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Cultivating Foreign Policy Expertise

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Julia Kresky
MAIR '23

1. What encouraged you to apply to Johns Hopkins SAIS? 
I chose to apply to SAIS because I wanted to develop further my foreign policy expertise and gain skills that I could apply to my future career in international development. As one of the best foreign policy schools in the country, SAIS was the perfect place for me to do just that. Today’s global issues demand a global perspective, one that teaches students why the issues of developing economies matter for our own prosperity and security and the sustainability of the entire international system. I knew SAIS’ stellar faculty, abundant course offerings, and expansive alumni network would provide me with tools I needed to succeed as an international relations professional.

2. What program are you in and what do you hope to gain from it?
My official focus area at SAIS is Development, Climate Change and Sustainability, but I also plan to take enough classes to fulfill the requirements for the International Economics and Finance focus area. I hope to gain a holistic education that balances courses in history, social sciences, environmental issues, and policymaking with courses in finance and economics. I want to build upon the knowledge base that I developed in undergrad and learn practical skills that I can utilize in a future career.

3. What were you doing before attending the school? 
Before attending SAIS, I worked at an international development monitoring and evaluation firm, Social Impact. My team conducted impact evaluations on U.S.-funded international development programs around the world. As an associate, I managed and supported several projects, including an evaluation of a youth risk prevention project in the Caribbean, an electricity sector infrastructure project in Malawi, a workforce development project in Indonesia, and a homelessness prevention project in Texas. I was even fortunate enough to travel to Malawi in September 2019 to oversee data collection for one of my projects – it was an incredible experience!

4. As a first year, what are some things you are looking forward to? What have been your favorite classes/experiences so far?
Last semester, I really enjoyed my class on Global Food Policy with Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Food Ethics and Policy Jessica Fanzo. Although she taught the course in Bologna, Italy, Professor Fanzo did a great job organizing the virtual course modules and bringing fantastic guest speakers to the live Zoom sessions. This course is an example of the kind of courses that weren’t offered at my undergraduate institution. I never realized how central food is to everything we do – our health, traditions and cultures, economies, and environment. I also really enjoyed my Statistics for Data Analysis course because it enabled me to grasp basic statistical principles that will be invaluable in any future career. I look forward to continuing to take new and interesting classes in future semesters, meeting more of my SAIS classmates, and participating in practicums, treks, and school-sponsored challenges.

5. Tell us about your work with the Admissions Committee? What tips do you have for prospective students?
I currently serve as one of four admissions assistants for the SAIS Admissions Committee. While I don’t review student applications and make admission decisions myself, I support the committee by responding to inquiries from prospective students and participating in Admissions-related events. From what I’ve learned so far, my biggest piece of advice for prospective students would be to engage with us. The committee loves to see students who have a strong desire to attend SAIS, so make yourself known by attending SAIS events or asking questions. In addition, remember that SAIS is evaluating you based on your whole application, not just one part of it. If you’re concerned about your test scores or GPA, remember these items are only two aspects of your application and can often be balanced out by strong essays or recommendation letters. If you have any questions or need advice, the Admissions team is here to help! You can email us with your questions, ask to meet with a staff member, or request a campus tour with a current student.

6. What do you hope to do with your degree after you graduate?
After I graduate, I hope to draw on my newly developed knowledge and skills to work in development finance. I strongly believe in the power of investment to transform sectors such as energy, healthcare, infrastructure, and technology and provide much-needed financing for small businesses and female entrepreneurs in emerging markets. I am also interested in the corporate social responsibility field in the long term, as I feel the only path to sustainable development is finding market-based solutions to the world’s most pressing problems. The best thing about graduate school is that my future plans may change – I hope to use my time at SAIS to explore various internships in order to determine which path I’m most passionate about.

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