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mapiau

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  1. Like
    mapiau got a reaction from AONomad in Georgetown MSFS 2016 - Discuss & Debate   
    I'm anxiously waiting to hear back from SFS, but at this point I do not really see myself attending Georgetown. A big part of this wariness is cost, of course.
    My area of focus is energy issues (electricity, rather than oil and gas) and Latin America. I applied to SFS' Global Politics and Security concentration, and my sense is this doesn't quite fit my goals as well as other programs, like Fletcher (which has a dedicated Resource Policy field of study), SAIS (Energy, Resources and Environment policy area), or UCSD GPS (which offers lots of policy and energy courses). Of course it's often difficult to know exactly whether a program fits your goals while looking in from the outside, but while MSFS offers a number of energy courses, but I don't find these offerings quite as interesting as other schools'.
    I've heard fantastic things about SFS' small cohort size, career services office, and location, though. And while it's a bit silly, Georgetown has a bit of romance – DC! Diplomacy! Old statues on snowy days! – that other program don't. I'm attracted to this, and I don't even particularly care about being in DC!
  2. Upvote
    mapiau got a reaction from went_away in UCSD GPS 2019   
    I think energy and environment is one of GPS' strongest fields. The program has been increasing its focus on this area recently, and there are a lot of alumni who get jobs in the field afterwards. This is also one field where the California location is an advantage and not a disadvantage. 
    There are several GPS faculty who specialize in energy and environmental policy, with David Victor, Joshua Graff Zivin, and Kate Ricke being the main ones. I found the energy and environment course offerings to be strong. GPS is also adding new classes and faculty in the energy area especially. Additionally one of four MIA capstone options is a consulting class focused on energy, where students work with external energy companies. I found this course to be very useful in my career and definitely helped me get a job coming out of the program, but like all consulting classes the attention from the clients can vary. It's a very useful learning experience though. MPP students can take this class but I don't think it counts as the MPP capstone.
    If you take Quantitative Methods 1-4 and the two GIS courses I think the GPS data offerings are also head and shoulders above other programs, which could be a big advantage on the job market.
    I'd encourage you to look at alumni in the energy/environment space on LinkedIn. I can speak less to environmental policy, but in energy there are a ton of GPS alumni at California utilities, independent power firms, and other roles. 
    I can't speak to the other programs, but I also got a full ride from UCSD and not having debt to pay off is just very, very nice. I think the chance to avoid debt matters a lot more than program fit, since these programs are really what you make of them anyway. 
  3. Like
    mapiau got a reaction from tough_choices in UCSD GPS 2018   
    Yeah, most of the first year curriculum is filled with core classes, with electives and the capstone during the second year. For the MIA a typical first year is:
    Fall
    GPCO 401. Microeconomics for Policy and Management GPCO 412. Globalization, the World System, and the Pacific  GPCO 453. Quantitative Methods I  Language Winter
    GPCO 400. Policy-Making Processes GPCO 415. Accounting and Finance for Policy Makers  GPCO 454. Quantitative Methods II  Language Spring
    GPCO 403. International Economics GPCO 410. International Politics and Security Language Elective Of course, if you're in the MIA but don't have to take language classes this opens up a lot of slots for electives. Some people also waive core classes, but this is pretty hard to do. (For example, I was an econ major in undergrad but was only able to waive QM 1.) Last year a lot of people wanted to waive International Security but weren't allowed to.
    The career tracks usually only require two required classes and three electives (from a broad list), so there's a lot of room to customize them. While there is no waitlist for any GPS course unfortunately classes are only offered once a year and sometimes not every year (this is pretty rare). In a two year program this means that scheduling conflicts may mean you miss classes you want, and I wouldn't recommend choosing to attend GPS based on one specific course you want to take since you might not be able to.
    I only took one Spanish class at GPS so can only speak to that. I *believe* that Spanish and Chinese are only offered at GPS from the intermediate level up, so if you are just starting you would have to take undergraduate classes. Otherwise you would take the intermediate+ courses at GPS. I've heard complaints about the undergrad classes from people in my cohort (the undergrad language classes are five units and like 6 hours per week, more than GPS language classes), and personally had bad experiences in UCSD Spanish classes years ago as an undergrad. Your experience in other languages may be different, however. If you really care about the language course offerings I would encourage you to ask admissions.
    One thing to potentially be aware of in the MIA is that international students can only waive the language requirement if they are native speakers of a GPS "Pacific" language—good news if you're from east Asia, not great if you are from Africa.
    I don't know. 
    The hands-down best instructor at GPS is Craig McIntosh, who teaches QM3 and QM4 and some of the development courses. Jennifer Burney who teaches QM2 is also good, as is 
    Stephan Haggard who does Globalization and Asian security stuff. In environmental and energy policy David G. Victor is very famous and is a good lecturer. I haven't had either of them but I've heard good things about the new economics and marketing professors Uma Karmarkar and Renee Bowen. Bill Bold, who was a former VP at Qualcomm, just started teaching business classes and is a great lecturer and assigns lots of assignments with real-world feels.
    I've taken mostly energy and business/finance, so only know those professors personally. Aside from these standouts most GPS professors are good-to-average. Unfortunately some professors are boring or bad lecturers, and there are two or three older professors who are disorganized and poor to very poor teachers. Aside from them I have been pretty satisfied with the overall quality of the teaching, though some students disagree.
  4. Upvote
    mapiau got a reaction from lilyco in UCSD GPS 2018   
    I'm a graduating second-year Masters of International Affairs at GPS, and happy to answer any questions people might have.
  5. Upvote
    mapiau got a reaction from went_away in UCSD GPS 2018   
    I think the strengths of the program are its variety, quantitative rigor, and the network (more on this later). GPS has a pretty broad variety of classes and the degree requirements are flexible, meaning that it is easy to take the classes that are relevant to your goals. While students have career tracks (MIA) and areas of specialization (MPP), the actual requirements for these are so broad that the actual track you take is fairly meaningless since they're so flexible. The downside of this is if you don't know what you want to do or which classes are the most useful given your goals the lack of structure can be lead you to taking electives you don't benefit from.
    I can't speak to other programs but the quantitative methods courses stand out to me. Most students take the QM series through the optional QM3, and many take the QM4 research capstone.* I was an econ major in undergrad and I learned a lot more in even QM2 than my year of undergrad econometrics. While QM3 is optional I would highly recommend that you plan on taking it, since quantitative edge is a core competency of this program and it opens up a lot of second-year classes. Additionally, many other later classes (the GIS series, trade classes, some of the regional classes) rely on concepts from QM2 and 3 and if you avoid these classes you're put at a disadvantage. Be realistic about what these classes get you—they are not an econ PhD—but they seem pretty valued by employers and students regularly get quant-focused development jobs.
    Overall I think the program is strongest in international development, economics, and energy. GPS offers a lot of international security classes and the professors in this area are quite accomplished, but while I can't speak to this firsthand I think the distance from DC is a real handicap here. The alumni network is a mixed bag: on the one hand it is certainly smaller than the networks from older, larger programs like SAIS, but on the other hand I think GPS' lower profile makes alumni more motivated to lend a hand to current students. The alumni network is also pretty concentrated in California, which can be a plus or a minus depending on if you want to remain here or not. For an international affairs program most alumni aren't working in particularly "international" positions, but I think that is true of many programs and again may be a plus or minus depending on your goals.
    The final strength of the school is its carer services department. There are four full-time career services folks for around 300-ish students in the program, which I understand is a pretty good ratio. While of course they can't get you a job they are very consistent about send out positions and connecting students with alumni, and can usually review a cover letter or conduct a mock interview with you on a few days notice. Additionally many of the classes have a strong emphasis on memo writing (I personally haven't written many research papers in this program) and presenting, which is very helpful on the job market.
    The weaknesses of GPS are pretty obvious: the alumni network is more limited and West Coast-focused than other schools, and in some fields being so far from DC can be limiting. The School's name recognition is not amazing, and worse so after the recent name change. (Until a few years ago it was International Relations/Pacific Studies or IR/PS.) The quality of teaching is in my opinion pretty good but also highly variable, and there are a couple not great-to-terrible teachers that students avoid. Professors also regularly launch new classes, which is general a plus but sometimes are very poorly planned. The quarter system is also very fast-paced and makes the capstone classes with major projects or outside consulting work very challenging because it leaves so little time (ten weeks) to complete these classes' work products. Students' work suffers in these classes because of the fast pace, but this is arguably good practice for the private sector.
    I also think the popular international management track leads to students graduating with an "MBA-lite" degree but without much finance that doesn't seem too useful. You can seek these finance classes out, but it's something to be aware of and you should avoid applying for jobs where you're competing directly with MBAs since the degrees are not equivalent.
    Despite recently dropping "Pacific" from the school name GPS is still very Pacific focused, and if you want to study Africa, the Middle East, or Europe there is nothing for you here. (There are very few foreign students from these regions as well.) The regional classes in general vary in quality: there are lots of students who aren't too motivated because they're in the MIA but don't care much about their region of focus (mostly in the Latin America track, which has the easiest language requirement), and the smaller regions like Japan and Southeast Asia are neglected in terms of numbers of professors and classes. The language classes are also not amazing and if you're just starting a language you have to take undergrad classes, which by all accounts are terrible.
    The student body is also a mixed bag. There are a LOT of very motivated, impressive students here, and some stars that go on to very impressive careers. However, GPS is not a particularly competitive program and there are a lot of students who are straight out of undergrad or 22 year olds coming directly from UCSD's undergrad through the BA/MIA program. This doesn't make them unintelligent of course, but the lack of real-world experience or career direction is sometimes obvious. Classroom participation is also sometimes low and there are classes where there are the same half-dozen students talking. 
    I don't know if it's possible to receive financial aid later on. I do know being awarded a Dean's Fellow (which are awarded to like 15–20 first years) only gets you like $500 and is more of a social obligation (as in Dean's Fellows have to organize/attend events) than a scholarship.
    *QM3 and QM4 have misleading course names. If you're looking at the course catalog QM3 is listed as Applied Data Analysis and Statistical Decision Making and QM4 is titled Evaluating Technological Innovation for some reason.
  6. Upvote
    mapiau got a reaction from Dan_H in UCSD GPS – 2016   
    I was lucky enough to receive a very generous funding package from UCSD, and am going to have a very tough time deciding between UCSD and SAIS. 
    How much is the SAIS name and alumni network worth? I think the courses offered by GPS and SAIS are comparable in my field, but the SAIS name is surely marginally worth something. Is anyone else facing a similar choice? Any opinions would be much appreciated!
  7. Like
    mapiau got a reaction from Dan_H in UCSD GPS 2018   
    When I took the GPS prep program last year we had two weeks of math camp reviewing high school math and derivative calculus, followed by three weeks of introductory Quantitative Methods and microeconomics. The QM and Econ classes are taught by the professors teaching those classes in the fall quarter, so these prep classes are basically extensions of those classes. Prep is roughly four hours of class time a day, and the QM and Econ classes have finals. Grades aren't recorded however, and it's a good opportunity to get back into the groove of school if you've been away for a few years.
    There are also various orientations scattered through prep. Career services does a mandatory orientation covering things like how to format a resume and business etiquette, which is pretty basic if you've worked in the US before but is useful for international students or people straight out of undergrad. 
    I haven't pursued TA or GSR positions at GPS, so I'm not sure. I regularly get emails recruiting for these positions, though.
  8. Like
    mapiau got a reaction from belocali in Comparing Career Services Offices   
    I don't think it's very informative to ask the schools themselves. While you can ask things like how many counselors work in their career services departments each school is going to tell you that their career services offerings are great, and teasing out useful information from these responses will be difficult. Instead I'd ask former students (since current students haven't actually applied for and gotten jobs for the most part), though since most students have nothing to compare their schools' career services to it can still be confusing. Many alumni are happy to chat if you reach out, in my experience.
    Despite what I just said about current students, I can speak a bit about UCSD GPS' career services. I have found the department to be quite good, and a major draw for the program. GPS has three full-time and one part-time career counselors, which for a program of ~300 students is a good ratio and in my understanding higher than other international affairs programs (I can't speak to MPP programs). I've been able to have career services employees proofread resumes or hold mock interviews on very short notice, and they are usually available for one-on-one meetings within a few days. Each year career services hosts trips to the Bay Area, DC, and NYC (though at the students' expense) to visit employers, and are very involved in finding summer internships. Career services has good relationships with seemingly all Masters of International Affairs alumni (there are not yet MPP alumni at GPS), and will often reach out to alumni on students' behalf. Their advice is usually very good, though I've had employers give different feedback on resumes than career services
    The quality of career services is only one part of getting a job of course (unfortunately alumni networks probably matter more), but my impression of GPS' has been good.
  9. Upvote
    mapiau got a reaction from yellina122 in Which schools are more likely to accept MPPs out of college?   
    Seconding this. The question isn't what schools are likely to accept you straight out of college, but whether you will have a fulfilling experience that successfully positions you for a career in your chosen field. Even if you're confident you know what you want to do, this may change once you've actually worked in the space, and work experience will make it far easier to credibly network and focus your education while in grad school. 
  10. Like
    mapiau reacted to GrumpyGrouch in UCSD GPS – 2016   
    I'm not really concerned with selectivity - I think a lot of this could be fixed by getting everyone on the same page in prep - if the prep program was expanded a few weeks it would make this a lot easier.  The fact that there IS a prep program for math/English is encouraging, but there ought to be some way to get students with no polisci/govt/law/geopol/history classes caught up as well. I would have even been happy taking a few summer undergrad courses to get caught up and ready for GPS.
    I agree there are some impressive students, I just hope we don't lose a lot of them here after the first quarter.  I hope you're right about the curve.  My assessment, as I said in my previous post, is biased by my perspective of being in my first quarter.  Your optimism is encouraging, but you have to understand where I'm coming from.  Despite my natural skeptical pessimism, I'm very much looking forward to next year - the bulk of the courses in which I am interested are only available in the second year because of the size of the core classes.
    I haven't really taken a look too hard at the BA/MIA program, so I'll have to take your word on it.
    I had a choice between GPS and a school in DC as well.  Please don't mistake my grumpiness for enthusiasm with an East Coast program, because that would be incorrect. I do not regret choosing GPS - I am merely grumpy and making an initial assessment based on limited information.
  11. Upvote
    mapiau got a reaction from glopez in Comparing Career Services Offices   
    I don't think it's very informative to ask the schools themselves. While you can ask things like how many counselors work in their career services departments each school is going to tell you that their career services offerings are great, and teasing out useful information from these responses will be difficult. Instead I'd ask former students (since current students haven't actually applied for and gotten jobs for the most part), though since most students have nothing to compare their schools' career services to it can still be confusing. Many alumni are happy to chat if you reach out, in my experience.
    Despite what I just said about current students, I can speak a bit about UCSD GPS' career services. I have found the department to be quite good, and a major draw for the program. GPS has three full-time and one part-time career counselors, which for a program of ~300 students is a good ratio and in my understanding higher than other international affairs programs (I can't speak to MPP programs). I've been able to have career services employees proofread resumes or hold mock interviews on very short notice, and they are usually available for one-on-one meetings within a few days. Each year career services hosts trips to the Bay Area, DC, and NYC (though at the students' expense) to visit employers, and are very involved in finding summer internships. Career services has good relationships with seemingly all Masters of International Affairs alumni (there are not yet MPP alumni at GPS), and will often reach out to alumni on students' behalf. Their advice is usually very good, though I've had employers give different feedback on resumes than career services
    The quality of career services is only one part of getting a job of course (unfortunately alumni networks probably matter more), but my impression of GPS' has been good.
  12. Upvote
    mapiau got a reaction from MattDU in Move back & work or apply to grad school?   
    I couldn't even get a full time job for two years after I graduated undergrad, and two years later got full funding for a decently-ranked program that's a very good fit for me.
    Don't panic.
  13. Upvote
    mapiau got a reaction from chocolatecheesecake in Undergrad to MPP   
    I strongly recommend working for at least a few years before attending grad school, even if you are confident that you know what you would like to do. Work experience will increase your likelihood of receiving funding, and working in your preferred field will let you gain out-of-the-classroom experience that admissions committees want to bring to the classroom. 
    Even if you are admitted to your preferred school now, work experience will help you after graduation. Students who go straight to Masters programs often lack experience in things like interpersonal communication, office etiquette, how to run a meeting, and personal time management/task tracking that employers value (even after you are hired). I don't mean to imply that you don't have these skills or that you can't learn these things in school or internships, but I believe that these skills are much stronger in people who have at least a year of full-time work experience, and will substantially help you land and succeed in a job and succeed in your field after you graduate. 
  14. Upvote
    mapiau got a reaction from freakaleke in International Development Programs   
    I really liked Magoosh. It is an online service that is far cheaper than the in-person classes, and helped me really raise my scores (though it is a bit less helpful on the analytical writing section, though a lot of that supposedly comes down to just writing as much as possible). The GRE is an exam that tests your ability to learn its format more than anything else, and there's no reason you can't do well if you complete the course and leave yourself two months or so to prepare.
    GRE scores are often thought to be important in determining merit aid, so it's worth putting in the time to get your score as high as possible even if you already feel that you're in the range that sufficient for your target schools.
  15. Upvote
    mapiau got a reaction from kb6 in Undergrad to MPP   
    I strongly recommend working for at least a few years before attending grad school, even if you are confident that you know what you would like to do. Work experience will increase your likelihood of receiving funding, and working in your preferred field will let you gain out-of-the-classroom experience that admissions committees want to bring to the classroom. 
    Even if you are admitted to your preferred school now, work experience will help you after graduation. Students who go straight to Masters programs often lack experience in things like interpersonal communication, office etiquette, how to run a meeting, and personal time management/task tracking that employers value (even after you are hired). I don't mean to imply that you don't have these skills or that you can't learn these things in school or internships, but I believe that these skills are much stronger in people who have at least a year of full-time work experience, and will substantially help you land and succeed in a job and succeed in your field after you graduate. 
  16. Upvote
    mapiau got a reaction from Concordia in Undergrad to MPP   
    I strongly recommend working for at least a few years before attending grad school, even if you are confident that you know what you would like to do. Work experience will increase your likelihood of receiving funding, and working in your preferred field will let you gain out-of-the-classroom experience that admissions committees want to bring to the classroom. 
    Even if you are admitted to your preferred school now, work experience will help you after graduation. Students who go straight to Masters programs often lack experience in things like interpersonal communication, office etiquette, how to run a meeting, and personal time management/task tracking that employers value (even after you are hired). I don't mean to imply that you don't have these skills or that you can't learn these things in school or internships, but I believe that these skills are much stronger in people who have at least a year of full-time work experience, and will substantially help you land and succeed in a job and succeed in your field after you graduate. 
  17. Upvote
    mapiau got a reaction from Urban Plannerd in Pre-MPP work experience   
    I recommend working for longer than a year or two before applying not because the work experience will impress an admissions committee, but rather because it helps you pick a career.
    You may have an idea of what'd you like to focus on in an MPP program, but actually working in a field—in terms of the actual work, quality of life, security, and so on—is very different from studying it. You grad school experience will be much more rewarding and secure if you can really focus on an area you have prior experience in, which lets you not only focus your studies but also network more successfully. 
  18. Upvote
    mapiau got a reaction from tinpants12 in Pre-MPP work experience   
    I recommend working for longer than a year or two before applying not because the work experience will impress an admissions committee, but rather because it helps you pick a career.
    You may have an idea of what'd you like to focus on in an MPP program, but actually working in a field—in terms of the actual work, quality of life, security, and so on—is very different from studying it. You grad school experience will be much more rewarding and secure if you can really focus on an area you have prior experience in, which lets you not only focus your studies but also network more successfully. 
  19. Upvote
    mapiau got a reaction from 3dender in Pre-MPP work experience   
    I recommend working for longer than a year or two before applying not because the work experience will impress an admissions committee, but rather because it helps you pick a career.
    You may have an idea of what'd you like to focus on in an MPP program, but actually working in a field—in terms of the actual work, quality of life, security, and so on—is very different from studying it. You grad school experience will be much more rewarding and secure if you can really focus on an area you have prior experience in, which lets you not only focus your studies but also network more successfully. 
  20. Upvote
    mapiau got a reaction from ExponentialDecay in Pre-MPP work experience   
    I recommend working for longer than a year or two before applying not because the work experience will impress an admissions committee, but rather because it helps you pick a career.
    You may have an idea of what'd you like to focus on in an MPP program, but actually working in a field—in terms of the actual work, quality of life, security, and so on—is very different from studying it. You grad school experience will be much more rewarding and secure if you can really focus on an area you have prior experience in, which lets you not only focus your studies but also network more successfully. 
  21. Upvote
    mapiau got a reaction from nahuja32 in Neat Stats Learning Resource   
    Relatedly, I have had a good experience with Datacamp's R courses. If you are preparing for a program that includes statistical programming (Stata is the most common, I believe), I think their introduction and intermediate R courses would be a good way to start to wrap your mind around programming (and R seems to be a more common job requirement than Stata for non-academia positions.)
  22. Upvote
    mapiau reacted to Ben414 in SAIS or SIPA to PhD?   
    It might be different for the IDEV program, though. HKS' MPA/ID, for example, is quantitatively rigorous even though the MPP can be completed with little quantitative rigor. That said, I'm not familiar with SAIS' IDEV program, so it'd be great if someone with more knowledge of the program can step in here.
  23. Upvote
    mapiau got a reaction from Boost in SAIS or SIPA to PhD?   
    For what it's worth, I interviewed lots of former and current SAIS students during my decision process and everyone said the Latin American Studies Program is almost bizarrely well-funded and managed.
    I was also told (and again I have no first-hand knowledge of any of this) that SAIS' econ courses are not particularly rigorous for those with undergrad econ educations. Again you should take this with a grain of salt, but I'm not sure SAIS econ requirements would necessarily prepare you for a PhD.
  24. Upvote
    mapiau got a reaction from loveglove in How many schools did you apply to?   
    I applied to six. In retrospect if I'd spent more time researching the courses offered by each university I probably would have applied to only four schools, or even three. Similarly, I don't think the concept of a "safety school" is very useful for grad admissions. You should only apply to the schools that offer the courses and networking which will help you in your career and align with your professional goals. One of the two schools I'm deciding between is less selective and prestigious than the others but it's strong in my field, so I don't consider it a safety and am glad I applied.
  25. Upvote
    mapiau got a reaction from coffeeandtravel in How many schools did you apply to?   
    I applied to six. In retrospect if I'd spent more time researching the courses offered by each university I probably would have applied to only four schools, or even three. Similarly, I don't think the concept of a "safety school" is very useful for grad admissions. You should only apply to the schools that offer the courses and networking which will help you in your career and align with your professional goals. One of the two schools I'm deciding between is less selective and prestigious than the others but it's strong in my field, so I don't consider it a safety and am glad I applied.
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