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mmal1123

Can I manage without work experience? (have intern experience)

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Hello everyone, this is my first and I hope somebody here would be able to help me. I'm graduating this semester, looking to apply for grad school in the coming Fall of 2013. I'm wondering whether or not my "resume" info could compensate for my lack of work experience when applying to grad schools. I'm also wondering what schools anyone would suggest, or about how many I should apply to (I have a list of about 20 right now, I really want to shorten that down)

I am looking for a Master's involving Peace and Conflict Resolution, or IR in general.

Programs Considered: Conflict Resolution, IR, not sure what else

Undergraduate institution: University of Connecticut, graduating in 3.5 years with two bachelors

Undergraduate GPA: roughly 3.7 out of 4.0, 3.6 in history major, 3.5 in IR

Undergraduate Major: International Relations (diplomacy focus) - History as a second

Study Abroad: Spent a semester in Sweden, traveled to 10 different countries including Israel/Palestine

GRE: V: 155 Q: 156 W: (still waiting on grade)

Years Out of Undergrad (by enter date): none

Years of Work Experience: ~3, if including part-time work/internships

Describe Relevant Work Experience: Internship with State Department this coming Spring; interned at non-profit focused on rule of law in 3rd world countries; interned on a congressional political campaign; 2 years as an AV technician (part-time job)

Languages: French

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Hopefully someone with more experience can answer your questions. But based on my own (after 1 application cycle), I'd say that lack of work experience will filter you out from the very top schools (Berkeley, Harvard) and at the least diminish your funding from the others. But it's not a total dealbreaker. Though I had two years out of college before applying, a minority of it was full-time and super-relevant. I still did alright. My advice to you would be to make the rest of application describe you as maturely as possible. I'd also say that in applying to a combination of schools, pick a few safeties. The fact is, these might be the most attractive options, since they'll offer you a hell of a lot more money than your top picks. And when making your decision, its a good option to weigh.

Edited by GradSchoolAlibi

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I don't think your travelling experiences are to be taken into account if there's no volunteering / language learning / research involved.

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I really disagree with the above, and I definitely think the OP should apply. I say this as someone who applied to SAIS and got in with no work experience (though, full disclosure, I had did have two hard languages, time studying overseas, and Model UN). It is certainly doable, and your statement about not having work experience is untrue. Relevant internships, like the ones you have and are in line to get, certainly do count. An internship with State will definitely set you apart. Where are you interning? Work on a Congressional campaign can also really work in your favor if you sell it right, as teaching you about the impact of politics on policy. Travel experience can help you if you can talk about it in one of the essays. Your GRE scores are a bit low, and raising them significantly would really help you. Are you short on experience for, say, development jobs? Yes. Do you seem like someone who wants those? No. Can you have a good career with what you have? Yes. I've gotten pretty far, and I started with less than you at an older age.

If I were you, I would chop the list severely. I'd apply to SAIS, MSFS, and Fletcher. You may want to apply to KSG and WWS, but they've always struck me as more policy schools than anything else. It seems like they educate their students in non-econ classes essentially with a bunch of cases, rather than, say, teaching them about the history of an issue. IR selections are also pretty limited and somewhat shallow. If you're interested in program management, on the other hand, they're your best picks. SIPA is too expensive for what you get. Apply to GW and consider going if they give you significant funding.

At worst, you would get denied. More likely than a straight denial, if you don't get in, you would get denied with a letter encouraging you to apply later when you have more experience.

If I were you, what I would do is look into staying on at State through the Pathways Recent Graduates program.

Edited by dft309

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I'm shall be interning in the International Organization Affairs office, and I also have some experience with Model UN which may look good as well. Unfortunately due to most of the January deadlines I don't believe I have enough time to take the GREs again, or study for them again if I want to make this application cycle

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You'd be surprised how much easier the GREs become after a few tries. I was pretty satisfied with my GRE scores after the first attempt but decided to see if I could boost my quant scores (and was successful). Obviously no one wants to throw away $170 for the testing fee, but in the grand scheme of things it is a small price to pay (especially since it can help get you funding). Not sure the earliest you could retake the test, but you might not need to study as much as you think (my personal experience, but make your own judgements). Some schools (SIPA for one, I believe) ask you to self-report your scores for the application and only ask for your official scores if you decided to attend. So then you wouldn't have to worry about any delays in the scores being sent.

Something to consider, at least.

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For top and/or ivy schools (HKS, WWS, GPPI, SIPA, and etc.) you are competing against people who gets similar or higer GRE than yours, same GPA range, good undergrad intitutions, and experiences. Plus, everybody will be a super hero who saves the world on a daily basis in their essays and reccomendations. For safe schools, you definitely have a chance.You should try though,only bad thing are it takes time to write essays and ask for reccomendations, worse thing is to get denied, worst is you have to write EXTRA essays if you decide to re-apply the following years. Application process is not fun at all.

P.S. there was once I see a senior kid asking WWS Adcom at admission session ;What are my chances if I apply right after I grauduated? and I quote " Yes, it can be done, but it will be VERY chanllening thing to do"

How important is the GRE? ; "We realize that the GRE is the only a snapshot of your performance, it may not reflect your true ability, BUT it's not a rocket science, you can study and it 's VERY important."

If I were you, I would not rush and ruin my good profile with an OK essay. Work couple years , do a little better on GRE and apply. If you are still skeptic, please see student bio at WWS website. those who applied and accepted right out of college are former WWS undergrad only.

Edited by plenum123

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@plenum123

I disagree. I certainly didn't tell admissions committees that I was some sort of superhuman when I wrote my essays. What I focused on, and what the committees are interested in, is telling them that I had a strong idea of where I wanted to go and that a degree from that institution, combined with my previous education and experience, would get me there. You basically need to convince them that you have a plan, it is workable, and that it is in line with the goals of the institution. In the OP's case, highlight the internship at IO Bureau like nobody's business. State's internship program is selective and the brand travels (even internationally, where you wouldn't expect that to happen). It also shows that you "have what it takes" to work in the field, which is big, because the biggest thing is breaking in. Having an internship there is proof you that you can make it. Apply with the GRE you have, but work on getting a higher one in case you need it later on.

@plenum123, don't get be so intimidated by the competition. The competition isn't that stiff, even at WWS.

My advice to everyone is the same: if you have the money for the application fee, apply. At worst, you will be out the money and have to reapply next year, which you would be doing anyway. Applying multiple times actually helps; it makes you look committed. At best, you get into your dream school (funding permitting). Even if you don't get in, you could get feedback in form of a "young pup" letter telling you why you didn't get in. You don't have a lot to lose and a whole lot to gain.

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"The competition isn't that stiff, even at WWS."

Where did you get that? I heard many people explaining that, on the contrary, it is tougher than most schools because it has plenty of funding opportunities.

The MIA at Columbia didn´t seem me too tough to get (I know someone who got admitted there) a few years ago at least. I had the feeling it was a cash machine for the faculty and that social mixity wasn´t exactly encouraged, the person I know was from an extremely rich family. But of course my experience is limited to my contact and a couple of weeks spent there at the library.

Edited by Lud

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drt309,

That is exactly what I meant, everybody will write similar theme, just like you did.

mmal123 stats are similar to most ppl in the forums (assume that all accurate). So, unless mmal123 can pour pixie dust on the essays , or mmal123 need exceptional career path to standout, and I assume that mmal123 has never worked in the "real" job before, after working couple years he/she may realize what they really want to study before throwing in another 50K a year.

But mmal123 stats are good enough for most school if he/she decides to apply, but for competitive schools it will be pretty tight.

Again, if you have time, money and energy to spend it on the appliction package, go for it.

But if you are not in a hurry and want the best suitable place for you and your goals, better plan carefully to solidify your theme.

mmal123 needs to seriously think of his goals ( you want to "study" and then worry about other stuffs later?, or you want to "work" on something and that you need to "get" the degree to help you apply knowledge + wisdom + exp + passion to get to the goal?

In this economy, to obtain a position after graduting is pretty intensive without experience, especially MPA/MPP/IR where other relavent majors could perform the same tasks. It's true that school reputation will get you somewhere (uncertainty factor), but experience is the prime factor. It's better to do the entry level while you are young.

well, this is just my op anyway and this is the beautiful part of the free world, sharing op :D hope it is useful.

Edited by plenum123

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Lud,

I wouldnt surprise. In the application package they ask "how will you pay for tuition?" :D

It is a good school (IVY !) but I only doubt their job recruitment program. Early this year I encountered one gentleman who works in one private sector which I was contacting. his role was to assist me filling out a basic form and that's all he did. During process we shared some laugh and stories. So that I knew he was from SIPA and still WAITING for his "dream employers" to notice him and it's been couple years. He picked the job because he needs to put food on the table for his family (I respect that).

Where did you get that? I heard many people explaining that, on the contrary, it is tougher than most schools because it has plenty of funding opportunities.

The MIA at Columbia didn´t seem me too tough to get (I know someone who got admitted there) a few years ago at least. I had the feeling it was a cash machine for the faculty and that social mixity wasn´t exactly encouraged, the person I know was from an extremely rich family. But of course my experience is limited to my contact and a couple of weeks spent there at the library.

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Yes, maybe the school is great but that particular degree is not that outstanding. Or more accurately, maybe those who have not outstanding profiles but do have lots of money (or who are brave enough to take huge loans of course) take it whereas there's no real advantage for it.

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I really disagree with the above, and I definitely think the OP should apply. I say this as someone who applied to SAIS and got in with no work experience (though, full disclosure, I had did have two hard languages, time studying overseas, and Model UN). It is certainly doable, and your statement about not having work experience is untrue. Relevant internships, like the ones you have and are in line to get, certainly do count. An internship with State will definitely set you apart. Where are you interning? Work on a Congressional campaign can also really work in your favor if you sell it right, as teaching you about the impact of politics on policy. Travel experience can help you if you can talk about it in one of the essays. Your GRE scores are a bit low, and raising them significantly would really help you. Are you short on experience for, say, development jobs? Yes. Do you seem like someone who wants those? No. Can you have a good career with what you have? Yes. I've gotten pretty far, and I started with less than you at an older age.

If I were you, I would chop the list severely. I'd apply to SAIS, MSFS, and Fletcher. You may want to apply to KSG and WWS, but they've always struck me as more policy schools than anything else. It seems like they educate their students in non-econ classes essentially with a bunch of cases, rather than, say, teaching them about the history of an issue. IR selections are also pretty limited and somewhat shallow. If you're interested in program management, on the other hand, they're your best picks. SIPA is too expensive for what you get. Apply to GW and consider going if they give you significant funding.

At worst, you would get denied. More likely than a straight denial, if you don't get in, you would get denied with a letter encouraging you to apply later when you have more experience.

If I were you, what I would do is look into staying on at State through the Pathways Recent Graduates program.

Kennedy and Fletcher value work experience more than most.

Op, one of the reasons all these schools value work experience so much is because it shows that you have an idea of what you want to get into. When writing your sop, you need to focus on what inspired you and what experiences have solidified your decision to pursue this path. Since you have no work experience, your sop is your only shot at making yourself distinct! So don't go wasting your time talking about irrelevant shit, make yourself stand out and prove to the admin staff you know what you want.

Also ESIA SPS programs offers concentrations in your fields. I'm pretty sure they're newish specializations, so they may be more willing to admit someone that intends on specializing in that area.

Edit: I got in with no work experience + I know people that have been admitted into many of these schools with no work experience.

Edited by CBRrr

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So don't go wasting your time talking about irrelevant shit

Right to the point! :D

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Here's a rough list of schools I have been looking at, but I was wondering if anyone knew of ones on this list I should not bother applying to, with a reason why. Thanks for all the helpful advice

GW

American (SIS)

Johns Hopkins (SAIS)

Georgetown

BU

George Mason

North Carolina

Columbia (SIPA)

Yale

Princeton

NYU

University of Delaware

UPENN

University of Virginia

Stanford

North Carolina State University

West Virginia University

Denver

tufts

SUNY

U Maryland

UCSD

Edited by mmal1123

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