Stefania De Santis, IBEI alumni 2016-2017
1. Why did you choose the IBEI Master’s?
My interest in security studies increased steadily after taking courses related to peacekeeping operations, terrorism and organized crime and, in particular, after writing a thesis on the Mexican war on drugs. Enrolling in a master’s in International Security seemed a straightforward continuation of my previous degree in International Relations and as its natural refinement.
I chose IBEI as it provided a one-year, extremely interesting, academic programme, giving students a wide choice of optional courses. Furthermore, IBEI caught my attention because of the high quality and diverse backgrounds of its Faculty, its multicultural student community and since its courses were taught in English regardless of its location, which grants students the opportunity to live and study in Barcelona even if they do not speak Spanish and / or Catalan.
2. What is your experience at IBEI?
I have very good memories of my time at IBEI. I cherished the low student-staff ratio. Professors knew you; they would call you by your name and they were always available in case of need. This contributed to creating a very comfortable learning environment whereby interesting debates and discussions took place and no one felt ashamed of expressing hers/his opinion or of asking questions.
The quality of the master was very satisfying, I learned quite a lot, was inspired by professors and definitely improved my skills in writing and speaking in academic English and Spanish (as I took some optional courses which were only taught in Spanish).
3. Describe your career path since graduating from the IBEI
After graduating from IBEI I moved back to Santiago de Chile and rejoined the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) where I had been working before starting the master. I first joined the Division of Gender Affairs and then the Division of Sustainable Development and Human Settlements.
After about two years and a half at ECLAC I was hired by the Inter-American Development Bank located in Washington D.C. where I am currently covering the position of Evaluation Support Consultant in the Office of Evaluation and Oversight (OVE).
4. How did the master programme prepare you for the work you're doing now?
The master programme allowed me to fine-tune my analytical and research skills, providing knowledge and instruments to conduct both quantitative and qualitative research meticulously. This proved extremely useful for the tasks I was assigned to at ECLAC, among others, drafting briefs and reports on a variety of topics.
The choice of optional curses related to Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), and the thesis I wrote on the Mapuche people in Argentina and Chile, granted me the opportunity to further deepen my knowledge in this region, reaffirming my interest in contributing to the work of organizations whose mission is the economic and social development and the reduction of poverty and inequality in LAC.
5. Is this more or less what you pictured yourself doing after the master programme?
Definitely. Since high school I have been dreaming of working in an international environment. My choice of graduate and postgraduate studies was ultimately aimed at working in international organizations. I envisaged and hoped for this path long before the master; I feel extremely lucky and honoured to have gotten this far.
6. What advice would you give to current students who want to follow this career path? / Some advice to future IBEI students?
I believe it is fundamental to keep an open mind, not exclude any opportunity even if it does not seem ideal at first. Try to experience and learn as much as you can at IBEI and in Barcelona, a year really does fly! If you can, enrol to the exchange and / or to the internship programme, these are both incredible opportunities that can enrich you both professionally and personally and lay the foundations to start building your network.
7. What do you miss most about IBEI?
I miss the interesting debates, the inspiring environment and the kindness and availability of professors. I also sincerely miss the good friends I made that year, and of course, beautiful Barcelona.