PHutures – 100 Alumni Voices »

Saskia Maria van Genugten

“Try out things during the PhD. Don’t wait until the job is done and start thinking then. There are plenty of opportunities.”

School of Advanced International Studies

European Studies, PhD 2012

Associate Director at MacroScope Strategies

Saskia‘s Podcast Episode

In this episode, we discuss what led Saskia to pursue a master’s and doctoral degree in European Studies at SAIS, the skills she learned from her diverse professional experiences from bartending to foreign affairs, policy, consulting, and government advisory, and her advice for pursuing both academic and practical experiences during the PhD.

Learn More About Saskia‘s Story

After I completed my SAIS MA and was about to embark on my PhD adventure, I spent the summer in Cairo. This picture for me embodies the importance of travelling in my personal and professional development. When I was little, I would prefer to stay home all day, in my cozy room doing puzzles, reading, or drawing a bit. The outside world frightened me a bit. But after my first travels abroad alone, I was quickly hooked on moving around. Discovering new places, new people, learning to deal with new situations—good ones and bad ones. Living in Cairo for a while, on a very small budget, taught me perhaps the most of all my travels. It enhanced my understanding of a very different part of the world, as well as my own relative (and biased) position therein. Cairo for me was the place that took off the pink glasses—and as such made me a better professional.

Living in Abu Dhabi, my daughter is now attending an American school. And while it simply is a good school, my husband (also a SAIS PhD) and myself also enjoy the school as it tends to trigger our memories of living in the United States. This particular picture was taken in Colorado, as my best SAIS friend got married there soon after completing the MA. I loved the American wedding experience, from the rehearsal dinner, to being a grown-up bridesmaid and the whole circus around it—surely very different from a wedding in The Netherlands. This photo reminds me of the long-lasting friendships built around the world, during the MA and later during the PhD, as well as of the educational and professional opportunities provided to me in the United States as a non-American. Especially in a time in which such openness is no longer a given, it is good to have that reminder.