Thursday, November 22, 2012

One woman's "real world experience" before SAIS

SAIS Bologna is a diverse place by way of nationality, age, background, expertise and experience. Recently we published posts by Tony Bonanno, who came to SAIS Bologna after three decades as a lawyer, and Andreas Glossner, who came here after studying Physics at university.

Today Kate Maxwell tells us how she ended up at SAIS Bologna after graduating from a U.S. university and then working on Europe's sovereign debt crisis.

After graduating with my B.A. from American University’s School of International Service, I knew I wanted to take some time to get real world experience before pursuing a graduate degree. In my quest for a job that would give me some hands-on experience in the field of international relations, I ended up in the very last place that I expected: banking and finance.

Kate Maxwell
I started working in the executive office of the Institute of International Finance (IIF), an international organization of over 450 banks and other internationally active financial institutions. The IIF, in addition to conducting advanced economic research on a macro level, also examines the impacts of international banking and financial regulations on  industry and the economy.

About a year into my three-year tenure at the IIF, the world turned its attention to Europe and the mounting sovereign debt crisis, particularly in Greece.

The restructuring of Greek debt involved not only the EU, IMF and national European governments but also the private sector, including many IIF members.

The IIF became directly involved in representing the interests of the private sector and shaping the Private Sector Involvement (PSI) piece of the restructuring. Working directly on these issues gave me insight into the interplay between politics, economics, cultural differences and international cooperation between nations, international organizations and the private sector.

When I was looking at graduate programs, SAIS and particularly the SAIS Bologna Center really stood out to me for the opportunity to study both in the U.S. and in Europe and to gain a fuller understanding of the most pressing global issues.

The impressive and diverse student body at the Bologna Center lends an additional element of learning through their experiences, and I am able to contribute both in and out of the classroom thanks to my work experience before SAIS.

The multidisciplinary approach here makes sure all students are equipped with an essential economics toolkit which is crucial to the understanding of any international issue as well as allowing a focus in other areas.

In my case, I am able to pursue my interest in more effective international cooperation in the International Law and Organizations program and love the diversity of courses offered by studying on both the Bologna and Washington campuses.

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