- Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Students Receive Career and Research Advice at Center’s First Speed-Networking Event

For two hours on a March afternoon, Harvard Kennedy School’s Bell Hall buzzed as Kennedy School students huddled for 15-minute one-on-one sessions with Belfer Center fellows and project directors to get career advice and to ask questions about the others’ career trajectories, research, and methods.

About a dozen students took part in this first-come, first-served “speed-networking” event. They moved around the room, talking with Belfer Center research fellowsand associates Scott Anderson, Christopher Anzalone, Matthew Buehler, Morgan Kaplan, and Constantine Lainas, and with Cyber Security Project Director Michael Sulmeyer, Intelligence and Defense Projects Director Kevin Ryan, and Faculty Affiliate and Korean Working Group Director John Park.

The networking event was the idea of Izran Salleh Mohammad, Kennedy School student (MPP) and chair of the Kennedy School’s International and Global Affairs PIC. Mohammad organized the event to give students an opportunity to interact individually with experts in the field to help them think through their career goals and get tips on the best ways to reach their goals. A similar event last year, Mohammad said, changed the course of his own studies and career plans.

The students who took part in the speed-meetings represented different professional and personal backgrounds, including student organization leaders, political activists, UN and international NGO workers, policy analysts, and academic researchers.

Anzalone, a research fellow with the Center’s International Security Program who studies the structure and support networks of violent groups such as Islamic State and Al-Shabab, said questions he got from students centered around a few main areas: (1) how to locate and collate primary source materials and how to use these together with other forms of data collection, such as field work and local news sources; (2) how to evaluate available news media sources and become aware of slants or biases they may have; and (3) regarding his research, how the increasing focus on the most extreme and violent Islamist organizations, like Islamic State, has impacted the wider coverage and academic study of political Islam.

“I encouraged the students I spoke with to develop a list or database of reliable and in-depth news reporting and secondary sources from which to follow those areas of the world that they are most interested in or focused on in terms of their professional work,” Anzalone said, “as well as to consume as many primary sources as they could so as not to only read about, say, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood or the Afghanistan Taliban, but to also see how these movements/organizations portray themselves through their publications, films, radio broadcasts, photography, and communiqués.”

For more information on this publication: Please contact the Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation:

Wilke, Sharon. "Students Receive Career and Research Advice at Center’s First Speed-Networking Event." Belfer Center Newsletter, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School (Summer 2017).

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