Skip to content

For updates about COVID-19 at Clark, please visit the Healthy Clark Dashboard.

IDCE graduate students successful in tough job market

Preparation and resilience key to overcoming challenges
Sharon Hanna and student
IDCE’s Sharon Hanna advising a student.

Clark’s graduate students have had solid success in the recent job market thanks to their diligence, dedication, and experience. The positive results are all indicative of early engagement with Clark’s career planning resources, including conversations with advisers and alumni, and polishing résumé and interview skills. Resilience and patience have been the keys to success since the onset of COVID-19.

“So far, indicators are promising for the Class of 2020,” says Sharon Hanna, director of career development and external relations in Clark’s  International Development, Community, and Environment (IDCE) department. “When the economic condition signals there are few jobs, it takes an amount of discipline and motivation to engage in the job search. These outcomes are testament to how IDCE prepares graduates for careers and how their commitment to the job search results in these victories,” says Hanna.

Kortni Wroten

Kortni Wroten, MBA/M.S. ’20, earned a dual MBA/master’s in environmental science and policy, and was able to obtain a position by leveraging her network and staying in touch with previous employers. “When I was applying to the job I have now, I told everyone in my network who I knew would be able to put in a good word. When it was time for my interview, the CEO told me I had a lot of fans! It definitely helped to have an ‘in,’” she says.

Wroten is a sustainability specialist for Kim Lundgren Associates and works with communities around the country to implement climate action, resilience planning, and other sustainability initiatives. IDCE’s Career Development Office was pivotal in helping her obtain her position, particularly the career workshops, interview preparation, and alumni outreach. “Through email or informational interviews, I was able to connect with many alumni in positions I wanted to know more about; those contacts helped me learn about the organizational culture and expectations, and provided other tips,” she says.

Jenna DeFosse
Jenna DeFosse

After earning her master’s in international development, Jenna DeFosse, M.S. ’20, secured a position as a campaign communications specialist at CASA. Having a prior connection to the nonprofit organization as an intern gave her an edge and helped her secure her position. “Because I was familiar with the work of the organization, I was able to connect with people there who I knew from my internship — to get an idea of whether I would be a good fit for the position,” she says.

DeFosse also credits Hanna’s assistance. “Sharon is a great resource and person to talk to. She can help with everything and is so positive and supportive,” she says. DeFosse found it helpful to talk to fellow students from the Peace Corps and City Year to determine if those programs were relevant to her.

Adina Cohen
Adina Cohen

Following Hanna’s advice, Adina Cohen ’19, M.A. ’20, refined her job search and learned about different organizations by interviewing people she knew from her hometown of Chicago, as well as Clark alumni she reached out to on LinkedIn.  Recently hired as a grant writer with Esperanza Health Centers in Chicago, Cohen says, “The knowledge and skills I gained through my hands-on coursework and internships in IDCE’s community development and planning (CDP) program directly prepared me for success in this position.”

Hanna notes that there also has been good news for internships for rising second-year students. “While a number of organizations rescinded summer internships, students redoubled their efforts and landed remote positions, some extending into fall,” she says.

Buba Sulle Dicko
Buba Sulle Dicko

International development student Buba Sulle Dicko, from Cameroon, was looking for an internship in his specialty of monitoring and evaluation. He found success through his professional network and accepted a coveted position with the Malala Fund. “I would not have gotten this internship if I hadn’t had the chance to study at Clark University,” he says. “I was able to articulate how my skill set lined up with the requirements for the role based on my knowledge of program monitoring, evaluation, and learning, which I acquired through IDCE.”

Jessica Borges
Jessica Borges

Jessica Borges, also studying international development, secured a monitoring and evaluation consultant internship at Adaptiv, a nonprofit organization focused on community-rooted architecture and planning. She currently is creating a project evaluation model to be used for project and community engagement strategies.

“While remote work can make mentorship and training — the essential components of an internship — more difficult, employers are paying more attention to skills like self-discipline, self-motivation, and the ability to work independently,” says Borges.

Borges has high praise for her classwork and the IDCE faculty. “The knowledge I acquired in IDCE has been crucial,” she says. “The curriculum reflects the most advanced and progressive approaches in the field of international development.”

Kevin Finn
Kevin Finn

CDP student Kevin Finn realized that the key to securing an internship position during COVID-19 was to adapt quickly and be persistent. “I would frequently follow up with previously submitted applications, discuss the possibility of working remotely, and even volunteer my time without pay, just to gain the work experience,” he says.

He secured a position with the Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission (CMRPC) as a regional collaborative and community planning intern, and helped distribute state funds to local Boards of Health responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. His IDCE coursework has contributed to his success. “I’ve learned a great deal about planning and community development that I have been able to apply directly in the field and the Central Massachusetts community.”

Read more graduate student success stories from Clark’s class of 2020: