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  1. Hello, Since a lot of you appear knowledgeable about government jobs and the educational opportunities in Washington D.C, I am hoping you can help me with my graduate school dilemma. I am in my late 20s and I am looking to pivot into a career field involving regional expertise of Russia and Eastern Europe. I'd like to work in the IC (particularly DIA) in the future, but I'm open to other public service positions that would allow me to use my language skills and regional understanding. I will provide some background about myself to further explain my situation: I am an immigrant from Eastern Europe (though a U.S citizen for some time now) who attended Yale for undergrad. I studied psychology and chemistry, though I have some poor grades from math classes and engineering due to some unfortunate circumstances and general lack of direction. I won't waste your time making excuses for myself. I took some language courses during undergrad, including Russian, and dabbled ever so slightly with regional studies at the end of my degree. I would have majored in Eastern European studies or something similar had I discovered this earlier. After graduation I took some time off and then started to work in various random jobs to gain experience. Unfortunately, doing something completely unrelated to my major after graduation (even from a prestigious school) proved to be impossible. I did some unpaid internships where I could; lived, traveled and interned in the region for a few years. The more time that passed after graduation the more difficult it has become to get my foot in the door. Applying to jobs on USAJOBS proved unfruitful (not sure if that's just me or if that's a universal experience for entry level positions). I figured going back to school for a master's degree, building on my language skills and doing internships would be the best way to find opportunities. My priorities, in terms of employment, is to do something I am interested in and find meaningful. I strongly believe that making enough money to live comfortably is plenty, and beyond that I really value the nature of the work rather than salary. My parents also taught me to avoid debt, which I've done successfully so far, and I really want to avoid that at all costs going forward. As such, I'm very hesitant to take out huge loans to afford graduate school especially considering the living costs in most urban areas. I applied this cycle to a variety of regional programs. I have been admitted to the European and Eurasian Studies Master of Arts at GW's Elliott (no funding), and at AU SIS Comparative & Regional Studies (about 50% scholarship). Still waiting to hear back from a few other programs, and have been rejected from Harvard already. I did my undergrad at a prestigious school, and for me the glitter and idealization of elite universities has worn off. Not because they aren't great, but because I don't think the name gets you everywhere nor matters too much outside of academia / finance / consulting. Correct me if I'm mistaken and it matters a lot for government / IR jobs. My questions are: How is the AU program for my goals? Does anyone have experience with it? Should I take AU's offer? Through part time work and internships it would be financially feasible to not come out with significant debt. Should I consider reapplying to regional programs outside of D.C and add-on programs that have FLAS funding, and try again next year? It's possible I have more luck with additional experience, and get more funding at a different institution. How important is it being in D.C for securing a government position? How important is the "brand name" of the institution? I know that master's degrees aren't generally funded, at least not fully, and I am grateful to have gotten a fairly generous offer from AU. I don't know enough about D.C life to evaluate how it is perceived by employers, I just tried to cast a wide net when applying because of my strange background. I also wonder if I should continue to build on my profile and try again next year, and cast an even wider net, to get more funding of get into a more prestigious program. In truth, I feel old. I've spoken to people applying to these kinds of programs and they're often right out of undergrad, and I still feel behind them in accomplishments. I kick myself for not having a sense of direction in undergrad and squandering an ivy league education, but I know I can't fix the past and I also can't spend the next decade(s) crying about it. So, I am trying to figure out the best way to move forward and I would greatly appreciate any advice from this community. Thank you so much in advance!!!
  2. Hello All! I have read many insightful posts on the topic of IR grad programs and was hoping we could revisit for 2021? My options: -SAIS ($2k/year scholarship) -GW - Security Policy Studies Program ($14k/year scholarship) -Fletcher ($15k/year scholarship) (Shoutouts: American ($15k/year sch) and Texas A&M (significantly the cheapest option) I want to study Gender, Peace, and Security with a regional focus in the Middle East. I’m interested in working for the State Department or an international agency. Everyone is pushing me towards Johns Hopkins (despite the hefty bill) because of the name recognition/connections in DC. Does anyone have a say either way? As a female POC, I’m excited to study this topic but want to make sure I’m embarking in a program that has a supportive community, not just a luxe school name.
  3. I will be attending GW Elliott School for my master’s in international affairs. I have a number of questions regarding the school, neighborhood, and the city itself. I would appreciate it if anyone can answer my queries in the following categories. Housing: From my communication with the GWU Housing, it seems like only the Aston houses GWU graduate students. What other housing options are available near the Elliott School? I understand that because of GWU’s location in Washington, DC, it is difficult to find an affordable, yet safe housing. Are there any nearby off-campus apartments that are furnished? Safety: For my undergraduate degree, I had attended a large state university in a safe Midwestern college town. I currently live abroad in one of the largest metropolitan cities in the world, but it is still safe. From what I heard about and read online, it seems like Washington, DC is a city that has severe crime and safety problems. I will be spending most of my time in Foggy Bottom, but which neighborhoods should I stay away from? Is safety a problem at GWU and Foggy Bottom? Is it dangerous for anyone, especially a female, to walk outside at night? I am used to walking outside after sunset without any fear of being harmed. Jobs/Internships: It seems like the ESIA is more career-oriented when compared to similar programs of other schools. How helpful is the ESIA Career Services when it comes to helping students find daytime internships and jobs? I understand that the classes are in the evening, so I would definitely want to use the daytime to build my resume.
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