Tag Archives: graduation

Taking the leap

17 Jan

It’s funny how a blog, started by a group of Master’s candidates entering into their final semester of grad school, seems to drift off a bit according to the ebb and flow academic calendar, and the inevitable realities that follow its conclusion. Midterms and finals, final papers and campus events, and finally the holidays have left The League somewhat desolate. However, this blog was partially created in an effort for eventual readership by our fellow graduate students so they could get an idea of some of the ups and downs of completing such an intensive program. Here is my two cents thus far.

When your whole life is dominated by school, the sudden dearth of that constant activity is often difficult to replace, especially in a less-than-favorable job market. I feel like the job market for those entering the education field has a lot to offer if you’re open to what it actually HAS to offer. And, like a graduate program, you get out of the job market what you put into it, and that doesn’t just mean filling out applications and writing cover letters. It’s networking – it’s a TON of networking. And you can’t slack off, or you’ll lose the network. Networks in graduate school are very hard work to build, and like many things in life, can be lost in a matter of days. You have to continually prove yourself along the way. You have to make an impact. This process provides far more motivation than undergraduate pursuits I feel, in the sense that you feel personally obligated to make the absolute most of what little time you have to really solidify a network of people to help you, to help in return, and ultimately, to learn from.

That and grad school is expensive as all bloody hell.

So you emerge, reborn into the professional world, born crying in triumph of the start of a new career, or born mourning the loss of comfort in the academic womb. Some of us have already grown up, landed jobs, got our foot in the right door. Some of us are enjoying our neophyte emergence into the post-graduate world, taking it easy (in California we would say “chillin”), harkening back to a time when we had a few free hours to squeeze in a little fiction (I started the revived privilege off with one of my mom’s favorites – and yes it took seeing the film adaptation for me to read it – Life of Pi. Incredible!). Regardless, all of us remain in touch, which shows that we all networked at least within our cohort. Does that count?

We have one thing in common: we are all feasting our eyes on a world drenched in new perspective and dripping with insight we never considered possible. Critically analyzing the world around us day in and day out left our brains craving more out of life, more out of what is right in front of us, more out of what lies ahead. We relish the abundance of information and resources still swimming all around us in this extraordinary and mind-bending city. Some of us are trying to settle in, some of us are trying to fly as far away as possible, but for now we are all here.

Hopefully this blog will be able to successfully track some of our transitions, from these nascent stages of post-academia to whatever comes next. For now, I am continuing my work in New York in finance and grants management with the Development Research Institute, Africa House, and the Center for Technology and Economic Development (based in Abu Dhabi). Managing the expenses of these three research institutes keeps me locked in a comfortable university setting, and allows me to engage in and support the work of William Easterly, one of my initial inspirations for applying to this school in the first place. The work certainly has its rewards, but my wanderlust and personal drive to maximize my potential will soon send me packing, off to take yet another leap into the unknown.

Hopefully I can leap to warmer weather. More to come.

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Always expect the unexpected

20 Dec

When I envisioned a Master’s program in International Education, I imagined studying comparative education across different countries.  But to my surprise a Masters in International Education meant different things to different people. The program at our school was not perfect, in fact it was far from being perfect; however, there was structure, mentoring and logic (sometimes) behind it and to some extent that’s all we needed. I think many of us started the program having more or less an idea of what we wanted to get out of it while some others knew exactly what they wanted right from the beginning. Whatever the case was, I’m certain we have found our way and purpose throughout the course of the program. In my case, I only knew I wanted to do something in the area of Inclusive Education, not quite sure exactly what. After taking a Politics, Conflict and Education class it became clear to me what I wanted to do and in what direction I wanted to go.

We have also found each other in this journey. I don’t think anyone came looking for “new friends”, certainly not me. Life happens and it’s inevitable not to get attached to people especially after spending long hours working on projects together, bouncing ideas off each other, starting a blog together, organizing a student-led human rights colloquium, helping each other with the job search, proof reading each others’ documents, crying out of stress to each other, helping one another move from one tiny apartment to another tiny apartment, traveling to CIES in Puerto Rico together and celebrating both our achievements and misfortunes. We have become good friends.

We have also found our own unique way to network in both social and academic ways. I argue that I’m not good at the latter, but I’ve learned and found my ways. The art of networking doesn’t come easy to everyone (me) and it is exhausting!  It took me a while to realize that it’s okay to send an email to a complete stranger asking for an informational interview and to send one or two reminders to the same person if you haven’t heard back. At the end of the day you have nothing to lose, so why not try. In my (short) experience I found out that the key to all networking situations you might encounter is 1) to be yourself-don’t overdo it 2) to be clear about your goals and purpose and 3) to be straightforward – don’t circle around and waste people’s time.

Throughout the program the writing process gets easier. At least for me the writing process had always been difficult. Sometimes my brain thinks in Spanish while trying to write in English and/or vice versa. It can be very confusing and frustrating, but I can say that after all the practice, the readings, friends tips and a copy of English Grammar for Dummies my writing has considerably improved. Also, throughout the program the reasoning process becomes harder and more analytical. The moral, logical and ethical become a paradox and seem to get farther away from reality.

Professors came and go throughout the semester/s and some were more willing and responsive than others. It takes one Professor to make a difference and in our case it was Professor B. who made that difference. She made an impact on many of us during our first semester by giving us the motivation many of us where looking for after a totally confusing and unexpected first semester. She became our mentor and inspired us in one way or another.

This cycle has come to an end and many things didn’t go as I expected, but that’s what life is all about- isn’t it? We have to make of it what we want with what we have. Despite the struggles and differences we had with the program design we took it upon ourselves to make it what we wanted to. We spoke up, we came together, we created and we took control over the direction of our education. I found my puzzle piece that fits well with my meaning of MA in International Education and I know what direction I want to go about.

I face uncertainty in terms of the near future, it’s scary and stressing at times, but I feel confident that I’m prepared as I have the skills, the drive and the support to succeed out there in the “real world”.  I have done it once, I can do it twice.

Can’t wait for life to happen and cross paths someday somewhere with my fellow classmates/my good friends.