Tuesday, 13 March 2012

"My SAIS education helped"

Last week, Alex Skinner, who attended SAIS Bologna in 2009-10, described how SAIS alumni helped him in his job search once he had graduated. Today we turn the pulpit over to Catherine Morris, who, like Alex, ended up at the World Bank.

Landing a job was a challenge. But my SAIS education surely helped.

Between the poor economy and the fact I was still working part time as a research assistant at my former place of employment, finding a job was stressful. After sending out more than 100 applications and enduring a handful of unsuccessful job interviews, a small light began to flicker though the dark tunnel that was my career at the time.

Catherine Morris
One afternoon I got a call from a fellow SAISer telling me that a friend’s friend’s friend’s (all SAISers) former supervisor was looking for someone to immediately take on a short-term consultancy at the World Bank.

The scope of work focused on the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country I had studied in depth at my job before SAIS. The job would require perfect French, English writing and editing skills (skills I had solidified at SAIS) and solid knowledge of macroeconomics and econometrics, which I had thanks to my international economics concentration and my quantitative methods and economic theory specialization at SAIS.

I got the job the next day.

While finding a job might have been challenging, the level of work I am given on a daily basis and the confidence instilled in me to do it have been very high. I am currently responsible for drafting the same document that I used at my previous job as an important reference.

I have been using my French to contribute edits to a three-volume series of books that will be published in coming weeks. While the learning curve has been steep, it is nothing I can’t handle thanks to my SAIS training.

Pleased with my performance, my supervisor continuously asks me to take on new projects. Next I will be working on analyzing data for a project using STATA, a statistical program I learned entirely at SAIS.

A SAIS degree is not an ordinary international relations master’s degree. The unique mix of economics and international relations in my curriculum ensured my education was as well-rounded as possible and my understanding of international issues as thorough as possible.

My SAIS degree means I don’t just know what is going on in the world; I know how to work with people of all backgrounds (thanks to the broad array of fellow SAIS students I have worked with). I have the skills I need to learn, adapt and grow to understand the complex concepts underlying global issues and to use that understanding to accomplish the tasks and assignments I am given.

The bottom line: I can now work alongside development experts from all over the world and contribute something that is valuable and substantial to the discussion and the work.

That doesn’t just come from the SAIS name. That comes from the SAIS education.