The heart of NYU Wagner's programs is our faculty. An amalgam of full-time, clinical/research/visiting, and adjunct professors, they are outstanding teachers, expert researchers and committed practitioners.
During the Intro to Policy class we were given an assignment to draft a strategy memo for a policy advocacy campaign. The assignment was given with considerable flexibility, in particular, with regards to the selection of the policy issue. I fell upon a topic within the issue of juvenile justice that really caught my attention. I immersed myself in the project and felt that I had found an issue that I wanted to explore further. This assignment prompted me to attend a career panel on working within the justice system, which then led me to get a summer internship with the Vera Institute of Justice.
I came to Wagner pretty much knowing that I wanted to work in environmental and open space planning. Since many of the internships in this field are unpaid, I took the ‘survival job’ path: throughout my Wagner career, I had part-time survival jobs which were not in my field of choice but allowed me to accept very exciting unpaid internships specific to my area of study.
Once I knew I had been accepted to Wagner I began to craft a plan to take my prerequisites first. Declaring my specialization as policy also set the direction for the courses I scheduled. I planned my courses according to their availability (Fall, Spring) and also made sure to enroll in the required specialization courses ASAP so that I could begin taking elective courses for my specialization.
Holding an internship and part-time job during my time at Wagner really helped me link theory to practice.
I used assignments in class to find out more about education issues. For example, I wrote my policy memo in Intro to Public Policy on No Child Left Behind. I wrote my evaluation proposal for Program Evaluation on the NYC Leadership Academy (which trains prospective principals). I also used the Policy Memo in Policy Formation and Analysis to learn more about the Mayor's relations with the United Federation of Teachers. I was able to speak about these papers in cover letters and use them as writing samples for internship applications. To push myself with a challenging area - statistics and education funding - I signed up for the team to analyze the article related to education funding in Stats II.
Having been in the work environment for a few years prior to entering Wagner, I really wanted to seize the opportunity to learn new skills and to challenge myself intellectually. Working closely with the staff at OCS, several of us were able to devise a cross-school initiative that not only supports the United Nations International Year of Microcredit, but also provides a platform for students to explore the field of international economic development. Taking an idea and turning it into a reality is certainly a learning experience.
I made sure to take as many prereqs as I could for the planning program and the Wagner core, and looked at what was offered in the spring versus the fall. I consulted my advisors and other professors for advice about classes to take that would match my areas of interest.
My summer internship in Kabul has given me a lot of insight into development work. My internship is unpaid, and I was apprehensive about that at first, but I figured it would pay off in the long run. There are tons of ex-pats here are and jobs are literally falling into my lap. It has shown me that it is pretty difficult to try to land an international job while sitting in your apartment in New York.
Since I'm exploring career options in another city, I used an assignment in Intro to Public Policy to learn more about the economic and political situation in that area. I researched an economic development initiative in St. Louis that helped me become more aware of the challenges facing the city and who is addressing them. This helped me during informational interviews by demonstrating my interest and helping me contextualize some of what I learned during the interviews.
Wagner prides itself on teaching students how to practice what they learn. OCS was the backbone that connected my in-class academics to my professional advancement and made Wagner’s promise a reality.