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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Mia Mazer is a current joint MPA/MAIR (Master of Public Administration/Master of Arts in International Relations) student at the Maxwell School.
This summer, I completed an internship with AMOS Health & Hope, a public health non-governmental organization in Nicaragua. AMOS works alongside vulnerable communities, both rural and urban, on health, education and development issues in efforts to reduce poverty, disease, and preventable deaths. The organization implements participatory training, supportive supervision, and the community-based participatory research (CBPR) methodology while working alongside communities, allowing the community and its leaders to build upon their strengths.
As a Youth Empowerment Intern, I gained invaluable field experience working with youth leaders in El Bambú, a rural community in the South Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region of Nicaragua. My responsibilities included developing and validating educational materials, facilitating lessons on youth empowerment and sexual and reproductive health issues, and assisting in monitoring and evaluation efforts of the youth empowerment program. Using the Care Group model, youth leaders were imparted lessons on youth empowerment issues that will be shared with their peers, with the objective of promoting healthy behaviors and relationships and preventing drug use, early pregnancy, and suicide. This work is critical given the high rates of gender-based violence and teen pregnancy in Nicaragua.
This experience gave me the opportunity to see the benefits and challenges of public and foreign policy on the ground, including the strengths and weaknesses of the Nicaraguan health system, the impact of foreign aid and community-based development work, and the power of partnerships. I am certain that this experience will be an important frame of reference in my professional work in social policy and international development. More immediately, it will inform my coursework and provide an important perspective in the classroom as a second year graduate student. Living and working alongside a community with such limited resources and infrastructure was a personally transformative experience and will continue to serve as a reminder of the significant work that lies ahead to reduce global inequalities and my commitment to public service.
My experience this summer was both difficult and rewarding. I used the summer global program award to help finance my second year of Hindi language studies in Jaipur, India and to help offset the costs of my short internship experience in Kathmandu, Nepal. The language program was incredibly difficult because it packed the entire second year of Hindi into just eight weeks. We spent half of the summer reviewing what we had (or had not) learned during our first year of Hindi and then the second half learning entirely new material. The experience was so difficult purely because of the speed at which we were learning new material. We would be learning something new one day and then everything would change the next day. Ultimately, I was able to improve my understanding of the grammar rules and my speaking skills rapidly improved much more than they would have if I took the second year of Hindi at Syracuse because I had to use it every single day. We also stayed with host families so it made the experience feel as though we really got to understand the daily life and routine of your average Indian family. Overall, it was an extremely difficult learning experience, but deeply rewarding as well.
The last part of my summer was spent working with a local NGO in Kathmandu. While I was in India, I was doing some research for the organization on the Indian supply chain of kiwi because it is often imported into Nepal, undercutting the local market because the kiwi is better developed. After the language program ended, I was able to join the team on the ground in Kathmandu. I helped develop some surveys with the organization to better understand the Nepalese side of the kiwi supply chain because the organization works with one hundred apple and kiwi farmers. We needed to better understand the supply chain so we could connect the farmers to the appropriate supply chain based on their needs and their output. My greatest memory of the experience was getting to head out into the field and actually speak with the farmers to hear about their experiences and what they needed from the organization in order to be successful. The rural areas of Nepal are absolutely stunning. I also got to continue practicing my Hindi because so many people in Nepal know Hindi as well. My experiences this summer were challenging, but incredibly rewarding because they helped me grow personally, academically, and professionally.
I arrived in Kathmandu, Nepal at 6:30 in the morning, and by 8:30, I was already at work with The Asia Foundation (TAF) as the new summer program intern. The whirlwind entry to the country was quickly followed by an introduction to programming that is defining key national policy discourses in Nepal. In my first week alone, I attended the TAF-supported release of the annual national trafficking in persons report and a policy dialogue on legal and regulatory challenges associated with the political transition, both inclusive of a wide set of international and national stakeholders. Needless to say, I was amazed to so suddenly find myself in the midst of policymaking spaces in one of the most exciting transitional political environments for practitioners and scholars of development.
Since the 2015 earthquake and the subsequent signing of the Constitution, Nepal has been experiencing a massive political transition towards a federalist system with three new tiers of government: central, provincial, and municipal. The creation of municipalities—and the constitutional delegation of powers primarily to the municipal and provincial levels—is emboldening local government in a way unseen since the early 1990s. The country has undergone two rounds of local elections so far, which will soon be followed by a third round.
The dynamics under Nepal’s political transition present an interesting challenge for development practitioners to be proactive and responsive to a system that is still characterized by unknowns politically, economically, and legally. My assignment to work primarily under TAF’s program to support the new subnational governance structures became a unique vantage point to understand the incredible breadth and depth of policymaking spaces that require engagement for successful decentralization.
One of my initial responsibilities was coordination of a new program partnership with organizations specifically focused on the empowerment of newly elected women leaders. Despite quotas in elected bodies, the political participation of women—particularly from low castes—in the Nepali system is still limited. My work with a partner organization has included conceptualization of the research approach and framework for responding to the identified capacity gaps and priorities. More broadly, the work has exposed me in more depth to the specific gender equality and social inclusion frameworks that organizations like TAF are using to understand the cross-cutting nature of marginalization. The experience has ingrained a deep appreciation for inclusivity as an overarching philosophy to the TAF office in Nepal.
My role broadened in the program to include work on building the program’s comprehensive monitoring, evaluation, and learning dashboard, as well as significant contributions to the inception report. In both projects, it has been exceptionally engaging and rewarding to be strategically thinking through and contributing to the way that the program’s theory of change can backstop the delegation of power to municipal governments.
I came to Nepal with a passion for engaging questions on governance, and have been invigorated with the strategic thinking of professionals that deeply understand the Nepali context. The exciting research and work on political dynamics and transition that I have found here have set a new personal standard for mindfulness, creativity, and excitement for engagement in developing contexts.
This past summer, I interned in Brussels, Belgium with More Europe – external cultural relations and the Cultural Diplomacy Platform. These organizations are funded by the European Commission and supported by a consortium of European cultural institutions, namely the British Council, Institute Francais, The Center for Fine Arts (BOZAR) in Brussels, the European Cultural Foundation, European National Institutes for Culture (EUNIC) and the Goethe Institut – which housed the offices of the aforementioned organizations.
Most of my responsibilities early on involved social media management. I surveyed what platforms the organization had, how they were being used and created strategies and content to promote upcoming events, including the signature workshop of the Platform – the Global Cultural Leadership Programme (GCLP). Although I didn’t have the chance to travel with my team to actively participate in GCLP 2017 in Athens, Greece, I learned a lot about international cultural engagement and the depth of cultural workers concerning cultural diplomacy. All of the participants had different expertise, yet they were all working to improve the arts and culture within and outside of their home countries. It was also a chance for me to see program implementation that aligned with the goals outlined in the new EU strategy towards external cultural relations.
Later on in my experience, I researched issues in Turkey and met with policy experts at DG NEAR and DG EAC in preparation for More Europe’s cultural relations workshop later this year regarding EU-Turkey cultural relations. It was great learning more about the EU and different delegations while also learning about Turkey and its relationship with the EU. In addition to workshop planning, I also wrote a position advocacy paper on the importance of cultural diplomacy for both the EU and the US, highlighting strengths and areas of opportunity for both actors going forward.
Working with these organizations gave me hands-on experience in the cultural sector which allowed me to engage in cultural diplomacy – something I am extremely passionate about. I saw everything from arts funding initiatives to forming new partnerships and the role of governments in facilitating cultural relations endeavors. Prior to this, I knew I wanted to pursue cultural diplomacy long-term, but I wasn’t sure what that would flesh out as for a career. I left Brussels with a clear understanding of how the EU engages in cultural diplomacy and the variety of paths regarding cultural relations I can pursue.