The Graham School News

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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

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Anish Gera, Analytics Student
Monday, February 20, 2017

When asked what advice he might have for job seekers planning to attend the MScA career fair taking place on March 30 at the University of Chicago Gleacher Center, Anish Gera is unhesitating and precise: “Show them you’re a problem solver.” It’s advice worth heeding given Anish’s success at last February’s career fair, where he connected with Discover Financial Services and ultimately landed a Senior Associate position shortly after graduating from the MScA program.

“Having the tools is a given,” he adds. “It’s a matter of showing whoever you’re speaking with that you’re adept at using tools and able to think on your feet. You want to prove to them that you’ll be able to take on projects and solve problems on day one.”

Anish admits that this combination of extroversion and determined perseverance were not part of the approach he’d used at the beginning of his career. Having graduated from a top engineering college in India and worked for a couple multinational companies after that, Anish says he’d been able to rely on his prospective employers’ implicit confidence in his skills. In fact, in most cases, he says, it was a matter of them seeking him out. He calls the sort of preparation and practice he carried out prior to the MScA career fair a complete change from his prior approach.

“I think I’d come to believe that my skills and analytic experience spoke for themselves,” Anish says. “But it became clear very fast once I’d entered the MScA program that I couldn’t do that anymore. I had to package myself as convincingly as possible—through networking and practicing my elevator pitch, and polishing my resume and making my LinkedIn page as strong as possible, not to mention getting a professional headshot. I spoke with others in the program too and learned the sorts of words employers would want to hear. In a certain sense, it was an all out attack.”

The MScA career fair hosts 25-30 companies whose representatives array themselves in booths on the Gleacher Center’s sixth floor. The event is an opportunity for students to develop career networks and strengthen relationships with industry partners that extend beyond the classroom. Good advice he received, Anish says, had him target only a handful of the companies present, focusing on those looking to fill positions particularly well-suited to his background. From there, he says, it’s a matter of contouring your past work experience to the particulars of the position the company is seeking to fill. Fundamentally, Anish says, it’s a matter of making your elevator pitch as fluent and powerful as possible.

“With the career fair three or four months away,” he says, “I began putting my elevator pitch together. I wrote it out first and then practiced it standing in front of a mirror. I even made videos and sent them to friends for their critique. Studying the successful pitches of others was also very helpful. Ideally, on the day of, it will just flow out of you and capture your audience. And you’ll know if you’ve done a good job,” he adds, “because they’ll ask you questions and be interested to know more about your background. Ideally, it will land you an interview call on the spot or in the very near future. And another important thing I always did was send thank you emails to the people I met, always including an e-copy of my resume along with it.”

Wendy Doniger
Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Previewing her spring quarter MLA class, “Religious Law, Secular Law, and Sexual Deviation in Ancient India,” Wendy Doniger, Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religions at the University of Chicago, delivered the MLA Faculty Lecture at the University of Chicago Gleacher Center on February 2 to a room full of current and prospective liberal arts students, as well as individuals interested to hear Professor Doniger’s latest views on India.

Stemming from lectures delivered at Yale University as part of the distinguished Terry Lectureship, Professor Doniger’s talk treated the relation of three concepts from Sanskrit literature—dharma, artha, and kama, loosely translated as moral duty, legal power, and sensual pleasure, respectively—as they were formulated in two major texts produced during a tumultuous period of history on the subcontinent leading up to the Gupta Empire.

Calling the theme of her lecture “dharma and dissent,” she concentrated in particular on the ways in which the authors of the Arthashastra and the Kamasutra showed a “stunning disregard for the moral and ethical sphere elaborated and extolled as dharma.” Noting that some scholars have referred to the unscrupulous trickery espoused by these texts as Machiavellian, Professor Doniger tried to place the extreme scheming advocated by Kautilya’s Arthashastra, for instance, in its appropriate perspective, stating that “by comparison, Kautilya makes Machiavelli look like Mother Teresa.”

“I love teaching in the MLA program,” said Professor Doniger, who received the 2007 Graham School Excellence in Teaching Award. “When I was younger, I wrote books stuffed with footnotes for other academics. In recent years, I’ve begun to write for a wider public and I’ve found the students in the MLA program to be great testing grounds for my ideas—people who are smart and intensely interested to go deeper into the subject under discussion.”

In his introduction to the lecture, Tim Murphy, Assistant Director of the MLA program, gave a brief overview of the MLA’s requirements, outlining the nine courses needed to receive the interdisciplinary degree. With required coursework in the humanities, social sciences, biology, and physics, graduates of the program, Mr. Murphy noted, emerge with conversational ability in all the major intellectual disciplines. He also added, for those possibly worried that their writing skills have lain dormant too long, that the program employs professional writing tutors to assist the students in shaping their written arguments.

While noting that classes are taught by scholars from the University of Chicago who, like Professor Doniger, have made major contributions in their academic disciplines, Mr. Murphy also highlighted that the MLA program is designed for people with busy schedules in mind, bringing in students from all walks of life and careers—lawyers, doctors, police officers, and more. He also pointed to what he called an emerging demographic among the MLA ranks: the mid-career specialist.

“These are people,” said Mr. Murphy, “who focused narrowly as undergraduates and who have built on this specialization as they’ve climbed upwards through their careers. Presently, however, they find themselves with new responsibilities, requiring broader and more diverse skillsets, and they enroll in the MLA program as a way to get the additional perspective and insight their focused specialization didn’t grant them.”

Adam Zelitzky, who graduated from the MLA program five years ago, took a moment during the evening’s question and answer period to emphasize the impact the classes he took through the Graham School had on his life. Saying that there is hardly a day that passes during which the lessons he’s learned through the program don’t resonate, he called it “an experience that changed my life, disciplined my thought process, and allowed me to rise the challenge of books and disciplines I’d never thought I’d approach before.”

By way of conclusion, Professor Doniger turned her sights to the legacy the ancient texts she’d discussed continue to have in India as well as the world today. Quoting Henry Kissinger, who praised the Arthashastra for its “dispassionate clarity,” she noted that in many ways the covert critique of dharma offered by these ancient texts has stayed alive and by some measurements even won the day. But if the spirit of dissent offered by the Arthashastra and the Kamasutra was nourished by a questioning and utterly rational scientific spirit, she noted that this clear-eyed component to their legacy has in some ways undergone modification. Citing numerous instances of what she called the “religious subversion of science,” she lampooned a spreading tendency within India to revise textbooks in line with a mythological view of science that sees much of what is most contemporary in the world—aircrafts, genetic engineering, teleconferencing, and more—as already flourishing in Vedic times.

Monday, January 30, 2017
 

 

Master of Science in Threat and Response Management (MScTRM) alum Chrissy Babcock was a member of the University of Chicago Medical Response Team that deployed to Haiti following the 2010 earthquake near Port-au-Prince. Her team built a field hospital, provided healthcare to Haitians, and was quickly integrated into the international response to the earthquake.

Watch the video above as she reflects on what she learned from one of the most significant challenges of her career. Collaboration—on every level from local Haitians to national governments—proved to be key. Her work in the Graham School MScTRM gave her the knowledge to connect local necessities to global disaster relief.

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