SIA takes Career Exposure Trip to New York City

SIA students outside in New York City
SIA travels to New York City Credit: Penn State School of International Affairs

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Students and staff of the Penn State School of International Affairs (SIA) traveled to New York City on February 16-17 for another of its Career Exposure trips, allowing students multiple opportunities to meet potential employers, speak with alumni, and learn more about the various career paths they can take with a Master of International Affairs degree. The trip featured visits to the Council on Foreign Relations, Ford Foundation, Bloomberg, and the United Nations.

“Exploring career opportunities in New York City can provide our SIA students with new perspectives on their career paths. This unique experience connects them with potential employers and alumni who can provide tips that will help them prepare for the future,” said Elizabeth Ransom, SIA interim director and associate professor.

Grant Littke, director of career services, said “I was very pleased with the connections students were able to make with alumni, both during some of our employer visits and at the alumni reception. The networking opportunities that these trips create are invaluable.”

SIA visits the Council on Foreign Relations
SIA visits the Council on Foreign Relations. Credit: Penn State School of International Affairs

On Thursday, the group went to the Council on Foreign Relations, an independent membership organization, think tank, and publisher. They are a resource on international news relating to U.S. foreign policy that reaches a diverse audience of government officials, educators, students, journalists, business leaders, and more.

Dalia Batuuka, a first-year SIA student noted the CFR’s commitment to DEI. “I think going to CFR was really great. The director of strategic operations is also their organization’s chief officer for DEI. It was really nice to see a Black woman in that role. When she was talking about her job, she was talking about substantive projects that her office is doing,” said Batuuka.

SIA at the Ford Foundation
SIA at the Ford Foundation. Credit: Penn State School of International Affairs

Later, the SIA students went to the Ford Foundation. This organization is dedicated to reducing poverty and injustice around the world. They advocate for human rights, democratic values, and international collaboration.

On Thursday evening, students and alumni attended the SIA Alumni Reception at Carroll Place in SoHo. Students had the opportunity to talk to alumni attendees about their careers, including Alfredo Malaret, class of 2016 and urban violence program officer at the University of San Diego; Kieler Hoffman, class of 2021 and senior analyst at Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC; Aziz Dahlawi, class of 2017 and associate political affairs officer at the United Nations; and Ana Castellanos, class of 2020 and special agent with the United States Secret Service. The alumni were ready to provide students with advice and tips on how to start their careers after graduation.

Malaret said, “I owe my career to SIA, so I always come back to help SIA students and Grant in particular.” He had the opportunity to speak to students about the different jobs he has had in his career. “I work on urban violence at the University of San Diego, and I worked for the U.N. for six years,” he said.

One alumnus has a career that students may not have realized they could have with their degree. Castellanos was more than ready to talk about her job. “It’s exciting to meet current students at SIA and tell them about what I do. I love my job—I’m a special agent. I feel like it’s very different compared to what everyone else goes into from SIA.”

Castellanos also gave advice on how to find a job after graduation. “Part of it is networking and learning a little bit more about what everyone else does and how you can probably get there if that’s what you want to do,” she said.

SIA student Key One Jung at Alumni Reception
SIA student Key One Jung at the Alumni Reception. Credit: Penn State School of International Affairs

First-year student Key One Jung talked about the relief she felt in seeing the success of others in the field of international affairs. “I really liked the Ford Foundation. We can be really anxious about starting our future, but we know that some people have similar career paths and they’re doing their jobs well—that’s encouraging for us to see. It makes me feel proud,” Jung said.

Friday’s career trip began at Bloomberg, where students learned more about the careers within the major financial news provider. Students then attended a presentation of careers at the United Nations; and finished the trip with a tour of the United Nations Headquarters.

To first-year SIA student Jennifer Garcia Ruiz, the U.N. tour was her favorite part of the trip. “It was such an inspiring experience,” said Garcia Ruiz. She also spoke to Dahlawi about his job at the U.N. at the alumni reception. “He reassured me that the path to a successful career postgraduation is not linear and different for everybody. He made me feel better about my current fears and stress,” she added.

SIA in Security Council Chamber at the United Nations
SIA in the Security Council Chamber at the United Nations. Credit: Penn State School of International Affairs

Omar Aittakalla, a first-year SIA student studying national security and international business, explained all the benefits that SIA students can get from going on career exposure trips. “First, the trip allows one to get to know his classmates. Second, the trip is a great opportunity for students to practice networking and social skills. Third, the trip provides students access to alums willing to share insights and learnings they gathered from their work experience.”

For more information on SIA career exposure trips, please contact the Office of Career Services. To apply to the School of International Affairs, contact the SIA Office of Admissions here.