Archive for April, 2010

I’ve been “teasing” upcoming developments at Milano here for months.  I wanted to wait to discuss this until some sort of more official, clear, “ta-da!” announcement was made and I was clear on who had been told what, and so I wouldn’t be saying anything that incoming students wouldn’t know about.  What can I say? I wanted a clear conscience. Given that, the following is now not “news” but it will affect those of us who are new or continuing students.

Milano’s programs will be merging with the New School’s Graduate Program in International Affairs (GPIA) thus forming a new division of The New School (to be named soon).  How this affects your program, how any of us feels about this, etc. is diverse, as you should expect.

In the short term, we can cross-register for courses at each others’ schools/programs.  However, many of us have been doing so already for awhile, so I’m not clear on how this represents a change at this time!

There are also two (I would say three) cultures coming together here from the students’ perspective.  Having spent more than five minutes of time in two and quite a bit more in my home Urban Policy program, I can tell you that these are three distinct communities in certain ways, and as much back and forth and cross-pollination that occurs, there are certain specific experiences or philosophies binding each of us.  For Urban part of it is Lab; I don’t know what my colleagues in other areas would say, but since part of creating community has to do with a shared experience, I’m sure they have a sense of that as well.  Part of the process of joining these groups together, then, is figuring out how these merging identities will work and how much of what is most valued for each will be maintained.

I’m not heavily involved in that larger structural conversation.  As to the rest: it makes for fascinating observation in terms of group dynamics on many levels.

That doesn’t mean I’m “opposed” to this; far from it.  I’ve taken courses at GPIA and find their course offerings as well as the incorporation of more global perspectives to our work a great complement to the expertise being developed by those of us planning to work in policy (or management).  So from an academic, intellectual perspective this is absolutely an exciting development.

I am, though, feeling a bit wistful as so many of my friends and colleagues have their graduation ceremony in a few weeks, in small part because I wonder if my diploma will be different from theirs–and we will at least nominally have been separated into two incarnations of this school.  That rather disrupts my own personal feeling of community, doesn’t it?  So when it is time to return to the [school to be named later] this fall, we will have an exciting new sense of ourselves and will be seeing how much–or how little–change this does mean for us.  In the meantime, for a few weeks, I’m getting a little emotional about the fact that so many of the people who have been important to my experience here are leaving soon, or have left already.  It really is (oh, god, cue the cliche machine) the end of an era.

The new one for me is going to be dedicated to my work, the pursuit for which continues to be my first priority.  Milano has given me a good set of skills, and I’m eager to apply them out in the field.

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So sorry to have disappeared for a couple of weeks, but [yadda yadda yadda] life happens!

Last week, immediately upon returning from spring break, I had a Quantitative  Methods midterm for which I’d studied for quite awhile.  That preparation didn’t completely assuage my nerves but getting on with the test did, as I was relieved to find that thanks to preparing, I didn’t encounter any nasty surprises.  That old tip really is true in my experience: when it’s time to begin, just start moving your pen/pencil and working that test. (Why I mention this in a blog whose likely readers are nearly professional test-takers is beyond me, but for those of us mainly educated in the Pleistocene era, testing is not so innate a process).

On the matter of Quant, I feel it is important to report back regularly because (no doubt for a number of reasons) this is a course about which I’m asked many questions.  My earlier sense of Quant stands: if you keep current with the reading and homework (or, certainly, within a couple of days’ time, realistically) you will find that the course moves quite logically and things really will make sense even if you haven’t seen this material before.  We’re also completing some basic SPSS exercises as a part of the course, which likewise have thus far been more fun than not, and hopefully useful as well.  I’m not sure that this material or SPSS work will end up rendering me any sort of expert, but for a novice they work well as enough of an introduction such that your “numbers work” in policy will be much more coherent.

As Quant proceeds, my other course this term has embarked on a group project (quelle surprise!) for a client, so as usual I don’t think I can say too much about that aside from this: compared with Policy Lab, the amount of time we have to complete this feels astonishingly long.  Now that we’re nearing the more creative portion of the work I’m  excited to come up with some terrific marketing materials with my colleagues.

Also this week, it’s time to select classes again.  (I KNOW.  This semester is flying by nicely, no?)

I’ll be writing more about that later this week, because doing so dovetails with discussing imminent changes at Milano.  For the moment?   It is back to other business for me, and Quant this evening.  Also, as goes my job search, in the words of another unemployed blogger, I’m really looking forward to heading into a job where I want to be very soon.  Fingers crossed.  (I’m continuing with other more proactive job hunting techniques, but you know what I mean!)

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While the rest of the country , okay just the NCAA division 1 schools, are getting caught up in March madness….I’m caught up in a mean case of hell week. I have 2 midterms, a paper, and two early stage deadlines for group projects due within the next week  and 2 other papers that are begging for my attention and with fast approaching deadlines. I am sure I can do well with any of these tasks, at least on an individual basis, but I am not sure if I will triumph in the end given the close proximity of all the due dates. Ironically, during my undergrad years I flourished in these types of situation — multiple projects with a singular deadline. However, I find myself now wondering what if….

What if ‘A’s aren’t that easy to achieve, what if they’re too easy to get, what if I finish my degree and I am no better prepared for the world, what if this is the wrong program for me, what if it’s the right program but I am not able to do the work to finish, what if…..

The more I need to be able to focus on the tasks at hand the more I find it difficult to remember the little things … and the more I find my mind wandering to the What Ifs. I am consistently forgetting stuff that I know I know but can’t seem to recall in a timely fashion. Friends have told me about hitting the ‘wall’ during the first year and wanting to leave, but I assumed that it was more about the individual. Unlike undergrad in which we had some choice in the matter….grad programs are all us so if we are not successful with that choice there is a lot to internalize.

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