Tuesday, 6 March 2012

"A sense of family" - the SAIS Bologna alumni

Today we turn the podium over to Alex Skinner, who attended SAIS Bologna in 2009-10 and then SAIS DC. As he recounts below, after graduating he started a job at the World Bank. He was helped in his search by SAIS's extensive network of alumni, who hold down leadership positions in many leading organizations, governments agencies and corporations.

SAIS’s greatest strength, next to its formidable academic programme, is certainly its alumni network. Particularly amongst the Bologna crowd, a very tight-knit group, there is a sense of family, a feeling of pleasure and joy derived from helping a fellow Bolognesi.

Alex Skinner BC'10
It has been extraordinary to observe the number of cases where that particular connection has led to jobs, not just within SAIS Bologna classes but across them as well.

In my particular case, I had some 15-20 informational interviews before getting a job as a research analyst at the World Development Report 2013, where I currently work. Of these, about 80% were with SAIS Bologna alumni from BC'05 to BC'09, between one and four years before my time. All of them were extremely helpful and even if, as in most cases, they were not able to link me directly to a job, they provided further contacts that have resulted in various offers since.

In the week I got my job, I was on the cusp of another, assisted directly by former Bolognesi. After a few months on the job, I was offered an interview, without having submitted anything myself, for a management position requiring 3-5 years of experience at the International Finance Coroporation (IFC). While I did not end up getting this job, the fact I was interviewed for a position I did not think I would ever attain was thanks to a referral from a BC'09 class member.

In addition, a few weeks after I started my job, my boss informed me that we would be requiring further analysts and asked me if I could recommend anyone. Within a week, I set up five classmates for interviews, two of whom eventually got jobs.

Overall, there are currently about 30 of my classmates working in various capacities at the World Bank and some others at the IMF. I have been personally astounded by how successful the alumni network has been, particularly in a time of economic strife, and would not have believed myself if I were reading this right now, about to embark on my Bologna adventure.

How very good it was that I placed my faith in SAIS nonetheless.

Alex Skinner (BC'10)