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About charlotte_asia

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  1. I don't think it matters in the least. The distinction between international relations and public policy is more an imposed one by the academic world. It is not very rigid or tangible. Yes, doing more theoretical IR work (such as with a think tank) versus more policy and programming work may develop slightly different skill sets, but I think this only impacts your competitiveness and profile for future jobs, not for graduate schools. Apply for all jobs that you are interested in and that will give you substantive experience in your field. Grad schools of either type will value your profile.
  2. Echoing what others have said: having family in Pakistan or other sensitive country is not going to bar you in and of itself from a security clearance. I know Pakistani-Americans and Kashmiri-Americans who were born overseas, naturalized, and received clearances. I also know FSOs with family members with records or run-ins with the law who have obtained clearances. It certainly will take some time. One thing you can do in the meantime is start gathering all your old addresses, contacts, references, their contact info, etc. e-Quip (the form you fill out for your clearance) is dozens of pages long and asks for extensive information. Getting all of that in place now could help when you quickly turn around your e-Quip and start the clearance process. Your critical language skills (by advance intermediate I'm guessing that's a 2+ or a 3 on the language scale?) are certainly going to give you a bump on the waitlist if you pass your orals. In other words, you will receive extra language points over someone who just knows Spanish. Like FSOonthego said though, it doesn't impact your security clearance. The FS really values diversity, so you could be quite an asset to the Department. It would be worth applying, if that's really what you want to do.
  3. CGChick, please feel free to come back if you have further questions or want to talk through more ideas. I think all of us would be more than happy to help
  4. Admission to a program is only half the battle. Getting out with no experience in the field and competing with other MA in Int'l Affairs/PP degree holders would be quite difficult. (JAubrey, I think this is what you are referring to when you're talking about being competitive in the field of IC/defense?) Which is why I think the OP would need to work her way in laterally (and slowly), and using her technical production/film/digital arts background to get a foothold in the field. I absolutely think it's doable, especially by connecting in with ngos/international orgs who use film for advocacy purposes. This could build expertise in IR work, and be a stepping stone to a diplomatic career. (Not so sure about moving into defense/intelligence work and how that could be done). I guess I still stand by the work first-pursue degree path that I suggested in my first post. Career change is completely possible, but I don't know why folks are always so eager to do so through schooling, not work experience. ETA: See my above post for a more fulsome explanation of how I think the transition could work. I have seen it done by people in the computer programming field.
  5. Maybe try to use your technical expertise to wiggle my way into the field to explore it before plunging headfirst into an MA in a field you've never worked in before. There are lots of places where digital arts/film/production could intersect with international relations. The easiest that comes to mind is lending your expertise to NGOs like WITNESS, ENOUGH project, the UN, which use film for advocacy, human rights protection, etc. Almost all organizations link up with producers/digital arts folks at some point or another to create 25th anniversary videos, advocacy projects, and the like. Just go to idealist.org for some initial ideas. Alternatively, there are lots of initiatives overseas that work with emerging filmmakers in developing countries. Maybe take a year and go work with them? Many filmmakers are socially engaged, using their skills to address social justice or policy issues in their country. Collaborating with them could help you build an understanding and experience between your technical background and your possible future career. Once you have a bit of experience working on international relations issues you may be able to work your way into the program/IR side of things. I know people with computer programming or other hard technical backgrounds who have done this in the human rights world- start out as an organization's IT person and then manage their way onto the human rights program side of things. A few years of experience in this capacity- working with international actors on international issues- and you could be a great candidate to apply to the Foreign Service (who has people from an incredibly diverse range of backgrounds) as a public affairs officer.... or doing media work for the UN or some similar multilateral organization. I think you have a great hard skill set that could be welcomed in the international development, and possibly international relations, world. Regarding intelligence work, I'm not so sure how easy a career change would be. My friends who landed intelligence/security/defense jobs right out of undergrad (Analyst jobs at the Agency, security consulting companies, security/defense think tanks, certain positions at State) did so with related bachelors degrees and internships. I do have friends with very unrelated backgrounds who broke into defense work through a few years of unglamorous defense contracting work. You could possibly, maybe, potentially do the latter with a lot of networking, and a few years doing pretty boring, unglamorous work for Raytheon or some other big contractor before working your way in. But is that really want you want to do? It sounds like you want to do what most people *think* a diplomat does . I think you could work your way into the Foreign Service, though I'll admit, as the fiancee of an FSO, it's not as glamorous as most people think, except at the really high levels. Still, it's a really interesting, fulfilling line of work that you could feasibly break into. Lots of FSOs are on their second or third career. Anyway, all this to say I think you could definitely make a career change, but I would make the career change and then SEE if you NEED an MA... not go for the MA and see what jobs you could get (likely very few, if you had no relevant experience). Use your technical expertise in film production/digital arts to your advantage- your comparative advantage. I imagine NGOs, public affairs branches of institutions would love it. Good luck!
  6. rose1, that's funny, I felt SAIS was very helpful. That said, I had Georgetown Government in comparison, which I felt like I had to drag basic information out of, like classes I could take and when financial aid would be available. I also didn't contact SAIS directly, but rather had a lot of contact with friends and friends of friends I already knew who were at SAIS or recently graduated. I definitely found Tufts and Elliot more forward in sending information, current students initiating contact, etc. But I still was very satisfied by how I was treated by SAIS as an admitted student-- the online chats, the clear info about financial aid, etc. I get the sense from nearly every student with whom I've spoken that the camaraderie, morale, and cohesiveness among students is very high. I have to think that some of that is as a result of a very positive experience while at SAIS (and, by extension, support/help from the school and faculty). This was a definitely a factor I considered while comparing SAIS with other programs. Just some thoughts, albeit a bit scattered. Maybe a current student could provide more substantial advice!
  7. Right, the website says you must meet at least one of the criteria listed. I do not think I qualify, because the micro and macro classes I took were Principles of Micro and Macro, not Intermediate Micro and Intermediate Macro. I just wanted to confirm this with a current student. No big deal if I can't... getting one class out of the way will be fine.
  8. Regarding taking two classes during Preterm.... the website says you must have taken intermediate Micro and Macro with B-s or above in both. Does this apply to Principles of Micro and Micro, or do the classes need to be labeled Intermediate Micro and Macro? (I'm confused because the SAIS classes are intermediate level, so why would you need to take them again if you have already taken intermediate micro/macro and not the waiver exam?)
  9. Smart idea!! Another former student and friend of mine advised taking 3 classes the last semester to ensure ample time for job searching, but I like the idea of taking 2 and saving on tuition. It takes a lot of work the prior semesters but could be worth it.Thanks for sharing IRToni.
  10. Rose, thank you for sharing all of these insights! I just decided this weekend I'm heading to SAIS and I'm really happy to hear my impressions of SAIS reinforced by what you and cali experienced during visits. I am overseas so I could not attend the Open Houses and have had to rely on thoughts of former/current students, and Open House attendees. My decision was a bit different from yours. I was accepted to Fletcher but ruled it out because my fiance will be in DC and splitting up during our first year of marriage + taking on additional costs for living/housing would not have made it worthwhile. I was deciding between Georgetown Government, not SFS, and SAIS. I have continued to be impressed with SAIS's rigorous curriculum, its dedicated faculty, and the attention it has given to me as an admitted student. I think quality of student life at SAIS is high and the value of the degree is high as well. I will be like you and cali- my interests do not fit neatly into one concentration. I will be taking classes in IDEV, Am Foreign Policy, and International Law. I'll have to figure out my first semester which makes the most sense for me to concentrate in (probably American Foreign Policy). I have been told by others on this forum and via email correspondence with students that this is okay.... so hopefully they are right . I don't know what your specific field of interest is with IDEV, but I am looking forward to studying mine outside of a development focus- taking into account the political, economic, and security issues related to it. That's why I specifically did not apply to IDEV (and explained that in my SOP). Just a thought. Cali, great to hear that 4 classes + language or internship is reasonable. I just assumed I could only take 4 classes a semester! I suppose though the 5th class would be an additional cost? I am at a low-intermediate level of Spanish, which I hope to get to a solid intermediate level by the time I begin in the fall. Hope to take at least 1-2 language classes while I'm there, but I also don't want to eat away at my options to take IR classes, you know? If I can take a 5th class without an additional charge, that would be amazing. Good luck on your decision, rose! And Cali, see you in the fall!
  11. Decision made. Heading to SAIS!! I'm still wrapping my head around all of it, but am really excited. It is going to be a lot of work, but I'm ready. See you guys in the fall!
  12. Previous Schools: Top 10 LAC Previous Degrees and GPAs: BA Political Science & South Asian Studies, 3.38 (3.6 last 2 years) GRE Scores (Verbal/Quantitative/Analytical Writing): 690/640/4.5 Previous Work Experience (Years, Type): 4 years when entering school this fall, 3.5 when applying. 2 years overseas. .5 years in microfinance internship in Asia, 2 years permanent position at democracy NGO in DC, 1.5 years consulting for democracy groups in Asia Math/Econ Background: Intro to Econ (pass/failed it- pass), Methods/Statistics of Political Science (B+), Principles of Micro (A), Principles of Macro (A)-- last two were at night school at The Graduate School in DC. Foreign Language Background (if applicable to your program): Intermediate Spanish Intended Field of Study in Grad School: Democracy and governance policy and programming Long Term Professional Goals: USAID Governance Foreign Service Officer, think tanks on DG work, etc. Schools Applied to & Results: WWS (Rejected), Tufts Fletcher, American SIS, Johns Hopkins SAIS, Georgetown Government, GWU Elliot (All Accepted) Ultimate Decision & Why: Johns Hopkins SAIS!! I wanted to go to Georgetown Government since I was an undergrad, so I am still in a bit of shock with my decision to turn down that acceptance. Ultimately I realized I wanted to be more on the policy side of things rather than the theory side of the democracy field. Plus, SAIS's resource, career services, student morale and cohesiveness are one of the absolute best in the country. The Government program was very small, only a few years old, with far fewer resources than SAIS or other Georgetown programs. Whereas larger schools like Fletcher, Elliot, and SAIS sent lots of informaiton, held online chats, provided clear and helpful financial aid info, I felt I had to squeeze it out of Georgetown. This is understandable for a small program, but I realized that's not what I wanted for the next two years. Lastly, even though I would love to study democracy all day long, the broader degree and curriculum at SAIS would be advantageous for future careers should foreign aid continue to be put on the chopping block. Advice for Future Applicants: - Work Experience. I would say really focus on the WORK part of that phrase. Volunteering is good, teaching English in a foreign country is good, interning is good, but try to secure a full-time, staff position with increasing responsibility and promotions before you go to grad school. You will be able to speak articulately about your field and you will increase your chances of acceptance. If you are moving to DC after undergrad graduation, the job market is tough- take an unpaid internship (I did without financial support of my parents, worked in a coffee shop for 3 months while interning), or an admin job sort-of related to your field to get a foot in the door. You'll work your way up quickly. Others may disagree, but I really think there is no substitute for working in a full-time permanent position. - International experience. Get you some! No, study abroad doesn't count, everyone has that - SOPs. A lot of people say to write about your goals + their school = where you want to be, but I took a slightly different approach. I included analysis of the democracy landscape through an illustrative anecdote, what needed improving, and how I needed a degree from THEIR school to positively effect that change. I emphasized why I wanted them, not just a general IR degree, and why they should invest in *me*. I think this underscored my understanding of my sector beyond just 'I want to do this work' and that I really understood what made them and their degree unique - GREs. Nail them. I didn't put enough time into it and wish I had. They could have helped with scholarship money and definitely put me on the edge because of my fine-but-not-amazing GPA. Thanks to everyone at Grad Cafe for your sage advice and support over the past few months. I am so grateful! Good luck to future applicants
  13. Thanks for the reassurance, SAIS2013! Good to hear the concentration doesn't matter too much. At this point it mainly comes down to whether I want a broader degree at SAIS or focus specifically on my area of interest (democracy and governance) at Georgetown. And I have to make that decision in the next 3 days. Yikes.
  14. Another question, to piggyback on rebma's query-- My area of interest (democracy and governance), as I mentioned earlier, does not fit neatly into a specific concentration. I anticipate taking a number of IDEV classes, but I have this sense that I'll be floating around by myself amid other SAIS students. At Elliot and Georgetown, I would be neatly within a democracy and governance degree or concentration. Any comments for those of us who aren't ERE, South Asia, Latin America, SS, IDEV? How connected are people with their concentration, to what extent do they identify with them? Am I being overly anxious about something I shouldn't?
  15. I think in the DIstrict it's hard to get a relatively safe and nice neighborhood . There are very few places I would walk alone late at night- and most of those are non-residential places. The truth is DC is high-crime, unfortunately, and most of the neighborhoods, even the more upscale ones, are urban, not well-light, and not populated/crowded at night. You just have to pick a less-high-crime area . I would not be so glum if I were you- there are a lot of terrific neighborhoods that are wonderful for biking during the day, with great farmers markets, nearby parks, nice neighbors, and nearby Metro and/or bus stops. Taking the Metro or bus to school is not bad- almost everyone does it. If you are really into biking or walking, you can easily bike or walk from many places into the city to SAIS. I used to bike 3 miles into work, or walk 2 miles into work when I stayed with my fiance, who lived closer to my office. DC is a really small, very walkable city, and leisurely 30 or even 40 minute walks can be very enjoyable before and after a long day sitting at a desk/computer. I just saw OregonGal posted some great suggestions- definitely would agree with Columbia Heights, Woodley Park, U St and would add Capitol Hill and Potomac Ave as good suggestions. (Cap Hill is great esp if you are at SAIS- it's on the Red Line!) I would also add that you are still quite a ways out from when you would move in. Apartment turnover in DC is very high and a lot of people use Craigslist. I got both of my places in DC from Craigslist and they turned out great. Other friends lived in apartment complexes out in Pentagon City (which I'll add, is another area to look at if you don't mind living in a big complex without any character, but more safe and access to lots of retail). Many of these only come onto the market 1-2 months before they are available. My fiance and I are moving to DC in August and we won't start looking seriously until end of May. Most of what is available right now are summer housing/sublets. I would not be surprised if we won't find a place and commit until late June or early July. Hope that helps!
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