All posts by Ian Gottesfeld

Aaron Mwewa Learns the Importance of Passion at UNICEF

Aaron Mwewa is a 2018 graduate of the Maxwell School and the Newhouse School, where he earned joint MAIR/MSPR degrees. This past fall he extended his 2017 summer internship at UNICEF in New York City. 

“Aaron, you can only do something exceptionally well if you are passionate about it. If you are passionate about something, there is no Monday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday because that is all you want to do. When you are consumed by the desire for quality output, the ‘9 to 5 pm just to get the salary work mindset’ is lost.”

Aaron at UNICEF.

These where the words, which were told to me by Kerida Mcdonald, Senior Communications for Development Specialist at the United Nations Children’s Fund on the first day of my internship in her office. Those words struck the right chord with me as I am a passionate supporter of children’s rights.

True to the words of my supervisor, we could email each other back and forth about work over weekends and also way into the evening even after leaving the office. This is why I achieved quite a lot with my boss during my internship. We were able to successfully put together an online course with other team members on communication for development for current practitioners and those who want to join the field. We are also nearing the completion of putting together a compilation of case studies from different countries (12) on the best practices with regards to the use of theater to bring about social change. Being a firm believer in the change which UNICEF wants to bring through its different projects, I also volunteered to help out on work, which was being done by some of the neighboring offices. This helped me to create a good reputation beyond the section in which I worked in to the point that others even just began soliciting for my help.

Aaron Mwewa and David Van Slyke, Dean of the Maxwell School

November, 15th, 2017, was officially my last day after my internship was extended to that date from August, when it was supposed to end. Having needed to come back to school at the end of August, this year, I did the last part of the internship virtually and travelled to New York from Syracuse from time to time when I go the chance. I had to endure the 5 hour bus rides both ways while getting some work done. The fulfillment I got from the work I have been doing made the journeys worthwhile. Indications are that my internship supervisor may want to extend the internship again if that opportunity becomes possible. She actually continues to consult me to this day. That is what passion does. It helps you to do so well that people want to continue working with you. With passion, you work from the heart and not for the pay or simply to clock in the hours. When you work from the heart, you are definitely on to something. Kerida’s parting words to me: “Working with heart is what gets you the seat at the big table even when others think you are too young to be there because you will not be doing what your peers are doing. You will be that exceptional bright shining star that cannot simply be ignored.”

If your desire is to make a difference in the world, you must be different from the world. Passion sets you apart because it gives that cutting edge.

Aaron Mwewa, Living My Dream at UNICEF in NYC

Joint MAIR/MSPR degrees from the Maxwell School and the Newhouse School

The Newhouse School

The Maxwell School

Mia Mazer Gains Significant Humanitarian Experience at InterAction

Mia Mazer is 2018 graduate of the Maxwell School, where she earned a joint MPA/MAIR degree. This past fall she interned at InterAction as part of the Maxwell-in-Washington fall program.

This fall I set out to Washington, D.C. to complete coursework through the Maxwell-in-Washington program and intern at InterAction, an alliance of over 190 NGOs working in the humanitarian and international development sectors. InterAction serves as a convener, thought leader, and voice in the community, representing and advocating for legislation, policies, and practices that impact its members’ work at the international, regional, and national levels. The organization’s mission is to be a leader in the global quest to eliminate extreme poverty and vulnerability, strengthen human rights and citizen participation, safeguard a sustainable planet, promote peace, and ensure dignity for all people.

I worked for the The Humanitarian Policy and Practice (HPP) Team which is dedicated to providing leadership and support for InterAction members that are active in humanitarian response and advocacy. Humanitarian organizations within the InterAction alliance provide services, materials and logistical aid to affected people in crises. InterAction supports the work of these members by providing a forum for consultation, coordination and advocacy on emergency response. Apart from providing immediate response to emergencies, many NGOs engage in activities to improve the overall response of the international humanitarian system. InterAction engages at various levels with United Nations agencies, various policy bodies of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), the U.S. Government, NGO consortia and individual international NGOs on cross-cutting issues and country-specific situations. The HPP team’s work is organized across the following four work streams: humanitarian policy, humanitarian practice, protection (inclusive of results-based protection, gender-based violence, prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse, and NGO security), shelter and settlements.

As an HPP Intern, I gained invaluable experience while supporting the humanitarian policy, humanitarian practice, and protection work streams. I conducted research, drafted summary notes and reports, and attended and reported on Congressional briefings and hearings, working group meetings, and member events to inform InterAction’s humanitarian policy and advocacy work.

My work allowed me to gain a better understanding of the linkage between international policy and programming in the humanitarian field as well as core elements of the global humanitarian architecture. I also gained a tremendous amount of knowledge on various technical, thematic, and regional issues pertinent to the humanitarian field, including some of my own interests, such as the intersection of humanitarian assistance and gender issues.

This experience helped define my goal of pursuing a career in policy and advocacy in humanitarian assistance and/or international development. My work often informed my contributions to class discussions in both classes I took on global sustainability and public policy and African conflicts. Living and working in Washington D.C. allowed me to connect with numerous Maxwell School alumni and other professionals working in my fields of interest and begin to cultivate a meaningful network which will be there for me when I graduate.

Mia Mazer Works on Youth Health in Rural Nicaragua

Maxwell-in-Washington Programs

MPA/MAIR Joint Degree Program at the Maxwell School

Ashley Saulcy Works on Political Transition in Nepal – Part 2

Ashley Saulcy is a 2017 MAIR graduate of the Maxwell School. In the summer of 2017 she interned at the Asia Foundation in Nepal. She decided to extend that opportunity into the fall and continue her work on political transition in the country.

For those of you who follow graduate student adventures in The Stacks regularly, you may recognize my name from a former blog post regarding my time interning in Kathmandu, Nepal. My adventures in the Himalayas began back in May 2017, and were happily (if somewhat unexpectedly) extended through the Fall 2017 semester. As I write the second post documenting my experiences in Nepal, I am struck by the immense political transformations that have taken place in such a short period of time.

Nepal is currently undergoing a political transition to a federal system that is intended to redistribute power to local governments. Although the country has successfully held three rounds of local elections, it has begun to witness sparks of violence in the approach to provincial and federal elections. New large-scale political alliances have further demonstrated the high stakes for the country’s political parties.

Ashley Saulcy in Nepal in the fall of 2017.

The complexity of Nepal’s political, social, and cultural landscapes made the opportunity to delve deeper into the political transition extremely rewarding. As a program intern to The Asia Foundation, I observed the transition through a program funded by the Australian Government to support newly established subnational governments. My extended tenure allowed me to further engage gender equality and social inclusion initiatives within programmatic strategies; work as a primary editor to the program’s inception report; and contribute to the development of a monitoring, evaluation, and learning framework. While my initial months provided an excellent introduction to these spaces, engaging them in greater depth enriched my understanding and appreciation of the turbulence that follows long-term development initiatives.

At the completion of my internship, I walk away knowing that I will see Nepal again. This beautiful country has left its mark, thanks to the friendship of many Nepalis, the lights of the Tihar festival, piles of delicious momos, and days spent trekking in the Himalayas. It may be a cheesy sentiment, but as I contemplate my time in Kathmandu, I am reminded that it is not just us as Maxwell students who leave our mark on the cities we work in; these cities also make us as individuals greater, better, and more beautiful.

Ashley Saulcy Works on Political Transition in Nepal – Part 1

MAIR Degree at the Maxwell School

Trace Carlson Does Conflict Research at The Fund for Peace

Trace Carlson is a 2017 MAIR graduate of The Maxwell School. This past fall he interned at The Fund for Peace as part of the Maxwell-in-Washington fall program.

My fall semester in D.C. was busy, but incredibly rewarding. Between interning full-time, taking twelve hours of classes, three of which was language study, and finding time to enjoy all that D.C. has to offer, I was busy to say the least. I spent the fall semester interning for the Fund for Peace, an NGO that focuses on conflict research and mitigation activities around the world. The Fund for Peace is most well known for their prolific Fragile States Index. However, I did not work on the Fragile States Index. I worked on a USAID-funded project that sought to develop early warning conflict systems for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The scope of the work is what drew me to the Fund for Peace and to decline other internship opportunities.

Trace Carlson.

For the project, we conducted months-long desktop research on every country in ECOWAS and wrote a national-level report detailing specific indicators and sub-indicators in each country that could contribute to the outbreak of conflict. The reports were then analyzed to understand the major issues in each country so that we could develop a list of stakeholders to interview in each country. Unfortunately, I did not get to go on any field visits for the stakeholder interviews. The transcripts and other data collected from the field visits were culled for pertinent information to either corroborate the research or edit aspects we had previously misinterpreted to better reflect the situation on the ground. The stakeholder interviews occurred in different states or provinces around each country and helped inform our research on the hyperlocal issues. The collective voice of stakeholders and the issues they faced were used to write a sub-national report for nearly every state, province, or region in every ECOWAS country. The national level report was further edited and the sub-national level reports were added to it, as well as other data packets and analyses to comprise the final report.

Read more about Trace Carlson in India and Nepal:

Trace Carlson Conducts Research in Hindi

Maxwell Students Make a Difference in Nepal

Maxwell School Programs:

MAIR Degree at The Maxwell School

Maxwell-in-Washington Program

Liad Roytfarb Gains European Experience in Berlin

Liad Roytfarb is a 2018 graduate of the Atlantis Program – a dual degree program between The Maxwell School and The Hertie School of Governance in Berlin. 

This fall I embarked on my second Masters degree program as part of the ‘Atlantis’ Transatlantic Dual Degree program. This is a joint program, shared between the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, Germany. Following an incredible experience in Maxwell, I expected the transition to Berlin to be a daunting experience, but one I was keen to face in order to further expand my academic horizons.

Liad Roytfarb.

Three aspects in this transition have made this experience incomparable to any degree program I could have taken, offered by other schools. First, the diversity of the coursework offered at Hertie very successfully complements the Maxwell MAIR program, which focuses mainly on the US. In keeping with the nature of the Atlantis program, I pursued a Masters in Public Policy at Hertie, and the coursework offered there was naturally mostly EU focused. It presented opportunities to study with international authorities, including former German Ambassador to the US Wolfgang Ischinger and Former Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion at the European council László Andor. Since my background is from neither of these regions, this was a great and fascinating mix of two new worlds.

Second, the Hertie School, together with the city of Berlin, offer many professional opportunities. I was lucky enough to be invited to the 2017 World Health Summit where I attended numerous panels. Furthermore, I was assigned as a rapporteur in the “Global Health Security Engagement in Conflict” workshop and reported directly to the chairs of the workshop. Other fascinating events and workshops that I was able to attend included Transparency International and the Munich Security Council. All these enabled me to meet and learn from important policy makers and engage with topics I learned in the classroom.

Liad Roytfarb at the 2017 World Health Summit.

Third, of no lesser importance for my personal satisfaction was the fact that throughout this journey I was part of a group of eight students; together we completed an intensive, fruitful and enjoyable year at Syracuse and went on together to Berlin. Without these fellow students, this entire experience would surely have looked different, at least in the social sphere. The camaraderie we formed has been astonishing – it enabled us all a swift and smooth transition, and an unforgettable experience.

Liad Roytfarb Works in Technology Accelerator at DoD

Atlantis Program at Maxwell

Liz Pruchnicki Interns at the State Department’s Office of Religion and Global Affairs

Liz Pruchnicki is a 2018 MAIR graduate of the Maxwell School. This past fall she interned at the State Department’s Office of Religion and Global Affairs.

This fall, I interned with the State Department’s Office of Religion and Global Affairs. This internship has been a valuable experience in ways that I never would have predicted: I’ve been amazed with the inspiring team of women in my office who are incredibly dedicated to the mission of our office and I learned to remain positive and focus on the work even when bureaucracy slows it down. I was honored to sit in on meetings with high level State Department officials and leaders from around the world who focus on the intersection of faith and public life, I had the opportunity to attend Think Tank events around the city to learn about new trends in religion and politics. In my day to day work, I compiled news reports and disseminated a daily newsfeed about the intersection of religion and global affairs.

Liz Pruchnicki in action at the State Department.

 

The most valuable piece of my internship, however, was learning the institutional framework of the State Department. On the first day of orientation, interns are given a flow chart that illustrates the reporting chain and official structure of the State Department—it was a confusing flow chart to say the least. After fourteen weeks at the State Department, the chart mostly makes sense and I can finally put some names and faces to those sterile little boxes on the paper.

Liz Pruchnicki.

From my time at the Department of State’s Office of Religion and Global Affairs, I’m very proud of my work redesigning our official handbook, which is given to new Foreign Service Officers, and my ability to navigate the Harry S Truman Building without getting lost! I’m so grateful for the wonderful people I met at State, especially the dedicated women in my office who I’ve gotten to know over the past few months. I’m so appreciative of the resources available to students of the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs that make these experiences possible!

MA in International Relations at Maxwell

Maxwell-in-DC Global Program

Jason Pandich Works on US-European Trade Issues in DC

Jason Pandich is a current MAIR/MA in Economics joint degree candidate at The Maxwell School. This past fall he participated in the Maxwell-in-Washington program, interning at the Delegation of the European Union to the United States.

This fall I participated in the Maxwell-in-Washington program and had the opportunity to spend the semester interning at the Delegation of the European Union to the United States in their trade section. This internship provided me the opportunity to merge two things I am deeply interested in: the European Union (EU) and international trade. I’ve been interested with the EU ever since I took a class dedicated to it when I was in undergrad so the opportunity for me to work there was an amazing experience.

The trade section at the Delegation is made up of thirteen people who each have their own portfolio of issues they deal with. I was one of three interns this fall but I was the only one there full time which gave me the opportunity to work with everyone in the section on wide range of issues. My primary tasks were reporting on Congressional hearings, think tank events, and other activities around Washington. I covered topics ranging from sex trafficking to the FCC’s decision to repeal net neutrality to 21st century trade barriers to how to educate a cyber workforce to Brexit. In addition to covering events I was able to work closely with the person in charge of agricultural issues. The ability to work closely on agricultural issues inspired me to choose an issue I heard about in my internship as the focus of a paper I wrote for one of my classes. One of the most important things I assisted with was the compilation of data on EU imports of agricultural products to see how much was coming from the United States in an effort to figure out what products the US might be prevented from supplying to the EU due to non-tariff barriers. I also had the opportunity to attend meetings of member states which allowed me to see firsthand how the 28 EU member states coordinate with the European Commission to pursue common objectives within another country.

The Delegation of the European Union to the United States.

Overall my experience at the Delegation of the European Union was extremely rewarding. It gave me the opportunity to learn about a wide range of topics that I was previously unfamiliar with and allowed me to get an understanding of how the EU looks to work with the United States. My internship also gave me the opportunity to plan and attend an olive oil tasting event which is something I had never thought about but will never forget.

Maxwell-in-Washington Program

Other global programs at the Maxwell School

Marketing a Study Abroad Experience

Syracuse Abroad recently held a small workshop on how to market a study abroad experience. The workshop mainly focused on how to market experiences that did not involve an internship, which may not be completely obvious to students. Detailed below are some of the main lessons from the workshop.

To begin with, most students do not put their study abroad experience on their resume when they should. For students who have studied abroad, the experience may seem commonplace, but it is still something under 10% of all US undergrads participate in. A study abroad experience is unique, and can set someone apart from other job-seekers. On a resume, it should be placed in the education section, either as a bullet under the main undergraduate institution, or as a standalone academic experience.

Even if a student’s study abroad program involves no internship, experiences on the trip can be relevant in a job interview or in a cover letter. Many job interview questions are personality-based in nature, asking the applicant to talk about how they think, how they work with others and how they operate under stressful conditions. Study abroad experiences can present challenges in all these situations and more. For example, the typical study abroad experience often includes “thinking on one’s feet,” “learning something new,” or “taking a risk” – all frequent question topics in interviews. Because students and recent graduates do not have an expansive professional career from which to draw anecdotes, in interviews they can mine their study abroad experiences. This is also true of cover letters, where it can be equally difficult for a recent graduate to link their experiences with the job’s qualifications. Here is a sample list of job skills that job-seekers who have studied abroad may possess:

  • Language proficiency
  • Confidence
  • Independence
  • Responsibility
  • Patience
  • Budgeting
  • Initiative
  • Perseverance
  • Intellectual curiosity
  • Time management
  • Communication
  • Planning

At the same time, if a student includes a study abroad experience on their resume or cover letter, they should be prepared for the interviewer to ask them about it. For example, the interviewer may ask the student why they chose to study abroad at all, or why they chose the country they studied in. Students should be ready to answer in way that reflects positively on their decision-making skills, and not be caught flat-footed.

Leveraging a study abroad trip can also begin during the trip itself. In order to make the trip a mindful experience that one can talk fluently on afterwards, students are encouraged to keep a journal during the trip. Not only will this help students recall their experiences later, it will make them more observant during the trip and more articulate about their experiences later. Students should also be active in networking while abroad – and maintain that network when they return. This can prove to be an invaluable resource when looking for work in that country after graduation.

Lastly, some aspects of a study abroad trip are directly relevant to jobs. Students should not overlook the academic component of the trip, and how it intersects with the experiential dimension. If a student or recent graduate is finding work within their area of study, it can be useful to talk about how experiences outside the classroom enhanced their understanding of their area of study. Additionally, if the job is an international organization or diverse work environment, the intercultural skills gained in a study abroad experience will add value to the job applicant – regardless of what they studied or what type of job it is.

Maxwell’s Global Programs Homepage

Carol Tojeiro Featured in Cornell Policy Review

Today we would like to showcase the work of Maxwell student Carol Marina Tojeiro. Carol wrote a piece on gender inequality in the labor force in Argentina that was recently published in the Cornell Policy Review. The article discusses the significance of this issue in terms of Argentina’s economic growth and offers policy recommendations. Carol is a dual MA in Economics and International Relations candidate who will graduate this spring. Her experience at IOM in Ghana was previously featured on this blog.

The Key to Unlocking Argentina’s Economic Potential? Women’s Inclusion in the Labor Force

Excerpt:

Female participation in the Argentinian workforce is limited, as men comprise 75% of labor force participation, compared to just 41% of women, according to a 2016 study. While women represent a majority of Argentina’s highly educated population, various influences such as religion and traditional expectations of women and men, as well as limited options for childcare have pushed women out of the workforce to the detriment of the Argentine economy. To improve women’s access to employment and increase workforce productivity, the Argentine government must design and adopt inclusive gender-sensitive public policies, address social unrest, and measure the impact of such policies in addressing gender equality.

Carol Tojeiro.

Carol Tojeiro at the UN Migration Agency in Ghana

The Maxwell School Receives Top Ranking for International Global Policy

Today, we are featuring a recent post from the PAIA Admissions blog. U.S. News & World Report has completed its annual rankings of Public Affairs graduate programs and specialties. For 2019, the Maxwell School has been ranked fifth in the country for the International Global Policy and Administration specialty. Overall, Maxwell had ten specialties ranked within the top ten nationally.

Commenting on the rankings, Dean M. Van Slyke said:

“The strength of Maxwell’s professional programs has always been in its flexibility and diversity, drawing not only on the breadth of expertise of its public administration and policy faculty but also its award-winning social science disciplinary scholars.”

Maxwell students focusing on International Global Policy not only enjoy a top ranked specialty, but have the ability to incorporate any of the other nationally-regarded specialties into their curriculum. On top of this, students can engage in coursework from an array of programs also housed in the Maxwell school, including Political Science, Sociology, Anthropology Economics, Geography and History.

Please see the link below for the full article:

The Maxwell School Ranks Top 10 for 10 Public Affairs Specialties