Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Taking Advantage of Short Term International Opportunities

Theodore Ho, '12 | MA International Affairs, Asian Studies and US Foreign Policy
One of the things that I regret not doing often enough as a first year student at GW was not taking full advantage of all of the numerous resources offered by the GSCD office and the Elliott School Career Connection (ESCC) website. GSCD sends informative emails directly to students about jobs, internships, and opportunities, and they always contain hidden gems like the program that I attended during the Summer of 2011. Many might know about Short Term International offerings that GW hosts, such as Econ 280 with Professor Suranovic in Shanghai, but there are also a number of non-GW led short term opportunities that Elliott School graduate students can take advantage of. In my case, it was through these emails that l found out about the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership's US Future Leaders Program, which turned out to be a life-changing experience.
According to GSCD, I was the first GW student to apply for this even though it was the third year the program was offered. Therefore, I would like to share as much as I can with you about this particular experience so that I won't be the last! I found out about the opportunity through an email sent by GSCD Director Angela Griffin informing us of this opportunity (which was also posted online on the ESCC website). The application was straightforward and required a cover letter, resume and letter of recommendation, and GSCD was available to help me with these materials.
Now completed, this short-length program was one of the most valuable experiences that I have had. I spent ten days traveling around Japan talking to experts in a variety of international relations-related fields ranging from international development to Japanese finance. I also conducted research for an extended group paper on International Security. The individuals that I met while on this exchange were all high level Japanese government officials, and academics that I would otherwise never had had access to as a graduate student, or as a foreigner. Being able to interview them and network with them was thus incredibly valuable as it gave me insights into Japanese career opportunities as well.
While, these experiences are competitive, I believe that they are by no means out of reach to GW graduate students. I think a critical aspect to securing internships like this is being able to relate your own experiences with what the program was offering. When I applied to the program, I was afraid that I was not a competitive candidate because I did not speak any Japanese and had little experience with Japan, despite a strong interest in it given my academic focus on US-China relations. It turned out it wasn't a problem. As my genuine interest for understanding Japan showed through in my cover letter, I believed it played a big part in their decision to admit me to the program!
As the saying goes, "opportunities are like sunsets, if you wait too long you miss them." Don't miss the opportunity to join a short term international opportunity!
More on Ted. . .
Ted is a second year student pursuing a Master's degree in International Affairs with a concentration on Asian Studies and US Foreign Policy. in addition to traveling to Japan for the US Future Leaders Fellowship, Ted recently expanded his studies by spending a semester in China, and worked for the Foreign Commercial Service at the US Embassy in Beijing. "The time I spent growing up in Honolulu and Singapore, [and] studying in Beijing and the United Kingdom has contributed to my desire to study US Foreign Policy and Asian Studies..." he says. He seeks to pursue a career as a US Foreign Service Officer or as a consultant in the US or Asia.
For more information about The Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership's US Future Leaders Fellowship Application, or interested in having a conversation with Ted on February 3rd at the Elliott School, please visit the ESCC website or contact GSCD to find out more information.

From: THE GSCD INSIDER, January 2012 Issue

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