Sunday, September 1, 2019

September 2019 Events

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APSIA Fairs:
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Friday, August 23, 2019

Career Spotlight: Lindsay Jagla MA'20 Latin America Studies

Where are you currently working?

This summer I was a political risk intern at Cefeidas Group in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Cefeidas Group is an international advisory firm that works with clients that operate or invest in Argentina and the Southern Cone. As an intern, I had the opportunity to analyze issues related to the economic and political environment for clients ranging from multilaterals to private sector companies. It was a particularly worthwhile experience working in Argentina this summer because the country has a presidential election coming up in October. As such, there were a great deal of important political and economic changes while I was there, especially after the national primary elections occurred in August.

What was your background before coming to Johns Hopkins SAIS?

Before coming to SAIS, I prioritized doing service and gaining international experience. I studied History, International Studies, and Spanish at Northwestern University and decided to work for a few years before attending graduate school for International Relations. After graduating from Northwestern in 2015, I joined Teach for America and taught high school Spanish in Washington D.C. for two years. After that, I moved to Manizales, Colombia and taught English for 10 months through the Fulbright program. My experience in Colombia led me to choose Latin American Studies as my concentration upon enrolling at SAIS.

How do you think SAIS prepared you for the role you accepted?

In my internship, I had to write many reports for clients related to political or economic developments. These were very similar to the memos or briefings that I have had to write for a variety of my classes at SAIS. SAIS prepared me to be able to write a variety of reports depending on the clients’ needs and under strict deadlines. Additionally, my role included a fair amount of economic analysis and research. Due to the many economics courses I had taken at SAIS, especially those related specifically to Latin America and emerging markets, I found greater success in looking at Argentina’s economic issues for my clients. I would also not have found this internship in the first place without the Latin American Studies summer internship program. Previous SAIS interns had spent summers working at Cefeidas Group, and Anne McKenzie, the head of the LASP internship program, was able to connect me with the company and set up an interview.

What advice would you give prospective students considering SAIS?

Have goals in mind for your time in grad school and identify the resources you can utilize to achieve these goals early on. There are so many opportunities and resources to take advantage of at SAIS and it will help you get a head start on achieving your goals if you already have ideas in mind when you come in. If your goal is to spend your summer interning abroad, then reach out to the SAIS program or career advisor to see what your options are early! If you are considering SAIS, it is important to identify all of the great opportunities awaiting you.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Career Spotlight: Michael Matosich MA'19 Energy, Resources & Environment

Where are you currently working? 

I work at The Nature Conservancy (TNC). I am the Corporate Strategy Associate on the Global Water Security team.

What was your background before coming to Johns Hopkins SAIS? 

Before coming to SAIS, I studied International Relations and Political Science at the University of California, Davis. While there, I spent one summer studying sustainable development and indigenous communities in the Ecuadorean Amazon, and another summer interning for a California Congressman in Washington, DC. After graduating, I was a Field Team Leader for AmeriCorps NCCC, serving the Atlantic Region which encompassed Washington, DC through Maine. I then worked for The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation here in DC. I began in grants administration, then moved to the Marine and Coastal Conservation team.

How do you think SAIS prepared you for the role you accepted? 

Besides advancing my writing and critical thinking skills, SAIS gave me international exposure and concrete, practical knowledge through various courses that were directly applicable to what I am doing now. Specifically, I think Nina Gardner's Corporate Sustainability, Business, and Human Rights course, as well as Winston Yu's International Water class gave me a competitive advantage throughout the hiring process at TNC. I used class assignments as writing samples, and was able to talk extensively throughout five rounds of interviews about corporate engagement and the current dialogue surrounding water economics, scarcity, and conservation.

What advice would you give prospective students considering SAIS? 

Make the most out of your time at SAIS by getting involved in what interests you and with what you think will help you advance professionally. For me, that meant helping plan environmental and energy career treks, participating in study trips to Pakistan, China, and Vietnam around the themes of climate change, sustainability, and energy, taking extra skills courses, interning at the Regional Environmental Hub at the US Embassy in Costa Rica, and partaking in the Energy, Resources, and Environment's Practicum program. As soon as you commit to SAIS, start thinking about what you want to get out of your two years and plan ahead. It helps to have a rough idea of what courses you may want to take and what internships you may want to pursue (many have early deadlines!). From there, reach out to current students or recent alums – especially those who share similar interests– to get their advice on teachers, classes, internships, campus activities etc. Most importantly, go to Bologna for your first year!

Friday, August 2, 2019

Internship Spotlight: SAISers in Brazil

Seven students pursuing the Latin American Studies concentration (LASP in SAIS jargon) are doing internships/research fellowships in Brazil. Among them, four of the students have spent their first year of the MA at SAIS Europe in Bologna. The work they are doing is diverse and remarkable. Read more about four student experiences below.

Niki Ottolia 
Summertime in the Northern Hemisphere is wintertime in the Southern Hemisphere, my Brazilian coworkers remind me every time I explain my “summer” internship.

I am spending this Brazilian winter interning at the World Bank Group country office in Brasilia. I work in the Human Development Department with the Health Team at a time when Brazil is undergoing several reforms, including healthcare reform. My team is working directly with government ministers and officials to reform Brazil’s Sistema Unico de Saúde (SUS), Brazil’s healthcare system.

Niki (second from left) and her colleagues
My career goal is to make an impact in Global Health Policy. The opportunity to get a country-level look at how Brazil is working to improve access to healthcare and the political hurdles that ministers and organizations like the World Bank have to navigate is critical for my professional growth. Speaking Portuguese every day, while learning and utilizing Brazilian medical and economic terminology, is also a reason why I pursued an internship at the World Bank in Brasilia.

I work with people from different parts of Brazil and they are some of the warmest, kindest and most generous people I have ever had the opportunity to work with. Whether it is teaching me northeastern Brazilian slang or taking me to a specialty market to buy chimarrão (a southern Brazilian tea), everyone has been willing to share about their career trajectories and answer any questions or concerns I may have. They have also bequeathed me with the much more Brazilian name: Nikolé.

One of the reasons I was attracted to SAIS’s Latin American Studies Program was the opportunity to gain professional experience in Brazil, and I would not be here today if it were not for the work and support from Anne McKenzie and Cornelius Fleischhaker.

An internship is what you make of it. Do the work assigned to you in a timely and orderly fashion, but also take the time to get lunch with your coworkers, ask them about their lives/work, and learn about their cultures and countries. Although beware, you might just get a new name and an inverted sense of the seasons in the process.

Christina Chabali 
Having previously spent two years teaching English in Brazil, I knew upon leaving in 2017 that the Brazilian people and culture had left a lasting impact on me. I worked to continue developing my Portuguese language skills and kept apprised of current events with the hope of eventually returning to work in the country. 

Christina at Chapada Diamantina, Bahia, Brazil
This summer, I am interning in the Economic Section of the US Embassy in Brasília.
I found the work of a Foreign Service Officer intriguing, and when the State Department internship application opened last September, I jumped at the chance to apply, hoping to get a firsthand look at life inside an embassy.

Here in Brasília, I have the chance to apply my coursework in Macroeconomics and Economic Development in Latin America and my oral and written Portuguese skills. My work ranges from attending meetings regarding Brazil’s role as a member of the BRICS, researching the impact of English proficiency on Brazil’s overall productivity, and editing the weekly US Embassy Economic update. But, my favorite aspect has been working and trading skills with my Brazilian colleague, Francisco, on a diplomatic cable, who has helped me better understand Brazil’s current fiscal situation, and whom I’m helping in the writing process.

During the weekends, I spend time with Brazilian friends and dive back into Brazilian culture. I know the opportunity to continue enhancing my language skills, and deepen my knowledge of the Brazilian economy will prove invaluable no matter where my professional life will take me after SAIS.

Colin Jarvis
Before starting my studies SAIS studies, I worked as a data analyst for a healthcare technology company and I lived in Rio for a year teaching English. When it came to look for internships, Anne McKenzie and the LASP program helped me find an opportunity that would match my skillset and interests, and would enable me to return to Brazil.
The Eixo Monumental of Brasilia

I'm doing my internship at a political marketing consultancy in Brasilia. The work I’m doing ties together my SAIS academics with real world experience in the heart of Brazilian politics.
It's been an interesting experience working with a small but well connected team of Brazilian political scientists, marketing specialists, public opinion researchers, and data scientists, to name a few of the backgrounds and skill sets that comprise our business.

The company specializes in public opinion research and leverages its proprietary database, research, and analysis to inform clients. Projects vary from public opinion polling, impact evaluation, market segmentation, political campaign consulting, and social media monitoring. I've been tasked with creating a public opinion data dashboard to drive client strategy and I have helped analyze data on Bolsonaro's first seven months in office.

Rachel Clayton
I am interning in Rio de Janeiro at the Center for Excellence and Innovation in Education Policies (CEIPE) within the Getúlio Vargas Foundation, a higher educational institution and a top think tank in Latin America. As a research assistant, I have explored topics relating to improving 21st century education from how teacher experience affects student outcomes, to how to better integrate vocational and technical education into high schools to diversify the future labor force.

I would not have found the opportunity if not through Anne McKenzie and Prof. de Bolle in the LASP program who supported me in my quest to find an opportunity within international education. The LASP network is strong, and can get you almost anywhere you want to go as long as you are vocal about and committed to your interests, and more importantly to yourself. 

Rachel at CEIPE
At CEIPE, I have refined my research methodologies and I have been able to learn about the structure of education systems and the specific problems that many youth and families face in education not only in Brazil but across Latin American and worldwide. Upon graduating, I intend to work in international education policy and child development and this knowledge will help inform the work I hope to do in my career.

A highlight of my internship was an event CEIPE hosted focusing on the role of teachers and their value in public education. The keynote was by Kenyan science teacher Peter Tabichi, winner of the 2019 Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize. Though I have long researched education policy, there is something special about connecting and hearing from teachers who have the most direct impact on the lives of students. It really takes a village.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Internship Spotlight: Yixun "Kelly" Song, MA '20 International Development

Growing up in one of the world's largest developing countries had a significant impact on me. The experiences of my childhood raised questions about understanding poverty, development, and inequality on a very personal level. As a result, I have dedicated my professional life to figuring out how to bridge the gap between the developed and the developing worlds. After working in the banking industry for three years, I decided to utilize my skills in the field of international development; and I'm currently a dual degree MBA/MA at Johns Hopkins SAIS and the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College.

This summer, I was seeking a position where I could apply the skills and knowledge I learned from my 1st year of study while also gaining on-the-ground experience in developing countries. The fellowship program at TechnoServe has provided me with the perfect opportunity. TechnoServe is a Washington DC-based non-profit organization that drives development and social impacts through business solutions. It aims to help people in the developing world to break the cycle of poverty by connecting them to capital, market, and value chain and developing sustainable business models. During the past two months, I have been working on the CASA project, an initiative supported by development financial institutions (DFIs) to improve the income of smallholders in Africa. My scope of work is to help the largest rice company in Mozambique to identify its critical business challenges and to design technical assistance programs to incorporate smallholder sourcing into the company's strategy.

As a fellow consultant, I have been encouraged to take the lead in my project and have been able to improve my strategic thinking skills with real-world experience. More importantly, it has been refreshing to realize that my 1st year of coursework at SAIS has prepared me with the knowledge, skill set, and analytical framework to understand development issues. The SAIS China-Africa Research Initiative, was a particularly useful resource when studying the technology transfer between China and Mozambique in the agricultural sector.  SAIS has been instrumental in me securing this opportunity and, being able to accomplish all the amazing things I have this summer.

In addition to my internship, I had the opportunity to explore the neighborhood of Johannesburg and the coastal area of Mozambique. Some of the highlights of my journey in Africa include: catching little crabs at midnight, sleeping on the beach under the starry sky, and waiting for sunrise along the Indian Ocean. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to engage and communicate with local Mozambicans and, to observe the development issues here with my own eyes. This summer, I have become more convinced about my future career choice, to work in DFIs or development consulting firms, with a focus on development economics. After returning to SAIS, I am sure I will be continuously inspired by this experience and all the brilliant development practitioners I have met in Africa.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Career Spotlight: Anneliese Gegenheimer, HNC Certificate '18/MA '19 Energy, Resources & Environment

Where are you currently working? 

I’m currently doing a fellowship through the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) with AT&T’s Corporate Social Responsibility, Internet of Things (IoT), and Smart Cities teams in Atlanta. I’m helping AT&T identify environmental benefits of using drones and build a business case for specific drone-related use cases. I’m really excited to learn more about the impact of drone technology on the environment.

What was your background before coming to Johns Hopkins SAIS? 

Before coming to SAIS, I worked at IBM in Chicago. I first did cross-industry consulting in software sales and implementations and then moved over to the IBM Watson group to do sales enablement for artificial intelligence and machine learning solutions. I loved learning something new every day in a fast-paced environment and really enjoyed working with clients.
Before IBM, I studied business and Chinese in my undergraduate studies at UNC-Chapel Hill. After seven years at IBM, I wanted to go back to graduate school to learn how to think from a more policy oriented approach, enhance my quantitative skills, and renew my passion for China and learning Chinese. The joint Hopkins-Nanjing and SAIS DC program was a perfect way to get the new perspective I was looking for.

How do you think SAIS prepared you for the role you accepted?
SAIS has helped me think like a policy professional and gain a different perspective on technology and environmental issues. As an Energy, Resources, and Environment concentrator, my ERE courses have given me a solid understanding of policy, regulation, and current trends in the energy and environment space. In addition, my classes have allowed me to think more deeply about the future of our climate and how technology will play a role in future energy transitions.

What advice would you give prospective students considering SAIS?
My advice to anyone considering SAIS is to make a list of goals that reflects what they want to get out of a graduate degree. In addition, talk to alumni and current students to understand more about career pathways as well as academic expectations at SAIS. Finally, check out course sequences and concentrations on the SAIS website to make sure the course content is of interest. Exploring these areas should be good indicators of whether SAIS is a good fit, and if so, how to make the most out of your SAIS experience.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Internship Spotlight: Joe Twinem, MA '20 American Foreign Policy

Where are you currently interning?

I currently work at the U.S. Department of State in the Office of Monetary Affairs. My work at State focusses on tracking and reporting on Iranian financial and banking sectors and the impact of oil prices on the economic and fiscal stability of oil exporting nations. My office is considered a functional office, so it is a mix of civil servants and economic coned Foreign Service Officers. Since being at State, I have written many briefings, sat in on meetings with senior leadership of the Department, met with activists working towards the freedom of political prisoners, and coordinated multilateral gatherings for numerous foreign dignitaries.

What was your background prior to coming to Johns Hopkins SAIS?

Before coming to SAIS, I worked in India on development projects, did educational programs in Guatemala, and led aid teams in Central America, Africa, and Europe. After working abroad for five years, I came back to the States for undergrad at The Ohio State University, where I focused on International Affairs and Arabic. Now in D.C., this is my second internship at State (the first was in the Arabian Peninsula Affairs office), and next, I plan to begin a Pathways internship at the Department of Treasury in August 2019.

How do you think SAIS prepared you for the role you accepted?

My experience at SAIS has been foundational to the success that I have experienced while at State. Working in an economics bureau, the analysis that I conduct for the Department is informed daily by the international economics coursework that I have undertaken as a SAISer. When drafting policy recommendations, I have reflected on lessons learned about Iranian history in Professor Bajoghli’s class, and about American Foreign Policy in Professor Sarotte’s course. The world-class education we receive from SAIS goes far in preparing a student for diplomacy, and people at State know that. I often get more rewarding assignments because colleagues know that I am a SAISer and that means that my training in U.S. foreign policy and economics is among the best in Washington.

What advice would you give prospective students considering SAIS? 

I would say that the decision of what graduate school you choose will stay with you your entire career, so it is an important choice. In the D.C. community, and in Federal service, the SAIS name carries great weight. In Washington, SAISers are respected for their superior economics skills among foreign policy professionals, and are known to have a sophisticated understanding of U.S. foreign policy. These components of the SAIS training are assets to those who graduate from SAIS and are worth the work to develop. So, my advice: go for it! Coming to SAIS is one of the greatest decisions I have made during my professional life!

Friday, July 5, 2019

July 2019 Events

Virtual Information Sessions:

On-Campus Information Sessions:

Off-Campus Information Sessions:

Friday, June 28, 2019

Internship Spotlight: Huma Qadir, MA '20 International Development

This summer, I wanted to experience working in a multilateral, international bureaucracy before I graduated so I could base future career decisions accordingly. My internship at the international Trade Center- a joint mission entity of the WTO and the UN- provided me exactly that opportunity. As I got on to the plane for Geneva, I only had a small inkling of what I was getting myself into for the next 3 months.

Though it has only been three weeks, I have developed a deeper appreciation of the arduous, extremely detail oriented work the ITC, WTO and the UN are trying to do in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. At the ITC, I am working with a team invested in ensuring more sustainable global trade practices; encompassing environmental, social, management, and ethical principles. As opposed to feeling like a lonely cog in a distant system, there is a belief in achieving something greater togethereven as an intern who will be parting ways in a few months. I am working on validating standard setting organization and synthesizing the proliferation of standards across the globe in a more graspable form. Also, I have immersed myself in additional work that interests me. My additional passion project (close to home and heart) is creating value chains for livestock farmers and horticulturalists within two provinces in Pakistan.

Besides work, I spend many evenings with a book; surrounded by the immaculate beauty of the tranquilizing lake, Jet d'Eau and snow peaks visible in the distance. Geneva allows me to be mobile across Europe, especially to France and its small towns nearby. I have opted for French proficiency at SAIS and coming to Geneva has helped my speaking dramatically. Having mistakenly ordered cow tongue in place of steak pushes you to take the language more seriously! Being with the interns is another highlight of this experience. My intern cohort is diverse, yet our interests, paths and goals connect us. I am certain lifelong friendships will come out of our evening visits to the UN beach and eating the famous burgers together at the UNHCR cafeteria. 

It was refreshing to realize that the SAIS alumni network is strong here in Geneva as well. I have connected with multiple alumni within the ITC itself and plan to do so across UN organizations and elsewhere. The SAIS global footprint is real. The most valuable part of this experience will be the relationships I am able to forge during my time here. 

This experience has been rewarding and empowering thus far, and I’m certain that I will be returning to SAIS with a new sense of perspective about many varying aspects of work and life. It is with this that as I will return to SAIS end of summer, and I will pursue my international development work, with a vigor and commitment that I see here every day.