Monday, February 18, 2013

Student Spotlight: Larissa Muir

Today we’ve interviewed Larissa Muir for our Student Spotlight.  Larissa is concentrating in Energy, Resources & Environment; she spent her first year in SAIS Bologna and is completing her second year in Washington, DC.  Larissa received her BA in International Relations from Simon Fraser University in 2009, and she completed a graduate certificate in International Relations at Tufts University in 2010.  Prior to attending SAIS, Larissa worked as the Director of Marketing and Development at Kendal Lighting Inc.
What made you want to pursue a graduate degree in international affairs?
I chose to pursue a graduate degree in international affairs due to my experiences of living and traveling abroad. This inspired me to build on my time spent outside of Canada by engaging more actively with the various regions I had visited. I could think of no better way to achieve this than by starting a career in the international field, but first I wanted to learn more about the places I had been to and I needed a more nuanced understanding of the key issues that affect these regions. I felt studying I.R. would be the best path to achieve these professional goals.
What are some of the differences between the two campuses, and what do you see as beneficial about the opportunity to study in both Bologna, Italy and Washington, DC?
I think the best thing about studying at both the Bologna and D.C. campuses is getting the benefit of not one, but two perspectives. Although it’s all under the SAIS umbrella, you’re still dealing with two different campuses with different faculty and courses in two very different countries. A large part of international affairs has been shaped by transatlantic relations and the opportunity to study American and European perspectives in both continents was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. In Bologna, I was challenged by a non-American perspective I hadn’t received before, whereas I think in D.C. you’re getting more of the status quo.
Do you have a favorite course so far?  Can you tell us about it?
One of my favourite courses was with Prof. Hafner in Bologna, “The Politics and Economics of Energy.” He’s an expert in the subject matter who also works in the field, which made the classroom discussion more interesting due to the variety of perspectives he offered.
Can you tell us about the professional development opportunities at SAIS?
SAIS provides a multitude of opportunities to pursue skills development courses, both online and on campus, as well as having its own student-focused Career Services department. There are also career trips across the various concentrations (either regional or functional) to develop the skills and knowledge you’ll need to work in that particular field.
What are you planning on pursuing professionally after graduation?  Are there specific skills you’ve learned that will help you in your career?
I don’t know if many SAIS students know exactly what they’re going to do after graduation! Personally I would love to work in the energy sector, either as a consultant or for an international energy company. I’ve completed several ERE courses here of course and SAIS’s strong emphasis on economics in particular has given me access to sections of the job market that I couldn’t have considered before my graduate studies.   
Thanks for reading!
— Erin Skelly Cameron, Associate Director of Admissions
To read previous entries in our Student Spotlight series, please click here.