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About KenBesonders

  • Rank
    Espresso Shot

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  • Gender
  • Application Season
    2015 Fall
  • Program
    International Security

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  1. Hello everyone, I have been a longtime lurker here and have not been active much since 2013 and 2015, when seeking advice for grad school application cycles. I applied only during one of those cycles (2013) and got into several schools. I did not receive any substantial financial aid and decided to look into building my professional resume before entering graduate school. I now work with a security organization in DC (originally from Midwest) and have been happy with my decision. I wanted to write to discuss with recent grads and fresh out of undergrad students about the urge/necessity to apply to graduate school. In short, I understand many of you may feel that graduate school is a necessary step and a pathway to a "career job." Unless you were truly an outstanding student and are offered a substantial financial aid package, I would recommend most undergrads to get work experience. Here is why: When you enter the work field for development, international affairs, security, etc. you will most likely have an entry level job. This job will likely deal mostly with assisting a team and being involved with the operational side of things. This requires you to have well rounded professional, communication and organization skills to carry out the functions of these positions. You DO NOT need a master's degree to do this. Master's degree teach you about theories, policy and practice. Very few entry level jobs will have you substantially covering these areas, as they are saved for the senior level staff. They are more experienced and have a better understand of these fields as many of them have done it their entire life. In my experience, and with many colleagues and interns, having a masters degree does little to separate you if you have no professional skills to match with it. Do not get me wrong though, as there are exceptions for specialized positions and fellowships made to mentor young professionals. These however, are often hard to come by and are hyper competitive. I do not mean to be a debby downer here, as I am sure graduate school actually fits well in the life plans of many of you! However, I have too often seen intern graduate students who get their degree and struggle to find work because they never held a professional position. I say this as not to scare you but consider it as a perspective and the reality of how competitive our field is. In conclusion, please consider other options. If you still find the job field too competitive, consider service work, such as the Peace Corps or AmeriCorps. AmeriCorps VISTA is especially useful and allows you to do substantive policy or development work with non-profits. Find a way to build your professional skills and maybe hold an entry level job for a few years. Going to graduate school in your late twenties or early thirties is nothing to be ashamed of and is very common. Ultimately, I do not want to deter you brilliant young people from going to graduate school, but rather look into researching alternatives before you do. I feel as though many of us feel pressured as having grad school as that "next step" without realizing the long term expense or understanding the work field. Look into finding your way around the field more, if anything, it will benefit your graduate school experience even more than if you entered right away from an undergraduate program.
  2. Ditto with the top 5 from above. Other prestigious schools, such as Harvard or Princeton, would have some form of concentration but put more focus on quantitative analysis in policy development. For security studies alone, I would go with the top 5 and include Denver Korbel, Syracuse Maxwell and Pittsburgh GSPIA as solid choices.
  3. I am not familiar with what one needs to be competitive in social work, but as far as jobs in public policy go, the degree itself is not going to be as important as what you get out of your education. Unless you are applying for jobs that are highly academic, which would require transcripts, I would say focus more on building yourself an experience that can showcase and hone your professional skills. Securing an internship during the summer, or school year if time permits, is very helpful. In the field of public policy, many have master's degree in something. What employers want is someone who is not only strong academically but also shows traits of a mature, professional individual with tangible skills. That being said, I think it would be a mistake to invest too much in the trivial aspects of your degree instead of thinking what you can do to make yourself distinguished as a professional.
  4. Your GPAs look decent either way. There is honestly a certain point with adcoms, at least those I have read or spoken with, where they are like "GPA is good, did well in key classes, what else do we have?" Point being if you GPA is high enough where it does not really merit a major concern, do not sweat it. The adcomm by this point will want to see how good your personal statement is and what you bring to the table as a person. Focus on that instead of how your GPA might affect you at this stage.
  5. I guess it depends how broadly you define the "Southeast" but Kentucky Patterson is respectable, as well as Duke and UNC Chapel Hill if you include them. Numerous other large state schools (George, Georgia State and Georgia Tech) have respectable MPP and MPA programs. International policy is however mostly concentrated in the northeastern half of the I-95 corridor and does not extend too much south after DC.
  6. Oh my it seems I am confounding my own thread. Sorry that was I typo since I added the second part myself. It is still characters, not words. My statement of purpose is limited to around 500 words and they emphasize to discuss your professional work, of which I have outside of this research so discussing those in detail with the SOP would be infeasible. Sorry for the confusion, I am trying to focus this back on track.
  7. It essentially said: "If you are applying for an assistantship, briefly describe any experiences that would qualify you for appointment as a teaching or research assistant. (Max 320 characters use additional essays tab if more information is needed)" I guess the main reason I am pressed to post this here is because I was involved with two independent research projects where my help (not written on my own) yielded two publications. I also worked with some research with a professor that was not involved in publications but still beneficial. So I guess I feel as though I have enough to talk about that would merit me to go over the max in the box but, at the same time, feel like it would look as not coming off as concise.
  8. If follow-up to what you said, they also give you the option to "Attach a response" if you need more space. I am assuming doing that would work to my detriment, based on what you just said?
  9. I'd figure this might be the most appropriate place (If not a mod could simply move it to the main forum then) to post this since it deals with writing on an application. At any rate I am applying for a MA in international relations. One of the schools has a section on its application where you have 300 characters, yes characters, to explain why you would be a good research assistant. Has anyone encountered this before and advice on how to utilize this small space effectively?
  10. Depends. Many students going into international affairs or public policy that focus on more qualitative and critical thinking aspects will weight the verbal higher, generally speaking. If you however want to go into a data analysis/quant aspect the math might mean more. Since most admissions are holistic it is hard to say, but to my understanding, verbal is generally looked at in my field, which is international security.
  11. Posted in the thread before but I really want to get an opinion on my profile. My GPA is weak but I really want to try to push myself to get a scholarship or assistantship. All advice is welcomed. Program: MIA Schools considered: Syracuse Maxwell, American SIS, GWU Elliott, Columbia SIPA, New School Milano, Brandeis Heller, NYU Wagner and Pitt GSPIA Major: International Studies GPA: 3.0 - (3.4 in major and 3.6 last two semesters) GRE: 148q/156v/5.5aw Scheduled to take it again October 1st Undergrad school: Large Midwest Public University Years since UG: 2 years Work experience: 3 months internship at the UN with an NGO, 6 months election writing with political non-profit, 6 months research and business consulting for a non-profit startup for security affairs (remote), will be doing 1 year of Americorps VISTA for Resources Development Coursework: Statistics (B+), Planning on taking Micro and Macro Econ this academic year Language: Intermediate German, Elementary Spanish SoP: First drafts completed, working on getting fair input and tailoring it to the programs more specifically LoR: Head of International Studies Department/Model UN Advisor, Professor I took many classes with and did well in, Work Manager Other: Worked on various research projects, some of which were published I REALLY want to try to push my application to be competitive for funding. SU Maxwell is actually the most attractive program to me right now and I have been working on their application materials first. Unless anyone else has an opinion, I think it might come down to how well I retake the GRE and my SOP.
  12. Try to reframe from bumping your thread with a double post. This is a slow time of the year for these forums.
  13. Again, Denver has a semester in DC you could do to get an internship. The brand name itself is not the main factor of the application. If you have skills, you'll be competitive. One if my friends went to Pitt and three of her class, her included, got internships at the department of state, one of which was abroad.
  14. Georgetown is a hard pass but korbel is often regarded as a top 5 (maybe even top 3) in security studies. When I interned at the UN the USA embassy has quite a few alumni working there. I would say going to a school like that for free would benefit you the most. Georgetown may be great but paying off your debt will take the rest of your life and might make you miserable. Utilize korbel's DC program to help you network for future jobs. The school is still highly respected and if you sell yourself, you should have no problem finding work.
  15. I find it to be very good work experience for security affairs. Government, writing and policy analyst jobs are few in numbers and often require a lot of experience. Not many applicants will have such experience. That being said, I do not think there is a set job grad schools really look for. The key thing is showing the skills you gained and how it relates to your field. From what I have heard from admissions people is that service jobs, such as military or humanitarian work, not only count as work experience but also give you an extra boost if you gain international or language experience out of it.
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