Archive for professional development

Ever wonder what SIPA’s Office of Career Services offers?

SIPA’s Office of Career Services (OCS) provides students and alumni with the necessary tools to successfully manage their immediate internship and full-time job search as well as their professional development throughout their careers.  Among OCS’s services are individual advising on a range of career-related topics; a required professional development course; career events; recruitment and employer outreach programs; and professional networking opportunities.  Students and alumni are encouraged to partner with OCS and dedicate time to independent research and networking to build bridges with the professional world.  (See more)


The Professional Development class, which is administered through OCS, heightens the awareness and involvement of students in career planning.  This mandatory half-credit course develops the skills needed to compete effectively in the international and public affairs job markets.  Instructors provide direction on writing resumes and cover letters, job search tactics, successful interviewing, networking, negotiating employment offers, and other key career topics.


Students are required to conduct an internship as part of their degree requirement, and this is also administered through OCS.  The internship is typically done in the summer between the first and second year, although it can be completed at any time during the program.


On an individual level, OCS career advisers provide students and alumni with career advice, job search strategy tips, resume and cover letter reviews, and general career information.  OCS also maintains the SIPA Career Coaching (SIPACC) program, which is comprised of alumni working in a variety of jobs who provide industry specific information and advice.  Students can arrange appointments once they have registered for classes in August through SIPAlink, our recruitment software.  (See more )


To update students on programming and services, OCS compiles a weekly newsletter that lists information on career events, fellowship opportunities, upcoming recruitment visits, job/internship postings, and other essential information for their job search.  (See more )


EPD Workshop – Ethiopia

Several students knee deep in their workshops have submitted posts to the blog recently.  This post was submitted by Sawako Sonoyama.


I just returned from an unforgettable two-week trip to Ethiopia as part of my SIPA curriculum. This program is called The Workshop in Development Practice with the Economic and Political Development (EPD) concentration. The workshop allows students to gain practical experience by engaging in on-going actual development projects with organizations that often involve traveling abroad for fieldwork.

My EPD Workshop is with Family Health International (FHI) in Ethiopia. FHI is a global health and development organization that focuses on providing interdisciplinary training programs related to HIV/Aids. My project was to assist in developing a measurement system and tools to monitor and evaluate the extent to which knowledge and skills transferred through training are applied in practice. After conducting an in-depth desk review, conducting several conference calls with Ethiopia, and creating preliminary evaluation tools, my teammate and I were ready to go.

Upon arriving to Addis Ababa, we were welcomed with a ride from the airport, traditional coffee ceremony, and a delicious Ethiopian feast. I have never been to a more welcoming and warm country in my life. Every day of our trip, our Ethiopian counterparts went out of the way to welcome us and ensured that we were able to get our work done.

Picture: Welcome lunch with FHI

During our two week visit, we were able to test out the evaluation tools we have created for two different trainings. The first training was the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) Refresher training in Addis Ababa. We were able to observe many of the training modules while conducting  focus group discussions and supervisor interviews. The nurses were shy at first, but gradually opened up to us and explained the main challenges involving pregnant women in Ethiopia – mainly the inability to open up to their male partners to involve them with family planning. Furthermore, to evaluate how the nurse practitioners who attended the PMTCT training were doing on-site, we visited health centers and spoke to the clients directly. Through an interpreter, I had my first experience of interviewing pregnant women who are getting ready for a new life of starting a family.

Photo: Interviewing Clients

The second training we attended was titled Family-Based Alternative Child Care (ACC). The ACC training covers various formal or informal arrangement whereby a child is looked after outside of the birth family. This program is aimed to better support those children who have lost their parents due to HIV/Aids. The ACC training is more complex to evaluate then the PMTCT, as the behavior change of individuals is less practical. In fact, the behavior of multiple organizations must change for any region to successfully adopt an Alternative Child Care mechanism. Trying to work with this training made me realize how complex working with children from an institutional level can be.

Apart from working on the two trainings, through the wonderful cultural exchange we had, I was able to formulate a close friendship with many of the FHI staff.  I met Estsegenet Asefa, a beautiful woman from the Southern region of Ethiopia. Estegenet is a Community Health and Social Development Officer of the Southern region that was here to coordinate the training and facilitate group discussions. While she works full time at FHI-Ethiopia, she is also pursuing her MPH as a part-time graduate student. She has already completed her courses and is working on finishing her thesis is on relationships among People Living with HIV/Aids who are going through antiretroviral therapy. We shared stories about the challenges of balancing both professional and academic life, and where we hope to be after we graduate. She is also a vibrant dancer and gave me some tips on Ethiopian dance moves. We formed such a wonderful friendship and it was sad to say good bye. I am confident that she will be successful in the field of public health in Ethiopia and I hope that we meet again.

My new friend, Estsegenet

My two weeks in Ethiopia was fulfilling in so many ways – new experiences in monitoring and evaluation at health centers, interesting realizations about the complexities of working with HIV/Aids, and countless moments of absorbing the rich and wonderful Ethiopian culture. I am so thankful that I was able to travel to Ethiopia on the EPD workshop. Our work is nowhere near complete, as we must prepare for my team’s second visit to Ethiopia and finish our final report. I hope that the work we present will be useful for FHI-Ethiopia’s training programs and that can provide a meaningful impact to their clients.

Addis Ababa

EPD Workshop

The following post was submitted by Brittney Bailey.  Brittney is working in our office this year and she, along with several other students, are contributing posts throughout the year.


As a second-year EPD student, November is arguably the most important month of the year (outside of May for obvious reasons 🙂  Why November? Because it is when we receive our Workshop assignments, one of the most distinctive features of the economic and political development concentration.

The EPD Workshop, otherwise known as the workshop in Development Practice, is a practical culmination to all of the coursework you take as a SIPA student, outside of your summer internship.  Usually in the spring of your second-year, you get to engage in a workshop or capstone project in addition to your normal course work.  Like the capstone projects, which are usually open to those in other concentrations, the workshop requires that you work directly for a client in your field of interest, along with a SIPA team and faculty advisor; however, the workshop in Development Practice is a requirement for EPD students and generally allows us to gain fieldwork experience.  The EPD workshop is quite popular and has expanded rapidly over the years.  It is now open to a limited number of Human Rights concentrators and some students specializing in International Media, Advocacy and Communications.

The EPD workshop was one of the biggest reasons why I chose SIPA over other graduate institutions.  I kept thinking, “Hold on, this isn’t an internship exactly? I’m guaranteed relevant experience in international development?  I get to work as a consultant for a client and with a team of impressive students from diverse backgrounds… all while in school?!” It’s cheesy, but its true…I was eagerly awaiting the day when I’d be assigned more work at SIPA.

Yet, now that day has arrived and honestly, my excitement has not yet subsided. I’ll be working for UNFPA for the next six months, conducting an impact evaluation and cost benefit analysis of the organization’s distribution of “dignity kits” for girls in humanitarian settings across four countries: Indonesia, Haiti, Georgia, and Mozambique.  I could not be more thrilled to be working on a project that I am committed to and that would in theory, help me learn how to become a better development practitioner.

It’s likely that my enthusiasm for the workshop experience will decrease in the coming months, after a series of sleepless nights and caffeine-induced group freak outs.   Conflict is pretty much inevitable and who knows how things will actually play out on the ground.  Whether or not you receive your top choice project or have a phenomenal team, the reality still remains that the Workshop is one of the most unique and practical features of the SIPA experience.  It speaks directly to the fact that SIPA is a professional school, built to really enhance a student’s practical- not just academic- knowledge.

Summer 2010 Internship – Post 1

All MIA and MPA students at SIPA complete thirty weeks of professional development during their two year program.  Fifteen weeks is comprised of an internship and fifteen weeks is comprised of a group project referred to as a workshop or capstone project.  SIPA offers no summer classes and this allows our students the opportunity to complete their full time internship anywhere in the world.

There are several SIPA students working in the Admissions Office this year and I have asked each one of them to write about their summer internship experience.  This first entry was written by Sawako Sonoyama, an MIA student concentrating in Economic and Political Development.  Look for more entries on this topic in the near future.


SawakoMy summer internship was with the Mae Fah Luang Foundation (MFLF) in Northern Thailand. The MFLF was established under the patronage of Her Royal Highness the Princess Mother who wished to promote development programs that focused on economic and social growth.

There are numerous development projects in Thailand, the Union of Myanmar, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Republic of Indonesia, and I was stationed in the Doi Tung project area, near Chiang Rai. The Doi Tung Development Project is on its 23rd year of a 30-year development plan. The Foundation’s final goal is to transfer the ownership of the project to the local people.

My internship’s objective was to analyze the transfer of ownership of the business units and its management and leadership from the organization to the local people. With a team of four graduate students and two Thai undergraduate students, we examined the current structure of the business, organizational structure, and local government in all their dimensions through first hand interviews with relevant stakeholders. The team also conducted research on existing models and examples of organizational transfer from throughout the world.

Drawing from these models, we assessed and proposed appropriate institutional, financial, managerial framework and organizational structures to transfer any or all the social enterprises. We also examined what kind of capacity building is needed to develop local leadership which will enable them to take over the activities based on the proposed plan.

Finally, we raised some key overarching issues for the transfer plan and emphasized the importance of institutionalizing the MFLF philosophy to the Doi Tung area. Of all of the various knowledge I gained from MFLF, the most interesting was learning about this MFLF philosophy. The MFLF philosophy and development approach are based on the values of His Royal Highness King Bhumibol Adulyadej and his mother, the Princess Mother.

The King believed that the people and nature must co-exist in harmony and each step in development should be holistic, integrated, and people-centric. Understanding that the root problem of the region was poverty and lack of opportunity, they worked on providing the basic needs of health, livelihood, and education. The King inherently understood that development takes a long time, and proposed a thirty-year plan. A development project that lasts thirty years is unheard of in U.S. agencies. Because the project has a thirty year time line, the Foundation is very patient and slowly builds relationship with the aid recipient.

Following its people-centric philosophy, the Foundation’s every step starts from learning from the people to understand their lifestyle. They hold large meetings, small focus groups, and individual chats to gradually win the trust and support from the local people. Even the Executive Director will personally go knocking on people’s doors to get to know them. Their approach is extremely humble. The MFLF hopes to spread these philosophies to development practices in the West.

As an American intern in this Foundation, I believe that one of my duties is to help with that dissemination. I hope to carry on many of the foundation’s values: to become a humble development practitioner that can learn from and truly understand the lives and needs of the local people.


Workshops In Development Practice

Workshops are an integral part of academic and professional development at SIPA.  Workshops are group projects completed with an outside client.  At the end of each year student workshop groups participate in public presentations where they share the results of their hard work.  Information on these workshops and reports from previous years can be found on our web site.   Below is the invitation that went out this year.


This year, the student teams in SIPA’s Workshop in Development Practice have been working this with clients in over twenty countries on innovative projects involving the intersection of international development with human rights, corporate social responsibility, humanitarian affairs, media, international trade, entrepreneurship and private sector development.

The Workshop in Development Practice is co-sponsored by the Economic and Political Development, Human Rights, and International Finance and Economic Policy Concentrations, the International Media, Advocacy and Communications Specialization, and the Humanitarian Affairs and UN Studies Programs.   This year’s Workshop clients include Acumen Fund (India), Bihar Rural Livelihood Promotion Society (India), Catholic Relief Services (Democratic Republic of the Congo), Endeavor (Chile), Family Health International (Ethiopia), Initiative for Policy Dialogue (Ghana, Nigeria & Uganda) Institute for Research and Debate on Governance (Cameroon), Instituto Palmas (Brazil), International Trade Centre (Peru & Sri Lanka), Jitegemee (Kenya), Millennium Challenge Corporation (Ghana & Morocco), Millennium Cities Initiative (Nigeria), PepsiCo South American Foods (Venezuela), UN Iraq Information & Analysis Unit (Jordan),UN Peacebuilding Fund (Comoros), UNDP (NYC), UNICEF (Malawi), University of São Paulo working with Alcoa Brazil (Brazil), Women’s Political Resource Center (Georgia), and Women’s Refugee Commission (Liberia).

To view the program in PDF format, click here.


"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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