Brittany Renner is currently interning and studying in Washington, DC as part of the Maxwell-in-Washington program. She is a MAIR student in the Public Administration and International Affairs Department at the Maxwell School.
This Summer I completed the Geneva Practicum in Geneva, Switzerland. Even though I knew I wanted to do this program before I got into the Maxwell School, I learned so much more than I could have ever expected in the three months that I was there.
I received an internship position in the Director General’s Office of the International Organization for Migration under the supervision of the Senior Regional Advisor for Sub‑Saharan Africa. I spent my weeks at the IOM doing substantial work, including conducting independent research, attending United Nations conferences, and meeting with country ambassadors. My independent research focused on analyzing African visa policies and their economic and social impacts on African migrants and potential investors. It was eye-opening to work for migrants’ rights, and it was an opportunity to learn more about my region of focus. I even had the chance to present my research at an internal IOM staff meeting for constructive criticism before it was presented at the annual Intra-Regional Consultations on Migration and Labour Mobility within Africa meeting in Accra, Ghana. My internship was a crucial experience for me and my future career path in international development.
In the class component of the Practicum, I learned so much about not only the United Nations system, but also about the life of an international worker and what goes into choosing a career path in foreign service. Our group had class twice a week and during that time we had numerous presentations and meetings with officials from organizations such as UNICEF, UNHCR, Humanitarian Dialogue, and World Economic Forum. We also had the opportunity to learn about the history of Switzerland and how Geneva became a hub of international diplomacy.
We toured around the country learning about other important cities like Bern, Zurich, and Lucerne and were lucky enough to travel to Zermatt and experience an amazing up-close view with the famous Alps. Of course, on weekends we also were able to travel to other neighboring European countries like France, Italy and Germany. I would highly recommend this experience to anyone who is serious about potentially working in international relations organizations, especially the United Nations. It is truly a unique program with history, culture and professional experience waiting for you.