Category Archives: Internship Stories

Internship stories shared by students

Aaron Mwewa Learns the Importance of Passion at UNICEF

Aaron Mwewa is a 2018 graduate of the Maxwell School and the Newhouse School, where he earned joint MAIR/MSPR degrees. This past fall he extended his 2017 summer internship at UNICEF in New York City. 

“Aaron, you can only do something exceptionally well if you are passionate about it. If you are passionate about something, there is no Monday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday because that is all you want to do. When you are consumed by the desire for quality output, the ‘9 to 5 pm just to get the salary work mindset’ is lost.”

Aaron at UNICEF.

These where the words, which were told to me by Kerida Mcdonald, Senior Communications for Development Specialist at the United Nations Children’s Fund on the first day of my internship in her office. Those words struck the right chord with me as I am a passionate supporter of children’s rights.

True to the words of my supervisor, we could email each other back and forth about work over weekends and also way into the evening even after leaving the office. This is why I achieved quite a lot with my boss during my internship. We were able to successfully put together an online course with other team members on communication for development for current practitioners and those who want to join the field. We are also nearing the completion of putting together a compilation of case studies from different countries (12) on the best practices with regards to the use of theater to bring about social change. Being a firm believer in the change which UNICEF wants to bring through its different projects, I also volunteered to help out on work, which was being done by some of the neighboring offices. This helped me to create a good reputation beyond the section in which I worked in to the point that others even just began soliciting for my help.

Aaron Mwewa and David Van Slyke, Dean of the Maxwell School

November, 15th, 2017, was officially my last day after my internship was extended to that date from August, when it was supposed to end. Having needed to come back to school at the end of August, this year, I did the last part of the internship virtually and travelled to New York from Syracuse from time to time when I go the chance. I had to endure the 5 hour bus rides both ways while getting some work done. The fulfillment I got from the work I have been doing made the journeys worthwhile. Indications are that my internship supervisor may want to extend the internship again if that opportunity becomes possible. She actually continues to consult me to this day. That is what passion does. It helps you to do so well that people want to continue working with you. With passion, you work from the heart and not for the pay or simply to clock in the hours. When you work from the heart, you are definitely on to something. Kerida’s parting words to me: “Working with heart is what gets you the seat at the big table even when others think you are too young to be there because you will not be doing what your peers are doing. You will be that exceptional bright shining star that cannot simply be ignored.”

If your desire is to make a difference in the world, you must be different from the world. Passion sets you apart because it gives that cutting edge.

Joint MAIR/MSPR degrees from the Maxwell School and the Newhouse School

The Newhouse School

The Maxwell School

Mia Mazer Gains Significant Humanitarian Experience at InterAction

Mia Mazer is 2018 graduate of the Maxwell School, where she earned a joint MPA/MAIR degree. This past fall she interned at InterAction as part of the Maxwell-in-Washington fall program.

This fall I set out to Washington, D.C. to complete coursework through the Maxwell-in-Washington program and intern at InterAction, an alliance of over 190 NGOs working in the humanitarian and international development sectors. InterAction serves as a convener, thought leader, and voice in the community, representing and advocating for legislation, policies, and practices that impact its members’ work at the international, regional, and national levels. The organization’s mission is to be a leader in the global quest to eliminate extreme poverty and vulnerability, strengthen human rights and citizen participation, safeguard a sustainable planet, promote peace, and ensure dignity for all people.

I worked for the The Humanitarian Policy and Practice (HPP) Team which is dedicated to providing leadership and support for InterAction members that are active in humanitarian response and advocacy. Humanitarian organizations within the InterAction alliance provide services, materials and logistical aid to affected people in crises. InterAction supports the work of these members by providing a forum for consultation, coordination and advocacy on emergency response. Apart from providing immediate response to emergencies, many NGOs engage in activities to improve the overall response of the international humanitarian system. InterAction engages at various levels with United Nations agencies, various policy bodies of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), the U.S. Government, NGO consortia and individual international NGOs on cross-cutting issues and country-specific situations. The HPP team’s work is organized across the following four work streams: humanitarian policy, humanitarian practice, protection (inclusive of results-based protection, gender-based violence, prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse, and NGO security), shelter and settlements.

As an HPP Intern, I gained invaluable experience while supporting the humanitarian policy, humanitarian practice, and protection work streams. I conducted research, drafted summary notes and reports, and attended and reported on Congressional briefings and hearings, working group meetings, and member events to inform InterAction’s humanitarian policy and advocacy work.

My work allowed me to gain a better understanding of the linkage between international policy and programming in the humanitarian field as well as core elements of the global humanitarian architecture. I also gained a tremendous amount of knowledge on various technical, thematic, and regional issues pertinent to the humanitarian field, including some of my own interests, such as the intersection of humanitarian assistance and gender issues.

This experience helped define my goal of pursuing a career in policy and advocacy in humanitarian assistance and/or international development. My work often informed my contributions to class discussions in both classes I took on global sustainability and public policy and African conflicts. Living and working in Washington D.C. allowed me to connect with numerous Maxwell School alumni and other professionals working in my fields of interest and begin to cultivate a meaningful network which will be there for me when I graduate.

Maxwell-in-Washington Programs

MPA/MAIR Dual Degree Program at the Maxwell School

Ashley Saulcy Works on Political Transition in Nepal – Part 2

Ashley Saulcy is a 2017 MAIR graduate of the Maxwell School. In the summer of 2017 she interned at the Asia Foundation in Nepal. She decided to extend that opportunity into the fall and continue her work on political transition in the country.

For those of you who follow graduate student adventures in The Stacks regularly, you may recognize my name from a former blog post regarding my time interning in Kathmandu, Nepal. My adventures in the Himalayas began back in May 2017, and were happily (if somewhat unexpectedly) extended through the Fall 2017 semester. As I write the second post documenting my experiences in Nepal, I am struck by the immense political transformations that have taken place in such a short period of time.

Nepal is currently undergoing a political transition to a federal system that is intended to redistribute power to local governments. Although the country has successfully held three rounds of local elections, it has begun to witness sparks of violence in the approach to provincial and federal elections. New large-scale political alliances have further demonstrated the high stakes for the country’s political parties.

Ashley Saulcy in Nepal in the fall of 2017.

The complexity of Nepal’s political, social, and cultural landscapes made the opportunity to delve deeper into the political transition extremely rewarding. As a program intern to The Asia Foundation, I observed the transition through a program funded by the Australian Government to support newly established subnational governments. My extended tenure allowed me to further engage gender equality and social inclusion initiatives within programmatic strategies; work as a primary editor to the program’s inception report; and contribute to the development of a monitoring, evaluation, and learning framework. While my initial months provided an excellent introduction to these spaces, engaging them in greater depth enriched my understanding and appreciation of the turbulence that follows long-term development initiatives.

At the completion of my internship, I walk away knowing that I will see Nepal again. This beautiful country has left its mark, thanks to the friendship of many Nepalis, the lights of the Tihar festival, piles of delicious momos, and days spent trekking in the Himalayas. It may be a cheesy sentiment, but as I contemplate my time in Kathmandu, I am reminded that it is not just us as Maxwell students who leave our mark on the cities we work in; these cities also make us as individuals greater, better, and more beautiful.

Part 1: Ashley Saulcy Works on Political Transition in Nepal

MAIR Degree at the Maxwell School

Trace Carlson Does Conflict Research at The Fund for Peace

Trace Carlson is a 2017 MAIR graduate of The Maxwell School. This past fall he interned at The Fund for Peace as part of the Maxwell-in-Washington fall program.

My fall semester in D.C. was busy, but incredibly rewarding. Between interning full-time, taking twelve hours of classes, three of which was language study, and finding time to enjoy all that D.C. has to offer, I was busy to say the least. I spent the fall semester interning for the Fund for Peace, an NGO that focuses on conflict research and mitigation activities around the world. The Fund for Peace is most well known for their prolific Fragile States Index. However, I did not work on the Fragile States Index. I worked on a USAID-funded project that sought to develop early warning conflict systems for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The scope of the work is what drew me to the Fund for Peace and to decline other internship opportunities.

Trace Carlson.

For the project, we conducted months-long desktop research on every country in ECOWAS and wrote a national-level report detailing specific indicators and sub-indicators in each country that could contribute to the outbreak of conflict. The reports were then analyzed to understand the major issues in each country so that we could develop a list of stakeholders to interview in each country. Unfortunately, I did not get to go on any field visits for the stakeholder interviews. The transcripts and other data collected from the field visits were culled for pertinent information to either corroborate the research or edit aspects we had previously misinterpreted to better reflect the situation on the ground. The stakeholder interviews occurred in different states or provinces around each country and helped inform our research on the hyperlocal issues. The collective voice of stakeholders and the issues they faced were used to write a sub-national report for nearly every state, province, or region in every ECOWAS country. The national level report was further edited and the sub-national level reports were added to it, as well as other data packets and analyses to comprise the final report.

Read more about Trace Carlson in India and Nepal:

Trace Carlson Conducts Research in Hindi

Maxwell Students Make a Difference in Nepal

 

Maxwell School Programs:

MAIR Degree at The Maxwell School

Maxwell-in-Washington Program

Liz Pruchnicki Interns at the State Department’s Office of Religion and Global Affairs

Liz Pruchnicki is a 2018 MAIR graduate of the Maxwell School. This past fall she interned at the State Department’s Office of Religion and Global Affairs.

This fall, I interned with the State Department’s Office of Religion and Global Affairs. This internship has been a valuable experience in ways that I never would have predicted: I’ve been amazed with the inspiring team of women in my office who are incredibly dedicated to the mission of our office and I learned to remain positive and focus on the work even when bureaucracy slows it down. I was honored to sit in on meetings with high level State Department officials and leaders from around the world who focus on the intersection of faith and public life, I had the opportunity to attend Think Tank events around the city to learn about new trends in religion and politics. In my day to day work, I compiled news reports and disseminated a daily newsfeed about the intersection of religion and global affairs.

Liz Pruchnicki in action at the State Department.

 

The most valuable piece of my internship, however, was learning the institutional framework of the State Department. On the first day of orientation, interns are given a flow chart that illustrates the reporting chain and official structure of the State Department—it was a confusing flow chart to say the least. After fourteen weeks at the State Department, the chart mostly makes sense and I can finally put some names and faces to those sterile little boxes on the paper.

Liz Pruchnicki.

From my time at the Department of State’s Office of Religion and Global Affairs, I’m very proud of my work redesigning our official handbook, which is given to new Foreign Service Officers, and my ability to navigate the Harry S Truman Building without getting lost! I’m so grateful for the wonderful people I met at State, especially the dedicated women in my office who I’ve gotten to know over the past few months. I’m so appreciative of the resources available to students of the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs that make these experiences possible!

MA in International Relations at Maxwell

Maxwell-in-DC Global Program

Jason Pandich Works on US-European Trade Issues in DC

Jason Pandich is a current MAIR/MA in Economics joint degree candidate at The Maxwell School. This past fall he participated in the Maxwell-in-Washington program, interning at the Delegation of the European Union to the United States.

This fall I participated in the Maxwell-in-Washington program and had the opportunity to spend the semester interning at the Delegation of the European Union to the United States in their trade section. This internship provided me the opportunity to merge two things I am deeply interested in: the European Union (EU) and international trade. I’ve been interested with the EU ever since I took a class dedicated to it when I was in undergrad so the opportunity for me to work there was an amazing experience.

The trade section at the Delegation is made up of thirteen people who each have their own portfolio of issues they deal with. I was one of three interns this fall but I was the only one there full time which gave me the opportunity to work with everyone in the section on wide range of issues. My primary tasks were reporting on Congressional hearings, think tank events, and other activities around Washington. I covered topics ranging from sex trafficking to the FCC’s decision to repeal net neutrality to 21st century trade barriers to how to educate a cyber workforce to Brexit. In addition to covering events I was able to work closely with the person in charge of agricultural issues. The ability to work closely on agricultural issues inspired me to choose an issue I heard about in my internship as the focus of a paper I wrote for one of my classes. One of the most important things I assisted with was the compilation of data on EU imports of agricultural products to see how much was coming from the United States in an effort to figure out what products the US might be prevented from supplying to the EU due to non-tariff barriers. I also had the opportunity to attend meetings of member states which allowed me to see firsthand how the 28 EU member states coordinate with the European Commission to pursue common objectives within another country.

The Delegation of the European Union to the United States.

Overall my experience at the Delegation of the European Union was extremely rewarding. It gave me the opportunity to learn about a wide range of topics that I was previously unfamiliar with and allowed me to get an understanding of how the EU looks to work with the United States. My internship also gave me the opportunity to plan and attend an olive oil tasting event which is something I had never thought about but will never forget.

Maxwell-in-Washington Program

Other global programs at the Maxwell School

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