Tag: Career Development (page 1 of 4)

Career Center Resources

Andy Mendez, MBA/SID'23

Andy Mendez, MBA/SID’23

On the first floor of the Heller School building, you’ll find a couple of things. This includes the Heller Admissions Office, the Dean’s Office, and the Career Development Center. The Career Center can be an excellent resource in your graduate journey – if you know what resources exist and how to use them. Here is my advice for how to make the most of resources at the Career Center.

Schedule Mock Interviews

At this point in the semester, my cohort members and I are fully in the job and fellowship search process. Many of my classmates are seeking consulting roles and these kinds of jobs have a very particular interview format, which usually involves completing and presenting a mock case. If you’ve never had this kind of interview before, it can be very intimidating and confusing. Scheduling a mock interview with the Career Center is a great way to practice and get comfortable with this format before you do the real thing. I’m currently in the running for the Presidential Management Fellows program and the interview for this focuses heavily on behavioral and situational interviewing. Having a mock interview with career staff helped me practice the STAR method response format. I generally struggle with deciding which experience is most compelling for which question. Career Center staff gave me solid feedback that helped me determine which of my anecdotes were best suited to answer the questions I’d likely be asked. 

Attend Informational Sessions

The Career Center offers several information sessions a month, all with different focuses. The three types of sessions I’ve found most helpful are: talks with Heller alumni, overviews of fellowship programs, and webinars with employers or professionals in the sector I’m interested in. By attending sessions with Heller alumni, I’ve learned a lot about what resources exist on campus for students and how best to maximize my time as a student. Heller alumni also talk about how they positioned themselves for their next opportunity post-graduation. As a graduate student, there are a ton of fellowships that you may qualify for and that provide funding for language study, research, and professional development both in the US and abroad. Attending these situations is a great way to get a sense of which opportunities you may qualify for and to learn how to draft a competitive application. Lastly, employer sessions are a great way to network with professionals in your field of interest and learn about potential internship or full-time roles they might be recruiting for. 

Read the Newsletter

The Career Development Center sends out a weekly email newsletter. This newsletter shares upcoming networking events as well as active job postings. Even if you are not actively job or internship searching, it’s a good idea to briefly glance at the opportunities listed. I like to scan the qualifications sector for postings that look relevant. This gives me a sense of what employers are looking for and has helped me tailor my jobs and extracurriculars to better develop these competencies. The newsletter includes both events happening at Heller and in Greater Boston. The Heller events are normally doing the lunch hour and over Zoom, which is very accessible. The events in Boston are usually in the evenings when most people don’t have classes. Attending these events is a great way to practice your networking skills and interact with your cohort outside of a classroom setting. 

Evaluate Job Offers

Salary negotiation can feel scary even for students with a lot of full-time job experience. This can be even tougher if you are evaluating multiple job offers at once. Sitting down with a Career Advisor can help you think through the best ways to position yourself in the negotiation process and can also help you identify other types of benefits you may be able to negotiate either instead of, or in addition to, salary. 

Overall, the Career Center is not a resource you want to put on the shelf until a few panicked weeks before graduation. The resources at the Career Development Center are designed to support students throughout all stages of their graduate school career.

Social Entrepreneurship at Heller

Andy Mendez, MBA/SID'23

Andy Mendez, MBA/SID’23

Even if you are not in the Social Impact MBA program, Heller students can benefit from participation in social entrepreneurship initiatives both at the Heller School and the wider Brandeis community. Social entrepreneurship events are a great form of experiential learning. They offer the chance to network outside of your cohort and provide a real-world forum for applying course concepts. I’d like to highlight the social entrepreneurship opportunities I’ve enjoyed the most. 

The Heller Social Impact Startup Challenge

This is an annual event in the fall semester planned almost entirely by current students. This three-day event brings together Heller students from all programs to form teams, develop their ideas with the help of mentors, and present their business concepts before a panel of judges – many of whom are Boston-area entrepreneurs. I joined this competition in my first semester, which allowed me to apply the concepts I was learning from Financial Accounting, as well as Leadership & Organizational Development. I was still very new to the Heller community, so this event also gave me the chance to meet new people and form connections. I originally came to Heller just for the MA in Sustainable International Development program but was encouraged by alumni to add the MBA. After completing the Startup Challenge, I knew I had made the right decision. 

SPARK

The SPARK program is run by Brandeis Innovation. In the fall, SPARK accepts applications for its pitch competition, known as SPARKTank. First prize and People’s Choice Award winners in the Heller Startup Challenge receive streamlined entrance into the competition. The SPARK competition differs from the Heller Startup Challenge in that it is open to Brandeis faculty, staff, and students. Judges have innovation as a top criteria. The pitch time is much shorter than the Heller Startup Challenge, so my team really had to challenge ourselves to be focused, specific, and deliberate about how we communicated our idea. Winning teams from SPARK automatically join the SPARK startup incubator. The incubator happens over spring semester. Teams meet weekly for workshops that help them hone in on topics like competitive advantage, customer discovery, and revenue generation. My favorite thing about SPARK was the cohort aspect. Our cohort included teams from the International Business School, a professor in the Asian Studies Department, as well as first and second year Heller MBA students. I learned so much from being able to hear what other teams were working on and what challenges they were working through.

Courses in Social Entrepreneurship

In addition to events, Heller students can also engage in social entrepreneurship through coursework. Students have the option of two courses – Global Social Entrepreneurship and Social Entrepreneurship & Innovation – both taught by the MBA Program Director, Carole Carlson. Professor Carlson has recently authored an entire textbook with case studies on mission-driven ventures. In the spring semester, she teaches the half-semester course on Global Social Entrepreneurship, which highlights examples of social impact businesses around the globe. I really appreciated how the class encouraged us to be skeptical and question if everything that is labeled a social venture is in fact truly mission-driven. The course also emphasizes that just because a social impact is taking place, mission-driven ventures still must have robust revenue models and solid business plans to be viable. In this class, I was introduced to essential business tools for lean startups, including the Business Model Canvas and the theory of change. In this course, students actually form teams, develop a business idea, and present on their business idea as their final project. My team presented on the idea of an eco-grocery store in Bhutan that would reduce waste and create jobs for urban youth. The fall semester course, Social Entrepreneurship & Innovation, dives even deeper into these concepts and presents students with more domestic case studies. Other topics covered include competitive advantage, scaling, and financing social ventures. 

If you are even the slightest bit curious or interested in entrepreneurship, I encourage you to dip your toes in and take advantage of these opportunities!

The Summer Internship Part One

Brielle Ruscitti, MS GHPM/MA SID'24 Headshot

Brielle Ruscitti, MS GHPM/MA SID’24

We are about halfway through the semester and while spooky season is fun, the spookiest part is starting my search for a summer internship. As a student in the dual degree (Sustainable International Development and Global Health Policy and Management), students must complete a summer practicum, which essentially is an internship. Students in this program are responsible for findings their own summer employment. In this and future posts, I will take you through how I am beginning my search and how the application process goes throughout the semester. I hope that for future readers this makes the process easier to understand and maybe gives you a place to start your own plan and internship search.

Step One: Look into the resources available and get familiar with them. Heller has an incredible resource in its staff which help students not only search for their practicum but also help develop your application materials such as your resume and cover letter.  I been using resources such as Handshake and LinkedIn which can help you begin to get an idea of types of internships, deadlines, and different companies and organizations to work with.

Step Two: Gather and update your application materials. I started this week by dusting my cover letter and updating it to use for an internship application and made sure my resume was up to date. This makes the application process much easier as your materials are ready to go, and I can easily add position specific information to my cover letter and resume to make sure my application is submitted on time. I also made sure to reach out to previous or current professors to see if they can write letters of recommendation. This is especially important because you want to make sure they have ample time for what they need to write.

Step Three: Begin the search. This is the most daunting part: there are so many to look through on a number of different websites and platforms, the whole thing becomes overwhelming almost instantly. So far I’m using a couple different strategies to make the searching less overwhelming. I started by checking both Handshake and LinkedIn for a set amount of time and used a specific set of filters or search terms to find positions that I would be interested in. I make sure to save the positions I am interested in so I can set time aside later to apply. I have also signed up for some newsletters, both from Heller and other organizations, that post internship openings. I read those carefully and look into the organization hiring to ensure I want to apply. This process has just started and I am sure I will have feedback for myself.

My search and applications have just begun, so stay tuned to read as my process continues.

MBA Extracurriculars: The Board Fellows Program

Andy Mendez, MBA/SID'23

Andy Mendez, MBA/SID’23

As of right now, less than two months remain in my tenure as a Heller MBA Board Fellow and the 2023 cohort is actively being recruited from among the ranks of first-year MBAs. In the Board Fellow program, MBA students are matched with nonprofit organizations and sit on their Board of Directors as a non-voting member for 12 months. I had the great fortune of getting matched with Bikes Not Bombs, a youth development organization that uses the bicycle as a vehicle for social change. I entered this program to get a better understanding of nonprofit governance, to connect with a local organization that does programming in my professional area of interest, to expand my professional network, and to increase my leadership skills. Here are my tips for maximizing this opportunity!

Join a Committee

Both corporate and nonprofit boards organize themselves into relevant subcommittees. Common ones include Finance, Executive, Governance, and Fundraising. At Bikes Not Bombs, I knew early on that I wanted to join the Governance committee. This committee has been focused on board member recruitment, engagement, and succession planning. Prior to coming to Brandeis, I had been involved in the recruitment, onboarding, support, and offboarding of AmeriCorps volunteers and was curious what recruitment looked like for a nonprofit board. Joining a subcommittee helped me get a firsthand insight into this process, while also allowing me to connect with a smaller subgroup of board members who I met with on a monthly basis (as opposed to the other board members, which I saw at our bi-monthly full board meetings). 

Volunteer or Help Plan Events 

Many nonprofits have annual flagship events that they are known for. These events are usually focused on fundraising and sharing the progress the organization has made that year. Bikes Not Bombs hosts two big fundraisers – the Building Momentum Breakfast and the Bike-A-Thon. For this year’s Bike-A-Thon, I volunteered to help run registration for teams biking in the event. Volunteering was a great way for me to meet key staff in the organization and hear from veteran participants their reflections on what this event means for them and the surrounding Jamaica Plain community. 

Have One-on-Ones with Board Members

Each person on the board (unless they are retired) is an active professional. At least 4 people on Bikes Not Bombs board were alumni of Heller’s MBA program! Meeting one-on-one for a virtual coffee chat was a great way to get to know them better, learn more about their career trajectory, and hear about what motivated them to get involved on the board. One of my favorite one-on-ones was when I had the opportunity to talk to Bikes Not Bomb’s capacity building consultant. From this conversation, I learned a lot about what it takes to improve board governance. 

As you can see, there are many ways to get involved beyond just attending board meetings. Many of my peers in the Board Fellows program have also taken on special projects related to committee work and many of them have found internships through their connections on the board. Nonprofit boards really appreciate the perspective of younger professionals and many boards are looking to fill certain skill gaps which Heller MBA students come equipped with. I’ve really enjoyed my Board Fellow experience thus far and I look forward to finishing strong!

Andy’s Advice to Maximizing your Time at Professional Conferences

Andy Mendez, MBA/SID'23

Andy Mendez, MBA/SID’23

One huge benefit of Heller’s location in Waltham, MA is its proximity to Boston. Graduate school is not only about coursework, but about professional development and networking building. Boston is home to local chapters of many nationally recognized professional associations, including Reaching Out MBA, the National Black MBA Association, the Association of Latino Professionals for America, and the National Association of Asian American Professionals. 

Thanks to the generous support of the Graduate Student Association and Heller’s Office of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion,  seven other Social Impact MBA candidates and alumni and I had the opportunity to attend the 44th annual National Black MBA Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. The schedules at these conferences are typically jam-packed with many workshops, expos, and receptions that run concurrently. As a result, it can be hard to know what to prioritize if you don’t go in with a game plan. Here’s what I learned about how to maximize your time at conferences. 

Research Employers Beforehand

The National Black MBA Conference held a two day Career Expo from 9 to 5 on Thursday and Friday with 200+ employers. We realized pretty quickly that it was physically impossible to try and talk to representatives at all 200 companies, especially since there were workshops and receptions happening throughout the day that we were also very interested in attending. Instead, we needed to approach this strategically. I used my time in the airport and on the plane to review the list of exhibiting employers and narrow it down to the top 20 that I was interested in, with the intention of talking to 10 employers each day of the expo. In reality, I ended up speaking with around 13 employers in total. Conversations with companies where there was clearly no alignment took less than 5 minutes. In contrast, my conversations with companies that were a good fit took around 20 minutes, which meant, in an hour, I had only talked to three.  In hindsight, I should have reviewed the employer list a lot sooner, and that way I could have printed more tailored resumes to hand to each employer. 

Scout out the Space

Each day of the expo, I began by doing one big round of the space to identify who was present and where the employers I was interested in were located. This is actually how I realized that there was a rotation, and not every employer was present every day, but rather, were there for a specific timeblock. I ended up missing two employers of interest because I didn’t realize this sooner. 

Leverage Technology

One thing that helped a lot was having LinkedIn downloaded as an app on my phone. In the app version, I was able to pull up a QR code that employers could scan and immediately add me to their networks. The second day of the expo, I realized it was better for me to scan the employer’s code, that way I could screenshot their profiles and have an easy list of people to follow up with post-conference. If you’re not big on LinkedIn, or if you forgot to bring physical copies of your resume, you could also consider downloading the HiHello app. This app allows you to create multiple profiles that you can send to others via QR code. Having multiple profiles allows you to tailor information to specific audiences. For example, maybe you have a graduate student profile that uses your school email and a job search profile that uses your personal email. I’ve had friends who had a separate profile for themselves as business owners. On HiHello, you can include a link to the social media of your choice and to a virtual company of your resume. 

Final Thoughts

When attending conferences, it’s important to remember that you can’t see or do it all. Researching the schedule, employers, and (if possible) attendees will help you identify the best places to focus your time and energy. The Heller Career Development Center newsletter, student working groups, and alumni are some of the best sources for identifying conferences that are a good fit for your academic and professional interests. Happy networking!

My Summer Internship Story

Ronunique Clark headshot

Ronunique Clark, MPP’23

“Work all winter so you can have fun all summer” or whatever the kids are saying nowadays… was not my experience this summer! Since my sophomore year of high-school, I’ve challenged myself to obtain an internship during my summer breaks. Internships grant students the opportunity to showcase their soft skills, but also gives the chance to learn new skills. It provides the opportunity to gain real life work experience that is transferable to your future career goals and even in the classroom.

For the Master of Public Policy program here at Heller, it is highly recommended to do an internship over the summer for the reasons stated above and many others. This summer, I had the opportunity to intern with the Department of Revenue – Child Support Enforcement  Division at the Metro office in Downtown Boston Government Center area. The Department of Revenue (DOR)  in Massachusetts manages the states taxes and child support. In addition to this, DOR  helps cities and towns manage their finances and administer the Underground Storage Tank program. The main focus of this agency is rulings and regulations, tax policy analysis, communications and legislative affairs.

The Child Support Enforcement (CSE)  Division provides tools and services to parents who pay child support and parents and caretakers who receive child support. Child support is a way for parents to share financial responsibility for their child even though they do not live together.  Even though I have previous experience in social/human services, the child support office was just a place I knew no parent wanted to be summoned too. The stereotyping around child support is that the state just wants to take your money and give it to a person that you no longer want to have any connections with whatsoever. Yet the person you no longer want to have relations with is now either the mother or father of your child or children, sealing that connection for life. So who is really at fault? Certainly not the child, so the DOR steps in. In the past year the division has allocated $2 million in compensation for children in Massachusetts.

My work was very clear, transparent, and extremely eye-opening. I worked from home Mondays and Fridays and hopped the orange line train Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.  As I have stated in previous blogs, I have learned to attend new experiences with minimal  preconceived notions and expectations, especially with the work I would be doing and the customers I would interact with. I was tasked with a two part summer project which required me to take a deep dive into our GMT testing process. GMT Testing in “normal people terms” is paternity testing in order to establish paternity between the child and alleged father.  All parties, alleged father, mother, and child have to participate in paternity testing.  The first part of the project, I spent time conducting data analysis using Excel about variations in our appointment attendance and testing result rates. I was able to provide Regional Directors with data that would help them meet their testing goals for the fiscal year. This part was daunting, to say the least, because I had minimal Excel experience beforehand but my supervisor never held that against me and trained me efficiently on how to navigate it. I wouldn’t say I am an Excel guru now but I certainly obtained good Excel skills.

For the second part of my project, I conducted a phone survey with mothers who were on TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) or formerly receiving TANF about their experiences with the GMT test process. I chose TANF mothers as my sample population because majority of child support case referrals are directly from our DTA offices. I called 90 mothers in hopes they would participate in my survey, and I received a response from 37 mothers, which, for me, was huge because I had never conducted a phone survey, and because I did not know if these women would even want to participate. I was able to gather information regarding trouble with scheduling of appointments, problems accessing the testing location, and concerns with our policies. Being able to hear these mothers stories and concerns made me feel extremely anxious, because I am a public policy student who is currently trying to break into this system. However, the system was already established in a way where all I could say to mothers who expressed concerns I was not trained for was, “I will take down your information and pass it along.” I sympathized with these mothers as a child whose mother applied to receive child support, yet rarely was given anything. I was able to present these findings in a final presentation followed by my personal recommendations to CSE regional directors who were very pleased with the results. However, I can not tell you if they will follow through with the feedback and recommendations. Maybe it will be a blog for another time? I hope!

To close out, I can say I was very proud of the work I was able to produce, the skills I was able to learn, and the people I connected with over the course of my summer.  I enjoyed my work so much that I switched my concentration from Economic and Racial Equity to Child, Youth, and Family Policy (CYF). I felt that the CYF concentration would be able to provide me with the tools to that would foster a healthy development of children, youth, and families a concentration that I honestly should of started with from the begin of my graduate school journey. Better late then never, right? Excited to see what this concentration entails as I approach my final year of grad school. Thank you, DOR, for an amazing summer and thank you, Heller, for providing me with the tools to succeed in that space!

 

Flash Forward: What are Heller graduates doing right now?

Every three months, a magazine appears in my mailbox. It’s not one I subscribed to, and most of the time, I have no idea what to expect in terms of the articles inside. But it’s one that I look forward to reading: The Brandeis magazine.

If you’re reading this blog, you’ve probably heard about the Heller magazine (shout out to Heller’s amazing communications team!), but you might not realize that Brandeis puts out a magazine every quarter too. And unlike what I’m sure of the majority of recipients do (leaf through a few pages, read an article or two that catches their eye, reads the class news for their class), I can proudly say that I read each Brandeis magazine cover to cover. My favorite part, however, might not be what you’d expect. Even though I myself never attended Brandeis, and even though the articles for Brandeis magazine are always fascinated, I love the class news section.

I love it because I get a glimpse of what some of our Heller graduates are up to. You see, once students enroll, we hand them off to their program directors, professors, advisors, and program managers. Sure, a current student or even an alumni might occasionally stop by to chat with us, but for the most part, once a student is enrolled, we fall off the radar. Reading through the class news lets me know what became of the shy prospective SID student I talked to at a graduate school fair, or the PhD applicant whose statement of purpose blew me away.

Today, I thought it might be helpful to share some updates from Heller’s graduates: not so that you can catch up with them, as I do, but so you can get a sense of where you might be post-Heller.

Medani Bhandari, SID’04, is a professor and advisor to the chancellor at Gandaki University (Nepal), professor at Sumy State University (Ukraine), and Vice President of Academic Affairs at Akamai University (Hawaii, USA).

Jill Baren, MBA’19, is the 14th president (and first woman president) of Lake Forest College.

Devan Quinn, MPP’17, is director of policy at the New Hampshire Women’s Foundation.

Jeanette Takamura, PhD’85, is a professor and dean emerita of the Columbia School of Social Work, where she served as the School’s first female dean. Dr. Takamura served as the assistant secretary for aging at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from 1997 to 2001.

Javaid Iqbal Sofi, MA SID/MS GHPM’21, is a fellow at the Harvard Public Health Review.

Leandre Waldo, MBA’02, is the chief of staff for the president of Saint Michael’s College.

Emmanuel Obasuyi, MS GHPM’15, is building a mobile-first electronic health record system for healthcare providers in emerging markets, which is being piloted in Nigeria.

Michael Ames, PhD’15, is president and CEO of the Robert F. Kennedy Community Alliance, a human-service organization. He’s also the president of the Massachusetts Association of Approved Special Education Schools’ board.

Jessica Sanon, MBA’18, founded sySTEMic Flow, a nonprofit which works to break down barriers for BIPOC women who study or work in STEM fields.

Amanda Kiessel, SID’03, is the co-creator of Good Market, a marketplace commons that makes it easier to connect with social enterprises, civic organizations, and businesses working to create a better world.

Daniella’s Got a New Job!

Daniella Levine, MPP ’21

As I’m writing this, it is my last day with Heller Admissions. I graduated with my Master of Public Policy degree on May 22, 2022 and have been lucky to continue working for admissions while I job search. Well, search no further! As of August 1, I will be starting as a Research Associate for the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies. According to the job posting: “The Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies is an academic research center that conducts rigorous policy relevant research about Jewish life and the Jewish community.” Heller has prepared me for this role in numerous ways; today, I thought it might be helpful for prospective students and applicants to see how Heller classes correspond to actual job skills.

Here are some of the Primary Responsibilities, Skills, and Experience listed in the job posting and how Heller helped me prepare for this job:

Participate in all phases of complex research projects including design, data collection, analysis, and interpretation of results AND Assist with survey writing, programming, testing, and administration

In my first semester at Heller, I took a research methods course that walked us through best practices for data accrual. All of our assignments pushed us to create and evaluate survey tools and proposals.

For quantitative researchers: Expertise in statistical software packages (e.g., SPSS, SAS, Stata, R). Familiarity with Stata statistical software and its syntax language is strongly preferred; For quantitative researchers: Demonstrated research experience in survey design, administration, and analysis; Summarize study results through charts, graphs, and presentations; AND Experience with cleaning, validating, and manipulating data

Before two semesters of Applied Regression Analysis and Applied Econometrics, I would have never told you I was interested in pursuing a career in research. It is a vast world of numbers and syntax; a world that pre-Heller me wouldn’t have touched with a ten-foot pole.  However, through these courses I’ve found immense fascination manipulating and cleaning data for my own benefit. To see the data align and measure the statistical impact of various social determinants has underscored the work I’ve done over the last two years in graduate school. It’s brought meaning and evidence to the cause I hope to champion and the work that needs to be done. Is STATA my best friend? Not yet, but I’m excited to grow these skills more in my new role and appreciate the courses that provided me with a solid foundation in quantitative research.

Assist in proposal development AND Experience as a task and project supervisor and/or manager

The semester-long capstone project both empowers and challenges students to create and facilitate their own research. From the proposal, to the report, to the presentation, we were solely in charge of the management and success of our capstone.

Conduct literature searches and reviews; Strong and effective written and verbal communication skills; AND Assist in the writing and editing of reports, journal articles, and presentations for both academic and lay audiences

The assignments for the MPP program are structured to imitate tasks you may be asked to complete in a policy-centered job. As such, each paper, blog post, literature review, project proposal, and analysis report I wrote over the last two years are all relevant to this new job. Each one helped me curate a succinct style and confident voice.

Demonstrated ability to work as part of a team, foster consensus, and collaborate with individuals and organizations with a range of interests and perspectives

Every class either requires or encourages group participation; something I was dreading about graduate school. However, again I was proven wrong. In college, a group project meant uneven work dispersal, varying commitment levels, and subsequent late nights. Group facilitation at Heller fostered collaboration. It showed me how to play to people’s strengths, learn from my peers, and identify my place on a team. It proved that group work is not only beneficial, but essential to successful work environments.

For qualitative researchers: Schedule and conduct telephone and in-person interviews, focus groups, and site visits AND Demonstrated research experience conducting interviews, focus groups and/or participant observation

And finally, a quick shout out to Heller Admissions. Over the last year and a half, I have been lucky to work on my interpersonal skills, through conducting interviews and responding to inquiries on all things Heller. This job has taught me how to conduct a tactful and appropriate interview,  liaise with our community, and engage in thoughtful and respectful dialogue.

I am most thankful for my experience at Heller and look forward to continue to grow the foundations set in place by my graduate school experience in my career to come.

Daniella’s Internship Experience

Daniella Levine, MPP ’21

Last summer, I had the privilege to serve as a Policy Intern for the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (you can find tips and tricks on how to secure a summer internship here).  A year into CAREs funding from the federal government, the department continued to hear from partner agencies that a subpopulation of renters in Massachusetts could not access support. Known as encargados, these tenants were not listed on a lease and therefore, did not exist in the eyes of the law. This made them ineligible for CAREs support. Most landlords are unaware that these individuals even live on their property, as tenants sign the leases and then rent the space (often at a higher rate) to others. Tenants needed to secure landlord approval to attain rent assistance during the pandemic.

As a Policy Intern, my primary responsibility was to explore and research this issue and propose a policy recommendation to the entire department at the conclusion of my internship. I started by reviewing the current housing policies in Massachusetts and conducting a preliminary search on state-level protocols. After understanding the landscape, I interviewed key stakeholders and partner agencies on the ground to find out their perspectives on best practices. This was not only an invaluable step, but necessary in the process. A policy maker can suggest and implement what they may think is best, but without community input and support, the policy will not succeed.  Once I collected all the pertinent information, I met with colleagues to both brainstorm and process as a collective.  Finally, I aggregated all of the data and produced a recommendation for the department to use as a foundation for any official decision on how to best support encargados.

Going into the internship, I felt a bout of imposter syndrome. Who was I to recommend a state policy? Yet, by the end of my two months with the department, I was the expert on the matter. I soon came to realize that the purpose of my work was less about the actual syntax of the recommendation, and more about exposing this gap in Massachusetts’s housing policy.  This was not just a classroom simulation or assignment, I was in the field working on a recommendation that could benefit hundreds of people. A majority of people in the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development were unaware of this housing inequity and being able to champion it for the state was an honor and a unforgettable experience.

A Letter to My Past Self on Her First Day at Heller: Ariel Wexler

Ariel Wexler, MBA/SID22

Ariel Wexler, MBA/SID22

Dear Past Ariel,

I imagine right now you are feeling overwhelmed and anxious about what the next 2 years at The Heller School will hold. Right now, it’s a few months into the pandemic, and there’s so much uncertainty in the world. I know now that you will spend the first year of your studies telecommuting from Los Angeles in your childhood bedroom. Despite waking up at 6 AM for your Leadership and Organizational Behavior class, you are quite comfortable taking long walks to the beach, dipping your head in the water as you count your blessings and begin the journey that is graduate school.  You’re just a few months out of the Peace Corps, having been evacuated from Guatemala in your last month of service. The borders of Guatemala have been closed off to foreigners since March and it is unsure when the pandemic will subside…if ever. I know as you begin your studies you are worried about achieving academic success in a rigorous business curriculum and how you will adjust and reintegrate into US culture with your peers.

Thanks to your hard work and dedication, you will successfully graduate in May 2022 with two masters degrees. Although the workload and courses were indeed challenging, you end up excelling in your studies and enjoying the process. When you started your program, you were interested in the possibility of integrating your interests in the intersection of international economic development and social enterprise as part of your experiential Team Consulting project capstone. You came out as a leader in your studies, and even planned a field research and discovery trip with your connections to the specialty coffee company Chica Bean for 9 students consulting with them over the summer of 2021. Even though the field trip occurs in your third semester of your studies, it will be in Guatemala that you meet members of your cohort for the first time in person. You have heard this countless times from friends and family: graduate school is about the network, and you will be elated to know that you make great solid connections with students from all over the world.  It makes the transition to being a student and to the US so much easier. Your second year residence in Waltham ends up being with a group of Peace Corps and Americorps alumni.

You will participate in the Heller Start-Up challenge your second year and win second place for a seaweed venture idea and go on to win first place in the Spark competition in February. Throughout this experience you will learn a great deal about entrepreneurship and be introduced to the business ecosystem of Boston. My advice to you would be to take a deep breath and enjoy every moment of the experience, and continue to invest deeply in education and people. Your hard-working and organized nature will continue to help you throughout your education. In addition to learning valuable skills you will progress in developing your confidence and better understanding your assets as a young professional. Continue to navigate the world with integrity and passion.

Good luck!

Future Ariel

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