Tuesdays with a Korbel Grad

This week Oliver, a 2013 MA in International Studies Korbel graduate, stops by to reflect on his time at Korbel and what earning a degree from the Josef Korbel School of International Studies has done for his career.

1. Where do you currently work?
I currently work as an Operations Specialist for Project C.U.R.E a Denver based 501c3 non-profit which takes donated overstock medical supplies and equipment from area hospitals and manufacturers and ships them to partner hospitals in over 130 countries.

2. Which courses or professors at Korbel do you think best prepared you for this job?
Chen Reis was one of my biggest influencers through courses like Health and Humanitarian Aid, as well as Information Management for Humanitarian Crises. These courses gave me a solid foundation in working in the humanitarian sector as well as the challenges it presents. I also got a lot of value out of classes with Tom Laetz, such as Project Management which gave me a lot of valuable tools such as project planning, Gantt Charts, budgets and other key project management skills. However, my favorite class in terms of learning was taught by an adjunct professor Dave Cherney, about the policy process, and I also spent a lot of time with Lynn Holland who guided me through the process of publishing a paper on the international political economy of the humanitarian regime.

3. We know that graduate school is an investment, how did you finance your graduate school investment?
Through loans- both private and public- I was also fortunate to receive the Peace Corps Fellowship which was a financial and academic support, as well as several academic awards- the Paterson award to support my work while interning in Washington DC and through the Korbel in DC semester, as well as the Chester Lee Brinser scholarship, for demonstrated commitment to humanitarian service. I am still paying off the loans, though!

4. How did Korbel’s location in Denver impact your job search? 
I guess being a Denver native, I had a good network here to start, but I also made sure to get to DC and forge connections there- which ultimately led to my first consulting role after Korbel and gave me some credibility and valuable work experience upon returning to Denver. In the end, Korbel’s location is great, and it seems to me to be all about who you know. Korbel attracts a great network and leveraging that is as important as the degree itself.

5. How have you utilized Korbel’s alumni network?
I got an internship at Save the Children in Washington through Korbel alumni and now professor, Jerry Montgomery. He was instrumental in mentoring me in international humanitarian logistics and getting my first role as a operations consultant with the Guinea Worm Eradication Programme in South Sudan. He continues to be a mentor and role model today. Upon returning to Denver, and finding Project C.U.R.E I also found a solid network of DU alums- in the year plus I’ve been here I have worked with 4 Korbel alumi and numerous others have worked as interns. I try to return the favor now.


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