Universiteit Leiden

nl en

Twenty years of MIRD: Alumni and Students' Reflections and Advice

On 25 March, the Advanced Masters of Science in International Relations and Diplomacy (MIRD) celebrates its 20th Anniversary. The celebration will focus on the close-knit Alumni community built over the years.

Over 120 participants will ‘reconnect’ during the daytime event featuring Keynote Speaker and Alumnus Chiara Porro from the Class of 2007, who currently serves as the Australian Ambassador to the Holy See. The programme Alumni have thrived in a wide range of career paths relating to the field of International Relations and Diplomacy.
For a snapshot overview, check out the Alumni interviews highlighting their favourite MIRD memories, as well as providing valuable advice to currently enrolled students.
This two year advanced master’s programme features a unique collaboration between current students and Alumni, as we can see from the interviews from Rome, Mogadishu and The Hague. The MIRD community looks forward to the upcoming weekend’s celebrations.

Chiara Porro

Chiara Porro, Class of 2007

How do you look back on your master’s?
Chiara: The two years I spent in Leiden studying my Masters were some of the most formative - I met and studied with some incredible people from all corners of the globe, many of whom already had professional experience or were training as diplomats. The proximity to The Hague also provided invaluable opportunities whether through the Clingendael Institute or the various international organisations that are represented there.

What has been your favorite or unique memory from your days of MIRD programme?
Chiara: It was the opportunity to draw on the knowledge and expertise available through the MIRD programme, the skills I had acquired, and the support for an internship, that enabled me to conduct indepth research on a topic - post-conflict reconstruction in Timor-Leste - that, despite being somewhat niche and far from realities in Europe, was of key interest to me and my region. My thesis was published by the Australian Institute of International Affairs, which for me was important recognition of the value of the research and its relevance, but also of the knowledge and experience I had gained through my Masters.

What advice do you have for students currently in the programme?
Chiara: No career has a fixed pathway. Be open to opportunities. Learn something from every experience. Don't underestimate the value of networks and remember to use them.

Alexander Borum

Alexander Borum, Class of 2017

How do you look back on your master’s?
Alexander: While the MIRD was by no means a breeze, I look back fondly at the experience. It was a worthwhile effort with plenty of academic challenges that helped pave the way for my professional life, and it was an opportunity to develop some of my closest friendships.

What has been your favorite or unique memory from your days of MIRD programme?
Alexander: While I found the programme excellent, I emphasise the people as the most significant standout factor. As an upper-tier programme, the MIRD has always attracted an exceptional and passionate student body and coupled with a great line-up of professors; it has consistently been grounds for excellent and engaging discussions.

What skills did you learn during your master’s, and do you use in your work?
Alexander: I have found three key outcomes particularly useful in my career: the fundamental negotiation, analytical and policy-writing skills gained during the MIRD. These skills are the bread and butter of what I do here in Somalia and universally vital skills for anyone dreaming of a career in policy or diplomacy.

What advice do you have for students currently in the programme?
Alexander: Keep your chin up. The MIRD has always been an intense programme with high demands and equal expectations of its students, but always remember that you got selected for a reason. So make the most of your time in the MIRD and take care of yourself, build solid coping mechanisms, utilise your peers and ensure that you exploit what the Hague offers in terms of leisure and networking.

Hong-Cheng Hsiao

Hong-Cheng Hsiao, Class of 2022

How do you look back on your master’s?
Hong-Cheng: It was very tough, challenging especially during the pandemic but very helpful to develop a broader perspectives and practical skill in IR field.

What skills did you learn during your master’s and do you use in your work?
Hong-Cheng: Negotiation skill is crucial speaking of bargaining with salary and benefits package at the final phase of job interviewing process. The public speaking and presentation helps me to assert and introduce my ideas in a more attractive and structural organisations. Lastly, the training of critical thinking helps me to ask smart questions and dissolve complex issues through what and why questions.

What advice do you have for students currently in the programme?
Hong-Cheng: For introverts, networking and throwing yourself out will always be scary and intimidating, but all we could do is to keep practicing until we reach to the level of comfortableness and security.

Natalie Schaller

Natalie Schaller, Class of 2023

How do you look back on your Master's?
Natalie: I look back on my Master's experience with MIRD very fondly. Through MIRD, I have had the opportunity to broaden my knowledge in IR and Diplomacy, while also gaining more specialized knowledge in topics I hope to work in, such as conflict management and resolution. Combining this academic experience alongside internships, including one with Leiden University, has helped me to practice what I have learned in the classroom and subsequently feel more prepared for the professional world. Above all, I have been able to study and work alongside amazing classmates and lifelong friends - I will always be thankful to MIRD for this.

What has been your favorite or unique memory from your days of MIRD programme?
Natalie: The internship experience has been one of my favorite memories of MIRD. My internships were all completed primarily virtually, and there were many other students who also completed internships either virtually or on-site at Leiden University. Throughout the summer, we would have a co-working space together, discussing the work we were doing and helping each other where we could. This was really wonderful because we were both advancing professionally and learning new skills while working, while simultaneously cooperating and collaborating a great deal.

What advice do you have for students currently in the programme?
Natalie: I would advise students currently in the program to do two things: first, to take advantage of the opportunities around them to learn more. This can include speaking with professors after class, completing additional readings, chatting with peers about what you've learned, attending talks and workshops hosted by the school. This is a unique time, while in university with professors and students from around the world, to soak in all of the knowledge you can. Second, I would say to also focus on getting to know your peers and make positive connections with them. Your peers have so much diverse knowledge to bring to the table, meaning you can learn a great deal from them — and, some may become lifelong friends.

International Relations and Diplomacy (MSc)

The two-year Advanced MSc IRD programme offers you a unique blend of academic education in international relations and political science with practical graduate education and training in international negotiation and diplomacy.

International Relations and Diplomacy (MSc)
This website uses cookies.  More information.