Juan Tomas Sanchez Sanchez
Master's Student of International Security at Sciences Po's Paris School of International Affairs and Peking University
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Q&A WITH JUAN
Could you tell us about the application process and how you got into your Master’s program?
I always wanted to specialize in International Security and geo-politics. I decided to ask my International Relations professors at IE about the ways I could continue my career in such a path. I considered working for both the public and private sectors, but I was advised by several of them to continue my academic formation via a master to strengthen my CV.
I took the advice to heart and begun looking for master’s options to apply to. I decided to concentrate in continental schools of IR for economic and ideological reasons. Once I had completed a list with the top 10 programs and schools that I would be interested in, I developed different versions of my CV and motivation letters to use for each of them. I figured that I would be more likely to be selected to programs related to past experiences that made my profile stand out among the rest. I considered that the most unique part of my CV was my exchange semester at HKUST, which was also my most successful academically. I still believe it was the part of my life that helped me the most to get into my current master’s program as it led me to chose masters options that were related in one way or another to Asia.
At the end of my selection process, the dual master’s degree program In Sciences Po with Peking University made it to the top of my list. Apart from the Asia factor, I always wanted to go to Sciences Po due to its prestige and location. In fact, it was my first option to go on my exchange semester at IE, but I did not make the cut. Curiously enough, being rejected for my exchange at Sciences Po led me to go to Hong Kong, which ultimately turned out to help me succeed during my master’s application two years later. In any case, during the entire application process, I had the help and support of both my professors and the IE staff, without whom I could not have made it.
I was accepted during the first days of the first confinement in Spain. I was really lucky to find something to do that I really like in the middle of the global pandemic and mostly skipped all the stress and confusion that my other colleagues experienced during their application processes in the professional world.
How did your experience at IEU prepare you for your professional and academic career?
I am a middle-class boy from a rural area in Spain. Without my years at IE university there is no way I could have opted to join such an outstanding master’s program. My years at IE provided me with a special mindset that has refined both my CV and personality, and ultimately allowed me to continue my career through such an amazing master’s degree. The day I finished my degree at IE, I was a completely different man from the boy I was when I arrived to Segovia in 2015. It is difficult to explain, but the amount of different personalities and diverse mindsets that I encountered in during IE prepared for the life in the great metropolises of the world. I still hang out with the members of the “IE diaspora” that live with Paris, specially with those that started their IE path with me in Segovia more than 6 years ago.
IE University also gave me the opportunity to travel abroad and filled my CV with experiences that few in Spain or even Europe can have.
What is the competitive advantage that studying at IEU provides or has provided you?
It is surprising how important a good presentation or a well written paper can be for academic success. IE taught me how to work and how to manage my daily life and career efficiently and effectively. I still find it easier than some of my peers at Sciences Po to make a good presentation or produce a well written paper in a timely manner. In other words, the advantage that I got from IE is the care for the details that makes an output easily better in the eyes of your professor or boss.
I used to think presentations or writing skills were unnecessary courses, but they turned out to be the ones that have benefited me the most later on.
Do you have any advice for IEU students and alumni who are looking to pursue a career in international development?
Find the parts of your CV that make you special in contrast with others and use them to your advantage. Trips, languages, internships, personal blogs, competitions … anything can give you points in a selection process – in both the academic and professional realms. Concentrate your efforts in the opportunities that balance your personal preferences with your best skills and the things that you are good at. Never undermine your own personal value, do not prevent yourself from applying to something that sounds too good for you to be accepted in. Try not to be restricted by geographical barriers and take financial help when it is needed. Do not be afraid of extending your academic career to improve your CV. The world of international development is very competitive, and an extra year of specialized education can do more than two years of internships. Most importantly, work your tail off and learn by yourselves. Read, watch and listen to content about international development and what you want to do in life. Knowing more about it has to become your hobby.
What skills do you consider are needed to succeed in international development?
Writing and Presentation skills are very important. Willingness to study extensively beyond what is asked from you is also key, in my opinion. Languages can open gates for you. Read, read and read.
Tell us about the IEU alumni community and the impact they have had in your life and/or career.
The IE community, especially in Segovia, is truly unique. Sounds cliché, but I have not found anything like it, after or before. Such a concentration of interesting and different people, in the same place, studying the same thing as you, can hardly be found anywhere else. When I find and hang out with other members of the IE community, even with those that were not necessarily my friends back in the day, it really feels like you are with another family. The amount of contrasting personalities and diverse mindsets that I encountered during my IE years also helped me adapt to different social environments around the world. My IE experience basically turned me into a global citizen, (and from a child to an adult).
Why do you think it’s important to engage with the IEU alumni community?
It is difficult to find people that have shared the same kind of international and cosmopolitan experiences as you outside the “IE diaspora”. I share more with the IE colleges that I have come across here in Paris that the new friends I made on the way. You do not want to lose contact with the people that have been featured in such an important enriching period of your life.
What skills would you recommend job seekers develop in order to make them more competitive in today’s workforce?
IT skills, languages, and extracurricular activities (particularly entrepreneurial initiatives) – everybody has a degree.
What’s the best career advice you have ever been given?
Start your own International Relations blog.
If someone was considering going to IEU, what would you tell them?
Go, and study beyond the courses, enjoy your social experience (I must insist in this one) and go to Segovia.
Enjoy as much as you can before its over !!!!
Why did you choose the dual degree BBA&BIR program at IE University?
I have always been a good student, with history and geopolitics as my main interests. I wanted to study something useful related to those areas, and in an international environment. International relations seemed like the best option for me. Finally, I wanted to compliment my international relations career aspirations with business knowledge – which was also the most known academic aspect of IE at the time. Therefore, the dual degree was always on my mind.
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