply for a State Department internship in the first place.

After what felt like an eternity of being distracted from actual school work, I submitted my narratives and am now awaiting a response as to whether I move on to the oral assessment.  Whether or not it works out this time around, I feel that the process has equipped me to present my goals, interests, and past experiences in a cogent manner, regardless of the job opportunity.  While it would be disappointing to not progress further, there’s always the option of reapplying next fall.  For the time being, I plan to explore alternatives and diversify my job prospects.

 

Yesterday I heard from Alison Erlwanger, one of the student leaders of the Africana Club, which is planning “Africa on the Global Stage,” a conference that will take place on Friday, February 20.  The second annual Africana Conference is free and open to the public, with support from Fletcher, the Institute for Business in the Global Context, the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service, and the World Peace Foundation.

The Africana Club wants to encourage blog readers who are in the area to attend.  Please register online if you’re interested.  Student-led conferences are a great way to see a practical reflection of the learning that students have done throughout the year.

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Ordinarily, Admissions staffers each dedicate one day a week to reading applications, and then fit in additional reading whenever they can.  Our schedule this winter has been hijacked by Mother Nature, and we’ve all found ourselves at home on snow days, grateful for the ease of grabbing files from our new online reader system.  Yesterday was one of those days, and Dan kindly sent me a report late in the afternoon.  As the only staffer with a resident dog or cat, Dan has the most photogenic reading companion.

It’s application reading season once again!  Regular blog readers know that we all have our routines to help us give quality reads to as many files as possible in a day.  The biggest change in those routines this year is physical.  In the past, a read day has involved an unwieldy stack of paper files, stretching ominously toward the heavens like Isengard (for those of you whose nerd alerts just went off, I swear I had to look up the proper spelling of “Isengard”).  Now the entire mountain of files is reflected conveniently on my computer screen.

Having our application system entirely online is, in most ways, totally sweet.  No carting around boxes of files!  No paper cuts (believe me, you do NOT want a manila folder paper cut)!  But with great power comes great responsibility, which in this case is that nagging realization that you always COULD read one more file.  The e-pile is always there taunting us.

breakfastMurray!Otherwise, though, a read day follows the familiar dynamics.  Breakfast: check.  And yes, I am lame enough that I end up eating the exact same thing I bring in to the office every morning.  Music: check.  For some reason I find Sigur Ros to be among the ideal soundtracks for reading.  Maybe I’m just hoping for a few apps from Iceland.  Murray: check.  Sure, he looks harmless now, but just wait until he starts making demands.  It’s important to read as much as I can early, before this monster takes over completely.

As always, I’m amazed by the quality of our applicant pool.  Balancing out the total feeling of inadequacy that reading Fletcher applications gives me is the knowledge that I’ll be getting to know many of these folks personally in the next year.  A full day of reading is intense, and ultimately tiring, but also very enlightening and inspiring.  It certainly beats a sharp stick in the eye.

Murray weather readyMurray usually gives me 15-20 files before putting forth his agenda items. Item #1: go outside:

With all the snow we’ve had recently, he needs to seriously suit up to go on a real walk.  The only other option is to quickly pop out into the trough we’ve dug in the snow in our backyard for him.  Poor guy looks like Moses crossing the Red Sea out there, so a full-on walk it is.  It’s a good head-clearing break for me, too.

I always imagine I’ll dive right back into reading once we get back into the house. Murray has other ideas, though:

Murray ready to play
You’ve submitted some fantastic reading material, Applicants, and I promise I’ll get back to it soon.  But first, I have an urgent plush-donut-toy-related matter to attend to.

 

With a fluid community of students who are on campus for only one or two years, it is often possible for new members of the community to take leadership roles in the organization of their choice.  Student blogger Ali recently took the helm for Fletcher’s Net Impact chapter.

The last time you heard from me, I had just returned from the annual Net Impact conference in Minneapolis.  That was a few months ago, and a lot has happened since then!

After the conference, projects with several of the contacts I met came to fruition: A corporate social responsibility (CSR) consultant from VOX Global hosted a campus workshop on CSR consulting tools within the communications realm, looking at stakeholder mapping, the Global Reporting Initiative, and more.  The community relations manager from Southwest Airlines expressed an interest in receiving graduate assistance with partnerships along the airline’s new international routes, and is now sourcing that help through Fletcher’s Global Consulting class, taught by Prof. Tunnard every spring.  Lastly, a CSR analyst from Brown-Forman agreed to come speak at Fletcher’s upcoming Sustainability Conference, hosted by the school’s Institute for Business in the Global Context, and to meet with Net Impact members separately.

All these very exciting turns have been part of my pathway to becoming the new president of Fletcher’s Net Impact chapter, as the previous co-presidents head off to exciting beginnings — one to complete her dual MALD-MBA degree at IE Business School in Madrid, and the other to continue her independent research with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.  Mentorship and leadership transitions between first- and second-year students are an important part of daily life at Fletcher, since the school has an abundance of student clubs and traditions that need to be carried on from year to year.

My Net Impact experience was a highlight of my first semester, and probably will continue to be one throughout my two years here.  It allows me to work in teams with some of my favorite classmates to plan events; to contact professionals and create programming that empowers students to drive social impact; to develop leadership skills for my resume; and to connect with other Boston-area students to participate in Net Impact events with the broader national network.  I look forward to updating you when I discover what summer internship it helps me land!

Until then, I’ll leave you with a video of my favorite Fletcher moment in 2014: waltzing with MALD student Peter Worth in front of the Symperoper in Dresden, Germany.

It was our submission to Fletcher’s annual “Where The Hell Is Fletcher?” video.  Here’s a past version, which I highly recommend you watch!

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What with trying to keep up with all that’s happening at Fletcher, and sharing the interesting paths of students, alumni, and faculty, I don’t pause often enough during the academic year to comment on our neighborhood.  Today, when I should otherwise be reading applications, seems like the perfect moment to share something I love about this region.

On Tuesday, I meandered over to Harvard Square for a reading by Nick Hornby, an author I like and who has a new book.  The organizers of the event reminded the audience to support local independent bookstores.  That made me think about how lucky we are to have these treasures in our midst.

There are actually many independents around, but I’m just going to highlight two that are particularly close to Fletcher.  One is Harvard Book Store, which organized the event on Tuesday — easily reached by bus from campus or subway from Davis Square.  The other is Porter Square Books, an even shorter bus or subway ride from Tufts.  Both stores offer a full calendar of events, and I’ve enjoyed talks by Junot Diaz, Edwidge Danticat, and others.  As someone who writes short things with an even shorter life, it’s inspiring to listen to real authors — whose work is to create something complex and lasting — talk about how they do it.

I’m well aware that Fletcher students don’t have abundant time for leisure reading, but I still think it’s great to live in an area that values books and can sustain independent bookstores.

 

The next member of the Class of 2009 to update us on her first five years after graduating from Fletcher is Sandy Kreis.  In addition to the details she provides below, Sandy told me that she has two new affiliations.  First, she is a visiting lecturer this semester at Tufts, teaching a course on Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Startups for the Ex College.  And she is also the Entrepreneur in Residence at Blade, a startup foundry that invests in consumer product software and hardware startups.

Pre-Fletcher Experience

At the American Embassy in Tokyo after meeting Amb. Caroline Kennedy (December 2013)

After graduating from Georgetown cum laude in 2004 with a Bachelor of Arts in American Studies, I found myself working long hours as a lead litigation legal assistant at Shearman & Sterling LLP in New York.  During my time at Shearman, I started wondering why the thousands of pages I printed each day did not use recycled paper and why the lights were on 24/7 in vacant conference rooms.  This rising passion for corporate social responsibility, coupled with my assignment to the Enron litigation and a new-found interest in electricity markets, led me to a job in Los Angeles with Environment America’s VIP outreach campaigns.

While in LA, my main task was to cultivate a network of high net-worth members of the arts and entertainment communities and galvanize interest around climate change advocacy.  My work culminated in a fundraiser at the home of movie director Paul Haggis, where the director of “An Inconvenient Truth,” Davis Guggenheim, addressed the crowd of over 100 celebrity activists.  Over $30,000 was raised to fight for climate change legislation in Sacramento.  Following these two different but extraordinarily useful jobs, I enrolled at Fletcher to better understand how policy impacts the deployment and growth of clean energy markets.  I was drawn to Fletcher because it was one of the only esteemed academic institutions that would allow me to pursue my interest in energy policy in an global context.

At Fletcher

Once I arrived at Blakeley Hall, I hit the ground running.  It was not long before I joined forces with my classmate Jan Havránek, who had a specific interest in energy security, to launch the Fletcher Energy Consortium.  I focused on taking all of the core courses of a traditional MBA program while simultaneously learning anything and everything I could about cleantech policy and technology innovation.  I benefited deeply from the burgeoning cleantech scene in Boston, driven strongly by the policies created in 2008 on Beacon Hill, including the Green Jobs Act and the Green Communities Act.

Between my first and second years at Fletcher, I interned right down the road in Kendall Square at Emerging Energy Research (EER), a startup-advisory firm that tracks renewable energy markets for wind, solar, geothermal, and storage developers.  I joined the North America Renewable Power Team and focused specifically on how state Renewable Portfolio Standards policies impact the demand created for clean energy development.  This was my first toe-dip into the innovation and startup ecosystem in Boston, and I was hooked.

Post-Fletcher

At the end of my two years as a MALD, I said goodbye to some of the best friends and contemporaries a woman could ask for and joined EER as a full-time analyst.  Within a few months, we were acquired by IHS and joined forces with Cambridge Energy Research Associates, where I had the pleasure of working with fellow Fletcher alums and delving deeper into how oil and gas markets affect the potential advancement of renewable energy deployment.  After two years at EER, I left for New York City where I joined the Accelerator for a Clean and Renewable Economy (ACRE) to brainstorm ways to diversify the City’s first cleantech-focused incubator into its next phase of development.

While at ACRE, I joined an incubated company, CB Insights, as the Greentech Program Manager.  In the Spring of 2012, I was back in Boston as a judge of the MIT Clean Energy Prize where I met my future boss, mentor, and friend, Jim Bowen, the husband of a Fletcher alum.  Jim poached me from New York and brought me back to Boston to work on the business development and international relations team at the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC), a quasi-government state agency charged with supporting the 5,500 clean energy companies here in the Commonwealth.  It was at this time that I was designated an Emerging Leader in Energy & Environmental Policy (ELEEP) by the Atlantic Council and the EcoLogic Institute.

With Governor Patrick as he gave the Mayor of Kyoto a Red Sox signed baseball (December 2013)

At MassCEC, I conceptualized, managed, and executed multiple innovative, new-growth initiatives designed to drive business for early stage companies in line with our larger strategic goals.  This includes managing an annual budget of $2.5M and leading teams of over 20+ employees (from marketing, communications, legal, etc.) by acting as the central manager of the Boston Cleanweb Hackathon and the Global Cleantech Meetup.  Perhaps most Fletcher-esque, I had the honor of accompanying Governor Deval Patrick on seven “innovation diplomacy” economic development missions.  I successfully identified, pitched, and sold various international collaborations and events with the core goal of creating tangible relationships for the Commonwealth’s cleantech companies.  On each trip, from Tokyo to Mexico City, I ran into Fletcher alumni who were either working in the target market or staffing the Embassy as a subject-matter expert.  One highlight was meeting Colombian President Juan Santos F81 in Bogota and saying in Spanish, “I too am a proud Fletcher alum.”  The alumni network is strong.

My tenure at MassCEC came to an end in August of 2014.  These days, I am working on various projects in the innovation ecosystem here in the Commonwealth, from Descience — a startup that matches scientists with fashion designers to bring “research to the runway” — to advising a handful of cleantech and digital technology companies.  The global network I have cultivated since I landed at Fletcher in 2007 has been instrumental in advancing my career to where it is today.  Never forget, it is the people that make the journey, so cultivate them, and do so wisely.

With U.S. Amb. Jonathan Farrar and wife Terry at the American Trade Hotel in Panama City (March 2014)

 

 

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What a Groundhog Day we’re having!

Let me start with our bad news: Mother Nature has trumped Admissions Office planning.  Winter Storm “Linus” is due to leave us with a new foot of snow, and Tufts University is closed for the day.  Before we received the snow-day notice, we were planning to greet a group of visiting students who were admitted in the Early Notification Admissions round.  Several changed their travel plans as the storm worked its way over Chicago and the midwest, but a few are in town.  We’re working to connect them with students so that they can still leave town with an expanded knowledge of Fletcher.  (BIG thank you to the students who have set aside their cups of snow-day cocoa to meet the visitors!)

Sigh.  The best laid plans, and all of that…

On the good news side, the New England Patriots brought some pre-snow joy to their fans by winning the Super Bowl.  Not being much of a football fan myself, I still watched enough of the game to be able to hold up my end of the conversations around the water cooler.  I hope I’ll still be able to have those conversations tomorrow when we’re back in the office.

And I might as well make some kind of observation about the weather.  Though I’m a transplanted New Yorker, I’ve lived in the Boston area for a long time.  Our yearly experience with snow ranges from none to quite a bit.  The average annual snowfall is about 43 inches/year, usually spread between November and March.  We can count on a storm or two during a year, but the past week has been very unusual.  There are much snowier parts of the U.S.  It just doesn’t feel that way today.

 

I’m a big advocate of using the admissions waiting period (between submitting the application and hearing back from schools) to line up your financial plan.  (That’s assuming you haven’t done so already, which is an even better idea!)  Today, student blogger Aditi helps you out with information about working on campus, with special notes for international students like herself.

Deciding to come to graduate school is a daunting process, not least because it most often means giving up a regular income for two (or more!) years.  For international students in particular, dealing with unfavorable exchanges rates while adjusting to a new environment can be very overwhelming.

Although a few previous blog posts have talked about jobs on campus, they have all referred specifically to teaching or research assistant positions.  However, these positions are limited in supply, and most Fletcher students work in more traditional “office” jobs within the larger Tufts community — for example, one of my jobs is helping with prospect research at the Tufts Advancement (fundraising) office.

Before embarking on the hunt for a job, it’s important to bear in mind that international students face certain restrictions to working here, including not being allowed to work off-campus or more than 20 hours a week (though few students can spare the time for that, anyway!).  Upon arriving at Fletcher, all international students are briefed on the process they need to go through in order to start working on campus, including getting a social security card once you have a job.  Reiko Morris, the international student advisor, is a wonderful resource and always takes the time to answer any questions people have.

Having worked on campus in the U.S. as an undergrad, I came to Fletcher under the assumption that I would find a job soon after arriving, and budgeted for graduate school accordingly.  However, it wasn’t until well into my first semester that I found a job — which led to much panic, re-planning my finances, and feeling stressed instead of enjoying my first few months here.  I did eventually find two different jobs, and here are some tips I learned along the way:

Finding a job:

  • If you’re planning your budget for graduate school with a student job in mind, remind yourself to be patient about finding a job when you get here.  I made the mistake of assuming I would get a job quickly, and was stressed when it didn’t happen as fast as I thought it would.  In retrospect, I should have given myself at least a semester to settle in and look for a job.
  • Fletcher sends around emails to all students when jobs here become available, but remember that there are jobs in the wider Tufts community that are available to Fletcher students as well. There is an online resource (JobX) that you will become familiar with, which is usually the best place to look for student jobs.  Remember that in addition to serving as a teaching assistant (TA) for Fletcher classes, you can also look into TA-ing undergraduate courses at Tufts.
  • It might seem like a lot of jobs are only open to work-study students (and therefore not to international students), but don’t get discouraged!
  • In terms of deciding what kind of job to get, it’s important to be clear on what your goals are: do you want any job that pays, or do you want a job that ties neatly into your academic and career goals?  Obviously, it’s ideal if the job does both, but those jobs are rarer to find.  If you are very determined to find a job that is directly relevant to you, remember that that might mean spending more time looking, and passing up on other jobs in the meantime.

Managing your time:

  • The number of hours per week that Fletcher students work varies considerably.  Last semester, I was able to work a full 20 hours per week (which is more than most students do) but of course, this might change based on my courseload in coming semesters.  Working 20 hours a week was very challenging, and I had to learn how to manage my time well.  It also means that you face a very difficult trade-off in terms of attending all the amazing events, lectures, and parties at Fletcher!  One piece of advice I received was particularly helpful in navigating this trade-off, and that was when a friend told me that I have to decide whether financial stress or time-management stress is harder for me to deal with.  I decided that financial stress worried me more, and that I could find ways to manage my time efficiently.  However, if managing your time well is difficult for you, then it’s probably not a great idea to work more than 10 hours each week.

The process of finding a student job and then working while at Fletcher can be overwhelming, and in retrospect, I wish that I had approached the process more calmly.  If you would like to talk more about working on campus as an international student, leave your questions as a comment on this blog.  I’d be happy to answer!

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Launched only about a year ago, the Fletcher Security Review is the School’s newest student-run publication.  The Winter 2015 issue is now available.  Check it out, and keep up with the FSR commentary on Twitter.

 

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