“You’re Moving to Syracuse?!” Why I’m Here.

Hello perspective students! My name is Alexcia Chambers and I am a first-year Public Diplomacy (PD) graduate candidate here at Syracuse. What does Public Diplomacy mean? Good question. That’s what I’m here to find out. Logistically, it means I will receive two degrees from Syracuse after this two-year program—one M.A. in International Relations (called MAIR in conversation) from the Maxwell School and one M.S. in Public Relations from the Newhouse School. Together, these degrees form the program called “Public Diplomacy.”

In future posts, I’ll talk more about what the day-to-day looks like as a PD student… but for now I’d like to share with you why I’m here.

During the admissions process, I applied to 11 graduate programs. I wish I could say I was set on Syracuse from the get-go, but in reality I flipped a coin the day the deposit was due to make a decision (for the record, the coin landed on another school and my heart sunk so I knew I had to go with Syracuse). Now having spent four months here, I can tell you exactly why Syracuse is the right choice for a Public Diplomacy student.

What makes this program special:
1) Students get two degrees in two years with one semester in Washington, D.C.
2) It straddles two of the country’s top schools in their respective fields.
3) As a full-time student, you get the chance to focus all your energy on school.
4) More peers, colleagues, and friends!

Two degrees, two years
This means two things: (1) you get more out of your investment, and (2) you have more versatility in the job-search. During these two years, PD students develop two separate but complementary skills sets at the same time. Whereas other programs that offer similar coursework sometimes cover some combination of the two disciplines, they do not fully integrate students into both fields like Syracuse does. The fact that you have two very competitive degrees means you can use them in any way you like. You can rely more heavily on one than the other in the job search (for a traditional PR job or traditional IR job), or you can use both perfectly in concert (at places like the U.S. Department of State, the United Nations, various NGOs, and more).

Between Maxwell and Newhouse
Physically, the two schools are right in front of one another. I’d say it’s about a 3-minute walk door-to-door… which I’m told is important information to have in the winter months. Beyond the physical convenience, what really makes this the ideal situation is the fact that students have access to resources from both schools—faculty, alumni, career services, research opportunities, and more. As one grad student among hundreds of very qualified peers, I feel like I have a big leg up when I have access to recruiting events at both Maxwell and Newhouse. Further, it opens my eyes up to opportunities I would not have otherwise known existed, simply because there are two offices helping me in the search.

Newhouse is the shiny building in the bottom left and Maxwell is the brick building with pillars in the middle right. See! Not far at all. SU Photo by Steve Sartori
Newhouse is the shiny building in the bottom left and Maxwell is the brick building with pillars on the right. See! Not far at all. SU Photo by Steve Sartori

When I was making my admissions decision, I’ll admit I was skeptical about relocating myself to upstate New York. But the funny part is that SU’s location is one of its greatest advantages. Think I’m crazy yet? Consider this: First, the students that choose Syracuse are here to learn. Above all else, students choose Syracuse because of the value of their respective programs. Second, all of our resources and contacts are pooled/transported here specifically for our students, which means everything is better aligned with our interests and studies. Third, students are not required (or “highly encouraged” wink, wink) to hold jobs or internships while on campus, so students can focus more directly on schoolwork and explore new topics.

It may sound stressful to coordinate between two different schools and two different cohorts, but there’s a really strong sense of one, single community at Maxwell. PD, Masters of Public Administration (MPA), and traditional MAIR students take classes together, socialize together, and grow together! Half the fun of grad school is creating strong relationships with people that will inevitably become future coworkers and friends.

So there’s the hard PD sell. I have much more to share, but you’ll have to wait until the third week of every month to read more about my perspective on how to prepare for grad school, social life at Maxwell, what to do with PD degrees, and more. If you just can’t wait that long, please feel free to reach out at any time. We can correspond via email or schedule a call on Skype! Grad school is an important decision for everyone—I’m just here to give you some insight on what it means to be a Maxwell student.

Until next month!