Most students have to wait until after graduation for the chance to influence real-world policy and apply the skills they’ve learned throughout their studies. This isn’t so for Master of Global Affairs (MGA) students. This year, MGA students gained valuable experience at world-leading organizations through internships with businesses, governments and NGOs in 18 countries, as well as the program’s hands-on, student-led career development initiative, MGA Career Week.
To celebrate our MGA students and shed some light on the program’s unique professional focus, we spoke to three students who shared their favourite experiences, as well as their aspirations and plans for after graduation.
Valentina Briceño-Strocchia, second-year student
Valentina Briceño-Strocchia made the most of the 12- to 16-week internship that is an integral part of the Munk School’s MGA program. She interned at the Embassy of Canada to Argentina, where she had the chance to meet with government representatives and different human rights organizations focused on migrants, women, Indigenous peoples and the LGBTQ community. “I have always been curious about the foreign service as a career option, and I wanted to try it out as a student. I’ve been really lucky because the people I’ve met have been amazing – everybody really cared about my experience, from my supervisors to the Ambassador of Canada to Argentina and Paraguay. They’ve all helped me.”
After an exchange at Sciences Po in Paris, Briceño-Strocchia will return to Toronto for the last semester of her MGA. “I’m really glad that I get to come back because I’ve met really outstanding people in the MGA program who have taught me so much. We’re all so different, we come from so many different backgrounds. It’s amazing to be in the same room with them and listen to what they have to say.”
Looking towards the future, Briceño-Strocchia hopes to work with the government in social innovation or on human rights advocacy—or, in an ideal world, work across both sectors.
Marko Kljajic, second-year student
For Marko Kljajic, the MGA program’s focus on providing students with opportunities to work with practitioners in business, government and the non-profit sector, has been a huge asset in developing his skills and career.
He recently participated in the 2017 Toronto International Humanitarian Law Conference organized in collaboration with the Canadian Red Cross. The conference focused on the evolution of laws regulating armed conflict and brought together academic experts, practitioners and representatives from the Red Cross movement. “I found it really beneficial to be able to take part in this conference and develop an understanding of what human rights law really is and what it can achieve,” Kljajic explains.
Before the event, Kljajic led a student research group, which put together a reading list and prepared questions tailored to speakers for the event. Students took part in discussions, and their feedback will inform a chapter of the Red Cross’ forthcoming guide on humanitarian law. “It was an invaluable experience to work directly with the Red Cross, and as someone with a keen interest in humanitarian law, it was really inspirational to listen to people who are leading the field.”
After graduating from the MGA program in June, Kljajic wants to go to law school and pursue his interest in humanitarian law and international human rights law. He is also applying for his PhD to study psychology and politics of mass violence.
Ashley-Nicole Harrison, first-year student
Ashley-Nicole Harrison, who helped to plan MGA Career Week this year, decided to pursue an MGA because she wanted a multidisciplinary degree that would give her the flexibility to work in different fields and locations. “I was unsure of what to expect coming into the program, but I was pleasantly surprised by the social atmosphere of the program, which I expected to be less communal and more competitive than it is.”
For Harrison, the MGA program is unique because of its focus on fostering practical skills such as working in small teams, developing policy recommendations for current issues, and working with real clients in the second-year courses. “I believe that this approach is valuable in terms of preparing us for the type of work that many of us will eventually do, and allowing us to become comfortable working in teams with people from various academic, professional, and personal backgrounds.”
After her graduation, Harrison plans to work in development. “The interdisciplinary nature of the program prepares students for a vast number of careers in many sectors within the fields of global affairs and policy,” she says. “Based on the fact that all global issues are interdisciplinary, having a background in the fields of law, policy, security, and civil society will enable us to more intimately understand the global problems that we will be presented within our careers.
Are you curious about the Munk School’s Master of Global Affairs program? Head over to the Master of Global Affairs website to learn more.