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MIS Student Spotlight: Nina Kaur

Talley Student Union

What has been your favorite part of the MIS program so far?

For me, one of the most interesting aspects of the MIS program has been the internship course with Dr. Tracy Appling and receiving course credit for internship work. I took advantage of this opportunity for two semesters and it really allowed me to manage my time more efficiently between academic priorities and build work experience in my field of interest. The internship course also gave me the opportunity to expand my network beyond MIS and the chance to understand international education development better.

Nina Kaur
Nina Kaur.

How did you end up at NC State and in MIS?

Despite being a North Carolina native and attending a North Carolina institution for my undergraduate education, I was unaware of the MIS program at NC State. I discovered the MIS program through the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs (APSIA) website and soon after connected with the then-MIS director and my current advisor, Dr. Heidi Hobbs.

At the start, I was indecisive about starting a graduate program in 2019 and decided instead to defer my acceptance and take on a global education position at the University of Arizona. As with most people, the onset of the pandemic brought many changes and challenges and unfortunately halted international travel and exchanges. It was against the backdrop of the pandemic that I decided to move back to NC and start the MIS program.

Despite navigating unique obstacles that came with being a full-time remote student during a global pandemic, the MIS program has allowed me the flexibility to design my own specialization, and partake in professional development opportunities while interning.

Do you work? If so, what do you do for work and how do you apply your MIS knowledge?

Yes, I have worked and interned for the duration of my MIS experience. Currently, I am wrapping up my teaching assistant job and a graduate assistantship with MIS. Needless to say, MIS knowledge, particularly through my International Relations Seminar course, has served me well while advising and facilitating a similar course for undergraduate students. My public administration and history coursework has also exposed me to lesser-known career paths in international education and development.

What has your experience in the MIS program been like so far?

Two years into the program and with one semester left until graduation, I would say that my MIS experience has been one of self-growth. Although I have had an untraditional graduate school experience with my classes being fully remote for most of the program, it’s given me the opportunity to demonstrate resilience and adaptability in an increasingly virtual environment. Similar to many MIS students, virtual interviews are not ideal, but two years of remote coursework, meetings, and a host of virtual professional engagements has provided me with ample opportunities to practice these skill sets in a virtual environment.

What’s something that people might find interesting about you?

Prior to starting the MIS program, I lived and taught English in Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands of Spain. This was a region of the world I had little prior knowledge of, and while living there I also climbed the largest peak in Spain, Mount Teide. This climb was heavily assisted by a cable car, but regardless, living on a volcanic island enjoying “papas con mojo,” is an experience that I won’t forget anytime soon.

What do you like to do when not at work?

When I am not working and meeting academic deadlines, I enjoy cooking and trying various recipes and spending time with my dog. Being a full-time student and juggling other priorities does not leave you with much downtime, but it is precisely during those busy times when we start to appreciate the small things. Similarly, I am really looking forward to having downtime to practice my kebab recipes and start working my way through a Persian cookbook.

What are your goals for the upcoming year?

Goals and plans are always subject to change, but currently, I am looking forward to completing the overseas portion of my Boren Fellowship. If travel is approved for the fall, I will be studying the immersive Turkish language in Azerbaijan. While this is exciting and will shape my career plans beyond graduation, leaving behind friends and family will be difficult this time around. Nevertheless, I am looking forward to this opportunity, which has been possible with the support of NC State’s Graduate Fellowship Office.

What advice do you have for students considering the MIS degree?

For prospective MIS students, I would recommend taking advantage of the flexibility of the program and start thinking about internships and work experience early, perhaps even before you start the program. MIS students are an academically diverse bunch where you will find career goals ranging from diplomacy, sustainable development, and even security studies to name a few. Do not hesitate to consider unique specializations! Lastly, I would encourage MIS students to carve out time and apply to every relevant opportunity, even and especially ones that seem competitive. After doing the same and being rejected from a handful, I can attest that rejection becomes easier and eventually something meaningful will come out of it.

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