Starting the Job Search

Prospective students ALWAYS ask what type of job they will be able to land after obtaining a master’s degree from our school. This question is difficult to answer for many reasons. Some of those reasons include that each person has different work experiences coming into grad school and that is important even after gaining an M.A. The Josef Korbel School does not hand out jobs, so much of what becomes available to graduates attests to their own persistence. Each student’s preferences are different. Some may not accept anything until they get a position in the State Department, while others will accept anything that offers them a paycheck. So, while the experience is different for each person, I can attempt to give you an account of my experience with the job search. As this is my last quarter at the Josef Korbel School, I aim to use this space to give you a first-hand account of how it goes. Let me set the stage for you…

1) I am in the Int’l Human Rights program and also the Humanitarian Assistance Certificate program
2) I am attempting to find a job in the Denver area
3) I would love to work on issues relating to the Horn of Africa, Gender Issues, or Human Trafficking
4) I need to make enough money to support my family and pay back loans
5) I have an undergraduate degree in Business Management
6) I have 3+ years experience working in a non-profit in Colorado, 2 years in the Peace Corps in Panama, and internship experience with a anti-trafficking organization in Boulder, and with a leadership organization in Ethiopia.

Interviews, informal meetings with contacts, and other efforts are already underway so check back often to see how it is going.

It has been nearly 2 months since my last blog update, so I will try to get you caught up with a concise update.

Week 5

It is difficult to comprehend that I am already halfway through my 3rd quarter at the Josef Korbel School! My courses this quarter have been very enlightening, and I would like to highlight my Geographic Information Systems (GIS) course here for a moment. While it has always been an option for Korbel students to take a GIS course through the Geography Department at the University, this is the first time they have offered a course linked up with our Humanitarian Assistance Program. I had seen GIS maps in many of the readings I have done, but never understood the dynamics of creating a GIS map. This has all changed in the past 5 weeks! I understand how to collect data, manage data, and create thematic maps to convey key points to decision makers. Needless to say, I highly recommend this course to anyone even slightly interested in this topic.

Ethiopia

I officially accepted an offer to complete an internship in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia this summer! While it will be difficult to be away from my wife for 3 months, I think this will be a great opportunity for me to expand my skills, gain more experience abroad, and see if the Horn of Africa is a place we could live after I graduate.

iEmpathize

My practicum continues to go well. I had a great time with them in Kentucky where we talked to truckers about how they can become the solution to human trafficking that takes place over the highways of the U.S. In 3 weeks I will be taking a week off of school to travel to Mexico City with them as well. In Mexico we will be working to meet the immediate needs of a restoration home that iEmpathize has partnered with and seeking out opportunities to engage the Mexican congress regarding the issue of sex trafficking.

Concluding Remarks

Grad School continues to be rewarding. Despite the chaos that comes along with it, I have learned a ton, met a ton of great people, been a part of some amazing experiences, and continue to be impressed with the opportunities that present themselves to me as a grad student.

All the cool stuff you can do in grad school

As I finish out the last week of the Winter Quarter, I figured you may enjoy hearing about everything I am doing right now. I really do think the life of a grad student, despite being overly busy, is extremely exciting. So here we go…

Classes: I am working on a final 10 page essay for Jack Donnelly and his Intro to Human Rights course. I am also finishing up a 50 page compilation of 2 quarters worth of work for Tim Sisk and his Civil Wars course. Both of these professors are incredibly intelligent and I have really enjoyed their courses even with the heavy work load.

I also signed up for my Spring quarter courses and will be taking 1) Information Management in Humanitarian Crises, 2) Human Rights and Foreign Policy, 3) Torture, and 4) Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for Humanitarian Emergencies.

Work Study: At the moment I am assisting in the planning effort for the upcoming Discover Korbel event which I hope many of you can attend! It is going to be awesome!

Practicum: I am working hard with my internship at iEmpathize in Boulder. I’ve been working on landing some grants for them, setting up various fundraising events, and recently was tasked with contacting The Fray (my favorite band) to do a benefit concert! Beyond all of this, I am taking a trip to Kentucky with them in a couple weeks to attend a trucking conference where we will be speaking with truckers about ways to combat trafficking that occurs in the industry. Also, in May I have been asked to lead a group of high school students during a trip to Mexico where we will visit a partner down there who runs a restorative home for victimized girls just outside of Mexico City.

Internship: I recently learned that I have the opportunity to intern in Ethiopia this summer with an organization called the Center for Creative Leadership, and am pretty sure I will end up accepting the offer.

Fun: With only one real week of “Spring Break” I need to get away from academia for at least a little bit. This past weekend I was able to go up to Vail and snowboard with a group of fellow Korbel students. For $20 we were able to snowboard all day and attend a luncheon talk about India/China relations. The restaurant was on mountain and accessible only by snowboarding to it, or taking a snowcat. It was normally a members-only club and that was obvious as soon as we stepped in the door and were directed to a changing area complete with slippers to use after taking off our boots. Things like this just happen.

I am also heading out to Moab, UT next week for a bit of mountain biking, hiking, and relaxing. This will be followed up by multiple trips to Copper Mountain to snowboard.

Again, while life is crazy busy, it can still be fun.

Progression

I met with a couple of wonderful prospective students today and thought I would share with you all a little of what I shared with them. Admissions decisions are nearing and it may be beneficial to hear of my progression since receiving mine less than a year ago!

First of all that is shocking to say for me. At that time I was still in Panama with the Peace Corps. I did not have internet access in my community, but I did have cell phone coverage. Every night for a couple weeks I would call my Mom and have her check my email for me. One day there finally was an email from the Josef Korbel School. It was a surreal feeling in those few seconds of waiting for her to open it and read the decision to me… this was what I had been waiting on for so long, what if it says no, do I really want her to read it too me, and many other thoughts ran through my mind at that moment of intense excitement and fear. Luckily it turned out to be a letter of acceptance, and this is how I ended up where I am now… (It isn’t for me to talk about myself, but rather for you to pick up on tips mixed into the story.)

I finished my Peace Corps service in June of 2011 and flew back to my hometown in Michigan. After serving for 2 years injury and disease free in Panama, I proceeded to step on a rusty nail my first day back in the U.S. (No lessons there. Just bad luck) Once that healed I moved out to Colorado and immediately began to work as much as possible! (Grad School is expensive so start saving now) Throughout the summer I would take time to read through course descriptions, course schedules, and degree requirements. This really allowed me to understand what courses I really wanted to take, which ones I needed to take, and when they would be available to take. (Just understanding how your time here will all play out will help you immensely! Whether you are here for 4, 5, or 6 quarters, it will go fast! Make sure you take the right courses at the right time!) I highly recommend looking at the Student Affairs Portfolio Page (google it) and looking up the syllabi for the courses you are interested in. If you’ve been out of school for a while (like I had been), or have an undergraduate degree in something completely different than what you are going to be attending grad school for (like myself), it is a great idea to get into the subject matter before classes begin. You can find a syllabus for each course on the Student Affairs Portfolio page and get a jump start on the reading or see what you will be studying and do some proactive research. I also began scoping out work study opportunities. I was lucky enough to be awarded a $5,000 work study and I wanted to make sure I found a position that I really wanted to be in. I personally wanted to work in the Josef Korbel School to have a better chance to get connected with the faculty and staff that I would be spending the next year and a half with. Thus, I landed an amazing spot in the admissions office before school began.

This leads me to what I told the prospective students today. I am trying to finish my degree in 4 quarters. This is possible because I received an 18 credit waiver for my Peace Corps service and I plan to take 18 credits/quarter for 4 quarters. Most people say that 18 credit hours is crazy, but to me it was about money. One quarter less equates to a lot of money. So I did 18 credit hours my first quarter and about 15 hours of work each week in the admissions office. I was busy, but somehow I got through it. This quarter I have continued to take 18 credits and work 15 hours in the admissions office, but I have also added a 10 hour/week internship on top of all of this. What I am getting at is the fact that as you get back into the routine, you figure out how to maximize your time, and it you really begin to see just how much you can handle and how much you can accomplish. Start out slow and progress with what you can handle.

The world I was in a year ago is long gone. There are no more days of sitting in the hammock all day and reading a novel. This is grad school and this is preparing us to make a positive impact on those we have a passion for (Human Rights coming through). When you step back and see how much you can do when you truly have direction in your life and a passion for what you do, you really start to think you can make that impact.

Some how… some way… it is already week two of the Winter Quarter and the seemingly everlasting 6 week Winter break has been all but forgotten. The days of sleeping in, reading non-academic literature, spending entire days watching football, etc… are long gone. Let me tell you what the first week and a half of quarter #2 has been like as it is likely to resemble your future time here at Korbel.

First the low down on what it looks like for me this quarter. I am…
1. Taking 18 credit hours
2. Working 15 hours each week in the admissions office
3. Working 10 hours each week at my internship with iEmpathize in Boulder
4. Spending time with my wife, friends, and dog

Maybe this will change in my 3rd and 4th quarter but thus far I see a trend of it taking about 1-2 weeks to figure out a routine that allows me to finish the readings/assignments assigned for each course in the small windows of time I have open after what is listed above. Mainly this work load leaves me a couple evenings free to do a few hours of reading and then as much time as I can handle on the weekend.

I didn’t realize this during my first quarter until it was too late, but another trend is that you really should have time to maintain a social life for the first few weeks, and then again for a week or two after midterms. Luckily I have been able to take advantage of the valuable time this past weekend. By this I mean celebrating Tebow’s heroic overtime win over the Steelers. As you can tell I love football, but feel free to imagine yourself snowboarding, hiking, watching movies, etc.

Here is the scary part though… Since I am a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, I am trying to finish in 4 quarters. I just met with Susan Rivera, the director of Student Affairs at the Josef Korbel School, and mapped out the rest of my time here! I feel like I just started and the end is already somewhat in sight!!! On one hand that is great as I am anxious to dive into a career that allows me to utilize all that I am learning now, but on the other hand I love the courses offered here and want to take more than I will be able to.

Well, now that I am back into a routine here you can expect more frequent updates. Hopefully this information will help you understand what to expect as future Korbelites!

Takeaway’s from NYC

It is hard to imagine that we are already approaching the midway point of our winter break! Coming out of the daze that finals put me in took a few days, then I took a trip to New York City with our Career and Professional Development office, and now I have been back to my work study position, searching for summer internships, and even reading ahead for next quarter! I am really surprising myself with the last one…

For those of you who have not read my previous posts, our Career and Professional Development Office organizes three trips each year that give students the opportunity to visit potential employers in New York, D.C., and Boston. The trips give students the chance to hear about internship and career possibilities, determine what skills they are seeking from applicants, and also just to get a feel for the city and work environment in each location. As many of the Human Rights organizations have their headquarters in New York, I decided to go on that trip. I visited organizations such as the UN Secretariat, UNDP, UNICEF, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, International Rescue Committee, and the Clinton Foundation. Here are my top 5 takeaways from this recent trip…

1. New York is great. It was my first trip there, and I loved seeing and experiencing many of the things that I had heard about for so many years. That said, I don’t know if I could live and work there for more than a few years. The pace of life is too hectic!

2. The job market is extremely competitive. Some organizations were talking 1,000 applications for each job opening! There are ways in though, and it really involves networking, learning languages, and gaining experience in the field.

3. Knowing French is huge! I need to start utilizing the free Rosetta Stone that DU offers us…

4. There are Korbel alums everywhere! Network, network, network!

5. The International Rescue Committee is amazing! I went in expecting to be wowed by some of the other organizations there, but IRC was surely one of the most impressive. They do great work and were completely honest about the challenges they face. Check them out at http://www.rescue.org.

If you attend the Josef Korbel School, I would highly recommend going on one of these trips. It will give you an edge on the competition with the knowledge you obtain and a fine opportunity to bond with your cohorts.

Enjoy the holidays!

Planning Ahead

With only 9 days left until our winter break begins, I have found it impossible not to look ahead. For 9 weeks I have sacrificed my social life in the name of education, and the 5 1/2 weeks between Thanksgiving and the start of the winter quarter is my time to make up for it. I will skip the basics such as sleeping in, snowboarding, and watching more football, and point out the more obscure things I have planned…

1. Del Norte Brewery – http://www.delnortebrewing.com/ – I’ve checked out most of the breweries in Boulder, Ft. Collins, and Denver but this small Mexican brewing company which is only 2 miles from my house deserves a visit.

2. Root Down – http://www.rootdowndenver.com/ – Every friend I have living in Denver raves about this restaurant, and I have yet to check it out.

3. Somali Community Center – http://somaliamerican.org/ – I am going to volunteer here to fulfill a requirement that all Returned Peace Corps Volunteers must complete. 150 hours of volunteer service that assists the under served. I figured with my desire to work closely with Humanitarian Aid in Somalia after graduating, this would be an ideal place to begin making contacts and attempting to pick up the language, all while helping out.

4. J. Edgar – Who doesn’t love a good DiCaprio flick? Plus I haven’t been to a movie theater since my days and Panama and I am feeling the urge. FYI – If you ever see a film in Panama, wear your winter clothes. They love their A/C! You may also want to practice your Spanish a bit so you can tell the couple next to you to be quiet. Just a couple tips…

5. Organize – My wife, two of our friends, and myself, all moved into the house we are renting about 2 days before the quarter began. This is a terrible idea. There are still unopened boxes, clutter in every closet, and nothing to suggest a practical set up in our home. This must change if I hope to remain calm for the next two quarters.

Now I just need to get through the next 9 days.