Archive for Career Services

Ruby Khan (MPA EPD – MA Quantitative Methods ‘21) is uncovering key trends among impact investors during the covid-19 crisis as a Summer Research Associate at The Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) and pursuing her passion for impact investing at SIPA.

The coronavirus pandemic unexpectedly changed and challenged the way we planned to live, work, and learn in 2020. And internships are no exception to that. The National Association of Colleges and Employers found that 22% of employers rescinded internship offers in light of COVID-19. The pandemic, financial crisis, and social justice movements have presented a challenging time for us. While vulnerable groups have suffered more than others during this distressing time. 

My peers at SIPA and I have very candidly discussed how we are struggling to reconcile the feeling that we are not doing enough, with the reality that under these circumstances, we are doing the best we can. Therefore, before I jump into highlighting my job experience over the summer, I’d like to acknowledge that our normal expectations to be productive at school or work are only secondary to our mental, emotional and physical well-being during this unprecedented time. 

After endlessly scrolling through SIPA’s online portal for applying to jobs and internships (SIPA Link), cold emailing, speaking to professors, virtually connecting with SIPA alumni, and submitting countless applications — I landed a summer associateship at The Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN). I was thrilled to land a summer job in a space I am passionate about, and within an organization I have long admired. 

At the GIIN, I am working with their dynamic Research department on measuring the financial performance of impact investments, conducting research on the impact of impact investments in agriculture and financial inclusion, and performing qualitative and quantitative analyses on how impact investors are responding to COVID-19. 

We recently issued our second brief in a series of sector first reports entitled “The Impact Investing Market in the COVID-19 Context”. This series of reports aims to deliver market intelligence on strategies and financing needs to impact investors. As impact investors are needed now more than ever to address the socio-economic consequences of this pandemic. This series of reports is being published in association with the R3 Investment Coalition, Ford Foundation, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Open Society Foundations, Rockefeller Foundation, and Sorenson Impact Foundation.

Before my summer associateship, as someone who already has a finance degree under her belt, I found the Methods for Development Practice class taught by Professor Eugenia McGill instrumental in expanding my views on impact investing. The course helped me go beyond traditional financial metrics and apply key socio-economic frameworks to impact investing.

In addition to my summer associateship and the classroom, I have continually been able to engage with my passion for impact investing, SRI, and social finance after being selected to serve as an Advisor to Columbia University’s Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing. In this role,  I advise Columbia University’s Trustees on ethical and social issues that may affect investments of the University’s endowment ($10 Billion), review selected shareholder proxies, and monitor the divest/non-invest lists for Sudan, tobacco, private prison operators, and thermal coal.

My time at The GIIN, SIPA, and Columbia at-large has opened doors to resources and opportunities to pursue my passions within impact investing and actively engage with the most challenging questions of our times that have been amplified due to the pandemic. During such challenging times, many SIPA students and I are being called on to serve beyond ourselves and actively engage with organizing, protesting, policy-making, researching, writing, and speaking out on the most pressing issues. And I hope we show up to do so!


Thanks to Ruby Khan, an MPA ’21 and M.S. Quantitative Methods in Social Sciences ’21 dual-degree candidate, for this post.

#UNGA 2019 Roundup

The U.N. General Assembly 2019 was on the 23 – 27 September 2019. It was a busy week as world leaders gathered in New York City for the 74th session of the #UNGA. 

This U.N. General Assembly comes during heightened tensions between the United States and Iran, and a worsening humanitarian situation in Venezuela. The war in Yemen as well the U.S. peace plan for the Middle East are likely to make headlines as well. UNGA also occurred days after millions of young activists and their supporters marched in thousands of cities worldwide to demand greater action on climate change. 

Nevertheless, the UN General Assembly hosts a much watched debate of leaders each year, and here at SIPA, it is a busy week for students, faculty and alumni alike.From interning to attending sessions at the UN and on campus, here’s a snapshot of what our Seeples have been up to this week: 

Supporting the Chilean Delegation for the UNGA

Martina Majlis, MPA ‘20, worked for the Chilean Delegation, specifically with Chile’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Teodoro Ribera, for the duration of the UNGA. She helped push forward the Minister’s comprehensive agenda, focused on addressing bilateral matters, deepened trade relationships and confronted regional issues, such as the crisis in Venezuela. 

Source: Martina Majlis, MPA ‘20

Understanding the impact of public-private partnerships

Nayana Nagapurapu, MPA ‘20 and Victoria Zhang, MPA ‘20, attended “Advertising for Good,” an event organized by the Lion’s Share Initiative of the UNDP (where they previously interned!) that discussed how to effectively use advertising to improve biodiversity around the world. Speakers were from leading advertising firms like JCDecaux, Finch, and Mars Inc. They shared how as little as 0.5% of their ad spend helped save ecosystems in Sumatra and Africa. Nayana’s biggest takeaway? The Lion’s Share Initiative proved how impactful public-private partnerships can be.

Source: Nayana Nagapurapu, MPA ’20

Columbia University World Leaders Forum hosted a speaker on multilateralism and the rule of law

Amid backlash, Columbia University hosted Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, Prime Minister of Malaysia. President Lee Bollinger wrote that “public engagement can sometimes be difficult, even painful. But to abandon this activity would be to limit severely our capacity to understand and confront the world as it is, which is a central and utterly serious mission for any academic institution.” At the event, Tun Dr. Mahathir affirmed that affirmative action policy in Malaysia has helped many Malays succeed and prevented racial tensions, and he addressed regional cooperation. The event was widely attended by Seeples, including Perry Landesberg, MIA ‘20, Melissa Tan, MIA’ 19 and Nabila Hassan, MPA ‘20.

Source: Facebook/Dr Mahathir Mohamad

Learning about global governance from the NATO Secretary General

Perry Landesberg, MIA ‘20, attended NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg’s address to the Columbia community which focused on the maintenance of security in a changing world. Stoltenberg remarked on the disappointing state of NATO-Russian relations but concluded that NATO’s mission of security cooperation among democratic nations was as essential as ever. He answered audience questions on subjects such as Ukraine’s accession to NATO, the future of Afghanistan after NATO’s withdrawal, and NATO’s preparedness for cyber attacks. The event was part of the Blinken Lecture. 

Supporting the Digital Financing Task Force at UNGA

As part of the Digital Financing Task Force Secretariat, Ralph Chow, MPA ‘20, aided in the organization of a high-level Summit titled “Good Servant, Poor Master: Capturing the Promise and Managing the Risk of Financial Technology for a Sustainable World” during UNGA. The Summit was co-hosted by the Permanent Missions to the United Nations of the Republic of India and the Kingdom of Netherlands, and was co-sponsored by the MetLife Foundation. The Summit was well attended by representatives from Member States, the Private Sector, as well as United Nations agencies and other multilaterals. 

Source: United Nations Secretary-General’s Digital Financing Task Force of the SDGs

A conversation on climate change, COP25 and artificial intelligence

Columbia SIPA’s Latin American Student Association – LASA hosted Minister Andres Cuove, Minister of Science, Technology, Knowledge and Innovation for Chile. Minister Cuove is the first Secretary of this recently launched ministry. Pablo Jorquera, MPA ‘20, Treasurer of LASA, reflected that Minister Cuove shared the challenges he faced to create the institution as well as his experience in the 2019 Climate Action Summit and his plans for COP25 in Santiago. He also explained how Chile is creating a policy in science and deciding priorities to use the STI for development. 

Source: Pablo Jorquera, MPA ‘20

Dreaming big at the African Women on Board [AWB]@UNGA event

George-Ann Ryan, MIA ‘20, and her fellow board members at the Sadie Collective were invited to attend the [email protected] event where they rubbed shoulders with the Vice President of the Republic of Liberia, Hon. Chief Dr. Jewel Howard-Taylor and other distinguished group of leaders, innovators and dignitaries from around the world. George-Ann met Oby Ezekwesili, Founder of Bring Back Our Girls, a movement advocating for the speedy and effective search and rescue of all abducted girls by Boko Haram. 

The board of The Sadie Collective at [email protected]
Source: George-Ann Ryan, MIA ‘20

Georgian President Cites Dual-Nationality as Strength in Columbia Speech

President of Georgia (and Columbia alumnus) Salome Zourabichvili delivered a World Leaders Forum speech and explained her nation’s value to Europe as a cultural leader and a valuable testing ground for engagement with Russia. Perry Landesberg, MIA ‘20 reflects that President Salome Zourabichvili responded to students questions and she defended her government’s assistance to regional refugees and positions on breakaway regions. She also cited her personal history – having grown up in France and becoming a Georgian citizen in 2004 – as a strength in her previous career as a diplomat and foreign minister.

Source: Perry Landesberg, MIA ‘20

Learning about development and refugee resettlement from the President of Rwanda

On September 26, Shelina Noorali, MPA ‘20, had the opportunity to hear Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, speak about development, refugee resettlement, technological integration and environmental conversation in the country. Students had the opportunity to engage in a Q&A session with the President. The panel was moderated by the Dean of Columbia SIPA, Merit Janow.

Source: Shelina Noorali, MPA’20

Exploring digital transformation as a sustainable development pathway

Nabila Hassan, MPA ‘20 along with other Seeples attended UNDP’s ‘Digital Future of Development’ event which explored how digital technologies enable breakthrough solutions to achieve Sustainable Development Goals, how trailblazers across sectors are shaping the future of development, and how the UNDP is hoping to put technology at the forefront of its efforts. 

Source: Nabila Hassan, MPA ‘20

Interested to learn more about International Organizations & UN Studies at SIPA? Find out more about how that specialization provides students with a roadmap of the international organizations that inform public policy and global action across borders here. You can watch this video to learn more about Seeples Day at the UN.

Tips for making the most out of your internship search

Applying for internships can be daunting. Here are a few tips to make it more manageable:

  1. Look through the OCS Internship Report Database on SIPAlink

In order to fulfill the internship credit, all students need to complete a comprehensive questionnaire about their internship experience. I found the OCS Internship Report Database on SIPAlink a great resource to get a better idea of what other students have done. (SIPA’s Office of Career Services, or OCS, is dedicated just to SIPA students.) Before I started applying for internships, I filtered through the different career fields and looked at what organizations or companies students interned at. If you see an internship that you’re extremely interested in, you can reach out to the student or even maybe the supervisor.

  1. Attend OCS’s concentration/specialization career panels and info sessions

Every week or so OCS sends out an email with all the career panels and info sessions they planned. Make sure to look out for the email and register for as many of the events as you can. It’s a great way to learn more about the field, talk to alumni, and make connections. I recently went to a resume workshop that an alumni led. He went through our resumes one by one and provided great advice.

  1. Reach out to Alumni on the Linkedin page

We have a “SIPA Alumni and Student Network” group on LinkedIn that, as of today, has over 8,000 members. I recommend reaching out to alumni to set up an informational interview. Alumni generally are very responsive and willing to help our their fellow Seeple. Please note that incoming students will be approved as group members beginning the week of orientation.

  1. Make a list of interesting places

We often have guest speakers in our classes who are doing amazing work around the world. I started making a list of organizations and companies I found interesting. When I was looking for internships, I started with that list.

Best of luck with your internship search!

Watch: The 43rd Annual SIPA D.C. Career Conference

Ana Guerrero MIA ’19 gave a micro view of the SIPA D.C. Career Conference; check out the video below for a macro view. More than 220 SIPA students took part this year, joined by over 200 SIPA alumni throughout the Conference’s panels, site visits, and networking events from January 16-18, 2019.

Read the full recap here.

A recap of the 2019 SIPA D.C. Career Conference

SIPA’s 43rd Annual D.C. Career Conference & Alumni/Student Networking Reception was held on January 16 – 18, 2019.

My name is Ana Guerrero, and I am a second-year MIA student, concentrating in International Security Policy and specializing in International Conflict Resolution. I am originally from the Dominican Republic but I grew up in Brooklyn. I had a myriad of jobs before SIPA, and I am hoping to use my degree to pivot into the Security sector.

For that reason, I was really looking forward to the 43rd annual SIPA D.C. Career Conference, so much so that I successfully applied to be the panel coordinator for the Security & Political Risk session. (I couldn’t attend last year because a group of classmates and I organized a relief trip to Puerto Rico to help clean up after Hurricane Maria.) Needless to say, for someone who doesn’t have direct work experience in the field, I felt that I couldn’t miss the D.C. Career Conference *Don Corleone voice* on this the year of my graduation.

I am very glad I made the most of my time at the conference. I had two coffee chats with SIPA alumnae in D.C., and I managed to make a connection with each of my panelists. My favorite panel – aside from my own – was the Foreign and Civil Service session, where we heard from people from the State Department, the FBI, and a former CIA employee. Their insights into government work and the fellowships to apply for were invaluable.

Panels aside, the site visits are another excellent resource because I got to see the workplace and talk to people I otherwise would not have met if I just attended the conference day’s events. I went to the National Counterterrorism Center, Elizabeth Warren’s Senate office, Albright Stonebridge Group (ASG), and led the site visit and panel of State Department employees. At the ASG session, a human resources representative talked about internship and employment opportunities to look out for in the coming months. Additionally, the networking reception on the last night allowed me to follow up on connections I had made throughout the week. THIS is why you attend a conference like this!

My one piece of advice to prospective students is to absolutely attend the SIPA D.C. Career Conference if they are open to working in Washington D.C. And if you want to work in D.C. and can attend both years as a SIPA student, do it!

"The most global public policy school, where an international community of students and faculty address world challenges."

—Merit E. Janow, Dean, SIPA, Professor of Practice, International and Economic Law and International Affairs

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