Vaishnavi, International Development

Vaishnavi, International Development

Wed, 2021-12-15 14:38
  • Actualité Sciences PoActualité Sciences Po

Vaishnavi Pavithran has graduated Summa Cum Laude in International Development. She is Regional Programme Innovation Advisor for East Africa at the WFP Regional Bureau in Kenya. 

What skills and/or strategy helped you to succeed at PSIA?  

As this was something really important to me, I genuinely focused on every single assignment. It isn't only the maximum weightage exams that matter but also the smaller assignments that can help you up the score. Picking courses I really liked definitely was key as I really enjoyed what I was learning - both from the class content but equally from the professor and my fellow students. This naturally meant I enjoyed pushing my boundaries and exploring different perspectives to write assignments. Last, I would caution one to not be too hard on yourself. I remember feeling extremely upset when I scored poorly in one course as I thought it would wipe my chances of graduating even cum laude and since I still managed to graduate summa cum laude, I would hope everyone takes the time to enjoy everything SciencesPo has to offer and not give up if you score poorly in one or two courses

What part of your PSIA experience do you think will be of greatest help in your career? 

Undoubtedly, the practical courses. The reason I chose SciencesPo over some other institutions in this range of ranking was because SciencesPo lets us really tailor the courses to our needs and pick the professors that interest us the most. Early on, I knew more than academics, I liked hands on learning and studying courses that had a real-life immersion/ scenario approach. I think working in that kind of setting gave me a good feel of what I ended up choosing career wise - humanitarian work. The inter disciplinary nature of SciencesPo's courses really helped me have transferable skills and a good grasp on a range of subjects. While this may not be what a PhD aspiring in-depth student may want, it worked out really great for me - especially coming from a business and finance or non- humanities background. 

What advice would you give to current and future PSIA students? 

I would encourage you to keep your options open for the "what after" from SciencesPo. It is an incredible college that gives you many options, including exclusive internships to some prestigious employers. At least in my case, I did not even get shortlisted for some positions I thought I was well suited for while getting two internship opportunities in two different UN agencies for a topic I was not as well versed in comparison in. Life can sometimes be surprising and I am glad I took the leap of faith as I explored new interests, was able to navigate and choose as a next step the thematic area I was initially interested in and kick-start my career. Hence, unless you are extremely sure you only want one concentration, I would encourage you to keep your options open and see what life has in store for you. 


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