Tag Archives: MAIR/ECON

Networking with Alumni in D.C. and New York

Over the course of Spring break, Maxwell students had the great opportunity to visit various sites and attend coffee chats with alumni. They connected with people who worked at various organizations in Washington, DC and New York and learned a lot about opportunities in different fields. There is no doubt that this unique opportunity helped Maxwell students to  consolidate their careers.

Networking with Alumni in D.C. and New York

Maxwell alumnus David Bauer ’49 and the students he hosted on Roosevelt Island

Maxwell alumnus David Bauer ’49 and the students he hosted on Roosevelt Island

Excerpt:

Over the course of our spring break, approximately 60 members of our cohort traveled to Washington, D.C. and New York City to network and connect with Maxwell alumni who work in various professions in the public, private, and nonprofit fields.

The busy week’s networking festivities kicked off at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), an internationally-focused think tank in D.C. that the Maxwell School has a unique partnership with. Throughout the D.C. leg of the trip, current students had the opportunity to attend site visits and coffee chats with a variety of organizations that had a Maxwell connection. The Office of Personnel Management, the Brookings Institute, the Congressional Budget Office, the Department of Energy, the World Bank, and Booz Allen Hamilton are a just few names of the many site visits our cohort attended. A group of MPA students attended the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, a think tank that considers the needs of low-income and disadvantaged individuals and families. The most valuable trip for me was visiting the U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor, given its relevance to my interests in higher education and labor. After this visit, I was able to connect with a 2010 alumnus about a graduate summer fellowship opportunity starting in July. He even offered to connect me with the Fellow Coordinator and offered a recommendation.[…]

This article is published on the PAIA Insider blog.

Read the full article on the class’ activities>>

Students at the D.C. Public Schools site visit

Students at the D.C. Public Schools site visit

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MAIR students outside the Brookings Institution (Claudine Lim, Phoung Ha and Vahid Khatami from left to right)

MPA/MAIR student Vahid Khatami connecting with Maxwell staff

MPA/MAIR student Vahid Khatami (right) connecting with Maxwell staff Isaac Olson (center) and Dr. Ryan Williams (left)

Learn more about the Maxwell-in-Washington program

Justin Gradek Designs Research Trip to Uganda

Justin Gradek, on top of-the minaret, at the Gadafi Mosque

Justin Gradek on top of the minaret at the Uganda National Mosque (formerly Gaddafi National Mosque) in Kampala, Uganda.

Not only has Justin Gradek completed research in Uganda, but he has further interned in Washington, DC at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, International Affairs Office and the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He is a joint MAIR/ECON student who will graduate with two degrees and a wealth of experience.

This year I applied for and won a research grant from the Maxwell African Scholars Union to further pursue my research interests on the economics of healthcare delivery in East Africa.  I had been working on a project to analyze the distribution and allocation of budget resources to the healthcare sector in Uganda when I was unable to locate the data needed for such a project.  This challenge led to designing a research trip to collect the data in-person from ministries which curate the national data sets I was looking for.

I arranged to work from Makerere University as a visiting researcher while I attended meetings at ministries around Kampala, the capital of Uganda, to collect the data.  I wanted to collect budgetary and healthcare outcome data to better understand the mechanisms by which resources are distributed.  The data would need to be anonymized and disaggregated by region, and where possible disaggregated by district.

Justin Gradek & Dr. Eria Hisali, Dean of the College of Business and Management Sciences at Makerere University

Justin Gradek & Dr. Eria Hisali, Dean of the College of Business and Management Sciences at Makerere University.

Designing and following through with this plan required extensive personal interaction.  I worked with Maxwell to set goals, form a research proposal, and gain initial contacts for the trip.  I worked with the dean of the school of Economics at Makerere University to set up meetings with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Finance Planning and Economic Development to gather the necessary data.  All of these steps contributed to the ultimate outcomes of the trip.

In the end this was a rich experience which required the use of diverse skills including clear communication, active listening, problem solving, and navigation of a foreign system.  Using these skills effectively resulted in the collection of clean and clear datasets which were very valuable for my research.

The experience was rich and interesting.  Over the course of the project I made good contacts with people researching similar topics both in Uganda and in other countries.  I explored some of the local cuisine and culture in Kampala between my official meetings.  Most of all I left Uganda with more questions than when I arrived, suggesting that the whole experience was a profound learning opportunity to try something completely new and formative as part of my broader Maxwell education.

To find out more about the Maxwell African Scholars Union, visit the organization website, where you can also see additional photos of Justine Gradek and other scholars of Africa.

Justin Gradek, in front of School of Economics, Makerere University

Justin Gradek in front of the School of Economics, Makerere University

Justin Gradek inside the sanctuary of the Uganda National Mosque.

Justin Gradek inside the sanctuary of the Uganda National Mosque.

Justin Gradek & Dr. Francis Wasswa, Economic Development Policy and Research at the Ministry of Finance, Planning, and Economic Development.

Justin Gradek & Dr. Francis Wasswa, Economic Development Policy and Research at the Ministry of Finance, Planning, and Economic Development.

Dr. Edward Bbaale, Dean of school of Economics at Makerer University & Justin Gradek.

Dr. Edward Bbaale, Dean of school of Economics at Makerer University & Justin Gradek at Dr. Bbaale’s home.

Julianne Dunn, “learning what you don’t want is even more important than learning what you do want”

Julianne Dunn working at the U.S. Embassy booth for the USAFair at Central World in Bangkok, Thailand

Julianne Dunn working at the U.S. Embassy booth for the USAFair at Central World in Bangkok, Thailand

As a joint MAIR/ECON student, Julianne Dunn continues to learn about U.S. economic interests in the world while interning at the United States Department of State in Washington, DC.

If you’re anything like I was, you might be trudging through your first year at Maxwell with a vague idea of the topics you’re interested in and might want to work on. When someone asked me what I was planning to do after graduation, I answered something along the lines of “I want to work on international trade policy in Southeast Asia.” I had very little idea what that actually meant, who I might be working for, or what I might actually do all day for the rest of my life. I spent a lot of time hoping no one asked. After taking on a summer internship and independent research project in Bangkok, Thailand, I not only have a clear idea of the career I want to pursue, but I even learned some skills that are helping me get there.

Through an internship at the U.S. Foreign Commercial Service (FCS) office, I was able to see what working in international trade actually looked like. With offices at embassies around the world, FCS seeks to represent U.S. business interests abroad. This includes helping small businesses export to new markets, and conducting “commercial diplomacy” to ease regulations and facilitate trade for U.S. companies. Through preparing briefs on particular market segments in Thailand for U.S. businesses wishing to export, compiling and editing the annual Country Commercial Guide, and researching and writing a proposal to open a new FCS office in Cambodia, I learned about the challenges facing U.S. companies while honing my professional research and communication skills. In addition, I worked with many of the local staff members to promote U.S. products and companies on social media. At embassy events, including receptions at the Ambassador’s residence, I was able to network with embassy staff, Foreign Service officers, and American and Thai business people. These interactions allowed me to better understand what living and doing business in Southeast Asia was really like.

The local staff and other American and Thai interns turned a good professional experience into a great personally fulfilling one. Through everyday interactions I learned about working with people in a different culture and how to adjust my communication away from the forward, often abrupt style that we use in the U.S. But my coworkers also became fast friends who taught me about their food, culture, and language. We took weekend trips together and exchanged cultural anecdotes. These interactions were fun, but also helped me along my path toward becoming a global citizen.

While I was in Thailand I also had the opportunity to work on an independent research project studying foreign direct investment in Cambodia, something that had just piqued my interest in my spring coursework at Maxwell. Working on the proposal for FCS allowed me to gain new perspectives and allowed me to connect with people who are working with foreign direct investors in Cambodia. I was even able to meet with some of these people in person during a trip to Phnom Penh. These experiences shifted my professional focus and helped me to redefine the direction I’d like to go after graduation.

There’s a huge pressure to intern somewhere you know you want to work after graduation. After all, internships often turn into jobs, right? But what if you don’t really know where you want to work after graduation? I certainly didn’t, but starting an internship in the region and field I was interested in couldn’t have been more helpful in setting me on the path toward my future. Ultimately, I’ve decided that working for the U.S. government on international trade policy isn’t for me. But sometimes learning what you don’t want is even more important than learning what you do want. Along the way, you might even pick up some new friends, professional contacts, and skills. The only way to find out is to jump right in.

Julianne-Dunn(2nd left)and coworkers in Ayutthaya Thailand

Julianne Dunn (2nd left) with coworkers & fellow interns in Ayutthaya, Thailand