Capstone clients - Dell

Info for Capstone Clients

Information for Capstone Clients

SIPA Capstone Workshops apply the practical skills and analytical knowledge learned at SIPA to a real-world issue. Students from the Masters of International Affairs and Masters of Public Administration degree programs are organized into small consulting teams (generally about six students per team) and assigned a substantive, policy oriented project with an external client.

The collaboration between SIPA students and the organizations benefits both parties. The organizations benefit from the expertise of SIPA students, who have a wide variety of professional and educational backgrounds and who are in the final semester of a demanding, two-year professional degree program at one of the leading schools of international and public affairs in the world. All student teams are advised by a SIPA faculty member with relevant expertise. The students benefit from the opportunity to put learning into practice.

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  • Clients include public agencies (from the local to national level), international NGOs and multi-national organizations, and major firms in the private sector—recent examples include Citi Private Bank, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Mercy Corps, New York City Mayor’s Office, the United Nations and the World Bank Group. Student teams, working under the supervision of a faculty expert, answer a carefully defined problem posed by the client. Each team produces an actionable report and an oral briefing of their findings at the close of the workshop that is designed to translate into real change on the ground.

    For the full directory of projects, please see the Capstone Workshop directory here.

  • We seek to partner with organizations that can offer a project that is timely, but not urgent, which can be completed within a five-month period, that is of value both to the organization itself and to the learning experience of students.

    Potential applicants are strongly encouraged to discuss project ideas with Suzanne Hollmann, Senior Assistant Dean in Academic Affairs, before submission of a proposal. Applicants will be notified by the end of September about whether their proposal has been selected for further development. Applications received after July 31 will be considered on a rolling admissions basis. Priority will be given to applicants who have submitted before the July deadline.

    During the summer, we will match the organization with an expert faculty advisor who will work with the client organization to further refine the project scope and deliverables. In October, students submit a formal application to the Capstone program, rank ordering their top choices. Students are selected by the faculty advisor and are matched with projects based on their demonstrated skill sets and interests. The actual workshop is conducted from mid-November to and is completed in early May.

    Returning Client and Faculty Preliminary Timeline for Spring 2025 Capstone Projects

    July 31 Preferred date to receive project proposals for the Spring 2024 cycle of projects. Project proposals selected for the spring portfolio are matched with a faculty advisor in the July-August period.
    September 13 First draft of the project agreement (the “Terms of Reference” or TOR) should be completed between faculty advisor and client
    September 30 Final TOR due to SIPA
    October 7 Capstone project descriptions are posted on SIPA's website for students to view
    October 23 Deadline for students to apply to Capstone workshop
    November 11 Capstone team student assignments are announced
    November 15 Introductory session by faculty advisor for student team to discuss the details of the project and assign winter reading/research
    Week of November 18 At a time convenient for client, team meets/conferences with client
    December 11 Capstone team will produce a high level preliminary work plan for the project
    January 21 First day of classes for Spring Semester
    Week of January 21 Suggested: Client meets/conferences with Capstone team to reconvene for spring term
    Week of March 10 Suggested: Midterm briefing to client on project’s progress
    March 17- 21 Spring Break—teams that are traveling internationally will travel during this week—no classes for all other workshops
    Week of April 7 Suggested: Written draft report or initial findings submitted to client
    Week of April 21 Suggested: Client briefing of project findings
    Before May 5 Final report and briefing due to client
    May 5 Last Day of Classes
    Early May SIPA Capstone Closing Reception
    End of June Preferred date for clients to confirm interest in returning for next project cycle
  • Supported by a Columbia faculty advisor, each student team starts work by mid-November on a draft work plan. Based on their desk and field research, each team prepares a report and actionable recommendations for review by the client in late April. Students work on average 8-12 hours per week on their project.

    1. Define goals and deliverables. Clients work with the faculty advisor in the late summer/early fall to define the project goals and deliverables.
    2. Participate in meetings. Over the course of the project, clients are asked to participate in three standard meetings—these are: an initial “kick-off” meeting, mid-term presentation, and final presentation. Beyond these meetings, the client should be available for periodic calls over the course of the semester with the team for status updates (generally twice a month throughout the project).
    3. Provide appropriate support. When there are costs associated with the project, such as international travel, clients are asked to provide financial or in-kind support for the project, which is determined during the completion of the project agreement in the fall.

Applicants for consideration for Spring 2022 will be notified before the end of September as to whether their proposal has been selected for further development.

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Information for EPD Workshop Clients

Through the Capstone Workshop in Sustainable Development Practice (EPD Workshop), student teams add value to their clients’ current and future programs through focused desk reviews, field research and analysis, and practical recommendations. The EPD Workshop encourages multidisciplinary approaches to development challenges. Organized by SIPA’s Economic and Political Development (EPD) concentration, the EPD Workshop collaborates with other SIPA concentrations, and specializations including Gender and Public Policy; Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, International Conflict Resolution, International Finance and Economic Policy, International Organizations; Technology, Media, and Communications, and with other parts of the university including its regional institutes and the Earth Institute. The EPD Workshop also seeks opportunities to collaborate with universities and student researchers in the country where the client is located.

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