I graduated with a double-major, in IR and AMES (with a focus on China) in 2004. Immediately after graduating I moved to DC, where after a few months of job-searching I was obtained a position as a Staff Assistant in the DC office of Senator Rick Santorum. I realized fairly quickly that I would need further education to have an impact on the policy world, and so applied to graduate school that same year. In 2005 I left the Senate office to begin a two-year master's program at the Johns Hopkins University Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). While there I interned for a business magazine in Taiwan and for Foreign Policy magazine in DC. I'm currently on a one-year research fellowship at The National Bureau of Asian Research in Seattle, Washington, researching Chinese banking reforms and working on a number of other programs and publications. I'm not yet sure where I'll be headed after the fellowship concludes, but possibilities include US government work back in DC, a publication focusing on international affairs, and consulting. The IR program at Penn definitely played a big role in enabling me to reach this point. The program at SAIS is very focused on economics; I would likely not have gotten in had I not had the serious economics coursework that the Penn program requires. Having written an honors thesis earned me instant credibility, provided me with something interesting to discuss in job interviews, and provided me with confidence with my own ideas and ability to tackle imposing projects and big ideas. Most importantly, the program faculty and staff were extraordinarily helpful in providing advice and guidance and writing recommendations. They are a terrific resource for students that know to ask for and take advantage of their help.
-Michael H. Cognato, Class of 2004
My career path took me in several directions as I searched for the best opportunities to follow my passions and to fully utilize my skill sets. In the year after graduating from UPenn in 1996, I went on to work in various capacities, including as an Editorial Assistant at a Philadelphia-based foreign policy research institute and as a Paralegal at an immigration law firm in New York City. In 1997 I enrolled as a graduate student in the Department of Politics at New York University, receiving my MA degree in 1998. Though I had originally intended to continue in the program towards the PhD, I decided to defer admission and work for a while, starting work in technology consulting based in NYC. In 2000, I moved to San Francisco to start a technology company with overseas clients, and a year later - when the Internet bubble burst - I again switched jobs to Director of Operations at a SF-based nonprofit organization specializing in the use of documentary films for community outreach efforts. Deciding that it was finally time to return to school, and with a full scholarship I enrolled as a graduate student in the Anthropology Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago, focusing on archaeology. Currently, I am in Vietnam on a fellowship to conduct my archaeological dissertation fieldwork at an ancient citadel dating from the Metal Age, and I am interested in the underpinnings of Vietnamese civilization and the factors that lead to the formation of state-like polities and complex societies. Though I could not have predicted it at the time, my training with IR at Penn has enabled me to pursue work and research in various ways which were either directly or indirectly related to politics, economics, international business, and history. My overall objective, once the dissertation is complete, is to obtain a teaching and research position at a university.
-Nam C. Kim, Class of 1996