A More Secure World

On November 5th I had the good fortune to attend the annual Public Diplomacy (PD) symposium entitled: “Building a More Secure World: Public Diplomacy for 21st Century Actors.” The symposium is put on by PD students who are pursuing dual degrees in international relations through Maxwell and public relations through the Newhouse school. It’s a day-long event in Washington, DC., complete with speaker panels on issues of public affairs and diplomacy, networking events with alums and other professionals in the field, and plenty of free food and thought-provoking conversations. At every turn there was someone who had expertise in some specific niche of international relations, and through panels and small talk I learned so much about what others do around the world.

I attended this after my internship supervisor generously let me take the entire day off, and I will admit it was well worth it. My classmates came all the way from Syracuse to attend– and many of them weren’t even PD! It was an impressive feat of logistics and sheer student-power, and it was able to connect generations of Maxwell students with professionals in the field. I don’t have a PD background, but this event didn’t make me feel like I needed one. Simply by existing in the world that we have today, I’m already participating in the sphere of public diplomacy with a small “p.”

The world has undergone a communications revolution, and organizations both within governments and outside through NGOs and private companies all have to contend with the best ways to relay information and reach the necessary publics. Even if you’re involved in a technical field like security or IT, you still have to find ways to communicate to others– even if it’s just telling your family at Thanksgiving what you do for a living. Especially in my DC classes, which tend to focus more on the nitty gritty of security, I’ve found the ability to seamlessly convey a message to be indispensable. And, with so much information floating around, it’s become even more important to make sure that people know what you’re doing and want to help you do it.

photo 3 (2)

At the end of the symposium, the keynote address was given by Anita Sharma who worked for the UN Foundation. She spoke about the UN Millennium goals and just how close the world was to achieving them. The speech was, as she put it, told through rose colored lenses, but in my opinion the optimism of it was no mistake. In many ways, the world is getting better– we’re more connected than ever, even in some remote regions. Medicine, technology, and networks are becoming more advanced and have more people connected than ever in human history. However, with things like poverty, violence, and environmental damage we still have a long road ahead, and it will take all of us working together to keep going in the right direction. I think it will be important to not only keep the hardships in mind, but to remember that things are still able to improve. We should use our optimism not to pretend issues of the world don’t exist, but to become energized to do something about them.

It’s no secret that when everything seems hopeless, you lose your energy to even try. Sharma’s main message that I took away was that instead of giving up, we should pay attention to what’s going right and use that to inspire us to continue to work for a better world. It can be easy to get sucked up into the day-to-day minutia that distract us from this, but I think events like this symposium are crucial in reminding us not to give up hope.



Maxwell DC Networking Trip

For many college students, spring break is about warm beaches and beer but in graduate school, especially in a one year program, the break is about hunting for a job. Each year, Maxwell students organize a networking trip to Washington, D.C. About half to two-thirds of the class will end up working in the region and as a result, is the largest alumni base.

The trip kicked off bright and early on a Monday morning at Maxwell’s new home in Washington, CSIS’s headquarters. Former NASA administrator Sean O’Keefe, MPA ’78, gave the keynote address. A lot of talk has gone into how difficult it is to break into the public sector these days but Mr. O’Keefe recalled how difficult folks said it was during his time at Maxwell and concluded there is never a good time to enter the public sector. It was a refreshing take on the current environment in Washington and set a positive tone for the trip.

Next, we hosted two panels back to back. The first was on working in the federal government. There were representatives from the Federal Transit Authority, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Department of Education. Representing the mid-senior levels in their career, they talked about how they progressed in their careers and gave advice on getting into the federal government. Representatives from nonprofit and NGO sector made up the second panel and represented the Atlas Service Corps, EDUCAUSE and the Pan American Health Organization. One panelist was not originally from the U.S. and suggested a few ways for international students to obtain jobs in the U.S.

Maxwell students visit the State Department
Maxwell students visit the State Department

By 11a, we concluded the panel discussion and set folks free to go to site visits. For the next two days, students visited alumni at their offices to discuss how they got there and what they do. The trip organizing committee tries to cover as many interests as possible, from state and local government, federal government, international organizations and the nonprofit and NGO sector, and students visited 27 sites including the Department of State, the Department of Defense, the World Bank, D.C. Public Schools, Brookings Institution, Chemonics and Grant Thornton LLP. Students learned about public diplomacy at the State Department and visited the press briefing room (see photo). At the Defense Department, we met with an alumnus who worked on NATO issues and discussed Ukraine. Despite all that has gone on in the past two weeks, I was touched he kept his commitment to meet with us. He said he welcomed the break from his current duties.

On Monday, the careers and alumni offices hosted one of the largest ever happy hours for alumni and current students to meet and chat over drinks and appetizers. It is a fantastic way to hear about their careers and you never know who will show up. I started talking to an alumnus who worked at HUD. While it was not an area I was particularly interested in working, he was deeply informative and after I told him my interests, he introduced me to a good friend who was working in my dream career. He even offered to help me break into the organization.

Overall, the trip was a great success and it highlighted how the Maxwell Mafia helps each other out without expecting anything in return.

Side note: If you are an incoming student, this trip was almost entirely organized by volunteer students. If you want to make a meaningful impact, join the networking committee.

Potpourri of Syracuse Tips

As I sit inside preparing for the impending “snowmageddon” I am having a tough time deciding what to blog about. Thus, I give you a menagerie of some tricks I have learned in my time in Syracuse.

Parking – I get asked about this very often. Parking on campus is difficult and there are kiosks with parking attendants at every entrance. However, if you are driving to campus on the weekend (and there is no event at the Carrier Dome) you can probably park at main campus. Other than that you can purchase a parking pass for south campus (around $80 per semester), park at Manley Fieldhouse and catch a bus to main campus. I have my own system for parking on campus, which is probably not approved for this blog, that I prefer to not write down but saves me from buying a parking pass, paying parking tickets, or having to park on public roads. Feel free to ask me about it in person!

Parking Part 2 – This is regarding parking in Syracuse (not the University). Alternate street parking is a huge pain and the police are VERY good at finding cars parked illegally. So my first advice is to not chance it, at least when it comes to alternate street parking. Specifically for Marshall Street, the meter attendants get off of work at 5PM so you do not need to pay them from 5PM to 9AM. This is helpful if you would like to leave your car down there and avoid walking to the bars (though it won’t help you getting back!). Finally, and most importantly is this tidbit: Syracuse will boot any vehicle with 3 or more tickets. Most people, if they get a ticket, will not pay the ticket until they get a 3rd and immediatelly pay it off. Any car with 3 tickets that parks on city streets is fair game for booting. The city has yet to perfect getting people to pay their first 2, however.

Student Legal Services – Get a speeding ticket? Open container? Noise violation? Student Legal Services can help you for free! As part of your student fee you are entitled to use attorneys dedicated to helping students! I have friends who have recouped entire security deposits from landlords, gotten speeding tickets removed, and had their leases reviewed before signing. If you have any legal troubles as a student you should contact them first!

Health Services – Another service brought to you by your student fee. They specialize in getting you handled quickly and they are great for any cold, flu, or other minor ailments. They also have a pharmacy that can continually fill your prescriptions. You can also schedule an appointment with a nutritionist, get x-rays, or stitches.


This is a small glimpse into some of the great services that the University offers. I encourage you to seek out any other services you need through the University since they probably already have a solution for you. Feel free to contact me about any of this information. Have a great weekend!