Category Archives: Internship Stories

Internship stories shared by students

Maxwell Students Make a Difference in Nepal

Rachel Penner was searching for a summer internship in 2015, when a staff member recommended that she connect with Beau Miller, a 2010 MPA graduate and the Executive Director of a development NGO in Nepal known as Aythos.

Beau was excited to take Rachel on board with Aythos to work on post-earthquake recovery. Upon arrival in Nepal, Rachel was thrust into the earthquake recovery efforts using her specialty in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) to serve devastated villagers outside of Kathmandu.

Two Maxwell students, Jeffrey Pu and Trace Carlson, followed in Rachel’s footsteps and interned at Aythos in 2017. As an MPA student, Jeff first had to complete the MPA Workshop with a team of fellow students for the U.S. Department of Justice designing a human rights and human dignity course for foreign police. After wrapping this project up, Jeff hopped on a plane to Nepal. Upon arrival, Aythos put Jeff to work doing program evaluation for one of their projects by designing and distributing a survey to local villagers. After two months working for Aythos, Jeff found himself taking another long haul flight to Berlin, where he is currently finishing his MPP at the Hertie School of Governance as part of the Atlantis Transatlantic Dual Degree Program.

Jeffrey Pu in Nepal

Trace Carlson won a Foreign Languages and Area Studies Fellowship (FLAS) from the Moynihan Institute’s South Asia Center. With this fellowship, Trace journeyed to India to study Hindi, but was most interested in applying his academic knowledge to the field. After reaching out to Beau, Trace found himself heading to Nepal to conduct research on kiwi fruit agriculture for Aythos. Immediately, Trace found it very eye opening to compare the gap between research and field implementation. One had to be flexible and ready for anything. He once had to carry five kilograms of potatoes down a mountain for a village family, just because they asked him to.

Local Aythos staff receive feedback on kiwi fruit cultivation

On February 22, Beau, Rachel, Jeff, and Trace all came together on a Skype presentation for SU students interested in interning at Aythos. All agreed that it was one of the most fulfilling experiences of their lives and were completely humbled by the kindness and generosity of the people in Nepal. They fondly remembered backpacking into villages after encountering washed out roads—while dealing with leeches on the way—only to find countless cups of tea pushed on them upon arriving. While students spent about half their time in Kathmandu, they genuinely felt the impact of projects while working in the villages.

An Aythos staff member talks to a farmer. Women’s empowerment is a goal of the organization, since many Nepalese men go abroad to work leaving women to manage farms and businesses independently.

Maxwell’s partnership with Aythos fulfills the goal of professional degrees by creating graduates who are resilient and ready to enter a career upon graduation. According to Beau Miller, “If you can work in Nepal, you can work anywhere.”

Temple in Kathmandu

Maxwell’s MAIR Degree

Atlantis Transatlantic Dual Degree

Nepal Connections:

Trace Carlson’s blog post

Rachel Penner’s SU Today article

Ashley Saulcy’s Internship at the Asia Foundation in Kathmandu

Boudhanath Stupa, Kathmandu
Boudhanath Stupa, Kathmandu

Kevin Oswald Interns at the German Embassy in Washington, DC

Kevin Oswald is a current Atlantis Program student at the Maxwell School. This past summer he participated in the Maxwell-in-Washington program.

This summer, I had the opportunity to intern with the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Washington D.C. within the framework of the Maxwell-in-Washington summer program. The Federal Foreign Office (FFO), i.e. the counterpart of the U.S. Department of State, represents Germany’s interests to the world, promotes international exchange, seeks collaboration with the respective host government, and offers protection and assistance to Germans abroad.

DC tidal pool and Jefferson Memorial.

During my time at the embassy I was deployed in the Economic Affairs Department, where apart from members of the FFO, numerous representatives of the various federal ministries serve. Hence, I gained valuable insight into the broad range of economic- and science-policy activities of the embassy. Moreover, I regularly took part in internal meetings which allowed me to become acquainted with the workings of a German foreign mission.

In support of my colleagues, I conducted extensive research for the drafting of an annual energy-policy report. I had to intensively examine the U.S. energy sector and present the results in detail in a multiple-page report highlighting the development of both conventional and renewable energies in the U.S. I also drafted a report on the differences between U.S. and EU competition law against the backdrop of the European Commission ruling against Google. Last but not least, I was given the task to perform research on individual candidates for high-level positions within the Trump-administration.

Kevin Oswald with other Germany Embassy interns.

What stood out as a unique aspect of the internship is the fact that I got to attend many different interesting events all across Washington D.C., such as the presentation of Bloomberg’s New Energy Finance’s New Energy Outlook 2017 at the Center for International and Strategic Studies and the annual independence day celebration at the Embassy of Cabo Verde. Moreover, I had the chance to visit several institutions, such as the World Bank, the French Embassy, and the Pentagon as part of a delegation from the German Embassy.

In sum, there is no doubt that the internship offered a great overview of both what the Economics Department and the embassy do and of what diplomacy and the complicated relations between think tanks, embassies and U.S. departments in Washington D.C. can look like.

Atlantis Program

Maxwell-in-Washington Global Program

Alejandro Icazbalceta Interns at the US Small Business Administration

Alejandro Icazbalceta graduated from the Maxwell School in 2017 with an MA in International Relations. He participated in the Maxwell-in-Washington Global Program in the summer of 2017.

This summer, I had the opportunity to intern in Washington DC at the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

The Small Business Administration (SBA) was created in 1953 as an independent agency of the U.S. Federal Government to aid, counsel, assist, and protect the interests of small business enterprises. The mission of the SBA is to reach into the corners of the United States to promote entrepreneurship, small business growth, and to strengthen the U.S. economy by providing the critical funding, counseling, oversight, and administrative support to small business.

The most relevant of my tasks were:

  • Oversaw the policies, regulations, and constraints that affect small business creation and expansion
  • Develop recommendations, policies, and technical assistance tools for small businesses
  • Participate in international trade projects
  • Development of entrepreneurial initiatives to support the creation of small business
  • Meetings with foreign business delegations

This internship experience was an incredible tool for my professional profile since most of my previous professional experience was mainly in the Mexican governmental sector designing public policy projects. However, the most effective policy against poverty, marginalization and inequality is labor income. Thus, the SBA was the best place for understanding these factors and how they interact together to create economic prosperity.

Alejandro at the SBA.

Finally, my internship at the SBA provided me with a greater understanding about how to strengthen small and medium enterprises, which in the end means greater levels of prosperity and opportunities for lower social classes. Moreover, this internship taught me that an effective government with a dynamic private sector is the most powerful combination for economic and social progress.

Maxwell MAIR Degree

Maxwell-in-Washington Program

Ana Monzon Spends a Semester Abroad in the Paris Institute of Political Studies, Sciences Po

Ana Monzon graduated from the Maxwell School in August 2017 with a joint Master of Arts in International Relations – Master of Public Administration degree. She spent her last semester abroad, participating in the Sciences Po Global Program in the spring.

I began my final full semester as a grad student in NYC, just two weeks before departing for Paris. I took the course United Nations Managing for Change at the UN Headquarters. Thanks to Professor Catherine Bertini, my class was able to gain insight into the UN system from UN leaders, past and present. This was my second class with a role model for me in the field of global food security; I took Ms. Bertini’s Food Security class in Rome on my first semester at Maxwell.

Ana at the Sciences Po main campus.

Immediately after at Sciences Po, I studied with Olivier De Schutter, former UN Special Rapporteur to the Right to Food. On my Fulbright Fellowship in 2012, I had informed much of my research on the agricultural development in rural Brazil from De Schutter’s academic work. Being taught by him on a weekly basis in Paris was surreal; each and every class! For my final project I titled my reform’s proposal; A State-led Agri-food Development System Based on Savings-Based Women Associations and Agroecology. I could not believe I was writing a paper for THE expert on global hunger issues!  I still can’t.

Alongside former U.N. Special Rapporteur to the Right to Food, Olivier De Schutter.

My other courses at Sciences Po allowed me to delve further into land tenure and property rights, and gender issues. This focus and subsequent academic research products led me to my final grad student placement in Tetra Tech ARD, one of the largest consulting and contracting firms in international development. Specifically, I gathered the Lessons Learned for all the projects under the 700 million USD USAID STARR IDIQ (contract) that the Land Tenure and Property Rights Sector of Tetra Tech ARD implemented around the world.

Ana and her Tetra Tech supervisors, Dr. Mark Freudenberger and Ms. Amy Regas, after the Lessons Learned presentation to USAID leaders from its Office of Land and Urban .

Being at Tetra Tech ARD meant, sadly, foregoing a language fellowship in Indonesia that I was awarded from the Critical Language Study Program of the U.S. Department of State, which I would attribute to my first graduate internship with the Millennium Challenge Corporation in Indonesia.

Yet, I wouldn’t change a thing in my Master’s journey. All has come full circle. Currently, I am a Fulbright Public Policy scholar in my home country, Guatemala. My placement at the Vice Ministry of Food and Nutritional Security of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Government of Guatemala enables me to employ all the knowledge gained in international affairs and public administration at the Maxwell School and Sciences Po.

Alongside community leaders from the “Cooperativa Integral Agrícola Joya Hermosa de las Tres Cruces R.L.”, working with Heifer International on projects of indigenous corn and potato storage and employing Heifer’s “passing on the gift” approach on these staples as well as on goat herding, in Huehuetenango, Guatemala.

I am forever grateful to the financial support from the Robertson Foundation, Global Programs, Clements Award, and to the remarkable education acquired at Syracuse University and abroad in France.

Last day of the UN class in NYC, handing Professor Catherine Bertini a ‘thank you’ coffee souvenir from Indonesia, where I had previously interned with the Millennium Challenge Corporation.
Ana’s last evening in Paris, strolling along River Seine.

Maxwell MPA/MAIR Degree

Sciences Po Global Program

Badr Elbendary Practices Conflict Resolution in Washington

Badr Elbendary received his MA in International Relations from the Maxwell School in 2017. He participated in the Maxwell-in-Washington program this past fall.

I feel lucky that I had the opportunity to intern at The Tahrir Institute for ME Policy (TIMEP) last Summer while being enrolled in the MAIR program at the Maxwell School. My off-campus experience working with TIMEP in Washington, D.C. was so fulfilling and it gave me the opportunity to broaden my work experience and work closely with a leading think tank on analyzing the MENA region policies and monitoring its improvements. It related to my activism background in Egypt during and after the January 25, 2011 revolution, which shifted my interest from my previous career involving economic journalism and media to becoming a practitioner in the Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding field. My experience with TIMEP offered me a smooth transition experience.

Badr Elbendary.

At TIMEP, I worked as a member of a five-person team to research, analyze, and draft published reports for a project assessing prospects for transitional justice in Egypt. I also contributed to research direction and conducted data collection for a project documenting Egypt’s economic indicators. In addition, I managed a portfolio of research on rights and freedoms in Egypt, including delivering daily oral and written briefings to staff, identifying areas needing further research, and proposing initiatives to cover important topics.

“Washington DC” by BKL ART

I was honored to receive the Cramer award from the Maxwell School that helped me to afford my off-campus experience last Fall. It gave me the opportunity to support myself with all the requirements that guaranteed an efficient networking process with people that work in the Conflict Resolution field, attend relevant conferences, and get the opportunity of visiting and observing organizations that work in the field.

Maxwell-in-Washington

MA in International Relations

Meghan Sullivan Interns at the World Food Programme in Geneva

Meghan Sullivan is a recent graduate who completed her Master of Arts in International Relations (MAIR) in August after participating in the Graduate Internships in Geneva program and interning at the UN World Food Programme. She now works for the World Food Programme in Geneva as the External Partnerships Officer.

 The Geneva Summer Practicum was one of the reasons I chose to attend the Maxwell School, and I am so glad that I did. The practicum gave me the opportunity to intern at the UN World Food Programme (WFP) for the summer, a dream come true that led to consultancy in the same office. When I was planning my degree, I organized my studies differently from most students, saving the practicum and internship for the end of my time with the Maxwell School so that I could use the internship as a launch pad for my career. After graduating, my internship was extended for an additional five months, allowing me to gain more experience within the UN while I looked for work. In December, an External Partnerships Officer position became available and was offered to me. My studies at Maxwell and the Geneva Summer Practicum both prepared me for and directly opened the doors for me to be offered this position.

Meghan Sullivan in the Human Rights and Alliance of Civilizations Chamber at the Palais des Nations.

In addition to the internship, the practicum included a class on international organizations and several trips throughout Switzerland. The class connected me with senior leaders in international organizations in Geneva and helped prepare me for my chosen career, while the trips helped me connect with my roots, exploring and learning about the country where my ancestors lived.

Some of the highlights of this experience have been attending the ECOSOC Humanitarian Affairs Segment at the UN Headquarters in Geneva with my colleagues from the World Food Programme, taking in the mountain views of Lake Lucerne, and exploring the Lavaux vineyards, a breathtaking UNESCO world heritage site. The most important highlight of course, has been getting hired at the World Food Programme and beginning the career I’d dreamed of at the United Nations.

Visiting the village near Geneva where my ancestors lived in the 1600s.

This has been an unforgettable experience and one that continues to change my life. It was the perfect end to my time with the Maxwell School, and I look forward to the next steps as I begin a career of international service, well prepared to carry out the Athenian Oath to “transmit this City (and, I would add, this World) not only, not less, but greater and more beautiful than it was transmitted to us.”

Graduate Internships in Geneva

Maxwell MAIR

Liad Roytfarb Works in Technology Accelerator at DoD

Liad Roytfarb is a current student in the Atlantis Program, a unique dual degree MAIR/MPP program with the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin. He participated in the Maxwell in Washington Program over the summer.

During the summer of 2017 I had the opportunity to intern in Washington DC at MD-5, also known as the National Security Technology Accelerator. MD-5 is an emerging Department of Defense program which attempts to promote Civil-Military industry innovation, and seeks ways to spur innovation across the department. The program focuses on three broad fields: Education, Collaboration and Acceleration. It is situated at the National Defense University, which enables it to tackle all three fields effectively. The goal of the program is to maintain and promote the role of the United States as a global leader in defense; the initiators believe that this can be achieved by building bridges between the technology and security sectors.

Liad Roytfarb

As an international student, I found the internship a unique and challenging experience. The main obstacle was familiarizing myself with jargon from different spheres, such as technology and military, a task that proved to be difficult. Moreover, it had to be done effectively and swiftly in order to contribute to the diverse set of tasks handed out on a daily basis. Luckily, my boss and mentor, Mr. Justin Dunnincliff, is a Maxwell alumnus, who assisted me in every aspect and helped integrate me into the team since day one. This enabled me to learn quickly and, I hope, to contribute to a wide range of tasks and ventures. It was an interesting experience for me, because I got a close look at the Defense departments’ efforts to achieve a set of its vast organizational goals. The ability to implement methods and ideas from my own country and past experience was very rewarding; altogether this was a huge lesson I will take with me.

I would recommend this internship for any graduate student interested in private-public partnerships, working relations in the US government and DOD programs in particular. The organization and the internship have a very clear ‘on the go’ nature, which should suit any candidate who likes fast paced and ever-changing tasks. I enjoyed learning from the deep knowledge and practical experience of all senior staff in the program, as its small size enables close knit working relations.  Since the program was launched just a year ago there is much place for growth and implementation of ideas by interns and staff alike. This constitutes a great opportunity for any Maxwell student in DC and, in my opinion, would be an unforgettable experience.

MAIR at Maxwell

Atlantis Program

Maxwell in Washington

James Sinkovic Applies Data Analysis to Education

James Sinkovic is a 2017 Master or Arts in International Relations (MAIR) graduate of the Maxwell School.

When I first learned about Room to Read through a group project in Professor Lux’s class – Managing NGOs in Developing Countries – I never thought I would be interning with them this summer. While I was interested in gaining and practicing data analysis skills, I didn’t think that it would be in an organization close to where I grew up and in a field that I am passionate about; international education.

Room to Read is an international education NGO focused on helping children gain a habit of reading through literacy training and helping girls complete a secondary education throughout Asia and Africa. I have spent the summer working in their San Francisco, CA office on the Research, Monitoring, & Evaluation team analyzing reading assessment data. Their emphasis on data-driven decision making has made this a rewarding opportunity. Projects have included research on the EGRA assessment tool, early grade dropout, and the relationship between fluency and comprehension; analysis on reading assessment data and tablet use in the data collection process; and report drafting and editing.

James Sinkovic at Room to Read.

While I learned an array of skills at Maxwell, this internship has enabled me to practice specific skills such as data analysis and visualization skills – as well as research skills – in a fun and cutting edge environment. In addition to the skill-building projects, I have been able to take time with several of the departments at Room to Read giving a rich and full exposure to NGO work life. The wide variety of projects and experience have really helped me to understand the type of work I would like to do and have further kindled my passion to empower others through education.

Without knowing it at the time I applied for the internship, this experience has been everything that I could hope for; great experience, great people, and an amazing organization.

MAIR at Maxwell

Transforming Conflict in Peru by Alexcia Chambers

Alexcia Chambers is a current Public Diplomacy student who will complete both a Master of Arts in International Relations and a Master of Science in Public Relations by the spring of 2018.

This summer, I had the opportunity to intern in Lima, Peru at ProDiálogo, a civil association that works in conflict resolution and transformation. Given Peru’s landscape, many of its social conflicts revolve around the extractive industries and their interactions with Peru’s government and indigenous communities. ProDiálogo describes conflict as a natural part of human relations—an expression of the disagreements between the interests and needs of those involved. As an intern at ProDiálogo, my job was to analyze the interests and needs of those involved in two separate cases: Las Bambas mine and the Saramuro/Saramurillo oil pipeline.

One of the community projects Alexcia facilitated with ProDiálogo. She is pictured in the bottom right.

Seeing as these are both long-term, ongoing conflicts, my first step was to wrap my head around what was happening in these two cases and why. As with all conflicts, dynamics change over time and different personalities play a major part in what gets done and how. Once I understood who the major players were and the role they played in each conflict, I set out to understand the current state of play. To do this, I engaged most with Peru’s ombudsman’s office—Peru’s public defender tasked with (1) protecting the constitutional rights and freedoms of individuals and the community, and (2) monitoring the performance of the state in carrying out its obligations to the people.

In my two months of developing contacts with the ombudsman’s office and interviewing local indigenous leaders, one lesson stood out: the importance of credible state institutions. In socio-environmental conflict, the interests of private industry, private citizens, and government inevitably intersect. In the two cases I analyzed, private citizens (indigenous communities) often feel that the state institutions built to protect their rights are instead more concerned with protecting the broader national economic agenda. In other words, the people see the government as the chief ally of extractive companies, and therefore an enemy of the people.

Alexcia Chambers.

My relationships and research in Peru allowed me to take broader insights like this one and hone in on the individual people, ministries, and offices involved. Systematically analyzing the needs and interests of government officials, community leaders, and company executives better equip impartial third party actors like ProDiálogo to help transform these conflicts into opportunities in the future.

Public Diplomacy at Maxwell

Robert Gaudio Applies Maxwell Skills in Argentina’s NGO Sector

Robert Gaudio is a Public Diplomacy student who will complete both a Master of Arts in International Relations and a Master of Science in Public Relations by the spring of 2018.

I was fortunate enough to spend the summer of 2017 in Buenos Aires, Argentina as the Investor Relations Intern for Red Argentina para la Cooperaciòn Internacional (RACI). RACI is a network of Argentine NGOs working toward equal and effective distribution of aid and funds throughout Argentina. In conjunction with the multi-national organization, CIVICUS, RACI seeks to create a conversation between citizens, civil society organizations and those who hope to invest in their causes.

Buenos Aires street scene.   Photo credit: Kevin Dooley (Source)

While at RACI, I attended and facilitated events for and with partner organizations, created funding calls, helped launch an online platform that tracks Argentina’s progress toward the UN sustainable development goals, and did my fair share of translating.

Every project I worked on and event I attended were full of invaluable experiences. From learning how to navigate foreign embassy funding calls to facilitating conversation about meaningful issues in my second language, each day was new, exciting and always surprising. I was pleasantly surprised how much of what I learned about cross-cultural communications in my Newhouse & Maxwell courses translated to professional scenarios. I would say that I used every bit of my skills acquired over my first year at Maxwell, down to things in my statistics course, that I never thought would be relevant to my professional career.

Robert Gaudio.

This internship was also incredibly influential to my personal development; I gained a lasting appreciation for my peers and colleagues who study and work in a language other than their native tongue. As you can imagine, the work was both fulfilling and challenging- but I also was able to have a bit of fun! Buenos Aires’ proximity to Uruguay and the rich climate and diversity of Argentina made for full weekends.

Having the opportunity to travel abroad to both work and experience a new culture has made me a better person, student and (hopefully!) a more attractive job candidate.