Isaac Dayno ‘15
French Heritage Society
Fontainebleau and Chantilly, France
I thumbed the switch, turning it back and forth, the plastic cold under my scrabbling fingers. Behind me a grumble faded into the blackness and a light flared in the empty space. I looked down at my useless lamp and the hanging cord I had somehow unplugged in the darkness. Phillipe stopped next to me and grumbled again; I caught enough of his grizzled French to understand. Sheepishly, I plugged the battery back into the lamp and flicked the switch. Light swelled between my hands and into the underground quarry that expanded outwards into darkness.
* * *
I did not spend the entirety of my summer wandering underground, though my three months in France did involve an unusual amount of medieval dungeons and Romanesque sub-crypts. Studying not just on site but often under it, it was critical for me as a student of History of Art and Architecture to travel beyond PowerPoint lecture slides and discover the history and art of France in situ. Working with the French Heritage Society, a Franco-American arts and cultural foundation that promotes the study and preservation of French art and architecture, I directly engaged and was surrounded with unique lenses of history.
“Humility first. Always take time to understand the complex community that you are entering as an outsider. Remember to take initiative when you are looking for volunteering opportunities. Always have ambition, be self-motivated, and willing to work independently.”
Dana McCoy, “Working Internationally in Child Health & Education” panelist, post-doctoral research fellow for the Saving Brains Initiative
The road to child health and education
For three recent panelists, an interest in child health was sparked while travelling internationally or as a result of working in different career field but not being happy with it. For Jackie Cruz, current assistant director of admissions at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, her initial interest in child health and education was as a result of visiting family in the Dominican Republic. “My dad was born in the Dominican Republic; I realized that there was a divide between the opportunities that my dad had and that I had. When I was in the Dominican Republic visiting family, I saw small boys shining shoes and was made aware of the opportunities that they had versus my own,” Jackie recalled. From this encounter, she decided to do a study abroad in Durban, South Africa. After college, Jackie went on to teach English in the east coast of Malaysia. “From my experience in Malaysia, I learned how the root of inequity is deeply embedded in early childhood,” she said.
As for Dana McCoy, a post-doctoral research fellow for the Saving Brains Initiative, her interest in child health and education was brought about by her passion for figuring out how the brain functions. “I was a neuroscience major in college. I thought that I wanted to do clinical psychology. However, as a research assistant at Mass General Hospital, I realized that while I focused on medication and treatment for adults, most problems that adults face started in early childhood,” she said. After this discovery, she then went on to work as a volunteer at an NGO that her friend had founded called World Partners in Education.
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!
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.
- Marketing is a broad field; there are different sides within the industry, including analytics, brand management, digital
marketing, and design—among others.
- Working in marketing at a smaller company will give you a more entrepreneurial type of experience, where you’ll have more responsibility for making decisions across various functions. Working in a larger company, your position may be more focused and you will have a more specialized role.
- In all marketing, it’s important to have a balance of right-brain and left-brain thinking. If you are more “right-brained,” the creative side of marketing might be better for you; if you are more “left-brained,” the analytics side might be more interesting.
- Your problem solving skills are crucial for this field.
- You must have strong communication skills: figure out what you’re going to say about your company and what you want to deliver.
- Shape a vision of your product, understand your company’s personality – and understand how it differs from its competitors.
- Be able to put yourself into the customer mindset and figure out what the customer wants.
- You must be capable of showing a certain level of leadership by taking ownership of projects and ideas.
- At the same time, you need to have a sense of collaboration and teamwork. You need to be able to work across functions.
- Going into a marketing interview, make sure you’ve done your homework beforehand. Show a certain passion about the company and demonstrate that you’ve used their product. Prepare specific questions that show you’ve done some thinking!
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.”
“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.”