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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
My name is Brian Neufuss and I am originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I am a joint Law and International Relations Masters student at Syracuse University and I completed my internship through the Global Program at the United Nations in Geneva. While in Geneva, I worked at the Joint Inspection Unit where we reviewed other UN organizations and offered recommendations to improve their delivery of services. The internship fit well with my joint Law/MAIR degree and provided an incredible professional experience that will certainly benefit my future career. After graduation, I would like to pursue a career in the U.S. Federal Government or International government and the global program in Geneva gave me a unique experience towards my professional development.
The Geneva experience was incredible. Geneva is a nice little city that sits on a beautiful lake on the western side of the Alps. Geneva is also unique because of its immense diversity. There are people living there from almost any country in the world and that offers an experience to work and live that is unique compared to almost any other city. For example, in my office of roughly 35 people, there was only one other American colleague. That diverse workplace is a particular highlight for my professional development. Geneva’s central location in Europe also offers incredible opportunities to travel including only a three-hour train to Paris. The international civil servants at the UN are also very understanding when it comes to time off and travel and they were very encouraging to take opportunities to see other places in Europe. I traveled to Budapest, Istanbul and Krakow over several weekends and it really created a valuable professional, cultural and educational experience.
I would encourage anyone to consider working in Geneva if they are interested in international government organizations. It was an incredible experience that is unmatched to any work experience I have had. The ability to travel and see the cities of Europe truly made my time in Geneva unforgettable.
I was interested in the Graduate Internships in Geneva program because my career goal was to work in the UN system, and at the time I was especially interested in working in headquarters instead of in a duty station. My area of interest in IR is migration. Therefore, I was very excited to be placed in the headquarters of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in the International Partnerships Division (IPD), which deals primarily with managing IOM’s relationships with external organizations.
While with IPD, I helped to organize several meetings and events, most of which were connected to the Global Compact on Migration, which will be finalized next year and is expected to be an agreement governing migration similar to how the Paris Climate Accords govern environmental protection. As the UN Migration agency, IOM is deeply invested in the preparations and outcome of the Global Compact on Migration, and expect that the mission and structure of the organization may even change as a result of the Compact.
My work also focused on entities called “Regional Consultative Processes” on migration. Regional Consultative Processes are meetings of migration experts or ministries from each country in a region or migration route. The meetings are non-binding and generally private, and participants use them to discuss best practices, concerns, and needs related to managing migration. This October, IOM will be hosting a global meeting of the Chairs (usually one of the countries in the process, represented by an Ambassador) and Secretariats of all Regional Consultative Processes, so that best practices can be shared globally. I helped a colleague in my division to invite track participation in the meeting, and to prepare a report on the outcome of last year’s meeting (also hosted by IOM in Geneva). I was also involved in creating brochures for IOM to publish, providing information on each global meeting that has occurred and on Regional Consultative Processes in general.
My time with IPD was fascinating and showed me what working in headquarters in the UN system might feel like. I continue to be optimistic about the work that the UN (and especially the IOM) does, and am grateful that the Graduate Internships in Geneva program allowed me the chance to see that work up close.
Aaron Mwewa 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.
This summer, I was privileged to live my dream — to intern at the United Nations Children’s Fund Headquarters in the Communications for Development (C4D) Section in New York. All of this was made possible thanks to Syracuse University’s robust alumni network. Being interested in the work of the U.N., I took a class with distinguished Prof. Catherine Bertini called “United Nations Organizations: Managing for Change.” Throughout the course, I met former Syracuse University students, including Ms. Shannon O’shea who connected me to Senior C4D Advisor Dr. Kerida Macdonald, under whom I currently work.
My supervisors were so happy with my performance that they decided to extend my internship until Nov. 14, 2017, which is for another three months approximately. I will be doing the extended part virtually and visit the New York office whenever I get the opportunity. What helped me to hit the ground running is the fact that I had been doing work with the same office even before the internship officially began.
This internship is a perfect fit for me, as my ambition is to become a thought leader in Africa in C4D, because I am convinced that communication must be at the heart of any sustainable development effort as it can help to bring those on the margins of society to the table. When women and children are brought to the table, their families have a chance to benefit more from any key social outcomes. For me, there could be no better stage than UNICEF on which I could practice and learn about this evolving field.
While at UNICEF, I helped develop a draft research outline for the forthcoming research on the digital engagement of youths in conversations on developmental issues. This research will take place in 37 countries. I was also essential to putting together theatre for development best practices through a compendium which is scheduled to be published soon. With the assistance of the country offices, I packaged many stories that will be used in the book.
The highlight of my internship was being asked to edit the final draft of the C4D online course designed for UNICEF employees and those who are passionate about the field. This course will help to create other champions like me, who will use C4D to create real impact in the lives of children by giving them a voice. This way, I would have contributed in real Maxwellian fashion to making the world a better place, because a voice for children is a voice for the future.