William & Mary

W&M Professor Hosts Graduate School Career Planning Talk

W&M Professor Hosts Graduate School Career Planning Talk

Most anyone who has been involved with William & Mary will tell you that their time there was one of the most productive, most enjoyable, and most instructive times in their lives. Sadly, all good things, including one’s career at the College, must come to an end. It is encouraging then, that William and Mary is just as committed to their students’ career at the College as it is to their career after they walk through the Wren at graduation.

Hongyu Zhang, a visiting Assistant Professor in the Government department, hosted Ed Silva, a first-year graduate student currently pursuing an M.A. in Strategic Studies at John’s Hopkins SAIS on November 11th. Mr. Silva gave an informative and interesting talk that was designed to help W&M Government/International Relations majors maximize their time in undergrad, and start planning for a possible future in graduate study.

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Mr. Silva recommended a proactive approach to education. He encouraged students to use their time in undergrad to explore courses that interested them, and to take electives outside of their comfort zone.  It seems that Mr. Silva followed his own advice: his intended major switched from Engineering to International Affairs while in undergrad, and even after choosing International Affairs, his focus shifted from international development to international security.

The proactive advice that Mr. Silva gave extended outside the classroom as well. He stressed the importance of internships and undergraduate research as valuable resume building experiences. For International Affairs/Government majors he recommended proficiency in Language skills, training/certificates in relevant software packages, and at least entry level programming experience. These useful and marketable skills help grad-school applicants stand out in a job market flush with qualified peers.

Speaking to the requirements needed to get a job in the burgeoning field of International Affairs, Mr. Silva said that graduate school must be part of the equation at some point, citing the salary cap placed on non-grad school educated employees by the U.S. Government. He pointed out however, that grad-school does not need to immediately follow undergrad, and that many of his peers at Johns-Hopkins spent years in the field before returning to academia to pursue their Masters.

For those students considering grad-school, Mr. Silva recommended an early start. He likened the application process to the undergraduate application process, which was likely still fresh in the minds of many in the audience, a good portion of which were freshman. He told students to consider the type of program they wanted, and the academic climate of the school.

In his closing remarks, Mr. Silva said that graduate school was a surprising amount of work, but also afforded an ample amount of free time. He said that transitioning from being an undergrad to a graduate was essentially more of the same, but said that was not necessarily a bad thing. The main message of Mr. Silva’s talk was to take advantage of the incredible opportunities available in both undergraduate and graduate school.