In November, OCS hosted Global Health panelists, ranging from experts who have been in the field for decades, those who have volunteered in war-torn countries, and those who graduated as recently as last year.
Journey to global health
For most panelists, although medicine had always been of interest to them, pursuing a career in global health came at a later time.
“Before I came to college, my parents wanted me to become a doctor; I hadn’t thought a lot about other careers. I took a class on global health, and that changed everything,” said Annie Ryu ’13, a 2012 Harvard Innovation Challenge winner. For Samuel Slavin, whose past works include Partners In Health and working in the Navajo Nation, global health was not at the top of his list of possible career interests while in college. “I love literature, so in college I studied history and literature. However, I started feeling like literature was disconnected with everyday happenings,” said Samuel. This new-found realization eventually led to his involvement in global health. Because Samuel could speak both French and Spanish, he was deployed to work in the border region of Haiti. Ultimately, various routes can be taken to a career in global health; there are no prerequisites. As Bijay Acharya, MD, attending physician at MGH and instructor in medicine at HMS, puts it, “You don’t need to be a doctor to do global health work.” Nonetheless, what were some challenges that panelists faced?
Overwhelmed by the endless opportunities available at the Summer Opportunities Fair? Start here: We asked our student bloggers to highlight the top ten organizations they’re most excited to see on Friday, Dec. 6. But don’t stop here: Explore the complete list of 100+ programs and organizations and assemble your very own top ten!
Vecna Cares Charitable Trust | Global Health
What it is: A non-profit organization improving healthcare infrastructure in underserved areas.
Fun fact: Vecna Cares established the Vecna Cares Scholarship that supports high-achieving underprivileged students in the Transmara region of Kenya who are interested in technology.
A9.com | Engineering
What it is: A technology subsidiary of Amazon.com that improves the quality of Amazon’s product search, cloud search, visual search, and advertising technologies.
Fun fact: A9.com handles more than a hundred thousand queries per second; they examine each query from thousands of different dimensions, returning results in under 100 milliseconds!
Crimson Summer Academy | Education & Education Policy
What it is: Run by Harvard student mentors, CSA is a program for motivated high school students from low-income backgrounds that lasts the course of three summers.
Fun fact: High school students who successfully complete the program are awarded a $3,000 scholarship to use at the college or university of their choice.
Harvard Forest | Environment, Energy, & Sustainability
What it is: This summer research program provides a unique opportunity for Harvard students to conduct hands-on research with a faculty mentor in all ecology.
Fun fact: Past students’ independent project topics include canopy robots, urban heat islands, invasive insects, and underground root photography.
Abercrombie & Fitch | Consumer Goods, Retail, & Fashion
What it is: An American retailer that focuses on casual wear for young adults with over 300 locations countrywide.
Fun fact: A&F’s first office outside of the United States was in Beirut, Lebanon.
Let’s Go Publications | Publishing
What it is: Let’s Go publishes budget travel guides, updated annually and written entirely by Harvard students!
Fun fact: Let’s Go!’s repertoire has expanded to include pdf guides, apps, and e-books.
Computer Science, Technology, & Information Technology
What it is: An internet content delivery network that helps businesses leverage the cloud to simplify operations.
Fun fact: Akamia’s network is one of the largest in the world, serving between 15 and 20% of all web traffic!
BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life)
Non-Profit, Issue Advocacy, NGO
What it is: An organization transforming the lives of students in underprivileged communities through two educational programs: BELL Summer and BELL After School.
Fun fact: BELL was begun by Harvard Law School students, who started a small tutoring program in a local school in the early 90’s.
Related Companies | Housing & Urban Development
What it is: A prominent privately-owned real estate firm.
Fun fact: Related Companies has offices in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Francisco, South Florida, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai—boasting a team of approximately 2,000 professionals.
Saks Fifth Avenue | Consumer Goods, Retail, & Fashion
What it is: An upscale department store chain.
Fun fact: Saks’ parent company was a primary sponsor of the Bruno’s Memorial Classic golf tournament, now known as the Regions Charity Classic.
Eliza Pan ‘15
UK Houses of Parliament
London, England 2013
On my first day of work as an intern for Member of Parliament Rachel Reeves, my manager treated me to the grand tour of my workplace for the summer: the UK Houses of Parliament.
I soon discovered that for all its imposing grandeur, there are many quirks to the Parliament buildings, or the Palace of Westminster, as it is formally known. At its core is the Central Lobby, with four archways, each of which is crowned by a mosaic depicting the patron saint of one of the four constituent countries of the UK: St. George for England above the entrance to the luxurious House of Lords, St. David for Wales above the entrance to the modest House of Commons, St. Andrew for Scotland above the entrance to the restaurants and bars, and St. Patrick for Northern Ireland above the main exit.
Jiayun Fang ‘16
Jana Care Solutions
Bangalore, India 2013
”Incredible India. It’s the slogan of the Indian Tourism Office that’s slapped on vivid posters of iconic Indian monuments. It’s the popular hashtag on Twitter for all the random, bizarre, and unique things that happen in India. It’s the India I came to know this summer at my three-month internship in Bangalore at Jana Care Solutions. Jana Care is a small start-up born out of the MIT Media Lab that focuses on creating a web and mobile application for diabetics to manage their glucose levels, food intake, and exercise. I worked with members of the team from India and the US to enhance the web component as well as prototype a mobile application for community health workers to use when screening for anemia and diabetes.
Working at a think tank is not often the first career choice for many undergraduates, however, all it takes is a just an initial encounter with the job before one’s hooked. This was the case with panelists at the OCS workshop held last week, exploring careers at think tanks.
What is a Think Tank?
A think tank can be described as a body of experts who offer advice on specific political and economic problems. “At Carnegie, we don’t take decisions as an institution, we find ways for peace,” said Rachel Odell ’10, a current research analyst in the Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. She then went on to describe the influence of think tanks as different layers of an onion. “There are different layers: first is the government policy, second the broader policy community and third, media and journalism. Broader policy community is our target,” said Rachel. Peter Hussey, a current Policy Researcher at the RAND Corporation described his firm’s mission as ”finding vigorous empirical foreign policy solutions to problems.” Some of the recent problems include devising game theory approaches to strategic placements of nuclear weapons and informing the general public about how the Obamacare Act would impact individuals.
Hai-Li Kong ‘16
Time Out Beijing
Beijing, China 2013
"Here’s my two cents for interns: do not hesitate to take initiative.
I spent my summer writing for Time Out Beijing—a spunky monthly magazine and website informing readers what’s up in Beijing.
Being overexcited and a bit naïve, I expected to be running around town scouting out new venues or discovering the next greatest local musician. Instead, I was working and writing in our windowless office for the majority of the time. So, I guess I learned that intern life really is not so glamorous. Although I didn’t get it too bad, meaning I was not physically attached to a copying or coffee machine (or both), I was still left expecting more out of the experience.
I quickly learned that if I want a fun piece to write about instead of continuing to upload events on the website’s backend, I had to bring something to the table. I figured that there are only so many editors in the office—six to be exact—and they cannot possibly know every hip happening in town. So whenever I learned about a cool event or came up with blog post idea that would swing with the Time Out style, I approached editors with said idea that, hey, may have turned into a feature article.
Our student blogger gleaned the following words of wisdom from Lynne O’Connor, BA ‘82, MBA ‘86, Senior Director, Client & Brand Strategy at Vistaprint.
Pranav Krishnan ‘16
DRCLAS Health and Spanish Immersion Program (HSI)
Santiago, Chile 2013
"The importance of smiling cannot be overstated. Coming to a different country with a different language and accent, I was initially overwhelmed by my surroundings. My rough Spanish, encased within an American accent, only complicated things. Each trivial interaction with a Chilean was frightening. Whether it was ordering fast food or asking for directions, my Spanish would regress to simple phrases of nouns and unconjugated verbs. Met by a confused face, I would revert to my basic defense mechanism: smiling. In place of speaking, my non-verbal communication would take over, creating the most basic of conversations. Employing a routine of vigorous head nodding, emphatic hand gestures, and smiling, I found a way to communicate with people who appeared to share nothing in common with me. These initial conversations helped me get around independently, building my confidence towards eventually having conversations in Spanish.
Caught up choosing between consulting or banking? OCS recently hosted HBS master’s candidates who offered advice about which path to follow.
Consulting vs. Banking?
Although workers in both fields are known to work for very long hours, this may be the only trait that these two fields have in common. When this question was posed to panelists, they all were consistent with which field they would rather work in.
“For me, banking would have been the same sort of challenges. Consulting on the other hand offered a broader perspective. I needed to understand how business functions before going deep into something,” said Allyson Pritchett, former employee at T. Rowe Price and MBA candidate at HBS. For some, it is the thrill of working on various projects at once that attracts them to consulting. This was the case with Peter Fedchenkov, former employee at Goldman Sachs Moscow and now MBA candidate at HBS: “In consulting, you multitask between two consumers, which I loved, as opposed to banking where you have one project, and get assigned to do small things on the side, which makes it harder to succeed, and in turn creates a ‘no thinking’ environment. With consulting, because there were fewer tasks, the environment was more mentally challenging.” It is easy to figure out this when you are already working, but what are some of the expectations that are better to be familiar with before going into the field?
Some assume that finding international internships can be difficult; not only is it hard to look for them, but often, having limited funding for an international experience can deter students from looking for opportunities beyond the US border. This past week, the OCS held a workshop on how to find and fund internships in Africa.
What internships are available? How do you obtain funding to pursue such internships? These questions were answered by panelists who all spent summer on the African continent. Their activities ranged from interning at one of Kenya’s biggest banks, to being a teacher assistant in a grade 3 classroom in an underprivileged community in Cape Town, South Africa.
How did the students find out about these opportunities?
Be open to as many opportunities as possible that will build a picture of your work and build a network. You just never know in five months, a year, or five years what the people you meet now are going to be doing. — Grace Laubacher ’09, “Explore Careers in Opera” panelist, Opera and Theater Set Designer
Remember that people will get over you saying ‘no’ because you’re overwhelmed, but if you say ‘yes’ and you don’t perform well, they won’t forget. — Graham Wright, “Explore Careers in Opera” panelist, Opera Singer and Founder/Host, Opus Affair
If you want to work in a career in opera, don’t expect a typical daily routine.
“I try to have as many gigs as I can handle at once without going totally crazy,” said Grace Laubacher ’09, a set designer in New York and a panelist at last week’s OCS event featuring careers in opera. “No one day is the same. One day might involve a concept meeting with a director, working through a piece and figuring out what we’re doing with it. Other days I might have meetings about specifics, like figuring out how tall a single stair is going to be on a set. A lot of what I do is collaborative, but a lot is working on my own finding out how to articulate what’s in my mind and what to do with it.”
Andrew Altenbach, an opera coach and music director at Boston Conservatory, divides his days across his various positions. “I try to spend the morning hours studying the actual art itself, when my mind is the most open and I am the most creative. Later, I’ll coach singers one-on-one and give them feedback on language and tone – and make sure they’re singing Mozart like Mozart. I usually have rehearsals for opera in the evenings, and write a lot of emails at night,” he said. “So much of what you do to carry on your career in this industry is to stay in touch with people, keep continuing to do upstart stuff. There’s this huge administrative component that is always mixed in that you don’t always think of.”
Many opera professions are freelance based. While it’s important to always have something on the horizon, Roxanna Myhrum ’05 advised students to choose gigs wisely.
Thought that because you’re interested in business, but also have a desire for governance and public policy, you couldn’t be able to combine the two? Working with government is not always the first thing that comes to the mind of someone studying or intending to study for an MBA. However, the OCS/HBS program held at the Harvard Business School Oct. 16 served to inform students currently at the business school—and those who wish to study for an MBA—about the possibility of pursuing a career in government.
The impact of having an MBA
Because business school essentially prepares one for a career in the corporate world, a lot of attention is placed on work etiquette. Applying the work etiquette learnt in business school to the public sector helps to ease the transition between the two sectors. The professionalism gained at business school will be most beneficial when entering the public policy sector. For example: the way that the classroom is set up in business school, with emphasis on mentorship and leadership is good preparation because it allows one to understand how relationships play out in the business industry, something that can also be applied to the public policy sector. Business school emphasises the development of communication skills—as when managing a business, strong task delegation is key. Similarly, this is also important in the public sector, because whilst at work, you will need to rely on a number of people in order to get certain tasks completed. Therefore, knowing how to effectively communicate instructions to other staff and having good leadership skills, both which are highly emphasised in business school, will give you an edge in the public policy sector. Unlike most of your colleagues, having an MBA equips you with a different skills set when entering the public policy sector. Realizing this difference and knowing how to overcome it will shorten the amount of time needed for one to adapt in a different sector. Often, people will have preconceived ideas about the fact that you have an MBA; therefore, in order to succeed in the work place, you will need to build trust with your new colleagues
Ahead of the Education Career Fair (Friday, Nov. 1), our student bloggers select ten organizations they’re excited to meet!
Woodrow Wilson Fellowship
What it is: A non-profit organization that administers programs to bridge the education achievement gap.
Fun fact: Harvard’s President Drew Faust received the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship in 1970.
What it is: Provides individuals with a chance to make a meaningful contribution to international education through teaching—with volunteer teaching programs in 26 countries.
Fun fact: WorldTeach was started by a group of Harvard students; its office can be found in the Center for International Development building.
What it is: A non-profit charter school operator that manages charter schools in low income areas with the aim of closing the achievement gap and preparing low income students for college.
Fun fact: All classrooms at Uncommon Schools are named after colleges, e.g. Williams, Harvard, or Morehouse, thus, from a young age, learners start to form strong college associations.