January 2015 Student Spotlight
January’s Student Spotlight with Conrad Cantor (MPA ’15)
Internships and graduate assistantships can provide an enriching experience for those who wish to broaden exposure in their desired field, forge strong professional connections, and gain a deeper understanding of their own career goals. We speak to current graduate student, Conrad Cantor about his experience and how he leveraged his internship into a position with the American Red Cross.
What is it like to be a School of Public Affairs graduate student day-to-day and in general?
As a full-time student, I’m enjoying the hidden treasures that the School and Baruch overall have to offer. Last year I participated in the Executives on Campus (EOC) Mentor Program, which was a valuable experience. It opened my eyes to how networking works and how to maximize your social connections. I’m also a member of a couple of clubs like the MPA Club and the Graduate Pride Society. In fact, the Graduate Pride Society is a new club that started this semester. Finally, I’m the Graduate Student Representative on the School’s Curriculum Committee. It’s an engaging experience that allows me to see how decisions are made regarding the school’s courses. Combining these activities with rigorous classes keeps me busy but focused on learning.
It seems like yesterday I just started, but I will always cherish some of the bonds and relationships I have made here. Everyone at the School of Public Affairs is friendly, open, and genuine. I’ve come to know a lot of the professors and they always have an open door if you feel like striking a conversation with them. The staff loves seeing familiar faces visit and is more than welcoming to new faces.
I’ve helped both Admissions and Advisement at open houses, new student orientations, and information sessions. Speaking to both new and prospective students contributes a small portion to how I impact the world. I was once one of those students and always acknowledging this makes me eager to help them out in any way I can. Participating at these events complement an already enriching experience here at Baruch.
Tell me about the graduate assistantship you’re currently a part of. What do you contribute to Professor, Carla Robbins whom you work with? What does the assistantship offer you in return?
Currently, I’m a graduate research assistant for Professor Carla Robbins. She is an experienced journalist and editor and I’m grateful to work for someone as knowledgeable as her. I help her keep up to date with current events and news that’s relevant to her field of expertise. In particular, I give her brief summaries of news pertaining to Russia, Ukraine, China, ISIS, U.S. foreign relations, and the defense budget. I also help fact check her op-eds before she submits them to journals such as Businessweek and Bloomberg. Because Professor Robbins has a huge network of contacts in agencies and organizations, the assistantship offers me a great opportunity to get the inside scoop on many national issues. It’s constantly evolving and I’m glad to be working in a way that tests flexibility, adaptability, and a willingness to work outside my comfort zone. Ultimately, it’s how the real world works.
What about your experience in The Washington Semester program provided you with the means to attain a position with the American Red Cross? What do you do there?
My internship experience with Innovative Emergency Management (IEM) while in Washington, D.C. last spring opened the door to a summer internship with the American Red Cross. While at IEM, I learned the basics of emergency management, transportation safety, and homeland security. My Congressional Liaison colleague and I researched critical infrastructure that was located in specific member districts and states. I also helped map emergency planning zones for areas near nuclear power plants.
I knew for a fact that I wanted to pursue a career in emergency management and the Community Recovery Team within the Long Term Recovery Unit was a perfect fit. The work I completed while at IEM was still fresh in my mind and my supervisor found it impressive that I knew the basic fundamentals of emergency management. At the Red Cross, I started to learn more about disaster recovery with regards to post-Hurricane Sandy work. I witnessed firsthand how agencies like FEMA and local volunteer organizations coordinated an effective community outreach initiative. Although many hard hit neighborhoods were still recovering (and still are to this day), the Red Cross along with its partners has accomplished a great deal redirecting various funds and resources to individuals and groups affected by Sandy. I helped my Community Recovery team write documents about Sandy-affected area; they incorporate Census demographics, FEMA damage statistics, and recovery status summaries. Needless to say, I’ve had a productive summer.