A newsletter for ISS students, alumni, faculty, and staff.
Vol. 2, Issue 3 // Spring Quarter 2019

Wise, D. (2016). Cherry blossom trees spring 2016 [digital image]. Retrieved from https://uwphotos.smugmug.com/Campus-Architecture/Quad/i-NRLsMCd


As UW’s cherry trees burst into bloom, Integrated Social Sciences celebrates the fifth spring quarter in operation. One aspect of our ISS experience that aligns with the regenerative spirit of the season is the way students have applied social science tools to invigorate extra-curricular work. One reason for such broadening of applicability may be the demand for employees trained with skills to adapt to changing circumstances. According to the Center on Education and the Workforce, 35% of job openings will require at least a bachelor’s degree. The report further notes that optimal employees will be those trained in cognitive skills, such as “communication and analytics.”

Students often remark on the links they observe between their academic and professional experiences in their learning plans and portfolio reflections, and awareness starts even after just a couple of quarters of ISS coursework.  For example, current ISS student Stella Rae Pearce, who currently works as a nanny and plans “to continue working with families in the future” has noted how the data collection method of “participant observation” is particularly relevant to her professional interests. The fact that during participant observation the researcher works to play two separate roles at the same time, subjective participant and objective observer, has raised awareness about the role small group study can play to understand or even provide new solutions for persistent social contention, such as that generated by immigration issues. Indeed, Stella aspires to have a career in refugee education, where mediating skills such as those influenced by participation observation perspectives, are central to effective teaching.   

Eric Hufnagel, a third-quarter ISS student who works in law administration, concurred that academic skills have wide applicability in professional contexts, especially writing skills “aimed at formulating concise and coherent” statements capable of delineating the “X/Y/Z” of an intellectual claim or position. He emphasizes how “it’s a valuable tool to be able to think, write, speak in clear and intentional terms.”  Links between ISS curriculum and real-world engagement abound, and learning about them is one of the most rewarding and compelling of the program’s many dimensions. As ISS students graduate, our program faculty and staff are interested to continue to hear from you about how your academic learning intersects in local and global contexts.

For other reports that speak to employer trends, see these links:

Career Conversation Starter

Did you know that UW provides resources that provide guidance for post-graduate opportunities? Thanks to Caitlin Goldbaum, from the UW Career & Internship Center, here is a description of some career conversation starter options. Caitlin will also be offering an online career workshop based on feedback from our students called “Job Search Strategies for ISSers” during Week 10 of Spring Quarter:

As Integrated Social Sciences students, you have access to a wide range of career resources through the UW Career and Internship Center. Wherever you live, we are here to help you through the job search process whether that is finding an opportunity, refining your materials, or performing well in an interview.

Handshake is the UW internal job and internship board with over 6,000 postings with companies across the country and abroad. These are all companies specifically looking to hire current UW students and alumni. Handshake also allows you to do research about different companies and read reviews from students who have completed internships or entry-level work positions there as well.

Through Handshake, you can also set up a virtual Zoom or phone appointment with a UW career coach. Career coaches provide support with career exploration and understanding job search process, and can also help you practice for an interview. Our coaches have experience supporting non-traditional students and adult learners, as well as students looking to pivot from one industry to another.

We also offer a number of online career resources through our website. Here you can view videos and webinar recordings on career topics such as resumes, networking, and interviewing as well as tips for salary negotiation. Check out our calendar of virtual workshops (offered through Zoom) for additional information on finding internships, preparing for a job search, and writing a strong cover letter.

Did you know?

Employment Status for Incoming ISS Students

Each academic year, a consistent majority (roughly two-thirds or more) of incoming ISS students are employed full time. Combined with the percentage of those working part-time, over three-quarters of our students are working when they enroll in ISS. These numbers, and the kinds of questions our incoming students ask in the Online Self-Paced Canvas Orientation, indicate that our students have very different career planning needs as compared to the “typical” undergraduate student. Some start ISS already settled in a career, and may be pursuing this degree for personal reasons. Others may wish to advance in their current career and need a BA to do so, while others are seeking or preparing to transition into a new field. Whatever your situation, we encourage our students to utilize the fantastic resources at the UW Career and Internship Center, and to network with each other about potential opportunities!

Integrated Social Sciences (March 9, 2018). FCAS Third Year Review.

Post-graduate Voices

Bird's Eye Study

WISE, D. (2015). A student on his laptop in Paccar Hall [DIGITAL IMAGE]. Retrieved from https://uwphotos.smugmug.com/Student-Life/i-hmrLNn2/A 

This issue we thought we’d represent some voices of students who have chosen to pursue academic degrees after graduating from ISS. Both offer perspectives of what was entailed in the transition from an online to a brick and mortar program. When Christopher Land graduated from the ISS program in March 2018,  he was accepted into a fully-funded Army on-base program to earn a Masters of Social Work (MSW) from the University of Kentucky (UK) at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. As Christopher explains:

The program also includes an internship to get my clinical hours to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). Enlisted Soldiers rarely become Officers without a break in service to attend a traditional four-year college. Yet there I was, five months after graduating, a commissioned Officer in the US Army.

Although I am the only student in the cohort whose degree was earned online, I am also the only one who brings a perspective shaped by a broad social science background. This and the fact that I completed my ISS degree while living in Korea, gives me a unique [global] perspective on a lot of our class topics . . . As far the coursework, since I completed the ISS program while working in the Army full time, I learned valuable time management skills that are serving me well even as I navigate the challenge of a brick and mortar based program.

Getting used to sitting in a classroom is my biggest challenge, especially for 6 hours a day . . .. It is a 24-month degree program accelerated to 14 months. Classes are taught 4 at a time, 7 weeks long, and 6 hours a day Monday – Thursday. Despite this speedbump, ISS honed time management skills have prepared me to complete my assignments in a timely manner, maintain good grades and still have tons of free time even at the accelerated course pace!”

While Christopher pursued a professional degree in social work, Estelle Boyer went on to pursue an academic degree.  Here is her account of the application process and her transition to an on-campus education:

As I walked under the blossoming cherry trees on UW Quad yesterday, I couldn’t help but think about my journey as a budding social scientist and how ISS helped me get started. I am now a first-year Master’s student in UW’s Geography department and know I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for ISS. Throughout my two years in the program, I acquired skills that helped me build a strong application and be successful in graduate school.

Geography is a wide, all-encompassing discipline that draws on many fields of expertise. Geographers like to think critically about how all these approaches to social science can be put in conversation to enhance our understanding of human actions and interactions. Coming from ISS, I knew all about the power of integration. I was able to display my strong attachment to interdisciplinarity in my portfolio by showing how I could think about issues such as race relations, globalization, or urban social justice through various lenses and synthesize these views into a coherent analysis. UW’s Geography faculty is keen on mixed research methods; I was glad I could showcase my understanding of various qualitative and quantitative research methods and the benefits of using them together. ISS made me the kind of candidate this department was looking for.

Now that I am in the program, I use the skills I acquired in ISS every day. I know how to research information in various ways; read efficiently (well, I am still learning…); synthesize, analyze, and present information; think critically; think broadly and reach outside of my discipline; engage in one-on-one and group conversations; make plans and follow through. In addition, ISS has given me the necessary knowledge to understand social science topics and reuse them in my graduate work. My MA thesis will draw directly on some of the work I did in ISS. I even use this knowledge in my teaching: as a teaching assistant, my first course was on globalization! Finally, even if these courses are on campus, a lot of information is exchanged online. Professors use Canvas to share resources, engage students in forum discussions, check knowledge with automated quizzes, and grade assignments. Knowing how to navigate Canvas is yet another valuable skill I learned in ISS. There is no doubt, then, that my time in ISS was well spent. I will continue to associate this beautiful learning experience to the cherry blossoms on UW Quad.”

Thinking about Graduate School?

Directory Square

WISE, D. (2016). Bagley Hall directory detail [DIGITAL IMAGE]. Retrieved from https://uwphotos.smugmug.com/keyword/Details/i-Jj2TVwW/A

We know that some students who enroll in our program came with plans of eventually going to graduate school. We also hear from students who find themselves a bit surprised to be considering graduate school when it wasn’t part of their original plan. Either way, your adviser and your instructors are happy to talk about this interest with you. If you are unsure where to start, your adviser is a good person to talk with.

We will offer a webinar led by ISS Program Co-Director Deborah Porter to answer some of the questions you might have as you consider whether graduate school is a viable next step after graduating from ISS. Stay tuned for more information! Professor Porter’s experience as Chair of the Masters in International Studies program and experience as reader/adjudicator of applications to competitive programs will provide valuable insights. Save the Date for our “Thinking about Graduate School?” webinar to be offered Thursday, May 16th at 6 pm PST on Zoom. More details to come!

ISS Bulletin Board: News, Events, Dates, Announcements

Key Dates
  • University commencement will be Saturday, June 15th! Students planning to walk at commencement should register to participate and can rent a cap and gown between May 8th-26th. These are not required attire for either commencement or the ISS celebration, but many students do participate.
  • The ISS Graduation Celebration will take place the following day Sunday, June 16th. Let us know your plans for attendance with this survey. ISS Advising will send more information in May!
  • Registration for the summer quarter is now open. Full and A term courses begin Monday, June 24th. 
  • Autumn registration (period I) will open on Friday, May 10th. Visit the ISS registration info page for the latest quarterly schedules. 
Fantastic Faculty
  • A paper co-authored by Sara Vannini and two other faculty, Ricardo Gomez (iSchool) and Bryce Newell (University of Kentucky) is one of five finalists for the 2019 Lee Dirks Award for Best Full Research Paper at the iConference. The paper is titled “Documenting the Undocumented: Privacy and Security Guidelines for Humanitarian Work with Irregular Migrants”.  This is the conference’s most prestigious award! See the announcement.
Cool Collaborations
  • Joe Hannah, Aimee Kelly, Mel Wensel, and Sara Vannini presented a  poster for the 15th Annual Teaching & Learning Symposium on April 17, 2019, that will feature the ISS core curriculum.  The presentation is entitled: Creating Coherence and Intellectual Culture with Integrated Assignments Across the Curriculum.
  • Reed Garber-Pearson, with fellow library staff Dovi Patino and Perry Yee, presented a poster about their online research workshop for graduate students for the Teaching & Learning Symposium. The poster is entitled: The UW Libraries Graduate Student Research Institute.