Alejandro Gonzalez
Alejandro Gonzalez, MAIDP Class of '20

Thanks to Alejandro González, Master of Arts in International Development and Policy (MAIDP) Class of '20, for writing this post reflecting on fall quarter while planning for academic, career and personal success this winter!

In the midst of travelling, shopping, and holiday parties this winter break, I sat down to reflect on my fall quarter in the MAIDP program and think about what lies ahead this quarter. Since the program is only a year long, I wanted to assess my goals as I start the next chapter. While the fall was a time to test the waters and become familiar with to the rigor of the curriculum (as well as all the events and student organizations Harris has to offer), the winter will be the time to apply what we’ve learned in the fall, deepen relationships, do some serious career planning, and have some thoughtful introspection. 

Academics 

My Data Analysis class in the fall was challenging on many levels. The concepts, formulas, and statistical software were completely new to me, and getting my brain to think using data required a code switch. I am now beginning to understand the importance of statistics and econometrics to solving problems—so much so that I am doubling down on data classes, taking Data Analysis II and Social Experiments: Design and Generalizations this quarter. They will no doubt be challenging, but that is exactly why I am at Harris—to push me out of my comfort zone. 

Social Life 

I invested a significant amount of time building community and creating new friendships with my peers last quarter. In fact, some of my friends from the MAIDP and MPP programs even joined me when I went home to visit my family in Miami over Winter Break. 

I am looking forward to deepening those ties this quarter. One way I plan to do this is by hosting a series of dinners with friends from across different Harris programs to discuss existential topics and bring people together. Our MAIDP Social Committee has a series of activities planned for our cohort, including a Valentine’s Day gift exchange and trying out some winter sports. And, I will be having weekly lunches with peers who I want to get to know better at Harris and UChicago more broadly. 

Career Planning 

I did not dedicate enough time this past fall to professional development and plan to adjust accordingly this quarter. I have met with my Career Coach and blocked out dedicated time each week for career planning, just as if I had a class at that time. As an MAIDP student, we also have the added benefit of having several practicing professionals as strategists who help us with career planning. I am especially excited to get to know and have one-on-one conversations with my strategists this quarter. 

Personal Time 

I spent last quarter surrounded by people as I got to know my new peers. Although I have built some solid friendships, I am going to make sure to build in more “me time” this quarter. As a practicing Catholic, this means more time in silent prayer and seeking spiritual direction. While these are exciting times for me, I also feel it’s important to leave myself some time for reflection and spiritual preparedness as I get ready to transition into a new chapter after graduation. 

A key takeaway I had while reflecting on my fall quarter is that few people have the privilege of dropping everything and dedicating time to the professional and intellectual advancement one experiences in grad school, let alone at Harris. I feel so fortunate to be here every day, and plan to take full advantage of that opportunity this upcoming quarter.  

If you enjoyed this post, check out Alejandro's previous post, Building Community from Day One!