#MSFSinNYC: First Years Reflect on Annual Career Trip

by Dineo Brinson and Dustin Kerns, MSFS '18

What does it mean when you see 70 graduate students from the School of Foreign Service taking up the better part of a city block outside the US Mission to the United Nations in New York City? It’s the annual Master of Science in Foreign Service trek from D.C. to connect with alumni, build knowledge, and finally eat bagels that don’t come from Einstein’s.

When we decided to come to Georgetown, we knew that our education would extend far beyond the hallowed halls on the hilltop. The MSFS values of creativity, leadership, ethics, and service are taught and lived both inside and outside the classroom, and our visit to NYC provided the latest opportunity to connect academic learning with the real world. With firsthand access to the professionals and institutions that make the world tick, our site visits to United Nations agencies, banking and finance leaders, McKinsey & Company, and the Eurasia Group showed us the inner workings of diplomacy, business, and international affairs in New York. Although D.C. is in itself abundant in learning and career opportunities beyond campus grounds, this trip north exposes students to even more industry leaders and change makers across all sectors.  

The site visits and knowledge-building formed the foundation of the trip, but the people made the most lasting impact. MSFS staffers supported us constantly. Fellow classmates asked provocative questions and made poignant points. MSFS alumni working in the private and public sectors led panel discussions that challenged our perspectives while also sharing advice on influencing policy, supporting multiple managers, work-life balance and serving others. Even U.S. Ambassador Deborah McCarthy (MSFS ’79) and many others took the time to connect with us after a full day of work and service.

One of the most engaging moments of our time in New York was the conversation with Sharon Hom, Executive Director of Human Rights in China. Professor Nicole Bibbins Sedaca deftly moderated an emotionally charged discussion, balancing serious subject matter with nuance, humor, and an extended Q&A that left students inspired and motivated.

However, all work and no play makes MSFS students weary, so we wrapped up our “show on the road” properly with a night of karaoke. Raspy vocals aside, our MSFS cohort returned to D.C. better than when we left, with deeper networks, relationships, and commitments to making a difference in the world.