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Erica Bramlet and friendsThis summer I was given the chance of a lifetime to travel to Australia to attend Asia Pacific Week 2012, an annual conference that brings 100 delegates from around the world together to discuss trends and developments in the Asia Pacific region. Since I had studied abroad the summer before with the SPEA Vietnam program, I was forwarded an application to be one of IU’s delegates through the Pan Asia Institute (a partnership I didn’t formerly know existed between IU and the Australia National University—check it out!). On a whim, I applied. Little did I know how significant the impact of this experience would be on my studies, worldview, and future career plans.

Once I was accepted, the panic set in. I realized I had to present my senior thesis research on international deforestation policy to 100 scholars, some already many years into their Ph.D.’s. I did not think my background in environmental issues would allow me to relate to or academically interact with other delegates, almost all of whom were specializing in the Asia Pacific region. Instead, I found myself more captivated and wrapped up than almost any other throughout the week in all of the panelists’ discussions of topics I’d never even considered—from military strategies to shifting media portrayal of gender roles in Korea. Not only did new topics stretch my mind, but I was also enabled to see how the policies of the United States we all study in SPEA affect others. I had never before considered how America’s policies and interactions with the Chinese government could affect third parties like Australia, a country involved closely with both nations. While this is just one example of a different perspective I gained while at the conference, what I ultimately took away from the experience was that the only way to get the most out of our educations is to push ourselves. Apply to opportunities not quite in your field, join an interesting club, travel to countries that might make your parents cringe, and wholeheartedly leap out of your comfort zone.

Erica is studying for her Bachelor of Science in Public Affairs majoring in Environmental Management and expects to graduate in 2013. She is also in the Accelerated Masters Program with a 2014 graduation date.


Megan CaldwellSo this August will mark the first time in 17 years that I am not buying new folders and pencils. Instead I am now happily finding a rhythm in my little basement apartment in DC with an incredibly fulfilling job doing policy consulting for Booz Allen Hamilton. I know that I have only a little bit of distance from college, and am not at all wise, but I wanted to pass on some advice to all the SPEA seniors. This is a short list of things to remember between all those tailgates, myriad of Two Dollar Tuesdays, spontaneous road trips, and late nightlife discussions with close friends that are bound to fill all of your senior years. The real world and job market is daunting but it’s manageable, I promise. Hopefully at least one of the things on this list will help demystify and distress the process.

1. It is never too early to reach out to the IU alumni in the city you want to live in or in the company or organization where your ‘dream job’ lies. The IU Alumni Association has chapters all over the country of enthusiastic and well-connected alumni that want to help you get a job. Check the IUAA website to see if the chapter in the city you wish to live in is visiting Bloomington, join them for a drink at Nick’s. When you go for an interview or just a road trip email the chapter president in that city and get coffee with them. Join their Facebook pages and follow them on Twitter, this informal networking works wonders.

2. Gently hassle your old classmates. Remember all those people you had classes with, worked alongside in student groups, or lived with last year that are now in the mysterious real world? Call them, email them, Facebook message them. Ask them about how they like their jobs and their cities. Most job openings are filled based on employee referrals and this is especially true of entry-level jobs. Have your friends and former classmates help you get in on the ground level. We remember where you were and want to help.

3. Go to every career event and networking mixer you can. I did not do this as much as I should have; I made up plenty of excuses why I didn’t have to go. Don’t be lazy. Go to information sessions about companies you don’t know anything about or fields you don’t have any interest in. The more of these you attend, the more organizations you will be able to say definitely not, maybe, or yes about. Start to talk to the students you keep seeing at these events, they are the type of people you will be working with in the next year. Share job openings and networking opportunities with each other, the process is so much easier with someone who understands your situation by your side.

4. Don’t have too much pride. I probably literally filled out 50 job applications and heard from two organizations. I didn’t want to ‘ask’ someone for a job. WRONG. I finally Facebook messaged a classmate of mine at Booz Allen and had a signed offer in 6 weeks. You can’t do everything by yourself, no matter how strong a candidate you are. Swallow that pride, your parent’s friends trying to help you isn’t out of pity. They just want to help, someone did that for them years ago and now they want to pay it forward.

Most importantly remember that you have one year in your entire life to be a Senior at IU. You have your entire life to look for a job, stress about your future career moves, and fret about what city fits your personality. Guess what, those questions don’t stop after you get a job. So cherish the time you have as a senior, the ability to hike at Lake Monroe, watch IU cream every team in the Big 10 in basketball, and enjoy a long night on your front porch with people who challenge you to be better. So have fun this year and don’t ever hesitate to reach out to me with any questions. One of the greatest things about IU grads is that they look out for each other, so get excited there are over a half a million of us who have your back! GO HOOSIERS!

Megan graduated from SPEA in May, 2012 with a Bachelor of Science in Public Affairs with a focus on Policy Analysis.


Brian HowellI am currently a junior studying policy analysis. This summer I am interning for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Senator Richard Lugar’s Office in Washington, DC. Being in Washington is incredible and working on Capitol Hill is an experience of a lifetime. On June 13th I had the opportunity to attend the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Development Committee hearing on financial sector regulation overhaul and the JP Morgan $2 billion dollar trading loss that occurred in May. Speaking at the hearing was the CEO of JP Morgan, Jamie Dimon. Throughout the hearing I took notes on questions the committee asked Mr. Dimon and also outlined his responses.

To describe the meeting with words would not justify how exhilarating it was to be in the auditorium-like room, surrounded by press reporters, security, and a few hundred other ‘hillterns’. When the meeting adjourned I reviewed my notes and began writing a memo describing background information to the issue at hand as well as what was discussed throughout the hearing. Next I emailed the memo to legislative assistants in Senator Lugar’s office who are responsible for researching finance and economics.

One thing I am discovering while interning on the hill is that the internship is what you make it. Today I was scheduled to work in the legislative part of the Senator’s office; however, none of the legislative assistants (LA) had any work for me to do. Instead, I brought it upon myself to go to a committee hearing that interested me and briefed the LAs on topics discussed.

Be a self-starter. Also, always work harder than you need to.

Brian expects to graduate from SPEA in 2014 with a Bachelor of Science in Public Affairs with a focus on Policy Analysis.


Laura TriceWhen I chose to major in Environmental Science a mere three years ago, I gave little thought to the reality of the senior research project. It was so far away, just like graduation, so it was placed on the back burner. Now, as a senior, I am staring graduation straight in the eyes and am in the thick of my very own one-of-a-kind research endeavor.

My idea for a project came directly out of my spring break trip this past March with a group called IU Global Water Brigades (you should check it out!) to Honduras. During the trip, 11 passionate IU students helped dig trenches, lay pipeline, teach Honduran students, and soak up the awesomeness of the organization and the country. All of this was for the purpose of bringing treated drinking water to a community in the mountains called Palo Verde. We worked alongside students from all over the U.S. as well as a host of Hondurans from the community. Needless to say, the experience was life-changing.

Many of the communities in which Global Brigades work grow coffee for income. In one particular community members stopped treating their drinking water with chlorine during coffee harvesting season because of a perceived effect on the flavor of the coffee beans during bean washing. This means, however, that their drinking water isn’t getting treated for four months of the year.

That’s where my project comes in. I am contacting coffee growers’ associations, retailers, and farmers to determine how other coffee farms deal with chlorine affecting coffee beans during coffee bean processing. My hope is that Global Brigades will be able to use the information from other coffee growing communities to determine how to best produce treated drinking water and quality coffee product in the communities in which they work. I’m thrilled to combine my academic skills with my passion for water quality and people in a very applied and interesting research project.

Laura expects to graduate in December, 2012 with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science with a focus on Hydrology.