Whether you’re a recent college grad, a seasoned nonprofit professional, or an aspiring sector-switcher, attending the right graduate program can advance your career. For many prospective grad students, the Idealist Grad School Fairs are the perfect opportunity to take that first step and explore all of your options.
We had an opportunity to speak with Alex Malikova about how attending the 2019 Idealist Grad School Fair in New York City helped to shape her career path.
Name: Alex Malikova (she/her)
Idealist Grad School Fair attended: New York City 2019
Undergraduate degree: Bachelor’s in Systems Science and Engineering, University of Pennsylvania, class of 2010
Graduate degree: Master’s of Logistics and Supply Chain Management, Lund University, class of 2022
Dream job: Working in humanitarian logistics for disaster relief
During your undergraduate career, did you have an idea of what you wanted to do for work?
When I was an undergraduate student, I had a very vague idea of what I wanted to do, so I went to grad school right away to get a Master’s of Science in Transportation. I started working at New York City Transit Authority, but the field ended up not being right for me.
I looked into the Idealist Grad School Fair because I wanted to find a grad school program that could help me make an impact in my career.
What motivated you to attend graduate school?
I started looking into grad programs that could apply to a variety of fields, which led me to supply chain management. In relation to humanitarian logistics, supply chain can be used to help people through emergency relief or disaster recovery efforts.
The thing is, I didn’t have enough experience in supply chain management to make the change on my own, so I needed a program that would help me gain skills and credentials. I knew grad school would help me shift careers more easily.
How did the Idealist Grad School Fair help you find your graduate program?
I attended the Idealist Grad School Fair because I wanted to talk to representatives from a variety of programs—and all in one place—to quickly gather information about my options. Being able to look through the pamphlets and other information I got from the fair helped me figure out what different grad programs offer, and what I wanted to get out of my own grad school experience.
What was your graduate school experience like?
I started grad school at the height of COVID-19, which was a bit difficult because I was living in Sweden and taking all remote classes. However, it was still possible (even during COVID-19) to find community.
I got involved with different areas of student life and extracurricular activities, like helping the Red Cross lead bike classes for immigrants. Biking is the main mode of transportation in Sweden, so helping people acclimate to this lifestyle was a lot of fun. I was also able to learn Swedish since the government offers free classes to immigrants.
How did your grad program align with your career goals?
My classes were interesting, but also very practical for what I wanted to do. One course called humanitarian logistics completely aligned with my interests; we heard from guest speakers ranging from academics to practitioners, so it was cool to hear about the different applications of humanitarian logistics in the real world.
I also was able to secure an internship with the World Food Programme to gain experience in my field, and I could not have had that experience if not for grad school.
What advice would you give to people considering graduate school?
Grad school is a really good way to find like-minded people and create a network. I’ve been able to make friends and keep in touch with my former classmates, and we’re always sending job recommendations to each other. Imagine being able to one day work with your friends—that’s amazing.
I think grad school is worth it not just because you’re learning so much, but also because you find a community that can support you in your professional endeavors.
Interested in exploring grad programs ranging from public policy to international studies? Search for universities and programs using the Idealist Grad School Directory and contact admissions representatives directly.