Interview with Ivan Escamilla International Affairs, Spring 2017

What was your background prior to Graduate Professional Studies?
B.A.'s in Political Science and International Studies from Indiana University, immediately followed by a year in Japan through a Fulbright grant.

Why did you choose to participate in Graduate Professional Studies at American University? What attracted you to it?
I was still unsure with the direction I wanted to take after graduating and coming home from abroad. A part of me wanted to take a break from school, but I still felt unsure as to what I wanted to do otherwise. I figured trying out grad school and an internship simultaneously was the best option.

How did you hear of Graduate Professional Studies?
I went to a grad school fair at American University and heard about it there. This was some time ago but I believe I got put on a mailing list and saw it pop up in my email after coming back from Japan.

Where did you intern? What were some daily tasks at your internship? Favorite part?
I interned at the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA). I was part of the advertising team that worked for their publication, the "Foreign Service Journal." I had to reach out to clients regarding supporting AFSA, and craft digital advertisements. The best part was being surrounded many Foreign Service Officers almost daily, and getting to attend all of their in-house panels.

Did you know what you wanted to do before you joined the program, or did GPS solidify that for you?
GPS helped solidify that for me. Not only did I realize just how capable I really can be in grad-level courses, but more importantly it made me realize how many practical skills I still needed to learn. I felt I needed to round out myself in a more practical way before advancing to grad school and beyond.

What was your #1 takeaway from the program? What would you tell people considering Graduate Professional Studies?
I would tell them to seriously try and take all the time necessary to find a good internship location, perfect your resume, and practice your interviewing skills. But that is only just the beginning. Whether it's grappling with grad-level work of your choosing, or working in an all new environment, there's always some lesson to be learned, so why no expose yourself to them?

What have you been doing after completion of the program? Did you pursue graduate school or a career?
I opted for the career route, at least for now. My GPS International Affairs class taught me about the value of citizen diplomacy and the importance of international exchanges, which is the field I am in now. In addition, I leveraged the contacts I made at my GPS internship at AFSA to write me letters of recommendations as they are partnered with the organization I work at now.

Did your time with Graduate Professional Studies directly affect your professional success?
Yes. I ran into a kind of road bump at the very beginning of my internship during GPS, and that alone taught me more about handling job offers, leveraging opportunities, and finding out what is really best for me. I learned to appreciate my time at AFSA, which led me to being more open and interested in the people around me there. That in turn led to the job I have now.

Can you sum up your experience in Graduate Professional Studies/Graduate Gateway in just a few sentences, in the form of a quote?
Graduate Professional Studies helped me find what I was looking for in a pathway for my future. I was looking for a concrete beginning to build my professional foundations, and that is what happened. I now have a great job, and I can only see growth for myself going forward.