Posts Tagged ‘career changing’

It’s the summer time folks, at least for another few weeks. I hope all of you have been having a good summer. Some of you (heck, probably almost all of you) are trying to figure out how you’re going to pay your bill for the fall semester. You are not alone! That’s both good and bad. It’s good because you know there are others you can commiserate with, but it’s bad because there are others you’re competing with for precious resources. Isn’t that how it goes though?

I’ve been spending my days at the Center for New York City Affairs. We have some really interesting events coming up this fall. Make sure you stayed tuned to your emails and the New School calendar. Also make sure you follow the Center on Twitter.

What have you been up to this summer? Exciting internships? Looking for jobs post-graduation? What’s the word hummingbird?

Oh, if you are looking for a job, don’t forget that the Milano Career Connections group meets every Wednesday from 4:30pm – 6:00pm at 72 Fifth Avenue, Room 528. It’s a great opportunity to connect with other Milano alumni who are also on the job hunt. Sometimes Milano alum actually drop in with job offers, so don’t sleep! Contact the Career Development and Placement office for more information.


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Hey folks! We’re  here at the “Careers in Urban Economic Development” event at Milano The New School for International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy. We’re going to live blog the event. Video of the event will be posted on YouTube, so stay tuned for when that link is available.

The panel is being moderated by Charles H. Allison, Jr., Associate Professor of Professional Practice at Milano.  Esteemed panelists include:

Mitchell Cook ’09 – freelance research consultant specializing in issues of urban planing, local governance and international development.

Rebecca Laurie ’09 – Director of Development for the Consortium for Worker Education.

Paul Travis ’77 – Managing Partner of Washington Square Partners.

Soledad Ursua ’09 – Associate for Enhanced Capital Partners, Inc.

NOTE: Comments posted below are not necessarily direct quotes. I will paraphrase (liberally). Any problems/issues/etc. with the comments can be attributed to me and not the panelists. Watch the YouTube video for direct quotes.


Both Mr. Travis and Ms. Ursua cited Milano course work as key to their careers, particularly the policy lab and the professional development report (PDR).


Hard question posed by Prof. Allison: what do you know now that you wish you knew on Day 1 at Milano?

Ms. Laurie ’09 – knowing the opportunities to connect to the other schools/programs within the university [take notes fellow grad students!!!]

Mr. Travis ’77 – the importance of finance and budgeting. He says it’s a basic and necessary skill.

Mr. Ursua ’09 – network much more. Networking is key not just for jobs, but also to obtain important research information. People are more willing to talk to students than you might think.

Mr. Cook ’09 – the importance of in-depth long-form writing and analysis.


Questions on the floor dealing with the constant change in the world and quick paradigm shifts [horrible paraphrase, watch the YouTube].

Mr. Travis says to not look at this degree as a vocational degree. The classes you take here don’t lock you into a job/career.

Ms. Ursua says to keep your eyes and ears open to change and you can transfer

Mr. Cook says that if you develop traditional analytic skills you can use them at a whole range of places. Paradigms change quickly but institutions do not.


Ms. Ursua says that potential employers may not know the New School or your degree, but they will be impressed by your skills.


Question on the floor: What skills do you look for when hiring?

Mr. Travis says: quantitative skills, writing ability, and the ability to make your point five minutes. [Are you taking notes fellow grad students?]  When writing, the ability to make your point within two pages is very important.

Ms. Ursua says: the ability to talk to people is important. Communication, articulation, and charisma are key.


Question on the floor is it better to be multidisciplinary or a specialist? Particularly when discussing skills in an interview.

Mr. Travis says to know one thing very, very well rather than being too broad. Tell the employer what you can do better than anyone else.

Mr. Ursua concurs.


Prof. Allison says to not let job descriptions scare you.  Use your networks, intelligence, and skill-set to your advantage.


Question on the floor: Are there particular courses students should take to pursue a career in urban development?

Ms. Laurie says to take the community development finance lab and/or financial analysis.

Mr. Travis says to take a finance course as well. Also learn about zoning and land use.

Mr. Cook says that, if you can, know the scale at which you want to work in international development – it will guide you in selecting courses.


Question on the floor: Focus on one skill just for the interview, or for your studies/career too?

Mr. Travis says to focus on one thing for the interview, but your career can take many twists and turns. The key is to be able to explain what you learned at Milano in a very succinct way.


Okay folks, that’s it for live blogging the event. It’s not too late come get some cookies and join the  speed network. We’re at 66 West 12th Street on the 7th floor.

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Growing up there were always those kids who relished the last day of school. They counted every day, hour, second until the final ringing of the bell and the opportunity to loosen the tie and to get out the ‘monkey suit’ commonly known as our school uniform.  For me I knew that summer just meant a different schedule, but structure none the less. By college I regarded summer break as the opportunity to process and store away the previous semester before returning to the trough in the Fall. Part of the beauty of having 4 years to complete undergrad is if you fall of track you have time to get back on track … or at least a summer or two to find your way back.

This June as I finished up my first semester I found myself exhausted. Mostly mentally exhausted but by proxy a little bit physically exhausted.  For my first semester I expected more reading. I expected a scheduling that would be a challenge having hoofed it from 9 to 5 for the last few years.  I expected a learning curve for writing, and most of all I expected to be physically exhausted by the end of the semester.  What I definitely didn’t expect was the group process to kick my tail. It challenged me at times, it begged me to catch up at other times and most of all by the end of the semester I realized it had enriched what I learned through the course readings.  By June I had transformed into one of those kids counting off the days to the ‘official’ start of summer.  I spent a few weeks trying to get back some semblance of my pre-grad school schedule. I spent another few weeks decompressing….and boy was that fun.  But before I knew it I was hit with the panic.

For the full time (2 year program) student you have one summer to make sure you haven’t fallen off track, aren’t about to fall off track or to figure out what your track should be. Many, arguably most paid internships take place during the summer (corporations/organizations use paid internships geared towards grad students as a stop gap on projects during the summer months when salaried employees are often using vacation time). Besides the internship route summer makes an excellent time for figuring out post program fellowships.  By the time I decompressed and before I knew it…it was July and I had 35 days  left  to summer.

Of course by July most paid internships are gone. While I’ve squandered part of my summer and have lost some internship opportunities I’ve been plugging away with figuring out the post-school-fellowship-thing. Also to make sure I am on track to finish up strong in my program I have been reworking my resume, updating my interview skills, working references, looking for spring or (next) summer internship opportunities that I will be able to parlay into employment opportunities …. cause the job market is no joke.  While summer is about decompressing it is more about keeping focus for year 2 and staying on track to capitalize on the grad school experience.

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Laura and Tushar!  They are off somewhere celebrating right now, as they should be, and I am just posting to cap off this year.  I know the anxiety over our whereabouts since my last cryptic, exhausted missive has been keeping some of you bleaders up nights.  I know.  We’ve been a little busy.  Laura and Tushar graduated, and I had a marathon of my own last week as I went from a Quant final to wrapping loose ends to volunteering at their recognition ceremony, watching all of these fabulous beautiful people walk by and fantasizing about joining their ranks as an alum as soon as possible.

Quant went well, I am proud to say, but I will now also go “on the record” with this conclusion: I really wasn’t missing out on a great unfulfilled academic passion all those years when I did not delve into stats.  Some of us are meant to work in words (or music, or law, or medicine, or motion), and while I am very good with numbers, I don’t find them nearly as fascinating.  It is very important, however, to understand the statistical backdrop to your policy work, so these are great skills to have.  As for my Media Advocacy and Social Marketing course: I worked on another interesting client project, and have had quite a few prompts for thinking about my upcoming professional and academic work.  It’s likely no surprise that a blogger would enjoy thinking about messaging and issues concurrently–and I do.

Last week at the recognition ceremony I occasionally spotted someone and thought, “I remember speaking with them, when was it, hmm, oh, wait, it was at ORIENTATION two years ago.”  Very strange.  Being part time in the policy program has led me down a slightly different path than that of many of my colleagues, but I am very grateful to have worked with and enjoyed their company.  I am also looking forward to–there just isn’t a good enough way to put this–walking myself across that stage next May.  To that end, since I have been around Milano for these past two years I need a bit of a break too, and so this summer I will not be taking courses, but spending time working on my own writing, starting to investigate what I’m planning for my own PDR (final master’s project; we’ll discuss) next year, and reflecting on how the changes and growth of a very challenging and important year will impact What Happens Next professionally.  Reframing those goals is exciting, but nerve-wracking.  Since it’s summer, despite unemployment and student-dom, I’ll be having fun too.  I need to recharge my batteries, for the sake of that PDR, this blog, and my real desire to write some other kinds of material.

It’s been a difficult May for another reason: I know many of us at Milano and elsewhere are alternately furious, concerned, saddened, and wanting to do something about the ongoing ramifications of the oil spill in the Gulf.  I’m as stymied as anyone, and frustrated as this is the kind of situation testing the very concept of a belief in our capacity to make a difference.  However, I hope I am not wrong in seeing, I think, a certain horrible recognition in some new quarters that our (in my opinion) dysfunctional dependence on oil has to end.  In my more cynical moments I think it had to take such a tragedy to shake some out of indifference.  In my more hopeful ones, I think that I may have already met some people who are committed to help us find a better way to live without further destroying the planet, and our ranks are growing.  There is too much more to say about this–but ignoring it while writing from within our program (so to speak) would not be appropriate.

While I may pop in from time to time, as will Eulalia and our newly minted alumni, I just want to wish many of you congratulations, best wishes, my thanks for reading, and to others, welcome aboard!  We have plenty of archives for you to peruse–enjoy!

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Greetings, Idealist readers!

I refer to my new program at Milano as Grad School: Part Deux, partly to catch some of that “great sequel” luck.  When I finished my first MA in Women’s Studies in 2002, I did not think that I would return for more grad school unless absolutely necessary–it is expensive, it is time-consuming, it is intense, it requires a real commitment, and I needed a good break.  After graduating, I intended on entering the workforce as some sort of policy wonk, at the time wondrously naive about how despite my years of nonprofit and community organizing experience, not having the proper training to conduct professional policy analysis was a serious liability.  (Sadly, no one was looking for a scholar focusing on the development and use of personal narratives in social movements).  I had a lifelong interest in politics and social change, but not a lot of practical skills to offer to serve that passion.

Time and I moved on; I moved from Cincinnati to Washington, D.C. and then to New York where I joined the Teaching Fellows program.  I’ve written elsewhere about that (speaking of intense experiences) and after a frustrating and short stint teaching 7th grade in the South Bronx, I settled into a job as a legal assistant, determined to 1) figure out what kind of training could refocus and really launch a more satisfying career–after all, social change is and has been important to me throughout my life–and 2) go about actually doing it.

The first step, of investigation, brought me through law school admissions offices, creative writing courses, lots of reading, and a sober realization that nothing I had seen felt “right” to pursue.  In the meantime, I had begun attending events at Milano (their Urban Conversations programs in 2005-06), and after a year or so of that, a friend stated the obvious: if I was spending my free time there in the evening, maybe I should look into their programs!  (No one can accuse me of underthinking). 

I participated in a Career Changing workshop, attended more formal admissions events, and realized over time that the gut feeling I had the first time I met people from Milano was true–this was a special place, with people devoted to pursuing change, and learning about the world in new and complex ways.  Bonus, as a former Midwesterner: everyone I spoke with was so nice.  After years of dealing with New York attorneys the culture shock was palpable.

I did the obligatory check of other programs in the area/region who have similar policy programs, but the fit of my interests in urban life, education, and diverse life experiences was not as strong.  I decided that I would apply to Milano, and if I was not accepted, to broaden my search and consider moving again to enroll at another program.  Fortunately, it never came to that. 

I began attending this fall, as a part-time student, and while I am incredibly stressed out about finding a day job (chiropractors and martini-bearing bartenders are welcome guests) and settling in after a quick move of apartments, I am only beginning to discover the opportunities and challenges that this program will bring.

For me, writing is how I come to understand things, whether it is my own experience or what is happening in the world, so blogging is a fun project.  While I’m keeping up at my own site, it is special to have the chance to share the journey of this year with all of you (not to mention the fact that this enables my procrastination).

On that front, it is back to work for me.  As a former women’s studies and literature student, I am mightily stymied by the so-called “simple” Excel spreadsheet homework du jour.  We didn’t do formulas in lit crit!  (See: Dead Poets Society, J. Evans Pritchard).

I love venting about pop culture, politics, cooking, yoga, New York City, and escaping it at the beach.  I look forward to hearing from you with any questions or comments, and thanks for reading!

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