Wednesday, March 8, 2017

SAIS Career Treks Provide Current Students an Inside View of Life in the Global Work Force

Students attending SAIS will be offered a multitude of services to enhance their professional development.  The Career Services Offices across all three campuses (DC, Bologna, and Nanjing) assist students with a number of activities, including cover letter and résumé reviews, interview preparation, and career advising, in addition to providing required professional development classes for students. Every year, the Career Offices also host a number of international career treks. Company visits and alumni networking receptions on these trips provide students an insider’s viewpoint on working in specific sectors.

This year, the Career Office at SAIS Europe hosted four Career Treks, which included two trips to London, Geneva and Brussels. About 20 SAIS students participated with  company visits across a variety of industries to better understand what it’s like to work in different sectors. 

The application process to participate in a Career Trek is quite simple. As highlighted by Ms. Amanda Dumsch, Director of Career Services at SAIS Europe, “Many students are interested in participating on these treks, so student apply by submitting a résumé, cover letter/ statement of interest explaining why this trek would be beneficial for their career goals. Applications are submitted through SAIS Works (an online portal) which students gain access to once admitted. Although SAIS Europe is responsible for organizing the European treks, all SAIS students (depending on their schedule) can attend any of the  Career Treks throughout the US, Europe and China as well.”

In order to better understand the formative professional development experience, we interviewed three SAIS Europe students who attended the European Career Treks. Below are reflections of their experiences.

Hina Samnani is a current M.A. student concentrating in Strategic Studies. “I was interested in the London Career Trek because London is a huge hub for the political risk industry in Europe. This is a career path I am interested in pursuing after graduation. As a Strategic Studies concentrator, I am currently learning about the intersections between global security and international economics. The political risk field tackles these issues firsthand through original research and forecasting. Many of the organizations we visited provided details about their internship programs and application processes. We were able to learn about which skills these organizations look for when hiring and how we can take advantage of our time in graduate school to develop those particular skill sets.” 

Furthermore, Hina spoke about an organization that stood out to her, called the Economist Intelligence Unit, a subsidiary business within The Economist. “The EIU provides forecasting and advisory services through research and analysis and is best known for their five-year country economic forecasts and country risk service reports.”  

EJ Richardson is a current M.A. student concentrating in Latin American Studies. Attending the London Career Trek was a really unique experience for him: “I was able to visit several different kinds of companies in the finance industry while also meeting with alumni who had some great advice.  Attending the Career Trek during my first semester at SAIS allowed me to start mapping out how to take advantage of SAIS courses in order to best focus on my future career goals. I was particularly interested in the rating agencies we visited, which is a career path I hadn’t previously considered.”  Over the course of two days, the group also visited major banks and investment firms like JP Morgan and HSBC as well as rating agencies like Fitch.

As EJ further clarifies, “the trek helped me explore paths I had not considered prior to SAIS. The trek provided me with the information necessary to make decisions on what skills I want to hone in on in order to be best prepared for the job market. I would absolutely recommend that students take advantage of the unique alumni and business network that SAIS offers through the Career Services Treks.”

Poorti Sathe, an M.A. student at SAIS Europe, concentrating in General International Relations, attended the SAIS Europe Career Trek to Geneva. She chose this Trek on the basis of her career interests in multilateral and non-profit organizations. As she states, “I was specifically interested in the fields of migration, environment, and humanitarian aid.  The greatest insight from this career trek was understanding the necessity of fieldwork and access to the SAIS alumni network. Alumni were incredibly helpful to engage and communicate with. Networking with them was definitely the best part of the trek.”

During the Geneva Trek, students visited organizations such as the International Trade Centre, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the Geneva Environment Network (GEN), the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), World Food Program (WFP), World Trade Organization (WTO) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

From our testimonials, students affirm that the Career Treks offer many opportunities for current students to connect with employers and alumni. The Career Services Office works  with all currently enrolled students during their internship and job searches.  When you become a student at SAIS Europe, you are encouraged to take advantage of all of the career service resources!

Khrystian Pereira, MA Student (SAIS Europe 2016-2017)

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