Posts by: Jessica Daniels
On Saturday, all my nearest and dearest will gather together for the wedding of my son, Josh, to his long-time sweetheart, Ati. I don’t bring my home life into the blog as much as I once did, but the year when Josh applied to college for his undergraduate studies gave me a chance to think about the admissions process from the applicant’s perspective. I revisited the topic four years later when my daughter, Kayla, was doing her own college search.
Now they, their friends, and my age-20-something relatives are at another stage in life that has been equally illuminating. They’ve all completed their undergraduate studies and they’re navigating those years when they need to lay the groundwork for the decades to come. Some have already gone to graduate or professional school. Others are trying to figure out their next steps. All of them feel a certain pressure to work it all out soon. Listening to them has helped me connect to the issues our applicants are thinking about, beyond the technical aspects of the application.
What we in Admissions have always known is that those first jobs are hugely helpful for students who need to sift through their options. Two of Josh’s classmates, in particular, present an interesting example of the benefits of working before graduate school. They both had been inclined toward political science/international relations with a regional focus on the Middle East. As a result of the work they pursued after graduating, one has maintained the regional focus but decided to pursue it through international education. (That would be my almost-daughter-in-law.) The other worked in Washington, DC for two years before deciding that the field wasn’t for him, and he is now in medical school. Two students with similar interests, now following very different trajectories as a result of their first jobs.
As for Josh, he is in his second position with his second post-graduation organization, which he likes very much. Given a choice, he will pass on the graduate school experience. His first job was not a winner for him, and he has other friends who are similarly enjoying or muddling through their first positions, some more clearly directed than others. This is a reality we observe all the time from our perch in the Admissions Office. Some folks have their career path clearly defined by age 20. Others are still testing the waters, often in many different lakes.
The U.S. economy is much stronger than it was in 2008 when Josh started college, or even in 2012 when he graduated, but I know that it can still be tricky to find the perfect first job. So many organizations want to see experience on a résumé, even for entry-level positions. That pushes the need for internships into the undergraduate years, so that students can graduate with a reasonable portfolio of experience in hand. Kayla is fortunate to have had an internship that led to some contract work and then to a full-time job with another organization. Without the internship, I’m sure her job hunt would have been more difficult. When current undergraduates ask me about gaining work experience, I try to take the broadest possible approach — there’s a job out there, and the first will lead to the next. The trick is to find something that provides some benefit — either in transferable skills or, at least, in the soft skills that employers always want to see. And don’t go to graduate school until you’re certain you know what you want from your education.
I acknowledge that I often put on my “mom hat” when speaking to applicants and incoming students. Sometimes I consider what I would want someone in my position to say to Josh and Kayla; I think it’s important to be direct with prospective students who could use a little advice. I draw a lot personally from my observations of my (now adult) children and their friends and I think my work has benefited from my dual perspective, which helps me connect with the experience and decision-making of our applicants and students.
Now I’m looking forward to a wedding. Josh and Ati are a two-Jumbo couple — both having graduated from Tufts. They have their jobs, they’re getting married, and they’re on their way!
Having a recent graduate in the office during the summer makes me a very lucky blogger. I mentioned to Rafael that it would be great to highlight published student writing and he was ON IT! He sent a note to the Social List and the responses poured in. I’ll let him tell you about it.
A few weeks ago, I sent an email to Fletcher’s current students and recent graduates. My goal was to showcase some student publications from the past year to give you, the revered readers of this blog, an idea of what students do when they have researched an issue in depth for a seminar paper, capstone project, or internship, and don’t want their work to disappear in a drawer. Their responses surprised me. First, Fletcher students publish much more than I had expected. Two, the range of types of publications is much wider than I had expected. And three, in addition to clustering around some core themes of the Fletcher curriculum and current hot topics in the news, there are also issues that I did not know Fletcher students were working on, like fisheries in Norway, civil aviation in Timor-Leste, or entrepreneurship in Nunavik. But more on that later.
One major theme that many Fletcher students research and publish on frequently is refugees and global migration. In a truly international community, it is no wonder that an issue of such global importance is prominently represented. A research fellow with the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime, PhD candidate Matthew Herbert, for instance, researched trends and routes of North African clandestine migrants. For their capstone project, Mattea Cumoletti (MALD 17) and Anna Ackerman (MALD 17) produced a podcast to explore the potential of business interventions in solving the global refugee crisis (“Dollars, Displacement and Design: Entrepreneurship and the Refugee Crisis”). Carter Banker (MALD 18), and Khaled Ismail, Claire Wilson (MALD 18), and Nathan Cohen-Fournier (MIB 17) worked more specifically on Syria; Carter considering Latin American as the next frontier for Syrian refugees, and Clair, Khaled, and Nathan conducting research with Syrian refugees in Tripoli, Lebanon. Following the controversy around the Trump administration’s recent travel ban, Arthur Desloges (MALD 18) asked, “Does Mr. Trump know what a U.S. refugee is?” PhD candidate Roxani Krystalli, who also works as a Program Manager at the Feinstein International Center’s Humanitarian Evidence Program, and Fletcher Professor Kim Wilson led a research team to conduct a study on the financial journey of refugees. Some of their findings can be found here: “The Financial Journeys of Refugees: Charting a research agenda – Is corruption a relevant framework?”
Additionally, Roxani published several articles on Colombia, specifically on how gender affects the peace process, through the Washington Post’s famous Monkey Cage blog: “The Colombian peace agreement has a big emphasis on the lives of women. Here’s how.” With Professor Kimberly Theidon, Roxani also wrote “Here’s how attention to gender affected Colombia’s peace process.” The two also collaborated on a piece on the reintegration of FARC rebels into Colombia’s society. And for those who would rather listen than read, Roxani recorded a podcast on these issues with the Advanced Training Program on Humanitarian Action (ATHA). Amelia Rasmussen (MALD 17), too, researched the Colombia peace process (Volume I, Issue 2, pp. 139-152) and published her findings in The Pardee Periodical Journal of Global Affairs, which is based just down the street at Boston University. In the same edition, Protiti Roy (MALD 18) wrote about the implementation patterns of human rights treaties in India (pp. 111-126).
Moving further north on our scholarly globe, Andrew Tirrell (PhD candidate who just defended his dissertation) published on “Sociocultural institutions in Norwegian fisheries management” in Marine Policy. Maxwell McGrath-Horn (MALD 17) compared Arctic and Amazon regional governance mechanisms in a co-authored article in Polar Geography and Putin and Peter the Great in The Diplomat, whose associate editor is, unsurprisingly, a Fletcher PhD candidate. With support from Fletcher’s Institute for Business in the Global Context, Nathan Cohen-Fournier (MIB 17) conducted a study on entrepreneurship in Nunavik in light of climate change and globalization. Also through the IBGC, Nadim Choucair (MALD 17) and Thomas Flynn (MALD 17) published their work on startups, incubators, accelerators, and venture capital firms in Lebanon: “CIRCULAR 331: $500+ Million to create Lebanon’s Knowledge-Based Economy?” Staying in the Middle East, Sam Bollier (MALD 18) asked, “What’s Holding Up Labor Reforms in Qatar?” Julio Rivera Alejo (MALD 17) raised another good question, this time in Spanish: “¿Qué será del acuerdo internacional sobre cambio climático?” Tatsuo Sakai (MALD 17 and a two-year blogger) looked at the civil-aviation sector and tourism industry in Timor-Leste.
Turning now toward the realm of security studies, among our military veteran students, the Navy seems to produce prolific writers. In addition to our dean, who cannot seem to stop writing books and op-eds, Michael Keating (MALD 19) recently commented on the tragic incident involving the USS Fitzgerald. Andrea Goldstein (MALD 18) has written for Task & Purpose since 2014, most recently on the “Marines United” scandal, “10 Must-Read Books on Women in the Military,” and mentorship.
Among us non-seafaring students of international security at Fletcher, Mariya Ilyas (MALD 18 and another Admissions Blog writer) looked at the current dynamics in NATO-Turkey relations and Colin Steele (MALD 18) reviewed two books — The Fleet at Flood Tide: America at Total War in the Pacific, 1944-1945 and Scales on War: The Future of America’s Military at Risk — for The Strategy Bridge and the Center for International Maritime Security respectively. Lami Kim (PhD candidate) and yours truly (MALD 17) conducted research on nuclear proliferation and published our pieces on South Korean nuclear hedging and the recent discussions of a German Bomb through the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Voices of Tomorrow feature.
This already very long list does not nearly exhaust the pressing issues Fletcher students research from a wide array of perspectives. Nonetheless, I hope it gives you a good idea of the diversity of interests and viewpoints that fuel student discussion, research, and writing here.
Tagged with: Publications
Sure, it’s still early, but that’s no reason not to pin down your appointment time for a Fletcher evaluative interview. Participating in an interview is optional, but still recommended. We offer interviews both on campus and via Skype, so there’s rarely a reason why someone can’t participate. We’ll kick off the interviews on September 25. Poke around the calendar and find a date that works for you.
Here’s more information, but if that’s too much to read, allow me to tell you the most important point: you should interview before you submit your application. We’re well aware that many other programs take a different approach, but for Fletcher, you’ll want to nail down that interview before the program ends on December 8. Some of you already took this advise, before I even had a chance to give it. Good for you! (Especially the November 27 interviewee who is clearly on top of her schedule!)
With a modest amount of preparation, you’ll have a successful interview. Sign up now to ensure you’ve grabbed your spot before the schedule fills up.
Tagged with: Interview
Tuesday’s post covered Cindy’s general tips for incoming students. Today, she attacks a topic critical to graduate student survival: free food and where to find it. With no further ado, I’ll let Cindy reveal these important nutritional resources.
Let’s face it: everyone enjoys eating free food! Around Fletcher, there are many opportunities for students to keep themselves fueled and fed throughout the semester. Here are some suggestions for how to do just that:
- There’s a Social Hour scheduled every Thursday, sponsored by a different club or organization on campus each week.
- Dean Sheehan holds a pizza lunch once per month. This is a great way to hear about Fletcher news, voice your opinion about what could make Fletcher a better school, and also get to know your school leadership and peers.
- A couple of times each month, the International Security Studies Program hosts guest speaker events that students can sign up for in advance. Business attire is required, and lunch is served. Keep in mind there are cancellation policies for these luncheons!
- Throughout the semester, various student clubs will sponsor events and lunch will often be provided at the event.
- If students don’t manage to eat all the food at an event, any leftovers will typically be placed in the Hall of Flags coat nook. Free! But also first come, first served.
- Evening events that take place in the main ASEAN auditorium are often followed by an open/cash bar with hors d’oeuvres.
- There are many end-of-semester events with free food, which comes in handy when you’re studying hard for exams! Check the Social List for any updates on free food around this time. The Office of Career Services has been known to bring in homemade cookies at the end of the semester.
- Free food isn’t confined to Fletcher. Plenty of Tufts-wide events include a free meal, too!
Of course, where it comes to lectures, book talks, conferences, and meetings, the hope is that students will attend for the opportunity to learn and discuss, not simply to eat. But a free meal is a nice added bonus!
Tagged with: Ask Cindy
It’s hard to believe, but the first of the students to arrive (aside from those who are on campus for a quick English brush-up) will start the pre-session courses on August 14, less than two weeks from today! Yikes! That’s how the summer goes: slow…slow…slow FAST! FAST! FAST! Before we know it, Orientation will be here. And timed for the pre-session and Orientation arrivals, I have some new-student advice for you from Cindy, our advice-offering Graduate Assistant. Back in the spring, I asked her to think about the things that would have been handy to know before she arrived for her first year of study. We like to think that we provide all the key info in official correspondence, so Cindy’s list drills down to some lesser known but still important points.
Between Orientation, pre-session courses, shopping day, and moving into a new apartment or Blakeley Hall, starting Fletcher life can be overwhelming. Have no fear! We have compiled a list of useful tidbits that are often overlooked during the hectic start of Fletcher study. We hope you find this collection of somewhat random tips to be helpful when making your transition to Fletcher.
- At the beginning of the year, you’ll be assigned a locker. This is a great place to keep your tea, snacks, and maybe even a change of clothes/shoes for when you really need them.
- Technology troubles? The Ginn Library lends out cell phone chargers, computer chargers, and laptops.
- Don’t forget to join the Social List early on! Students (and even staff) send out emails to the Fletcher family to find used textbooks, post jobs/internships, get a Tylenol when they have a headache, or promote an event on/off campus. You can ask the Social List pretty much anything and you will get a response!
- There are two microwaves that are free for Fletcher students to use: one in Mugar Café and another in the Cabot lower level.
- We have a compost bin in the coat-hanging nook of the Hall of Flags for all of our environment-friendly folk.
- A prime study spot is the third floor study room in Ginn Library. This does need to be booked online through the Ginn Library website.
- There’s a new coffee machine next to Mugar Computer Lab if you are in a rush and need your caffeine. The coffee is nicely priced!
- If you have a bike (which is very useful for getting around campus), you can register it with the Tufts Police Department for free — an added layer of security. And there are several bike racks near our buildings, for those who bike-commute to campus.
- You have free access to the latest versions of Microsoft Office Suite.
Returning to point #3, contact the Social List for info on any of these points or to ask returning students more questions about student life.
As a service to the prospective applicants to Fletcher who are already reading the blog but who don’t yet know about the Rangel Fellowship Program, let me share some information we received Thursday from the Rangel organization.
First, there will be 30 new Rangel Fellows chosen in 2018. The fellows will receive a scholarship of up to $37,500 annually toward tuition, fees, and living expenses.
Second, the application deadline is SEPTEMBER 21. You’ll find the application here.
For those who are truly unfamiliar with these awards, Rangel Fellows receive support for their graduate studies in exchange for several years of service in the U.S. Department of State. Learn more about the program from the Rangel website, Twitter, and Facebook.
If that arrangement (fellowship in exchange for future work for the State Department) sounds familiar, you may already have heard about the Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship. In the past, the Pickering organization has used a January deadline. Keep an eye on the website for more information about applying.
And, not so different, is the USAID Donald M. Payne International Development Graduate Fellowship, which similarly supports a student’s expenses in exchange for several years of employment with the U.S. Agency for International Development. The Payne Fellowship application deadline has also been in January in the past.
All of these programs are open to U.S. citizens and permanent residents only. If your career goals would take you in a completely different direction, then they’re not for you. But if you fall in one of their targeted groups and if you would be interested in a State Department or USAID career, it’s well worth applying.
Tagged with: Paying for Grad School
I’m going to close out this blog week with the post that wraps up Tatsuo’s Fletcher experience. It’s hard to believe that I met Tatsuo almost exactly two years ago, and he’s already back in his job with the ministry in Japan that sponsored his studies. As much as any student I’ve known, Tatsuo made the most of his two years away from the workplace. He traveled widely in the U.S. and beyond, pursued an exchange semester in Paris, had an internship last summer (relatively uncommon among students who will return to their pre-Fletcher workplace), and while on campus, built community with fellow students interested in Japanese culture and food. In today’s post, he describes his return to work at the ministry.
Two months ago, I graduated from Fletcher and came back to Japan. Fortunately or unfortunately, I am readjusting quickly to Japanese life and work. I miss my days in the school on the hill, but I already feel like they passed years ago.
I’ve settled in Kasumigaseki, the district that is home to almost all Japanese central government agencies, and I am serving as the Deputy Director of the Transport Planning Division in the Public Transport Department of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT).
In Japan, maybe like some other countries, the name of the government district — “Kasumigaseki” — is sometimes used as a word to symbolize “conservative,” “sectionalism,” or “stubbornness.” However, we, the people in Kasumigaseki, are now facing the tide of many and great social and economic trends.
My new position is one of the difficult but interesting positions through which the government is facing change and challenges. Due to Japan’s aging population and the end of high economic growth, Japanese cities and towns, especially in rural regions, are struggling with economic and social stagnation. In these areas, public transportation faces decreasing demand. Many local bus companies will be bankrupted. Japanese Railway and other railway companies abolished many “unprofitable” routes that are still critical for the local society and economy. A decade ago, some free-market-oriented policies that eased or abolished governmental regulations to control transport companies accelerated the trend.
My task is to revitalize regional economies and societies such as these to reconstruct the transport networks. Many bus routes and railways were built in the age of high economic growth. Most of these networks are inefficient for current demand, while the companies have heavily subsidized them and lost the capability to adjust to social/economic change. Moreover, there are many innovations on the horizon to bring a new future to public transport, such as automated driving.
This work needs very broad cross-sector approaches and communication. I am working with many colleagues beyond a single department, ministry, or regional government. I work with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, and many businesses to tackle regional transport projects. This complex approach is needed because we have to connect multiple transport modes, many industries, various technologies, and diverse thoughts.
The position has another unique dimension. It is very close to “ground-level.” MLIT is generally field-site oriented: there are tens of thousands of engineers and technocrats, in many branches all over the country, with a big influence on politicians and local governments through the huge infrastructure budget. However, even in MLIT, such detailed field work that I am tackling is really rare. For example, I have to check local governments’ transport network plans. I am sometimes thinking about the location of a bus stop or route because of these very detailed transport network plans.
Although I am enjoying my new responsibilities (while struggling with terrible Japanese working conditions…) some colleagues or friends have said it’s unfortunate that this position is too domestically-focused for a person who just returned from studying in a foreign country. They said that such a “global” person as me should be appointed to some kind of international work, for example international treaty negotiation, promoting infrastructure exports, or diplomatic postings to foreign countries.
However, in Timor-Leste, Kazakhstan, and many other places I visited throughout the world, I realized a truth. To be a “global” person, we need to have “local” expertise.
I enjoyed working in Timor-Leste, not because my English was fluent or I had completed a year of studies, but because my transport/infrastructure expertise was very rare and important for the country.
Imagine if I had no expertise in Japanese industries, infrastructure technologies, or at least the culture and the society. If I had one of those “international” positions, what should I negotiate for? What should I promote to export? How could I represent Japan?
Before Fletcher, I was a man who simply adored the image provoked by the words “global” or “international.” But Fletcher taught me many dimensions of global politics, international business, and the lives of people in the world that I didn’t know. I didn’t learn only on the Fletcher campus, but everywhere in the world that Fletcher opened up for me, such as Timor-Leste, Paris, Israel, and Central Asia.
My new position will give me very deep and special experiences and knowledge about regional public transport. Many places in the world have interest in the questions: How can we build a transport network in areas without good economic/social conditions? How can the public sector and private sector cooperate to manage transport infrastructure while maintaining market competition and people’s welfare? Therefore I think that while this new position seems to be very “local” at first glance, it can strengthen my “global” career.
So now I am working in Kasumigaseki with big Fletcher pride. If you visit Japan, please let me know, so we can talk about the hill in Medford. 🙂
And, if you do visit, I also strongly recommend that you stay not only in Tokyo/Kyoto/Osaka. Please go to our beautiful regions — using public transportation!
In the summer, I like to use my own activities to give readers a sense of the varied things we can do in the Tufts area. I hope no one has interpreted my lack of weekend reports to mean that there’s nothing fun happening! On the contrary, while I won’t try to reconstruct my entire summer, I’ll share a few highlights from recent weekends.
Earlier this month, I made my first-ever trip to a Frank Lloyd Wright house. The only house designed by the famous architect in Massachusetts is a private home, but just about an hour away is the Zimmerman House, run by the Currier Museum in Manchester, New Hampshire. The house is a good example of Wright’s “Usonian” style and is well worth the trip, as is the Currier Museum. A real little gem of a place.
This past Sunday, my husband Paul and I headed over to our favorite Revere Beach for the annual Sand Sculpting Festival. First (and briefly, because I’m fully capable of going on and on about it), I’ll just say that Revere is a wonderful spot for convenient beach access, clean sea water, and delicious Salvadoran/Cambodian/Moroccan/other foods. And every year, there’s the Sand Sculpting Festival which, this year, really drew a crowd. Once there, folks were greeted by a large sculpture of the USS Constitution. (The actual Constitution recently returned to the water after a period in drydock for repairs.)
The “People’s Choice” award winner was a Tufts Jumbo-friendly sand-elephant family of three, napping on the beach.
In that photo, you can tell what a windy day it was from the kite surfer in the distance. Dozens of kites dotted the sky by the time we left.
Those less inclined to kite surf and more inclined to eat could choose from lots of food trucks offering treats, some of which were more nutritious than these.
My summer weekends seem to be flying by, but there’s plenty going on here. I’ll try to file one more weekend report before the end of the summer. I never have enough time to write about our neighborhood during the academic year so now’s the time to suggest locations for you to explore.
A bunch of years ago, a task that was tossed my way was to sift through boxes and boxes of photos and figure out which should go to the Tufts Digital Library. There were all sorts of gems in there and I had some favorites. Here is one.
Fletcher welcomed its first students in 1933, which would make this a photo from the sixth academic year. Compared with the students of today, there are more suits and a higher proportion of men in this group photo. I can’t even tell where it was taken. Some room that has been renovated many times in the intervening years, I suppose.
There are plenty of other Fletcher pix in the archives. Have a look and find your own favorites!
With today’s post from Pulkit, we’ll have heard about the summer activities for all three of our student bloggers who will be continuing on at Fletcher (and in the blog) in September.
Hello! I hope all the readers of the Fletcher Admissions Blog are enjoying their summer; and if you are an admitted student, I look forward to meeting you soon. It feels nice to be writing and sharing again. The end of the spring semester was very busy — from winding up school with tests and assignments, to moving out of Blakeley Hall into a new apartment and traveling. There is much to share, and I hope my story and experiences at Fletcher will resonate with you one way or another.
Let me begin my telling you about my favorite class this past semester. In comparison, it felt like spring semester went by faster than the fall semester. I took three classes at Fletcher; the fourth was offered jointly by Fletcher, the Tufts Friedman School, and the Harvard Chan School of Public Health. International Humanitarian Response was taught by Dr. Stephanie Kayden of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative and Dr. Daniel Maxwell of Tufts Feinstein International Center. The classes met every Wednesday at Harvard, centrally located in Cambridge. It was one of my favorite classes for many reasons.
First, I had the opportunity to step off the Tufts Medford campus every week, taking the #96 bus from Tufts down to Cambridge. Second, my classmates came from different schools — from Fletcher, Friedman, Harvard Chan School of Public Health, Harvard Kennedy School, and Harvard Medical School — making it a real collaborative environment to engage and to study. Third, I took the opportunity to lead my project and assignment group. Managing and collaborating with peers at different locations and liaising with other project groups was a good challenge to have this semester. Fourth, the class had a simulation exercise towards the end of April. The entire class, along with over a hundred volunteers, camped at the Harold Parker State Forest in North Andover to put into practice much of what we learned about humanitarian response during our classes. The simulation had everything — UN Cluster System coordination meetings, minefields, fake militia, armed attacks on the camp, and rationed food and water supply. I made so many mistakes through the three days of the exercise, but overall the experiential component made it a great learning experience. (Here’s a story about a previous year’s exercise.)
Beyond the spring’s exciting classes, I also kept myself busy with extra-curricular activities. Every Saturday, I volunteered with Teach-in CORES, a volunteer collective of Tufts University students, working with the Committee On Refugees from El Salvador, in Somerville, to teach literacy and English as a second language, and prepare the participants for the U.S. citizenship exam. On Thursdays, I would make it a point to go to the open-to-the-public seminars on nuclear policy and nuclear non-proliferation at the Project on Managing the Atom, at Harvard Kennedy School. I also took the opportunity to recite a couple of poems at the student-led Fletcher Open Mic Nights, a wonderful forum to express and share.
After finishing my exams and submissions, I decided to visit my family back in India. Before that, however, moving out of Blakeley Hall was challenging. I had to drag all my belongings into the basement of a house I was going to move into for the next academic year. After bidding good-bye to graduating friends and winding up some important chores, I was excited to fly back to India for a short visit. It was really special to go back home, as I was visiting after ten months. It was surprising to me that I got absorbed into the Indian way of life as soon as I arrived back home. I was eating street food, navigating through the thick Indian traffic, and meeting cousins and friends on the go. It was like I had never left India.
During my time in India, along came an opportunity for the summer, and I grabbed it with both hands. Professor Ian Johnstone offered me a teaching assistant (TA) position for a summer exchange program. Since I had never assisted a professor, there was a steep learning curve for me. For example, as a TA, I led review sessions — which meant I needed to review what I had learned myself during the last semester.
As I write, I am glad to share that I have settled in my new house, and I am enjoying my summer with some time for reading, cooking, swimming, and cycling, meeting friends, and traveling in and around Boston. I hope to share again towards the end of the summer!
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