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A couple of summers ago, I was lucky to be able to share a list of students’ blogs and for-public-consumption Twitter feeds (not all still active) that a student had collected.  I tried to accomplish the same thing this year, but, alas, did not persevere enough to accumulate much of a list.  Still, I’d like to share what I have.

MALD student, Sydney, is writing about her summer as part of the Blakeley Fellowship program.  As Sydney notes, she’s spending her “summer in the winter,” in Santiago, Chile.  You can read introductions to all of the 2015 (last summer’s) Blakeley Fellows here.

Another MALD student, Laura, notes that she’s at UN Women in New York and she tweets “periodically about UN Women’s work as chair of the Global Migration Group.”

And last, three students are Advocacy Project Peace Fellows.  You can access blogs by all of the Peace Fellows, or go directly to the pages for Allyson (who is in Jordan), Megan (in Nepal), and Mattea (in Greece).  Poking through the list of past Peace Fellows will tell you what other Fletcher/Tufts students have done in their work.  Fletcher’s relationship with the Advocacy Project goes back to 2004.

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Yes, it’s July, but we’re still catching up with the students who are sharing their stories on the blog.  Today, let’s read McKenzie’s summary of the first half of her experience in the MIB program.

Wow – what a year!  I can’t believe that this time last year I was telling my former company that I’d be leaving to pursue graduate studies.  I had no idea of the types of adventures I was embarking upon when I accepted my offer here.  As it is for most of us transitioning out of the work world and back into an academic setting, the fall semester was a bit of an adjustment period for me.  I had to calibrate how I would prioritize my time between academics, Fletcher friends, my “pre-Fletcher life,” and family.

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McKenzie (second from left) and friends before the Diplomat’s Ball.

It seems Fletcher students are up at all hours pursuing all manner of endeavors — from starting businesses to competing in case competitions; from working one, two, and sometimes three jobs or internships in between classes, to traveling abroad to conduct research as part of a capstone project; or from organizing Fletcher’s famed Culture Nights to planning and participating in many other school traditions.  It is tempting to jump in and sign up for all of these things at once.  I didn’t go quite that far, but I did spend the fall semester enrolled in five courses, leading an advisory project for the Fletcher Social Investment Group (FSIG), competing as a member of a team in a public equity research challenge, working part-time, researching target firms for my summer internship, and attending the numerous great events that happen at Fletcher.  I did this while traveling on weekends for a friend’s bachelorette party and wedding, visiting friends and family back home, attending a career trip in New York, and building new friendships with some of my classmates here at Fletcher.  Needless to say, I was exhausted by the time winter break rolled around.

At some point after submitting my last final exam on a cold, December morning, I realized that I was running through grad school without fully and completely appreciating the opportunities around me.  Over the subsequent weeks, I spent time prioritizing the activities and experiences I wanted to be sure to savor in my two years here and returned to campus in January with a plan to pare down certain commitments to fully value the benefits of others.

As I reflect back on the spring semester, I’m happy to report that I was really satisfied with the new balance I found.  Ironically, I was able to feel as though I was doing more by doing less.  In January, I took a break from all things academic to go north on the Fletcher ski trip.  In February, I went to DC for a two-week intensive training on impact investment and social enterprise management.  In March, I began transitioning into my now current role as CEO of FSIG and traveled to India with five close friends from school.  In April, I spent more time on the weekends exploring the sights and opportunities offered by Boston.  And in May, I survived yet another round of finals, attended the Diplomat’s Ball, and played bubble soccer during “Dis-Orientation” week, which is a collection of activities and events between the end of finals and commencement weekend dedicated to celebrating the end of school for second years.

Bubbles, 2016-05-16 at 5.01.38 PMThis leads me to an important aspect of this school that makes it so great, yet can also make it challenging: there is a tremendous diversity of opportunity at Fletcher.  The hardest (and most rewarding) task for students is to identify the two to three opportunities that best fit with their career and personal goals.  I’ve managed to pare down and focus on those that are most important to me, and it’s been interesting to see my classmates go through a similar process.  The most exciting aspect, however, is that even as I have defined the activities I would benefit from or enjoy the most, I have friends at Fletcher whose interests led them to entirely different opportunities.  While we’re each invested in our own “flavor” of Fletcher activities, it’s always interesting to learn about the events and happenings of friends studying completely different areas.

With that, my concluding piece of advice for incoming and prospective students is two-fold.  First, in addition to the myriad courses that you are undoubtedly considering, know that beyond the classroom are tremendous opportunities to build practical skills and experience in the area of your choice through student activities and clubs.  The second is perhaps lost on every generation of ambitious, enthusiastic incoming first years, but to the extent possible, you should prioritize the opportunities most important to you.  This is tremendously difficult at Fletcher, but the rewards from focusing on the most essential elements across your classes, activities, jobs, family, and social obligations will make your time at Fletcher that much more special.

I’ll leave you with these thoughts for now.  Over the summer, I’m heading to South Africa to work with the portfolio companies of a small firm in Johannesburg, helping them to scale up proven business models and transition from small, unstructured startup teams to more developed, growth-oriented companies.  I’ve never been to South Africa, but I am excited to dive in and learn as much as possible about the people and history of one of Africa’s largest economies.  For those of you joining us next year, enjoy the summer and we’ll see you in the fall.  For the rest of you, thanks for sharing in my experiences here at Fletcher — I look forward to checking back in September!

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Recently graduated student bloggers Ali, Alex, and Aditi are wrapping up their stories for the blog.  First to report on the conclusion of her Fletcher experience is Ali.

It wasn’t that long ago that I was writing to you with excitement about the end of first year and my summer internship at YUM! Brands.  Today, I write with even more enthusiasm about the completion of my degree and my return to that same place.

Ali, final postFletcher has been a wonderful two years for me.  I’ve made new friends and colleagues; gained the knowledge and experience I need to transition to the private sector; accepted a fantastic job in my hometown; and completed a capstone project that took me back to Brussels, where my professional journey began.

It was interesting to end my Fletcher career back in Belgium, thanks to capstone research funding from Fletcher’s Institute for Business in the Global Context.  During my spring break there, terrorist attacks at the airport and local metro station made international news that showed me Belgium is not the same place I lived before.  Its quirky citizens and hidden, lively bars have become more exposed to worldly cares.  Belgian companies are being acquired by international competitors; family brewers are innovating to stay relevant amongst microbrewers; and ISIS is launching a full assault on the country.  Just like the little country I love, I have changed and become more exposed to the world, too.  While many students at Fletcher dedicate their lives to careers abroad, I can’t imagine not using my new travels and knowledge to return home and create change from there.

At YUM! Brands, I’ll be working to explore the material impact of extra-financial environmental, social, and governance issues and to improve the company’s performance and transparency around them.  I’ll communicate proactively with key stakeholders, like investors, and use their feedback to drive internal change, as well.

Fletcher isn’t just a place for students desiring careers in governments and non-profits abroad.  It’s also a great training ground for people looking to transform the world of business right here in America.

See everyone back in Kentucky soon!

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The final post in the series of advice from the Admissions Graduate Assistants asks for their most important overall suggestion.


Q: What one tip/suggestion would you provide to incoming students?

Ashley: I’ve seen many fellow students dive head first into every opportunity to get engaged that they could get their hands on.  If you can balance it all, that’s great!  There’s no shortage of ways to jump into student clubs and campus events or part-time jobs.  But I’ve often found it better on my sleep and sanity to really dig in deep with a more strategic selection of activities.  (It doesn’t hurt the narrative on your resume either).

Auyon: Explore the area around Fletcher, check out Cambridge and downtown Boston, and get familiar with the transport system.  Don’t forget to relax before school starts!

David: Talk to second-year students and alumni about what their favorite classes were.  They would love to share their experiences and they can also serve as a great resource at Fletcher.

Dristy: Don’t hesitate to ask questions, whether they are about courses, direction to classrooms, the Campus Center at Tufts, or the nearest water fountain.  We have all been in the same boat and everyone at Fletcher is friendly and happy to help.

Moni: Come with an open mind and don’t take things too seriously. Some students arrive knowing their academic focus, having selected both Fields of Study.  However, it is o.k. to take a class, attend an event, or have a moving discussion with someone, and realize that you may want to shift your focus to something more specific within your initial field or something entirely different.  This can happen and it is great when you have such a huge support system, such as everyone in the Fletcher community, who can guide you along the way!  As John Lennon used to say “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.”

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We know that many incoming students are still actively making their housing arrangements, so today’s post of advice from the Graduate Assistants considers housing options.

Q: How did you find your housing?

Ashley: Once I’d found my roommates — one through a mutual friend, and another through a combination of the unofficial admitted student get-togethers in DC and the “I’m looking for a roommate” group spreadsheet — we decided on what we were looking for and set a time to visit Boston in person.  From there, it was a lot of time spent scouring Craigslist, Padmapper, and the like… making a shared list, reaching out to realtors and landlords, sending locally based family to visit prospective units, and setting a schedule for our own visit here.  In the end, one realtor actually led us to a place that wasn’t on our radar, but was perfect for us.  All told, it took some extra elbow grease, but it did result in finding a great apartment!

Auyon: I did an extensive search, initially primarily on Craigslist and the Fletcher housing spreadsheet, but ultimately I had to go through a realtor using sites such as Zillow.  Because I was looking for a one-bedroom apartment (I came here with my wife), my options were limited.  In terms of the budget, the fewer the rooms, the higher the rent per person.

David: When I applied to Fletcher, I was living in the Czech Republic.  To make life easier on myself, I decided to apply to Blakeley Hall and lived on campus for my first year.  Blakeley is a community within the Fletcher community and it was a great way to get to know an awesome contingent of Fletcher students.

After my first year, I moved into a house with four close Fletcher friends.  Our house is one of the four “color houses” that host some of the social events for Fletcher students.  I would advise those looking for housing to try to reach out to second-year Fletcher students, as many of them are graduating and their off-campus housing will be available.

Dristy: I found my housing on Craigslist — a great place to find rooms and apartments in the area, but it’s definitely important to be very careful and strategic in vetting out spam postings.

Moni: I, unfortunately, did not have much time to look for housing since I left my job shortly prior to starting Fletcher, but applied for Blakeley housing my first year and got a spot!  Friends of mine who looked for housing mentioned that the Admitted Students Facebook page served as a great source for finding housing options, since current students post listings.  Admitted students also organized a Google Doc with what they were interested in renting and paired it with available options.  There are many options around campus and many wiling students in the community to help out!  Another added incentive to connecting with current or graduated students is that houses usually come furnished, since they are passed down from one student to the next, and it makes the process easier when picking what to go for.

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As important as it is to have some tips on what to do as a Fletcher student, it can be equally helpful to know what not to do.  Today, the Graduate Assistants provide their tips along those lines.


Q: Whether you did it or not, what would you suggest incoming students NOT do before starting their Fletcher studies?

David: Do not feel that you need to have all the details about graduate school and the future figured out before you arrive for Orientation.  You will find that Fletcher is not only a great place to further develop your current interests, but also to discover new ones.

Dristy: It is exciting to think about classes and all the interesting things you are going to learn at Fletcher, but I would suggest incoming students not worry about having to figure out classes for the fall semester or how you would fulfill the breadth and depth requirements.  Shopping Day, when many professors give brief introductions to the courses they will offer that semester, is incredibly helpful for learning more about the course and the professor, and also helps a lot in making decisions about what classes to take.

Moni: It is tempting to get a head start on readings for classes you plan to take.  However, use this time wisely and refine other skills that will serve you well during your time at Fletcher.  Spend time with family and friends — don’t go crazy trying to beat the curve.

Ashley: Don’t forget to take a little time off, if you can.  Though that month-long backpacking trip around Asia won’t be a possibility for everyone, taking even a week (or at least a long weekend) before settling in at Fletcher is a pretty vital opportunity to recharge the batteries and clear your mind for the rewarding and exciting – but often exhausting and stressful – adventure that is grad school.

Auyon: Don’t narrow down your options in terms of courses and fields of studies before starting at Fletcher and before talking to professors, your advisors, and other students (especially second years).

Q: What is something that you worried about that you found you didn’t need to worry about?

Moni: Completing all the readings, for all my classes, all the time.  It is very hard to do so and you exclude other options of analyzing the readings more in depth and grasping ideas by other means.  Life at Fletcher is great, but very busy.  So if you cannot cover all the readings, organize study groups with students in class and split up the readings.  This is a way to provide summary reports of all the readings and then discuss in the group setting, before class, some of the main points and theories covered.  You may also find it incredibly helpful as it helps shape the discussion once you are in class.  Adapt and overcome!

Ashley: Don’t worry too much about making ALL of your BEST friends in the first week, or even in the first few months.  Just like any new relationship, it will happen, but it will happen organically.  You’ll have plenty of people to hang out with until it really clicks — this is the Fletcher Community after all — and some of those folks will end up being your best buds here at Fletcher and beyond.  But don’t be intimidated or overwhelmed with expectations.

Auyon: I worried about the challenge of grad school studies more than I needed to.  If you are on top of things — you do the readings and assignments, prepare for and contribute to group meetings/projects, talk to the professors and TAs, actively seek help when you need if from classmates and others, and are organized about your schedule and time (highly recommend using google calendar) — you will be fine!

David: I thought that I needed to have my life figured out by the time I arrived at Fletcher.  I realized that I was one of many who had an idea of what I wanted to do, but definitely did not have every step of the way planned out.  During my time here at Fletcher, I found that my interests also grew and transformed, and so did my plan for post-Fletcher.

Dristy: I was worried about going back to student life after working as a professional for almost four years, but I realized that it is a fairly common concern that most of us have.  Although the first few weeks required some discipline, soon enough, I easily adapted to the student mode and started enjoying doing the long list of required readings and writing papers for class.  It may take time to adjust at the beginning, but the pace of coursework picks up very fast, and we adapt pretty quickly.  So, definitely no need to worry about that!

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Continuing with the advice for incoming students provided by the Admissions Graduate Assistants, today we focus on preparing for the academic program.


Q: Whether you did it or not, what would you suggest incoming students do to prepare for their Fletcher studies?

Auyon: For students entering the MIB program, I suggest that you brush up on economics (a selection of suggested topics are usually sent to incoming students by the Registrar’s Office), complete the MBA math course to brush up on finance, accounting and stats, and try to be up-to-date on current affairs.

David: The summer before Fletcher is a great opportunity to “recharge the batteries” and get ready for graduate school.  Once Orientation starts, your schedule will start getting jam-packed so it’s important to use the summer to take time to both reflect on your goals for graduate school, familiarize yourself with some of the courses that might interest you, and brush up on some of those quant and language skills.  If you have taken any economics courses, I would be sure to review the most important economic concepts that you would cover in an introductory economics course.  Same is to be said with statistics.  I personally went through some of my notes from college and watched a few economic tutorials online from Khan Academy.  Above all, relax and get excited about Fletcher!

Dristy: Rest, relax, and spend time with friends and family!

I would also encourage incoming students to brush up on their foreign language skills so that they don’t have to carve out time during the semester to prepare for the foreign language exam.  Also, for those who intend on taking the economics and quantitative equivalency tests, I would encourage them to review that material as well.  Since the equivalency exams take place during Orientation week, they may not have time to brush up on these before the exam.

And, I would encourage international students, especially those who have not lived in the U.S. before, to reach out to current international students to get useful insights and tips on how to navigate through some of the basics in the U.S., for example, where to buy bedding, personal care supplies, their costs, phone plans, etc.

Moni: The most valuable element you have before starting at The Fletcher School is time.  Make the best of it by practicing your language, quantitative, and networking skills.  Being part of the admitted students Facebook page makes it easier to reach out to incoming students who may reside close by and/or share similar interests!  Most importantly, it is also a good resource to find housing.  This period is also an opportunity to read what you like.  While at Fletcher, you have a heavy reading load on fascinating topics that relate to your classes, but that leaves little time for unrelated readings.  In this case, I recommend picking up a book by your favorite author, going out to a café or park, and getting swept away by a story of your choosing.  You never know!  Perhaps an incoming Fletcher student can recommend some good reads!

Ashley: I found it very helpful to familiarize myself with the various courses available and the requirements of my degree.  There is a certain amount of self-advisement here when it comes to planning your academic path, and it helps to know the basics so that you can ask the more detailed questions when you need to.  It was also a great way to think even further about where I wanted to go with my degree, so that when new opportunities and ideas presented themselves – as they will! – I had a good sense of not only whether it was worth considering, but also what other changes to my roadmap I might need or want to consider as well.

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Before they left for their post-Fletcher lives (Moni and David) or their summer internships (Asley, Auyon, Dristy), I asked our Graduate Assistants (GAs), the student members of the Admissions Office staff, to share their wisdom with incoming students.  I’ll be sharing their answers all through this week, in Q & A format.

Q:  What should new students be sure to do while they’re here?

AshleyAshley: Take one or ten of your new friends and go explore the area!  Try to get into Boston from time to time and take advantage of both the city and the greater New England area for some quality bonding time off-campus and outside of Medford/Somerville.  For instance, I went with a few friends on a bike ride down the Minute Man trail in the fall, and it was so nice to get away for the day and get to know a few folks better outside of the classes, group projects, and speaker series.


AuyonAuyon: Attend social events and talks, talk to professors, get involved in extracurricular activities (student clubs, competitions, sports, etc.), use the Office of Career Services, and network.




DavidDavid:  Hit the ground running!  There are so many ways to get involved once you arrive at Fletcher. Take advantage of those opportunities to get involved in the Fletcher community and to take on a leadership role.  Become a club president or take charge of organizing a panel for a conference.  The two years at Fletcher will go by super fast, so make the most of your time here!  Also, academics are important, but the relationships you develop with your peers are equally important, as you’ll find that it is your classmates who you will turn to for guidance and support during the next two years and after Fletcher.

DristyDristy: Try to meet as many incoming students as possible.  Once classes start, you will notice that we will each have our own “dance routines” and there are always so many interesting talks, discussions and events to attend at Fletcher.  So I encourage new students to use the orientation week to meet each other and the second years who are around.  Definitely take advantage of Shopping Day to choose your courses.


SONY DSCMoni: Get involved as much as possible.  There are so many great opportunities on campus to organize events, conferences and gatherings on topics of interest to you or causes you believe in.  Join a student club, or lead the club, and partake in gatherings inside and outside of the Fletcher community, such as social mixers, cross-school conferences and treks (educational trips).   As a Fletcher student, you are also able to cross-register at other schools in the area — take advantage of this unique option and experience all the schools’ varied cultures!  You are only as limited as you allow yourself to be, so get out there!

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Well.  What can I possibly say that I haven’t said before on the occasion of Commencement, an event with which I have a love-hate relationship.  I love all the joy associated with sending wonderful people off to do terrific things.  And the ceremony itself — so joyous.  I shed a few tears of happiness every year.

And hate is a strong word.  The wrong word, in fact.  I certainly don’t hate Commencement, but I am annually struck by the bittersweet nature of the event.  We in Admissions know that our closest Fletcher friends will be with us for only a couple of years, but we treasure them while they’re here.  Admissions Ambassadors, members of the Admissions Committee, Interview Volunteers, and our amazing Graduate Assistants (looking at you, David and Moni!) — the students who keep us in the know about the heart of life at Fletcher.  We so enjoy interacting with them, and we’re sorry that our relationship will change.

But change it must, as they transition from students to alumni.  And all we can hope (expect! demand!) is that they will stay in touch.

So, to my friends in the Class of 2016, keep us posted!  Drop a line now and then.  “Friend” us.  Link us in.  We want to hear from you.  After all, the true satisfaction in Admissions work comes at the far end, when we send you off into the world to do those things you wrote about in your application essays.  I can’t wait to receive your updates!

For now, BIG congratulations to you and your families, and all best wishes as you move along to your post-Fletcher life!

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What do bubble soccer, a brewery tour, a “Bechdel Test” party, and “Acro-yoga” have in common?  They’re all among the student-led activities scheduled for this week during Dis-Orientation, the natural unofficial counterpoint to August’s official Orientation program.  Like thesis haikus, Dis-O is one of those traditions that popped up one year and has been retained ever since.  And there’s a very full schedule!  Nearly every time block from 9:00 a.m. to midnight is booked with outings, parties, or opportunities to hang out with friends playing video or board games.  Sometimes two activities in the same block (Red Sox or Davis Square bar night — how to choose?).  The week’s activities will wrap up on Thursday night, after which graduating students can turn their attention to graduation rehearsals, visiting relatives, and packing their stuff.  Commencement is nearly here!

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