Torge Schwandt

2015 Graduate, Environmental Management Consultant
Torge Schwandt

About

Why did you decide to enroll in the MAAIS program?

It was a combination of a lot of things that made the MAAIS program an ideal fit for me. First, the university. While researching master’s degrees in the United States, it became clear to me very quickly that the UW is one of the best schools in the country. The overall package (tuition, location, campus, quality of education, etc.) was very appealing to me.

The city was also a factor. I had been to Seattle before and was already a big fan of the Pacific Northwest. The overall quality of life and what the city and state of Washington have to offer are one of a kind. It’s a great place to live and work.

Plus, the duration was something that stood out. Having been granted a Fulbright scholarship for one year, I was looking for a one-year program. The MAAIS program was just a great fit for me.

What about the academic experience?

The program itself was exactly what I was looking for. After getting my undergraduate degree in business administration and some work experience, I was looking for a program that would allow me to take a look at the bigger picture. This is exactly what the MAAIS program did with its interdisciplinary curriculum and content.

As the year unfolded, what surprised you about the experience?

The Civic Council’s openness and interest towards us as students surprised me the most. Being able to make connections and network with leaders from all different sectors and industries was a great learning experience.

What MAAIS class or experience stood out as particularly valuable?

The strategic crisis negotiation simulation was a superb way to learn a lot of things in a short amount of time, and to test yourself on what you are capable of and where you need to improve. The support we received from everyone involved in the organization was great. It was very insightful to work with representatives from the military and former diplomats.

The capstone project was also very special in its own way. It helped you get closer to your fellow cohort members and to learn how to approach a complex topic as a team. I did my project for Boeing, which was also a great experience, to get to know the company from the inside.

How did the multidisciplinary nature of the program shift or reshape your thinking?

It strengthened my belief that you can make an impact in this world no matter where you’re from and what your professional background is. Whatever happens at the other end of the world has an impact in your part of the world. The MAAIS program definitely showed me that you can change something for the better and have an impact, making a difference right where you are.

How has this degree helped you on your career path?

The degree helped me land a job in an industry that I was looking at and had worked in before — renewable energy — because of its international and cross-sectional focus. In my job I deal not just with business aspects but also, for example, with legislative issues in different countries. So having had exposure in the MAAIS program to global challenges, international policymaking processes and legislation, and international business issues definitely helped me connect the dots.

But I think the MAAIS degree would also be of value in pretty much any other sector. And as I mentioned before, the connections made through the program are something of lasting value that especially helps your career path. Even though I am back in Europe, I also have a professional network in Seattle that I regularly stay in touch with.

I want to get things done, and this new master’s program kept up that motivation, teaching me how the United States and the world functions in the professional policy world. I feel this program will give me a competitive advantage in my career and home country.

What advice do you have for prospective students considering MAAIS?

If you consider yourself an open-minded person, and regard yourself as a global citizen who wants to know more about the complex world we live in in order to make a difference, and if you’re ready to be pushed out of your comfort zone for 10 months, go for it! The world is a fascinating place — it’s good to learn about what it has to offer, but moreover how you can find a spot for yourself and make an impact.