For those of you interested in working in the international development field, starting your search will involve more than just deciding on what the focus of your studies will be, but conceptualizing the development landscape to make sure that you are pointing your career search in the right direction. Luckily, Michele Carter, an Association of Professional Schools in International Affairs (APSIA) aluma wrote an essay that can offer some additional tips to those of you interested in the field.
During the fall semester of 2013, I participated in an internship program with the Tunisian Association for Management and Social Stability (TAMSS). I completed this internship while taking intensive Arabic courses at the University of Tunis Carthage.
My internship provided me with a forum to practice my newly acquired language skills, while simultaneously affording me the opportunity to gain professional work experience with an international organization. Due to my experiences at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, which provided me with the necessary skillset to engage in an internship organization, I was able to actively participate in my internship program and enhance the productivity of my organization.
My activities at TAMSS varied significantly throughout the semester, and I have been utilized on an as-needed basis by the different offices in the organization. My first project entailed constructing information packets for Tunisians in the informal economy. Many Tunisians are not cognizant of the robust labor code in Tunisia and the governmental programs established to help informal workers enter formal employment. My objective was to summarize the benefits of formal employment in a concise document that could later be translated into Arabic.
I also worked on the Women in Democracy project, which focuses on augmenting Tunisians’ knowledge on democratic practices and preparing Tunisians for the upcoming elections. Local volunteers collected surveys on the population’s knowledge and interest in democratic affairs, and I worked with TAMSS employees to compile the data.
Additionally, I assisted a colleague with a research project on female entrepreneurship. Her intent is to analyze trends in the post-Arab Spring era, including the rise of Islamism and a more democratic government, in order to assess the impact that these changes have on female entrepreneurs. She is an American professor without a background in Arabic, and I assisted her in translating Arabic surveys and entering data into Excel spreadsheets.
My studies at the Maxwell School have pertained to security and foreign affairs, and it is my desire to acquire a governmental position that relates to these concentrations. I believe that many governmental agencies actively seek individuals who have previously engaged in international work and language studies. Through my work at TAMSS, I worked on various projects in the organization (some of which are funded by the US State Department), gained potential references for future job applications, and proved my ability to work in a foreign environment. It is my hope that this experience will provide a bridge to a desirable job in the future.
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This story was submitted by Seth Binder, who completed his graduate IR degree in the fall of 2013.
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