Roger Thayer Stone Center For Latin American Studies

Tulane University

Michael Murray, '10

Research Associate, FSG (Foundation Strategy Group)

Since graduating from Tulane Michael has held a variety of jobs. He worked as Research Assistant to Tulane professor Nora Lustig, as a cook/server in a pizza kitchen, and as HR Administrative Assistant at FSG (Foundation Strategy Group). He is currently Research Associate at FSG, where he is currently staffed on a project working to develop a shared value strategy (community development) for a mining company in Peru.
Michael’s time at Tulane prepared him for life in the real world…

Why did you choose to major in Latin American Studies?
The main reason I chose to pursue a major in Latin American studies was my interest in the region – it‘€™s culture, history, economics, society, etc. Most of what I knew about Latin America before college was from Spanish and world history classes in high school, and I wanted to learn more. I also wanted to continue studying Spanish, and studying Latin America provided many opportunities to apply my developing Spanish language skills. Additionally, I was attracted to the major because of its interdisciplinary nature. I was able to focus on the topics that were of greatest interest to me and take classes across departments, a freedom most majors don‘€™t offer. Latin American Studies complements most other courses of study well – in my case, a major in Economics and a minor in Spanish.

How has your background in LAST helped you since graduation?
First and foremost, the critical thinking, research, and writing skills that I honed during my time in LAST are the most transferable skills one can build for a career after graduation. Everything in college involving research, writing, presenting, and general critical thinking was relevant for my current position as a Research Associate at FSG. I am staffed on a project focusing largely on community development in Peru, so coursework related to the history, society, and economics of Latin America has been relevant as well, along with my minor in Spanish. My job is about problem-solving, which is not a skill that can be taught in one class or using one methodology. LAST is a great liberal arts major that helped me develop a broad understanding of how to approach problem-solving around social issues.

In hindsight, what would you have done differently as a LAST major?
I would have started looking for a job sooner and looked for internships through the lens of getting my foot in the door at an organization I hoped to land a job with. This means looking for jobs starting the summer before senior year, or that fall at the latest. I completely missed the campus recruiting cycle, which is the only way to get hired as an undergrad with no work experience at some organizations. Internships are also a great way to get a job, either through returning to the organization you interned for, or at least by having good internships on your resume. However, this is all easier said than done, as I remember having no idea what kind of job I wanted that early in my college career.
Also, not something that I would have done differently, but I think it was important to have multiple majors; I even wish I had picked up another minor. Many of the opportunities I‘€™ve come across are looking for folks with a mix of different skills and knowledge, and it‘€™s great if you can offer a unique blend. You also have more options down the road if your interests change or evolve.

Any words of wisdom for LAST undergraduates?
Take full advantage of what Tulane and LAST have to offer – you won‘€™t have access to these resources and opportunities after you graduate! Study abroad if you can, go to guest lectures, apply for fellowships, participate in clubs and other extracurricular activities, etc. It‘€™s great to pad your resume with extras, but even more important, you‘€™ll learn a lot, and you never know when you might make a new contact or discover an exciting opportunity. When it comes time to answer tough questions in a job interview, you‘€™ll have a wealth of experience to draw from.






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Upcoming Events

Final Push Fridays: Graduate Research & Writing Support

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Every Friday from 10am-12pm CDT, The Latin American Library and Stone Center are co-hosting a virtual work-along for Latin Americanist graduate students to support each other in their research and writing goals. The Zoom meeting has two break-out options: participants may choose to troubleshoot research and methodological questions with an LAL librarian and/or work towards their writing objectives alongside a community of their peers. We hope you will join us when you can!

Central America, People and the Environment Educator Institute 2021

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This summer educator institute is the third institute in a series being offered by Tulane University, The University of Georgia and Vanderbilt University. This series of institutes is designed to enhance the presence of Central America in the K-12 classroom. Each year, participants engage with presenters, resources and other K-12 colleagues to explore diverse topics in Central America with a focus on people and the environment.

While at Tulane, the institute will explore the historic connections between the United States and Central America focusing on indigenous communities and environment while highlighting topics of social justice and environmental conservation. Join us to explore Central America and teaching strategies to implement into the classroom.

Additional details and registration will be available in the late fall 2020. For more information, please email or call 504.865.5164.