By Kelsey Keech
January 14 — “Add value to everything you do.” This was the mantra repeated by SIPA alumni and employers alike during the Washington D.C. Career Conference, an event organized for current SIPA students by the Office of Career Services. Mid-January, nearly 200 students traveled to the nation’s capital to seek career advice from SIPA alumni.
The conference began with a full day of career information sessions led by SIPA alumni and professionals. There were sessions devoted to education policy, multilateral organizations, public sector consulting, energy policy, international trade and finance, environmental and sustainable development, federal government jobs, and many more. Yet even with a diverse selection of sessions, alumni emphasized the importance of quantitative, management, and practical writing skills in every career.
Students also had the opportunity to visit typical workplaces for SIPA alumni around the city to get an inside view of careers at USAID, Deloitte, PFC Energy, Booz Allen Hamilton, the World Bank, the U.S. Department of State, and many others. Federal government employers highlighted the Presidential Management Fellowship as a means for entering federal employment, while professionals at other sites suggested entering competitive fields through networking and consulting work. Few places were actively recruiting, but all were forthcoming with advice on obtaining employment.
The highlight of the 3-day conference was the Alumni/Student Networking Reception. In a chandelier-lit room at the Four Seasons in Georgetown, students and alumni mingled, exchanging business cards and catching up with old friends. Large signs indicating different degree concentrations were hung throughout the room to organize the event, though most attendees opted to stay near the bar. Students scanned name tags in the hopes of tracking down alumni in their fields, and Dean Coatsworth spoke to the crowd about turning SIPA’s lower-than-usual post-graduation employment rate around. Despite this fact, the mood in the room remained cheerful, and students and alumni continued chatting long after the bartenders had gone.
Kelsey Keech is a first-year Master of International Affairs student. This story first appeared in the January 31st issue of Communiqué.