By Jason Mumma
After graduating early from Beloit College with a B.A. in International Relations, I knew that I wanted to move to the Washington, DC area. I decided to attend American University's Graduate Professional Studies in the winter term of 2012 because it was an excellent option for me to "land on my feet." It certainly did that, and far exceeded my most optimistic expectations.
I enrolled in the International Affairs program and for my elective course chose Advanced Analytical Techniques, which focused on applying quantitative models to IR analysis. For my internship, I was fortunate to work at the Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy, a conflict resolution NGO, where I was put in charge of redeveloping a long-stalled initiative centered on the country of Georgia.
This experience opened other opportunities for me: The following summer, I interned at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service's International Response Branch. As a result, I gained insight and experience in both the non-profit and public sectors and developed demonstrable job skills and accomplishments.
I currently live and work in Budapest, Hungary, but am planning to return to Washington this fall to complete my graduate education. Thanks in part to the credits I earned from GPS, I will be able to finish in one year.
I would encourage others to participate in this program, as it allowed me to rapidly build both a professional and personal network in the DC area. In addition, I gained invaluable professional experience, which would not have been available to me had I not been enrolled in an academic program.
AU's Graduate Professional Studies added substantial strength to my subsequent full-time graduate school applications. By enrolling and excelling in GPS, I demonstrated an ability to succeed in a rigorous academic environment, while simultaneously handling professional responsibilities. There is no doubt in my mind that my time in GPS was a large factor in my successful graduate school applications and that it will continue to serve me well in my professional endeavors.
Please note: Graduate Professional Studies was known as the Graduate Gateway Program at the time of Jason's participation. Jason's profile has been updated to reflect the program name change.