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You may have seen on Fletcher’s Facebook page or Twitter feed that a group of students has traveled to Cuba during this week’s spring break. When the trip was planned, the students wouldn’t have known that their adventure would coincide with President Obama’s. The trip was already a special opportunity, but it turned out to be a historic one. I’ll let a Miami TV news crew tell the story.
Throughout their time at Fletcher, the Admissions Blog’s student writers primarily discuss their extracurricular lives, whether through student activities, internships, or the job hunt. But I have been asking all the second-year bloggers to provide an overview of their academic work by creating an “annotated curriculum.” As you’ll see from Ali‘s notes below, a lot of thought went into her course selections for the MIB program and, in the context of her other posts, I hope it will paint a picture of her curricular life. (Note that (1) MIB students take an “overload” of five credits in two of their four semesters, and (2) Ali switched programs directly before starting her first semester.)
Program Manager, Fulbright Commission, Brussels, Belgium
Post-Fletcher Professional Goals
Investor relations and corporate responsibility
I came to Fletcher to learn how to promote private-sector investments in international social and environmental initiatives. As I prepare to leave, I’m confident I’ll be able to use my new corporate finance vocabulary and arsenal of corporate responsibility strategies, gleaned from the classes below, to do just that.
Semester One (5 credits)
- Strategic Management (½ credit, Summer pre-session)
- Corporate Social Responsibility in the Age of Globalization
- Foundations in Financial Accounting and Corporate Finance
- Corporate Management of Environmental Issues
- Financial Statement Management
- Managerial Economics
Registering for Fletcher’s Strategic Management summer pre-session course was one of the best decisions of my Fletcher career. Coming from Belgium’s public sector, I wanted to introduce myself to basic business concepts and arrive early to campus to give myself time to adjust. I enjoyed the course material and MIB students so much that, by the time the Fall semester started, I switched from the MALD to the MIB program myself! The Admissions team made the application/transition process easy, and my decision resulted in a more structured curriculum with the opportunity to take more credits overall. I slowly strengthened my quantitative skills in the Corporate Finance, Accounting, and Managerial Economics courses similar to those found at most business schools, and supplemented them with two electives in Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability to familiarize myself with the field. These courses gave me the confidence I needed to assume leadership of Fletcher’s Net Impact Club and begin networking with corporate responsibility professionals from Coke, Southwest Airlines, and other leading companies at the network’s 2015 annual conference.
Semester Two (5 Credits)
- Data Analysis & Statistical Methods for Business
- International Business Strategy & Operations
- Political Economy & Business of the EU
- Marketing Management
- Lean Six Sigma
The second semester of my first year was full of more MIB requirements – marketing, regional studies, macroeconomics, and stats. My regional EU studies course was particularly insightful because Professor Laurent Jacques is an EU citizen and provided a firsthand perspective of the political and business environment there. Luckily, I still had room for two electives since this course and marketing were only half credits, so I took International Business Strategy & Operations and Lean Six Sigma, for which I cross registered at Tufts University’s Gordon Institute. International Business Strategy & Operations was one of my favorite classes at Fletcher – I enjoyed working with classmates to make recommendations about where to invest in sovereign bonds, and I used the class paper I wrote about Brown-Forman’s internationalization opportunities as an incubator for my capstone project this year. Lean Six Sigma is such a practical skill to have, and the Gordon Institute offered me a certificate for completion of the course. Being able to cross-register between schools like that is an oft-overlooked Fletcher benefit. Overall, I recommend taking five credits each semester the first year for MIB students because – even though it was stressful with internship hunting – I’m even busier spring semester this year!
Global Sustainability, YUM! Brands (KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut), Louisville, KY
I was blessed with a wonderful summer internship at YUM! Brands. Thanks to some networking and hard work, I landed a position on the Global Sustainability team, where I reported directly to the Chief Sustainability Officer on water stewardship and ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) Investor Relations strategies. You can read more about my internship here, so I’ll spare the details. What’s worth noting is: I was able to transition to the private sector; after living abroad for two and a half years, I really enjoyed working at home; and I received my internship offer only a few weeks before the semester ended. People spend most of spring semester at Fletcher worrying themselves away about internships. Overall lesson: don’t do that to yourself! It all works out in the end.
Semester Three (4 Credits)
- Mergers and Acquisitions: An International Perspective
- Legal and Institutional Aspects of International Trade
- Processes of International Negotiation
- International Business Transactions
Ah, the last year of graduate school. It was time to take it easier with four credits so that I could pursue a part-time job. I ended up obtaining a great position as an intern ESG analyst at Breckinridge Capital Advisors – a $22 billion investment advisor in downtown Boston. You can read about how much I enjoyed breaking out of the Fletcher “bubble” to commute downtown and try my hand at investment management here. I would definitely suggest waiting until second year to pursue a significant internship, though it was hard to balance with the intense set of Corporate Law classes listed above. I was pleased with the classes used to fill my International Business & Economic Law concentration – especially Mergers & Acquisitions – but it was probably too much to enroll in them all at once. Spread them out! By my third semester, I was also winding down my leadership of Fletcher’s Net Impact Club, as well, so I recommend throwing yourself into club activities and leadership roles in the first year while you can.
Semester Four (4 Credits)
- Strategy and Innovation in the Evolving Context of International Business
- Securities Regulation: An International Perspective
- Project Management and Software Methodologies
- Independent Study – Capstone
- Cross-Sector Partnership
- Understanding and Influencing Operations as an Investor, Harvard Business School (through cross registration)
In my final semester, I’ve chosen to enroll in a lighter course load with a capstone-based independent study course to give myself the time I need to continue interning at Breckinridge, apply for jobs, and complete a really awesome capstone project and report. My internship at Breckinridge lets me solidify my new learning from graduate school, and applying for jobs has been a full-time job in itself! Soon, I hope to return to my hometown in Kentucky to work for a company in the corporate responsibility or investor relations space. My activities at Fletcher continue to keep me in touch with companies I’d like to work for – my colleagues from my internship at YUM! Brands will come to Boston in February for a Net Impact Career Summit I’ve helped plan — and my capstone project will send me back to Brussels and Amsterdam this month to do field research for my Brown-Forman business proposal. It’s all coming to an end so fast. I’m excited for what’s ahead, and I hope to finish the semester strong!
This is the kind of news I enjoy. First, because it’s happy news, and second because it was a current PhD candidate who made sure that we paused to celebrate some of our own. In an email to the community, Rizwan informed us that, of the 455 newly selected finalists for the Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program for 2016, eleven are Fletcher students or alumni. The classes of 2016, 2015, and 2014 are represented. (Rizwan actually went to the trouble of including not only the new PMF finalists’ names, but also their graduation years.)
I have heard lots of congratulations being shared with the finalists and we all wish them luck in lining up their jobs!
The final update on the fall 2015 semester comes from Tatsuo, who, like Ali and Aditi, took a heavy course load last semester. In fact, I would describe it as an extremely challenging semester for anyone, and particularly for a non-native English speaker just starting his Fletcher studies.
In my first semester at Fletcher, I took four courses: Law and Development; Development Economics: Policy Analysis; Foundations in Financial Accounting and Corporate Finance; and Crisis Management and Complex Emergencies. Every course was interesting, but especially Law and Development, which was one of the reasons that I chose the School. Thus, I want to introduce the course in this post.
Law and Development dealt with development theory and implementation of development policies from the legal perspective. It was an interdisciplinary fusion of international development and legal studies. The combination of two fields, law and international relations, is characteristic of one of the unique qualities of The Fletcher School of “Law and Diplomacy.” In the course, some students did not have legal expertise or practical experience; therefore, the legal materials that we reviewed in the class were not too difficult or specialized. But I hardly felt bored in the class, although I have five years’ experience as a legal officer, managing legislation and implementing laws and orders.
I found the class engaging for a few reasons. First, I was a beginner in international development studies. Thinking about how we could manage issues of international development through legal schemes and techniques was very exciting and helpful for my future career when I will be involved in regional development as a public legal officer.
Second, and more importantly, the course gave us opportunities to think about fundamental questions of law. Developing countries and regions tend not to have adequate legal schemes, bureaucracies, or precedents. Thus, they cannot rely on routine procedures or ways of thinking, and they face fundamental questions that we, developed countries’ officers, likely ignore. What is law? What is a court? What is justice? What is development? Some people think that these questions are not practical, but I certainly do not agree with them. In interdisciplinary or emergency cases, including one I have experienced personally, we have to face such questions. Just after the Great Japan Earthquake in 2011, we wanted to skip or abolish many legal procedures for rapid rescue and recovery. However, even in this emergency situation, in order to evade these established legal schemes, we needed to identify truly necessary legal procedures. I remember that we discussed “What is the government?” and “To what extent could we pursue coercive actions without any democratic or legal procedures?” in those chaotic days.
The professor of the Law and Development course is Jeswald Salacuse. He has a great reputation both in practical fields (the former president of international arbitration tribunals of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes) and academia (he is also a former dean of The Fletcher School and the founding President of the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs). In previous work as a legal assistant, he actually pursued law and development issues in developing countries. As a result, his lectures incorporated not only theoretical and text-based knowledge but also vivid recollections of experiences in the field. Although he has had such a prestigious career, he was very friendly and approachable for his students. His class was one of the largest lecture classes at Fletcher, but even with about 30 to 40 students in the class, I did not feel any difficulty asking questions. Professor Salacuse also seemed to like interactive lectures. Additionally even outside the class, the professor kindly helped me with class assignments and papers.
The course dealt with vast areas of law and development. Reading assignments were huge, especially for non-native English speakers like me, so I organized a reading group with other five students. We read and summarized each assigned reading and discussed them each weekend. That was very helpful for understanding background material for the course, and the discussions with students who have diverse backgrounds were also really interesting.
One thing about the course that I regret was my decision to write a paper. We were offered the choice of taking a final exam or writing a research paper. I chose to write the paper. During the first half of the semester, I was struggling to manage the course’s assignments, and I wasn’t able to start writing until after mid-term exams. That meant that writing my draft of the paper overlapped with presentations for final presentations, exams, and papers for my other courses. If my schedule management had worked better, I could have done more to improve the final version. Although I did not receive the grade I had hoped for on the report, it was the only thing I regret about the course.
The average Fletcher student is not here to goof off. On the contrary, most students are both challenged by their coursework and also inclined to inch right up against the boundaries of the maximum they can handle at any given time. Last Thursday, Ali shared details of her fall 2015 semester, which pushed her academically and forced her to employ advanced time management skills. I have two more fall wrap-ups to share, from Aditi and Tatsuo, and they both describe tough semesters. Today, let’s read about Aditi’s experience in her second year in the MALD program, and the reality of how challenging a semester can be.
As a second year student at Fletcher, a lot of things are easier this year — for example, knowing where to find a microwave when Mugar Café is closed, or how early to get to Social Hour for food, or how to petition anything you don’t really want to do. But between worrying about careers, life after May, campus jobs, classes, and a Capstone Project, second year is still very challenging. One of the things my friends and I have struggled with this year is dealing with these stresses without letting them get the better of us.
It’s really easy to lose perspective at Fletcher. We’re so engrossed in campus life that it’s hard to focus on making sure we’re not over-extending ourselves, especially because we want to challenge ourselves and get involved as much as possible. It’s also hard to find the time to stay engaged with life outside Fletcher — the friends, family, and other communities that we built long before arriving here.
Last semester, I decided to push myself academically and take classes that I personally found very difficult. A lot of my friends made similar decisions. While the classes were very rewarding and I learned a lot, by the middle of the semester I was burned out and struggling to keep on top of everything. I just couldn’t juggle classes, work, the unavoidable necessities of regular life (you know, laundry, groceries, cleaning…), and friends and family. At one point, I was concerned that instead of really understanding and learning in my classes, I was just rushing through the motions of finishing one assignment after the next. Everything came to a head when I had a series of personal commitments, and I found myself unable to keep up with anything, academic or personal. Several of my second-year friends were in the same situation, and we all realized that rather than making the most of our Fletcher experience, we were selling ourselves short by not investing the time necessary to truly enjoy it.
In retrospect, I think that much of my stress and anxiety could have been avoided had I been more realistic about my plans for the semester. Yes, I wanted a challenge — but I wasn’t honest with myself about what I need to stay sane and happy, such as finding time to cook, spend time with my friends, stay connected to my family and relationships outside Fletcher, and get enough movement and exercise. Many of us also delayed taking advantage of some of the great resources available to us here, such as Tufts Mental Health Services and our Fletcher community of friends.
Fletcher is a fantastic experience, but we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to make the most of graduate school and cram in as much as possible. In the middle of all that we have going on here, it’s essential to remember to take care of ourselves and keep this experience in perspective! I overextended myself last semester, but I don’t regret pouring all my energy into it. As I start a new semester, I will learn from the experience, and plan my time in a way that fosters both my learning and my overall happiness, a suggestion I would give to anyone planning to come to Fletcher.
New students (the 2016 group of “Januarians”) have been participating in their Orientation this week, and continuing students will return on Tuesday. Today, let’s hear from Ali about her extremely busy fall semester.
As winter break comes to an end, it’s hard to believe that I have only one semester left! The fall was a whirlwind of finding balance between strengthening last year’s skills and pursuing new growth ahead.
My internship at Breckinridge Capital Advisors — mentioned in my last post — was definitely something new. I expanded my terminology within fixed income investing; experienced work in a medium-sized enterprise; and familiarized myself with downtown Boston, which I’m sad to say that I (and many of my peers) didn’t do in my first year. It was overwhelming to balance school with work three days a week, but I’m glad I made time to do the internship. I’m constantly reminded that this is the last time in my life when I’ll be encouraged to learn as much as I contribute at work. I’m excited to continue interning there during my final semester.
My law courses in Trade Law, International Business Transactions, and Mergers & Acquisitions were all new for me, too. I can’t recommend taking three law classes in one semester without a legal background, but Fletcher’s law professors succeeded in pushing me and teaching me to think in a new light. I’m confident my familiarity with corporate law will differentiate me from other job-seeking graduate business candidates and will help me in future executive corporate roles.
It hasn’t all been new, however. I had a great time attending my second annual Net Impact conference in Seattle, WA, building off of last year’s experience. It has been awesome to grow the club at Fletcher — we had five people attend the conference this year! — and to plan another fun semester of events, including an intimate speaker session with Talbot’s head of supply chain sustainability and a GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) certification workshop for students that will take place with Boston College’s Net Impact Club this spring. A year ago, the second-year students passed the running of the club on to Chelsey and me, and now it’s fulfilling to pass it off to first-year students Ben and Harper. I’m excited to see where they take it!
Stay tuned for adventures in my final semester, when I’ll return to Belgium over spring break with funding from Fletcher’s Institute for Business in the Global Context to do field research for my capstone project!
One of my very favorite activities this semester was a series of three “fireside chats,” on “The Beauty of Mathematics,” offered by second-year MALD student, Abhishek Maity (who credited Professor Kim Wilson for the idea). Inviting students to “geek out on mathematics,” the three sessions covered fractals, the mysteries of the infinite, and “what is reality.” Invitations to the sessions noted, “We spend a lot of time discussing moral and ethical questions at The Fletcher School, so take some time to explore wider philosophical ideas of nature, art, and mathematics. No knowledge of mathematics required.”
The three sessions drew between 40 and 60 students each. An astounding total for an event that would ask students, already busy with their own academic activities, to delve into challenging material on another field. Sure, pizza was offered, but pizza can be found in many places, whereas a student-led discussion of advanced mathematics was offered on only three fall dates.
Is it too late to write about the Paris Climate Talks? I thought not. In fact, I’m not going to write much of my own, but Fletcher is well represented at the talks and in the study of environment issues, and I collected some links for you.
First, for general info on COP21, you could do worse than to check out the Tufts Sustainability Office’s page. Note that members of the Fletcher community are tweeting about the event — Professor Kelly Sims Gallagher and PhD Candidate Rishikesh Bhandary, and there’s a Twitter feed for the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy.
And some other stories:
Daniel Reifsnyder, a 2014 graduate of the Fletcher PhD program, is co-leading the climate negotiations that culminated in Paris.
Finally, you can read about fall semester events organized by the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy.
Tagged with: CIERP
A few weeks back, after I published Professor Krohn’s introduction on the blog, I became curious about students who started at Fletcher with no intention of focusing on economics, but who ended up doing so anyway. As you all probably know, some of our APSIA peers require more economics study than Fletcher, but we prefer to take the approach that our students want to shape their own curriculum. We make the courses available, and then it’s pretty much up to them to decide how many to take, so long as they complete the basic economics course that can be fulfilled through an equivalency exam.
A quick note to the Social List later and I had heard from several students who are new econo-philes, and I want to share their stories. I think it says something special about Fletcher that there are so many students who feel comfortable taking a risk in their course selections. My observation is always that students here work very hard, but the academic atmosphere is collegial and non-competitive, perfect for diving into material that once seemed out of reach.
Arpita (second-year MALD):
I had had very little exposure to the field of economics during my undergraduate study at law school. Working on legal issues related to financial markets (as part of my work as a corporate lawyer) had made me want to understand the nuances behind them, and graduate school was the perfect opportunity to do so. While my elementary knowledge of economics and some last minute study enabled me to pass the equivalency exam for the class on introductory economics, speaking with my new classmates — many of whom had helped governments in formulating economic policies — made me very nervous. I felt very unsure of my ability to keep up with course work in advanced economics at Fletcher. While I contemplated and re-contemplated my intended Fields of Study, a chance conversation in the Hall of Flags with Dean Sheehan ultimately informed my decision to take up the challenge. He convinced me to move out of my comfort zone and pick the courses that I really wanted. After more contemplation I decided to take a leap and pursue Development Economics and International Monetary Theory and Policy as my two Fields. And I am glad I did. The transition from a world of contracts and legislation to one of graphs and data-sets has been both challenging and rewarding in equal measure. The supportive and collaborative academic environment at Fletcher has made it much easier to absorb the overwhelming amount of new information, handle the heavy coursework, and make peace with that occasional poor grade on an assignment. But my ultimate comfort was knowing that I was not alone; there were many others like me who were treading new academic territory at Fletcher. Now almost halfway through my second year, I am thankful that I ran into Dean Sheehan in the Hall of Flags that day.
Jesse (second-year MIB):
My appreciation for economics has quite a bit to do with Professor Michael Klein, Fletcher’s own macroeconomics guru. I am now in my fourth economics class with Professor Klein, and I have enjoyed each one. There is a certain comfort in the social science insights that can be gained with economic methods. There will always be a correct answer to an equation, and you can train yourself to master any theorem. The sense of satisfaction that arrives from mastering an economic concept, and then applying such a concept to inform your perspective on a real world problem, is palpable. It has been a pleasure to add economics to my analytical toolkit that I can draw upon in my academic and professional career.
Kerrlene (first-year MALD):
I didn’t hate economics but I didn’t like it, because there is a quantitative element to it and I thought I was bad at math. I had to take Quantitative Methods to fulfill a course requirement. When I received my first quiz grade I thought for sure I would fail the course. However, I greatly improved by the final and passed the course with flying colors! This only happened thanks to the Fletcher community. In addition to attending office hours (with a gracious and patient professor), I was helped by a student here who was an astrophysicist. (I don’t think I would have met an astrophysicist studying international relations at any other school.) He explained the calculus to me and I finally got it! I found my love for economic math in the common room at Blakeley Hall and now I cannot stop thinking about one day developing my own economic model. What it will explain, I am not too sure yet, but I look forward to figuring that out in Econometrics next term!
Nathan (second-year MALD):
I had previously been less than enthusiastic about having to take economics classes during my undergraduate course of study. I found the material to be unengaging, antiquated, and not applicable to the real world. Fletcher played a big role in changing much of that perception. The professors all have a wealth of practical and academic work experience, which has been a boon in the classroom and a benefit to the students taking their classes. Thanks to the engaging nature of the Fletcher economics courses, I have discovered a newfound interest in the subject. I even elected to concentrate in International Trade and Commercial Policies and will be a TA for a GMAP trade economics course in the Spring!
Today I’m excited to share the last of this semester’s posts by our Student Stories writers. Excited, especially, because I’m welcoming back Roxanne, who was one of our first student bloggers back in 2012, when she was starting at Fletcher in the MALD program. Since then, she completed her MALD in 2014, with a focus on human security, gender in international studies, and transitional justice. After graduating, she accepted a position as the Program Manager of the Humanitarian Evidence Program at the Feinstein International Center, right here at the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. In September, Roxanne also became a Fletcher PhD student, researching the politics of victimhood in armed conflict. I’m super happy that she has agreed to rejoin the blogger crew, and also that we now have a writer who will reflect on the PhD program. Today, a timely post about a conference coming up on Saturday.
When Jessica asked me to return to the Admissions Blog, I accepted with delight. The secret is that I have not left the Fletcher community since my graduation with my MALD in 2014 — and I will gladly tell that story in an upcoming blog post. Today, however, I have stopped in to share some exciting news regarding Fletcher’s first Conference on Gender and International Affairs.
Long-time blog readers may remember that there has been growing momentum surrounding the incorporation of gender analysis into Fletcher’s international curriculum. One of the causes dearest to my heart while I was a MALD student was the Gender Initiative, which I co-chaired and wrote about in this past post. The goal of the student-run Gender Initiative is to create and support academic and professional opportunities related to gender analysis in international studies for interested students and faculty at Fletcher. In the past four years alone, and following the strong legacy of past gender-related activities in the Fletcher community, the Initiative has seen the creation of new courses with an explicit focus of gender analysis, the gathering of data regarding the gender (and other aspects of identity) of the guest speakers invited to Fletcher, the organization of professional seminars and panels on gender-related careers, and a proposal to create a Gender in International Studies Field of Study, which was just approved last month by the Fletcher faculty!
This year’s excellent Gender Initiative leadership, accompanied by the phenomenal leadership of Fletcher’s Global Women organization, has worked hard to organize Fletcher’s first ever conference on Gender and International Affairs: Avenues for Change. Panel topics span sectors and interests, and they include gendered perspectives on inclusion through technology; a discussion of reproductive health, justice, and rights; and gendered aspects of urban displacement in crises. The keynote of the conference will be Dr. Cynthia Enloe, one of the foremost feminist scholars on gender, conflict, and militarism. Fletcher Professors Kimberly Theidon, Dyan Mazurana, Kimberly Wilson, and Rusty Tunnard all have places in the program, and we expect many more faculty will participate in the sessions.
This is an exciting moment for researchers, practitioners, and advocates of gender analysis at Fletcher. Even more exciting is the fact that you can join us: attendance is not limited to members of the Fletcher community, so if you are in the area or have colleagues who may be interested, please feel free to share the information and register to attend! If you do come, please say hello — and stay tuned for a conference recap, as well as an update on my path since graduating from the MALD program, in my next Admissions Blog post.
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