Monday, January 28, 2013

Insights from the Asia Career Trek

HNC's Career Counselor Robbie Shields reports back from the Asia Career Trek earlier this month:

"What a week!  From January 13-18, ten HNC students and ten SAIS students joined SAIS Director of Career Services Ron Lambert and I on the 6th annual Asia Trek.  On the trek, students visited various employers in Shanghai and Hong Kong, meeting with everyone from recent graduates to CEOs of Fortune 500 companies.  While all the representatives offered unique experiences and backgrounds, one thing they all had in common was a commitment to helping students in their career development. 

The trek began in Shanghai with a visit to Wells Fargo to meet SAIS alumnus Han Lin.  Han is a Senior Vice President and the Deputy General Manager of Wells Fargo’s Shanghai Office and has been in Shanghai for nearly a decade.  His career experience is remarkably diverse, having served both the United States Marine Corps and the Peace Corps prior to joining Wells Fargo.  Among the career insights he shared with our students were balancing work and family and tackling leadership at a young age.  I was most impressed with Han’s ability to explain complex financial knowledge into simple terms, something that even the most gifted communicators can find challenging. 

Following our visit to Wells Fargo, we visited APCO’s Shanghai office and met their Chairman for APCO China, Ken Jarrett (HNC ’89).  APCO is a communications firm that specializes in public safety pr.  In addition to providing insights into the challenges of working in this industry in China, Mr. Jarrett discussed his extensive experience in the US Department of State.  As the former U.S. Consul General in Shanghai, Mr. Jarrett was well equipped to discuss the differences between government service and the private sector, highlighting the challenges and attributes of each.

Following Tuesday’s visits it was off to Hong Kong, where we had meetings with eleven employers in three days, as well as an alumni networking event to welcome SAIS Dean Vali Nasar to Hong Kong.  We began Wednesday morning by meeting many distinguished members of the Noble Group, including the CEO Yusuf Alireza.  Mr. Alireza provided us with an overview of Noble’s business and then offered advice that has proved valuable in his career.  Most significantly, he encouraged students not to shy away from a challenge.  When he first came to Noble from Goldman Sachs, Mr. Alireza admittedly didn’t have significant experience in commodities.  Nevertheless, he took it upon himself to put in the time necessary to learn the industry so he could leverage the skills and experiences he developed throughout his career for Noble.  I was particularly impressed when he stated confidently 'I welcome a steep learning curve.'

Our meeting with Morgan Stanley proved equally insightful, featuring a candid discussion with three members of the SAIS community: Kelly Morris (HNC '98), Andrew Fennell (SAIS ‘11), Will Godel (SAIS ‘12).  While there were many useful pieces of advice offered, the point that I hoped students focused on was identifying their career priority.  For Kelly, staying in Asia was more important than pursuing any specific job function.  As a result, he has had a variety of positions, stemming from selling paintings door-to-door in Australia to bartending in Yunan.  While some may look at these jobs on a resume and wonder how he became an Executive Director with Morgan Stanley, Kelly identified the skills learned in these positions that continue to serve him today and why he has proven successful in finance.  

While all employer visits offered students unique insights, I believe the most valuable event of the trek was the SAIS alumni reception at the Foreign Correspondents Club welcoming SAIS Dean Vali Nasr.  At this reception, roughly 75 member of the SAIS community came to meet the dean, catch-up with old friends, and meet other SAIS professionals working in Hong Kong.  This proved a brilliant opportunity for our current students to see first-hand how our graduates apply skills honed at the HNC to working in Hong Kong. 

Prior to departing Hong Kong, all twenty students joined Ron and I for a farewell dinner.  This gave students an opportunity to share what they had learned on the trek.  It was interesting to hear how each student had a different takeaway from the trek and found different employers to be of greatest interest.  One theme I heard from many was that they were less stressed about their career prospects after hearing how many different paths there were to success.  As a Career Counselor, this was something that I was delighted to see."

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Living at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center

We’ve mentioned before that the Hopkins-Nanjing Center is a residential community.  As you complete your application, you may be wondering what it would actually be like to live and study at the HNC.
The Center’s first-rate facilities include:
  • Open stacks library
  • Classrooms
  • Conference center
  • Auditorium
  • Student residence hall
  • Cafeteria
  • Computer room
  • Fitness room
  • Rooftop terrace
  • Lounge
  • Laundry facilities including washers and dryers
  • Recreational rooms
  • Wireless internet access
  • 24-hour hot water
  • Heating/air-conditioning throughout the Center

HNC Cafeteria

HNC library

Dorm Room


Student Lounge

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Final Online Admissions Chat this Thursday, January 24!

Don't forget that our FINAL Online Admissions Chat that will be taking place this Thursday, January 24th from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM (EST).  Chatting with us will be admissions representatives Katie Brooks (Certificate ’09) and Lauren Szymanski (Certificate ’12) as well as current HNC MAIS student Spike Nowak.  Join us to hear current students and admissions staff share firsthand experience and valuable advice, and be sure to bring any questions you may have about the application process, academics, or student life.

To participate, click on this link as early as ten minutes prior to the beginning of the chat and login as a guest.

Remember our application deadline is February 1, so be sure to take advantage of this great opportunity to learn about the Center from those who know it best.  We hope to be chatting with you soon!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Chinese New Year Break Plans!

It's finals week at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center so we stopped by the student lounge to ask what students are doing with their five week break over the Chinese New Year holiday:

Drue Banta, MAIS student- traveling to Harbin and India
Micah Hostetter, Certificate student- going home to Richmond, VA, and then traveling to Beijing to spend Chinese New Year with my host family from 6 years ago
Will Heidlage, Five-Semester student- participating in the Asia Career Trek with SAIS and HNC students in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Then traveling to Thailand, Vietnam, and possibly Cambodia. 
Sophia Tsirbas, MAIS student- Tokyo and then home
Tyler Ehler, MAIS student- Colombo, Sri Lanka for an internship with Environmental Resources Investment PLC
Cadence Hardenbergh, Certificate student- New Zealand for travel, Singapore to visit family, and then a three week yoga retreat in Sri Lanka
Byron Meinerth, MAIS student- participating in the Asia Career Trek and then traveling to DC to do thesis research
Zoe Noyes, MAIS student- interning in Shanghai and then going home to New York

We wish all students safe travels and a relaxing break!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Meet Connie Paik, Current 5-Semester Option Student!

Connie Paik
HNC Certificate ’12, SAIS ’13                                   

Washington, D.C.

Previous Education
Boston University
B.A. International Relations, 2009

Previous Work Experience
·         Resident Director for CET Academic Programs
·         Intern at the United Nations Development Programme
·         Intern at the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Washington, D.C.
·         Editorial intern at the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai
·         Intern at the Korea Economic Institute

Chinese Language Study Prior to Attending the Center
I took a few Chinese language courses and participated in the CET Beijing summer language program while I was an undergraduate student at Boston University. After graduating in 2009, I moved to China to work for CET Academic Programs in Harbin, and studied Chinese in my free time. I developed the bulk of my language abilities during my summer in Beijing and year in Harbin with CET. I didn’t take any language courses after that; I simply used Chinese at work and in everyday life.

Center Activities
My primary extra-curricular activity was volunteering at the Migrant School Learning Initiative (MSLI), where I taught children from rural areas and served as the events manager for the organization. I planned and hosted the school’s first Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas parties. The MSLI was a great way for me to get to know my international and Chinese classmates from the Center; I also learned more about the local community in Nanjing. I participated in the erhu and dance clubs at the Center in my spare time.

Favorite Course & Professor at the HNC
Social Issues of China’s Modernization with Professor Hua Tao

Why did you choose to attend the Center?
I felt that the China Studies courses at the HNC would improve my knowledge and experience in China. I found the course content and reading materials to be interesting and relevant. Even though all of the students at the HNC have different backgrounds with the subject matter, the primary documents and academic articles by Chinese scholars enable everyone to learn something new.

What is your concentration at SAIS DC?
I am in the China Studies Program.

SAIS Activities
I am part of the China club, Japan club, and Korea club, and actively participate in their weekly language tables. I am also working part-time for the SAIS admissions office.

How did your study at the HNC help prepare you for your time at SAIS?
Since I completed my four China Studies course requirements for SAIS during my year at HNC, I was able to branch out into different area studies here at the DC campus and took courses on other topics of interest to me, such as a class on Japanese foreign policy and another on development and poverty reduction. The content I learned from classes in Nanjing has been relevant to most of my classes here as well.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Joint Venture

The Hopkins-Nanjing Center is unique among the SAIS campuses in that it is a joint venture between Johns Hopkins University SAIS and Nanjing University.  As such, our student body is composed of Chinese and international students who are bilingual in both English and Chinese.  While the admissions offices are separate (citizens of the PRC, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macao should apply through Nanjing University rather than through our DC-based office), the two universities work closely together regarding all other aspects of the program.  In light of this, members of the DC office of the HNC are in Nanjing this week for the 2013 meeting of the Joint Academic Committee (JAC).  Faculty and administrators from Johns Hopkins University SAIS, Nanjing University, and the Hopkins-Nanjing Center itself form the JAC and meet each year to discuss curriculum changes, hiring faculty, and other issues that affect students at the Center.  It’s also an opportunity to hear feedback from current students before they leave for winter break early next week.

Don’t worry though, we still have admissions staff members in DC available to answer your application questions!  The HNC Certificate and MAIS applications are due on February 1 so request your CAL Chinese Proficiency Test today!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Five-Semester Option Applications are due this Monday!

Best wishes for 2013 from the International Admissions team!  As a reminder, the deadline for Five-Semester Option applications is this Monday, January 7th.  You can log on to our online application system here.  Feel free to contact our DC offices with any last-minute questions you may have (, or 202-663-5806).  For those of you applying to the certificate or MAIS programs, applications are due February 1st, and completed CAL Chinese Proficiency Exams for all three programs must be submitted by January 21.  We’re looking forward to reading your applications!

Kaelyn Lowmaster, a current Five-Semester Option student entering her second semester at SAIS in DC, emphasizes how integral her year at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center has been to her academic experience: 

The Hopkins-Nanjing Center Library
“Earning my HNC certificate has really focused the rest of my graduate study.  I’m currently dual concentrating in China Studies and Conflict Management here at SAIS, a combination that for me was the natural extension of my experience in HNC’s bilingual, multicultural academic environment.  The Center has also made me a better researcher – being able to use Chinese-language resources as part of my coursework in DC has expanded my perspective and helped me understand my classes here in a more comprehensive way.  The Hopkins-Nanjing Center was the foundation for my master’s degree, and has been critical for getting the most out of my time at SAIS.”   

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Online Chat TOMORROW Thursday January 3 7:30-9:30pm EST

This is a quick reminder about the Online Admissions Chat that will be taking place this Thursday, January 3rd from 7:30-9:30 PM (EST).  Chatting with us will be admissions representatives Katie Brooks (Certificate ’09) and Lauren Szymanski (Certificate ’12) as well as current HNC/SAIS Five-Semester Option student Kate Lebling.  Join us to hear current students and admissions staff share firsthand experience and valuable advice, and be sure to bring any questions you may have about the application process, academics, or student life.

To participate, click on this link as early as ten minutes prior to the beginning of the chat and login as a guest.

Remember our application deadlines are January 7 (Five-Semester Option) and February 1 (Certificate and MAIS), so be sure to take advantage of this great opportunity to learn about the Center from those who know it best.  Can't make this chat?  We will be holding one more chat before February 1 in the morning to accommodate applicants in other time zones.  We hope to be chatting with you soon!