Bringing the GPS textbook to Washington, D.C.

Launched this spring, GPS students are trading the West coast surf for a seat in the Nation’s Capital, offering students the chance to finish their degree in D.C.

May 30, 2019 | By Rachel Hommel | GPS News

Charles Dickens once called Washington, D.C. the “City of Magnificent Intentions.” For many graduates, the city is a launching pad for that first career post-commencement.

This spring, second year students at the UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy (GPS) will have the opportunity to experience their final quarter on the ground in the Nation’s Capital, all while working towards finishing their degree. Enrolling in 12 units, coursework will be enhanced by an independent study and self-selected internship.

Director of Career Services Stephanie Bloomhower shared that this program is housed at the University of California Washington Center (UCDC), and this invaluable opportunity also allows second year students in the MIA, MPP and MCEPA degree programs the opportunity to be less than a half mile from the White House, World Bank, State Department, and other prime locations for job prospecting.

At UCDC, students will enroll in “The Political Economy of Trade and Investment in the Americas: New Issues and Challenges,” taught by Antonio Ortiz-Mena, a senior advisor at Albright Stonebridge Group (ASG) and former advisor for the Mexican Government on NAFTA.

Below we hear four unique student perspectives on their D.C. classroom environment, independent studies, internships and what made their experiences so powerful.

Takafumi Ushio, MPP ‘19

Takafumi UshioBefore coming to GPS, Takafumi Ushio was working for the Japanese Government at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry in Tokyo. With a current focus on program design evaluation at GPS, his internship at the World Bank has proven invaluable, allowing him to discover a whole new side to America and public policy. 

“D.C. is the political center of America and there is so much information being born here,” said Ushio. “I have really enjoyed meeting people inside the think tanks and international organizations, and the networking opportunities it has provided.” 

Looking at technology policy, he is currently interning in the data development group. Analyzing how regulations and business conditions impact economic development at the World Bank, his internship has laid the foundation for his independent study, which details how public-private relationships can lead to technological development in U.S., China and Japan.

“My independent study is based in the quantitative but also the real world, and there is no place better than D.C. to study,” said Ushio. “My experience has enhanced my data analysis skills through first hand interviews in the field.” 

With plans to continue his career as a government officer, his internship has allowed him to further understand the public sector in America and its work culture, with hopes to develop his specialization as a technocrat. 

Kangyu (Mark) Wang, MIA ‘19

As an undergraduate at Fudan University, Kangyu Wang knew he wanted to expand his major in international politics to the U.S. His current internship at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) is a continuation of his summer 2018 internship and an opportunity to expand his quantitative skills. 

Kangyu Wang“GPS has a great reputation around the world both in academics and industry, especially the China-Pacific focus,” said Wang. “Our program is very praised in D.C. My advisors were very aware of the quantitative method training I received at GPS and I felt well prepared for my internship position.”  

At AEI, Wang has enjoyed conducting research on international economics, including global development of human capital. When not interning or looking for jobs, Wang is working alongside Professor Gaurav Khanna on his independent study, where he will examine the relationship between ethnic violence and political cycles in India.

“Conflict has played an important role in electoral politics for years in India,” said Wang. “The intersection between technology, science, environment policy and international relations at GPS has really prepared me for what’s being discussed in the Capital and abroad.” 

Learning a myriad of technical and interpersonal skills, Wang has also enjoyed the ability to work in a team, communicating with team members and the wider D.C. audience. For Wang, a semester in D.C. is all about building your interpersonal skills. 

“D.C. is all about networking. You really need to talk to people, but luckily everyone is very nice,” said Wang. “Grab this chance and let people know about you. If you are nice and open to opportunities, people are willing to help you.”

Alma Quintero, MPP ‘19

Passionate about clean energy and sustainable development, Alma Quintero is currently working with the Environment and Disaster Resilience team at Pan-American Development Foundation (PADF) to develop strategic approaches to implement projects related to energy, environment and climate change in Latin America.

Alma Quintero“In D.C., I have been able to develop my professional career while aiding developing countries in achieving their sustainable energy goals,” said Quintero.

Working alongside Professor David Victor, she has helped support the deployment of micro-grids in Haiti to study energy access in the Caribbean. Quintero shares she is grateful for the technical knowledge acquired in her energy related classes, as well as the analytical tools from her “Policy Making Processes” class.

“Understanding the science behind energy and climate change is essential for developing policies that can actually make a contribution,” said Quintero. “After graduation, I would like to generate programs that help Mexico and other countries transition to a clean energy-based economy.”

For Quintero, there is no better place to start a career than D.C. Her advice? Take advantage of the sheer diversity and opportunity of spring in the Capitol.

“D.C. is a beautiful place and there are historical buildings with amazing architecture all over,” said Quintero. “I love my commute to work as I pass by the World Bank and IMF HQ buildings, or having lunch with other PADF interns at Lafayette Square right in front of the White House.”

Qiulu Zhang, MIA ‘19

Fighting for labor rights in China, Qiulu Zhang has spent the last two summers on the East Coast, hoping to pursue work in international development or nongovernmental organizations management. It was her summer internship in 2018 at the China Labor Watch that inspired her to continue her quest to learn more about labor and social security policy.

Qiulu Zhang“Last summer, I had the chance to meet people who were interested in Chinese politics, such as scholars, journalists and human rights activists,” said Zhang. “I got to see people with passion who devoted their lives to the things they care about. I was eager to join the D.C. program and get connected further.”

Interning as a research assistant at the International Labor Rights Forum, she felt well equipped for her spring internship, which looks at economic and social development in China. Citing her “Economic and Social Development in China” course taught by Professors Ruixue Jia and Barry Naughton, she is grateful for lessons learned in structural and industrial policy.

“At GPS, the courses and assignments have equipped me with the ability to collect, summarize and analyze information about topics in a short period of time,” said Zhang. “These quantitative and qualitative skills are unique to the GPS program.”

Helping to organize discussions and events held around big strikes and labor protests, the hands-on experience has been foundational for her career.

“The opportunity to get connected with people who are at the center of my field is exciting,” said Zhang. “You know what is really going on here and the internship has increased the possibility of getting a job.”

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