Jenny Xue, Graduate Student in SIPA - Master of Public Administration & CSSW- Master of Social Work

Which program/department are you in?

I am a dual degree student in SIPA - Master of Public Administration & CSSW- Master of Social Work.

What is your primary area of research?

Economic Political Development.

Which country (or countries) do you come from?


How long have you been in the U.S.?

I have been living in the US for over 10 years. I came here for high school in Indiana and went to Purdue University for my undergraduate degree.

Do you have any work experience you’d like to talk about?

My summer internship at Wildfire Strategies was a transformative experience. At the beginning of the summer, it seemed challenging, which now looking back, it was a mental block that made me doubt myself. As a minority with English as my second language, I was afraid of rejection when reaching out to potential clients. The idea of being turned down felt intimidating and awkward. However, I decided to step out of my comfort zone, realizing that the worst-case scenario was simply receiving a “NO” answer, which wouldn't be a significant loss.

I realized that in order to overcome my fears, I should be my own biggest supporter. I committed to the tasks that were assigned to me, working on various projects and reaching out to prospective clients to propose our coaching and leadership development services. The more I engaged in this process and encountered difficult conversations, the more I improved my pitching and communication skills. I regarded the negative feedback as a gift, which helps me grow more. The summer intern experience taught me that in life, growth and improvement often emerge from stepping beyond one's comfort zone, and that, indeed, the fear of rejection can be a powerful catalyst for personal and professional development.

What advice would you give other international students?

Be brave! Sometimes it can be overwhelming for international students, especially when English is not our first language, but it's crucial not to let fear hold us back. Whether it's applying for jobs, pursuing significant roles in academic or professional settings, or speaking your mind in front of an audience, confidence is always the key. The power of preparation and practice is so incredible, as it's often the foundation of confidence. And, as the saying goes, "fake it 'til you make it."

So, to all my fellow international students, remember to be brave, practice, and believe in the potential within you.

Tell us the best/hardest parts about living in the U.S.

The best part about living in the U.S. is the diversity. I have the opportunity to connect with people from various cultural backgrounds and learn from each other. However, unlike back home, where I had family and friends to rely on for decision-making and support, I have to do everything by myself here, for example, balancing a part-time job, academics, and the responsibilities of daily life. It can be intimidating to embrace adulthood and step out of my comfort zone. I still think that this challenge is an integral part of my personal and professional growth. I learned the power of self-reliance, resilience, and the capacity to live in a new country. 


Connect with Jenny on Instagram and LinkedIn.

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Are you (or do you know) an international student, scholar, or alumni?

We’re looking to spotlight stories of academic or professional work, leadership, or personal adjustment to life at Columbia and NY in particular and the U.S. in general.

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