This spring’s two installments of the Michael Jurist Distinguished Alumni Roundtable Series (MJDARTS) focused on establishing non-profits and working on Capitol Hill.
Learning from Each Other
On February 28, “Forming Your Own Non-profit” featured three SFS alumni: Jess Rimington, executive director of the One World Youth Project; Indra Sen, executive director and co-founder of Inspire Dreams; and Osman Ashai, engagement manager at Ashoka and co-founder of Kashmir Corps. Each speaker has balanced or is currently juggling full-time school or a job with running a non-profit.
“The time commitment is definitely needed. If the motivation and the energy is there, you’ll find it’s doable,” Ashai said. He added that nights and weekends become busy.
All of the speakers advised to find something that makes students passionate. Sen, whose organization Inspire Dreams provides academic, athletic and arts-based education programs to young Palestinian refugees, said to consider whether there’s a real need for something in society and not just to consider future scholarships or accolades.
Ashai emphasized forming partnerships and delivering on those partnerships. “It’s a very collaborative industry. There are a lot of young folks who are starting NGOs,” he said. He said that people are willing to share best practices and intellectual property more than in the private sector because they’re all just starting out. He advised students to take advantage of that but to do their part and help others, as well.
Rimington, whose organization One World Youth Project helps classrooms connect around the world to build global literacy, agreed that networking is key.
“One thing I tried to do was meet with ten people a week and tell them the story,” she said about making connections. “It’s about being intentional with each step.”
Networking, Networking, Networking
On March 28, “Working on Capitol Hill” featured Lauryn Bruck (F ’08) and Brent Woolfork (G ’08/MSFS), currently working as staff members of the U.S. Senate Rules and Administration Committee and the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee respectively.
Bruck encouraged people to get internships and to keep up conversations with people who are from the same state and are affiliated with the same party as they are. She stressed following up with contacts that students make through Georgetown. She noted that she completed six internships during her undergraduate years.
Bruck is currently working on her master’s degree and told students that working on the Hill offers a lot of opportunity for education. “SFS really adequately prepared me both for the stress of my job and also for my graduate degree,” she said.
Woolfork said that he felt comfortable at interviews after going through the MSFS orals process. When asked about turnover in jobs on the Hill, he advised, “Always just keep an ear to the ground to see what’s happening in other offices.” He also stressed that going to events, networking and staying active in events on the Hill can help keep options open in the worst-case scenario.
“Just get on peoples’ radar. Even if they don’t have a position, if they get on in the near future, they’ll remember you,” Bruck said.
Remembering Michael Jurist
The Michael Jurist Distinguished Alumni Roundtable Series is named in memory of Michael Jurist (F ’07). It is designed to expose School of Foreign Service undergraduates to the rich and varied accomplishments of SFS alumni who return to campus in an informal, roundtable setting to speak about where their degree has taken them and their personal experiences as well as the successes and challenges they have faced since graduation.
Jen Lennon | May 2011
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