Jump to content

Recommended Posts

Hey everyone, sorry to create another 'Vs.' thread.

If you don't mind, I'd like to ask for your opinions. I trying to decide between SAIS and Georgetown SFS and I'm having a tough time!

My stated goal in my personal statements is to become a Commercial Service Officer. These people work at US embassies, but are members of the Department of Commerce, not the State Department, I believe. Among the many things CSOs do, their work mostly consists of promoting and assisting American businesses in other countries.

In grad school, I want to focus on East Asia. East Asia has developed countries, near-developed, and developing countries all mixed together. I want to focus my studies on three main aspects of IR, business, government and development, and integrate them together in the context of East Asia and the US. I won't go into details of my thoughts and reasoning, but this is part of why I want to become a CSO.

To my disbelief, I got into SFS and SAIS. Unfortunately, I got no merit aid from either school; I'll be borrowing money in either case.

Now here's where things get tricky for me. I've been in Japan for 3.5 years and speak Japanese with reasonable fluency. For that reason, I applied to SAIS and picked the Japan Studies regional concentration. After reading through their website, it looks like if I take a few extra Asia IR classes, I can get a Masters of Asia IR (which I intend to do if I choose SAIS). I guess the International Economics concentration and Asia IR coursework could prepare me for my intended career. But in case I can't become a CSO (of which there is a very high probability me thinks), I'd be in a good position to return to Japan/Asia or enter into some kind of Japan/Asian-related work I would think.

For SFS, I picked the International Commerce and Business concentration. Compared to SAIS, SFS has very little variety with only 3 concentrations. SFS prides itself in being a 'practitioner-oriented' program; their classes are all about teaching skills. Very few people at SFS go on to do Ph.D's because they don't focus on research or theory. I wouldn't be able to take a lot of Japan/Asia-related courseshere; instead, I'd have a lot of more general IR and business classes.

So why am I confused? Well, as many people stated on this forum, SAIS has a better Asian department and connections. But I think Georgetown's ICB program offers more practical skills rather than history and theory.

SAIS is very economics heavy, but how useful is all that economics knowledge unless you want to become an economist? And as interesting as their Japan/Asia IR classes sound, how useful will they be? I'll benefit from gaining knowledge about history and issues in Japan/Asia, but what marketable skills will I have to show employers besides the fact I know a lot about Japan/Asia IR? I suppose I could switch and pick a functional concentration instead, but nothing at SAIS seems to fit my goals I think.

Part of me also thinks I shouldn't fret over details; after all, SAIS is an amazing school with great connections and many, many successful alums.

Another issue is location. If I choose SAIS, I will do my first year at Bologna vs. 2 years in DC with SFS. As cool as it would be to go to Bologna (I'll probably never get a chance to live in Europe again), part of me also reasons that it would be wiser to be in DC for 2 years.

And of course, I'm also pondering the other issues already mentioned on this forum: program size, school prestige, school connections, actual campus vs. office building in downtown DC, debt, etc.

I guess the issue comes back to my original thoughts on IR schools: by getting a Masters in IR, what skills would I gain and how useful will they be in when seeking employment? I've always seen MBAs has a better investment, not only because they command higher salaries, but also because they give people practical skills. For the same reason, I suppose I favor SFS over SAIS at the moment.

I'm welcome to any input! By choosing an IR degree, I'm moving into a new field career-wise, so there is a lot I don't know. So please educate me!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey everyone, sorry to create another 'Vs.' thread.

If you don't mind, I'd like to ask for your opinions. I trying to decide between SAIS and Georgetown SFS and I'm having a tough time!

My stated goal in my personal statements is to become a Commercial Service Officer. These people work at US embassies, but are members of the Department of Commerce, not the State Department, I believe. Among the many things CSOs do, their work mostly consists of promoting and assisting American businesses in other countries.

In grad school, I want to focus on East Asia. East Asia has developed countries, near-developed, and developing countries all mixed together. I want to focus my studies on three main aspects of IR, business, government and development, and integrate them together in the context of East Asia and the US. I won't go into details of my thoughts and reasoning, but this is part of why I want to become a CSO.

To my disbelief, I got into SFS and SAIS. Unfortunately, I got no merit aid from either school; I'll be borrowing money in either case.

Now here's where things get tricky for me. I've been in Japan for 3.5 years and speak Japanese with reasonable fluency. For that reason, I applied to SAIS and picked the Japan Studies regional concentration. After reading through their website, it looks like if I take a few extra Asia IR classes, I can get a Masters of Asia IR (which I intend to do if I choose SAIS). I guess the International Economics concentration and Asia IR coursework could prepare me for my intended career. But in case I can't become a CSO (of which there is a very high probability me thinks), I'd be in a good position to return to Japan/Asia or enter into some kind of Japan/Asian-related work I would think.

For SFS, I picked the International Commerce and Business concentration. Compared to SAIS, SFS has very little variety with only 3 concentrations. SFS prides itself in being a 'practitioner-oriented' program; their classes are all about teaching skills. Very few people at SFS go on to do Ph.D's because they don't focus on research or theory. I wouldn't be able to take a lot of Japan/Asia-related courseshere; instead, I'd have a lot of more general IR and business classes.

So why am I confused? Well, as many people stated on this forum, SAIS has a better Asian department and connections. But I think Georgetown's ICB program offers more practical skills rather than history and theory.

SAIS is very economics heavy, but how useful is all that economics knowledge unless you want to become an economist? And as interesting as their Japan/Asia IR classes sound, how useful will they be? I'll benefit from gaining knowledge about history and issues in Japan/Asia, but what marketable skills will I have to show employers besides the fact I know a lot about Japan/Asia IR? I suppose I could switch and pick a functional concentration instead, but nothing at SAIS seems to fit my goals I think.

Part of me also thinks I shouldn't fret over details; after all, SAIS is an amazing school with great connections and many, many successful alums.

Another issue is location. If I choose SAIS, I will do my first year at Bologna vs. 2 years in DC with SFS. As cool as it would be to go to Bologna (I'll probably never get a chance to live in Europe again), part of me also reasons that it would be wiser to be in DC for 2 years.

And of course, I'm also pondering the other issues already mentioned on this forum: program size, school prestige, school connections, actual campus vs. office building in downtown DC, debt, etc.

I guess the issue comes back to my original thoughts on IR schools: by getting a Masters in IR, what skills would I gain and how useful will they be in when seeking employment? I've always seen MBAs has a better investment, not only because they command higher salaries, but also because they give people practical skills. For the same reason, I suppose I favor SFS over SAIS at the moment.

I'm welcome to any input! By choosing an IR degree, I'm moving into a new field career-wise, so there is a lot I don't know. So please educate me!

I'm a SAIS Bologna grad, and all I can tell you is that Commerce-ITA loves SAISers. We apparently formed the largest single intern contingent there last summer. USFCS, where you're looking, also loves SAIS, judging from the enthusiasm from their recruiter when I told her I went to SAIS. Bottom line, I can't tell you if SFS or SAIS are better for becoming a CSO, but I can tell you that SAIS would be very good for that goal.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks dft309. I'm glad you replied. I thought my thread would disappear into the depths of the internet with no replies.

If you don't mind me asking, what's your experience like at SAIS? And what are studying, where did you intern and what kind of job are you hoping to get after graduation?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks dft309. I'm glad you replied. I thought my thread would disappear into the depths of the internet with no replies.

If you don't mind me asking, what's your experience like at SAIS? And what are studying, where did you intern and what kind of job are you hoping to get after graduation?

My experience at SAIS thus far has been absolutely fantastic-the amount of access we get to speakers, career events, trips, etc. is absolutely incredible. Going to Bologna was actually a huge benefit for me, as the connections you make both with your Bologna cohort and Bologna alums are really tight and with people you would have never thought. I've gotten interviews, albeit informational to now, but I haven't really been on the job market in DC for reasons I'll explain, in part, at least, due to my Bologna connection.

I'm in Strategic Studies. I interned at NDU and at a think tank near SAIS, will be interning at State overseas over the summer and possibly for USFCS overseas in the fall. I should note that I haven't formally been looking for internships in DC-I got both internships in the spring from Bologna and the State one via their online application system, though I have developed a contact within Foggy Bottom who works in the Bureau to which the post is assigned. As for USFCS, that comes from a job fair held on Thursday at SAIS where they showed up. One thing that's been consistent-recruiters are pretty enthusiastic about SAIS and SAISers.

I'd like to go FSO after graduation, though probably private-sector immediately afterwards working for a Deloitte or something similar. I'm not interning now, though purely by choice-if I had wanted to intern, I certainly could have. As an aside, one of the things I hadn't anticipated was that internships would be offered on the various listhosts through the semester-if you decide to intern after the semester starts, there's a decent chance you can get one, even later on in the semester.

If you decide to go to SAIS, send me a message, and I can send you lists of suggested courses and syllabi for Bologna and DC.

Edited by dft309
Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.