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International Development Alumni Spotlight: Justin Izzo

Justin Izzo had two criteria when evaluating advanced degree programs: he wanted to find meaningful purpose in his work, and he wanted real career progression. He found both in the Master’s in International Development (MAID) program.

“There’s a commonality of wanting to help people. The program was about the simple idea of wanting to do good and make the world a better place. This permeates all of the class materials,” Justin says. The MAID program also delivers the skills and knowledge needed for practical and personal success, such as quantitative statistics, religious and cultural understanding, and economics.

In fact, Justin adds, “This degree has a much broader appeal than I initially expected. I’m always surprised at how much this has benefited me in terms of leveraging the degree and the knowledge I’ve gained, both domestically as well as with international businesses I’ve worked with in my career so far.”

Justin’s field project ultimately led to a total career transformation. Through the Master’s in International Development program, Justin secured an internship with the U.S. Army Civil Affairs group in New Jersey, which assists countries in the developing world with the protection of their cultural heritage. Justin worked firsthand with aviation units to decrease the unintentional destruction of cultural property that often happens with large-scale construction projects.

Following the internship, Justin was invited to work full-time, moving his entire family to New Jersey. He secured a two-year contract that will allow him to build on the work he started during his internship. At the end of those two years, Justin will be immediately transferred to work in an Economics, Money, and Banking position, which is a brand new field within Civil Affairs. “None of this,” he says, “was even thinkable before the field project.”

Justin also found other opportunities knocking at his door, giving him many career options. While he initially expected that the MAID program would simply open international doors, he found that there was an increased demand for his skill set and education at home. “When you think about the topics we learn — working with religious diversity, different socioeconomic backgrounds, political economy — we’ve become more globalized. As the American population becomes more diverse, international development is at our doorstep now.”

“I’m extremely pleased in terms of where I’m at in my career right now, where it’s headed, and the positive changes that my family has seen — really due to this degree.”

Learn more about other student experiences, or explore more about the Master’s in International Development here.