| ||Nadya Ivette Saber|
|Rutgers University Class: Rutgers College, Class of 2004|
Home Town/High School: Franklin Lakes/Ramapo High
Major(s)/Minor(s): Economics, Political Science and Spanish
Date of Questionnaire: September 9, 2009
| After I graduated from Rutgers in 2004, I was a bit hesitant to jump into any specific career path. I felt the minute I started specializing in one field of Economics or Political Science, whether it be finance or research-related I would be pigeonholed. Taking advice from a professor, I decided to move to Cairo, Egypt where I studied Arabic intensively for 1 year at the American University of Cairo (AUC). This year proved to be extremely fruitful and helpful in terms of giving me the upper hand when it came to future job interviews. When I returned to the States a year later, I decided to move to Washington DC, because I figured that someone with my background would be more likely to find a job in an NGO. My first job was at a non-profit organization that produced a magazine on current events in the Middle East. I believe that working at the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (WRMEA) magazine was the perfect job for someone moving to a new city. I worked with the communications director and attended many events where I met many people from a variety of non-profit organizations. I was able to network and gain invaluable contacts. After working there for a year, I decided I needed a change from the non-profit world and applied to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). I firmly believe that my diverse background in Economics and Political Science, and my language skills (Spanish and Arabic), gave me the competitive edge over the other applicants that were interviewing at the time. I obtained a position in the Media Relations department as an assistant. Not having a Masters yet, especially in organizations like the IMF and World Bank, an assistant position was the highest level I was able to obtain. The collapse of the world economies put the IMF back in the center stage of the financial crisis. And, I was lucky to be a part of the team who was in charge of creating a media strategy to explicate the IMF’s role in solving this crisis. Part of our media strategy included biweekly press conferences for the local DC journalists, staffing the press room during the Annual and Spring meetings, and maintaining an embargoed website of IMF press releases. I learned a great deal at the IMF and met fascinating people including many Finance Ministers and famous Economists. Starting my second year at the IMF, I decided that I wanted to go back to school and obtain a Masters degree. I applied to Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) program, NYU’s Communications and Media program and the John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). I was offered admission to all three schools, but decided on Columbia. I start in the fall of 2009.|
I would say if someone wants to go in an international career field, that studying and becoming nearly fluent in a language is extremely important and valuable. I would also recommend, if you have the means, to study the language abroad. You can study in a classroom, but nothing even compares to the real world experience gained by living in a foreign country. Living in Cairo not only helped me to perfect my Arabic, but also gave me a profound cultural experience. Plus, future employers are usually impressed with stories from abroad.
I would also recommend finding an internship in the field you would like to pursue. The summer of my junior year at Rutgers, I enrolled in the Washington Internship program that the Political Science Department was offering at the time. I interned at the Embassy of Jordan in the Economics Bureau. It was through this internship that I got a taste of life in DC. I attended many embassy events and also partook in the “Rutgers in Washington” program. The Rutgers in Washington program was a way for all the Rutgers students who were interning in DC for the summer, to network with one another and visit Rutgers alumni at their places of work. You would never believe how generous Rutgers alumni were with sharing their stories on their chosen career paths, as well as providing constructive tips in attaining the right career. Furthermore, because I interned and lived in DC the summer of my junior year, I was less hesitant to pack up and move to DC in search of job prospects.
Moreover, I really believe that the year abroad helped me to figure out what I wanted to do, what path I wanted to take, and who I wanted to be. While studying Arabic at AUC, I met so many people from all around the world. They really opened my eyes to many different types of careers that I would have never even have known if I were still living in New Jersey. Also, when you are doing something that you are interested in, such as an internship or studying a language etc. you get to meet people who share your interests and who are also able to give you a different perspective on what to do in your field.
I think it is always important to network, network, and network. Attend events from organizations that you are interested in. Email them and tell them to put you on their mailing lists, so you can receive invitations to their events and even updates on job openings. This is the best way to meet people already established in your field. And even if you do not have a job, make yourself a business card, and put your college information on it if you have to. You do not know how many times people have contacted me out of the blue that I met months before, asking me either to go on an interview or attend one of their events. Also, save the business cards that people give you and keep them up to date. You never know when you may need to get in touch with an organization and having a contact person can only help you more. Being on the mailing list of organizations can also help in terms of job openings. I was on the emailing list of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs magazine because a friend of mine, who was also Rutgers student, interned there the same summer I was interning in DC. I had bumped into her on the metro one day, and I asked her to add me to their emailing list. Two years later, when I returned from Egypt, I received the magazine’s weekly email as always, but this time they included a job opening. When I came back from living abroad, I was looking for a job for about 3 months, but I was not really actively applying. I would email my resume, but I rarely took the time to write a cover letter. When I saw the email from WRMEA magazine, I decided to send a cover letter describing my experience abroad and how it helped me alter my perspective on the Middle East. I got a phone call asking to come down for an interview the next day, and I was hired on the spot.