Thursday, October 25, 2012

Help in transitioning: the MIPP program at SAIS

Jennifer Ottolino is pursuing one of three master's programs offered at SAIS Bologna -- the Master of  International Public Policy (MIPP). Her account below is the last in a series of three posts on these programs.

Why, after more than a decade in the workforce, did I decide to return to graduate school?

A desire to integrate my career in health management, an interest in humanitarian projects in developing countries and a passion for adventurous travel led me to enroll in SAIS Bologna.

I had already finished graduate studies in health science and management, worked for more than 10 years in both the public and private sectors of the U.S. health care system and volunteered on several projects in developing countries.

Jennifer Ottolino
I had a solid base of experience but knew I needed guidance to transition to a full-time international career while preserving professional momentum as much as possible.

The MIPP program at SAIS Bologna allows me to customize a program to build on my past experiences and to meet my needs as an experienced professional with a specific career focus.

Since I am studying full-time, in one year I can complete the eight required courses across the range of disciplines offered at SAIS, while continuing to develop my language skills and learn more about global health care organizations with field operations in developing nations.

I am delighted to be able to solicit feedback about my academic and career development from a range of perspectives: from world-renowned faculty, career services professionals and fellow students.

The faculty are tremendous. They enter the classroom not only as dynamic lecturers and dedicated teachers but as practitioners, policy shapers and thought leaders in their fields.

Being able to learn from them makes me grateful each day that I decided to come back to school.

As an older student, I am humbled to find that inside the SAIS classroom I am often the sorrella piccola,   Italian for "little sister". My classmates hail from different countries, speak multiple languages, have a range of backgrounds --  and often know more than I do about the regions we are studying.

They are generous in sharing their experiences with me and with each other, whether in class, in a local osteria or on the train to Cinque Terre during a spontaneous weekend excursion.

Having Italy as the backdrop to the SAIS experience is the pièce de résistance. It ensures that at the end of my MIPP year, not only will I be well prepared to realize my professional goals, I will have learned a beautiful Romance language, participated in a vibrant culture and created lasting cross-cultural friendships.

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