Tag Archives: Summer Internship

Ashley Saulcy Works on Political Transition in Nepal

Ashley Saucy is a current Master of Arts in International Relations (MAIR) student at the Maxwell School. 

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.

Ashley Saulcy

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.

Ashley Saulcy

Taylor Hamilton Sees Another Kind of Business Culture

Taylor is a current student in Maxwell’s joint MPA/MAIR program, which is a Master of Arts in International Relations and a Master of Public Administration. She participated in the Singapore Summer Internship Program this past summer.

Even before learning of the university-sponsored internship program, I had always been intrigued with Singapore, for a few reasons. One reason is that I have dedicated my academic life to studying the cultures and economics of East Asia. Another aspect I found interesting was its political system. Though small, Singapore is the world’s most successful modern autocracy (although it is often referred to as an “illiberal democracy”). I found it a refreshing example in the face of the pro-democracy perspective touted in American academia. Moreover, if I wanted to live and work in Singapore, I could do so without learning another language (Americans. Amirite?).

Taylor Hamilton.

While in Singapore I worked for the Stewardship Asia Centre, a small non-profit endowed by Temasek Holdings. The small office afforded me a hands-on role with many of the projects the office had undertaken to promote corporate stewardship in East Asia and the Pacific. My writing and web development skills improved dramatically due to the nature of the content creation work I was assigned. I was regularly assigned research, which I would then have to present to one big-shot or another. However, these experiences were surprisingly secondary to the perspectives I was exposed to during my 10-week stay.

Singapore from above.

I must firstly admit that I initially held the unconscious assumption that since business was conducted in English my work environment in Singapore was going to be similar to that of the U.S. My normative assumptions went unchallenged for a couple weeks before I began to understand Singaporean office culture. The company hierarchy was built on the foundation that age and experience were necessary for effective leadership, with emphasis on the former. Due to the company’s relationship with the government, much consideration went into how influential people would be affected by our office’s actions (Did I mention that Temasek was led by the Prime Minister’s wife?). Furthermore, the way in which work was decided or problems were solved usually began with informal meetings among top management. In Western societies, we tend to frown upon CEOs having “backroom” dealings but my coworkers here have referred to these practices as the “Asian way” (their words not mine). I found out they were specifically referring to methods that were subtle and collaborative, rather than demanding and immodest.

Yet, even among these macro-level dynamics, my office easily demonstrated how the work performed by other interns and myself helps achieve the long-term goals of corporate stewardship promotion. I will forever appreciate the efforts of my supervisors in allowing me to see numerous projects from start to finish, providing me with more practical lessons in a few weeks than I have been afforded in some whole semesters.

Singapore’s Chinatown.

Singapore Summer Internships Program

More Global Programs

IOM and ASP Allow Ngoc Hong Le to Explore Multiple Interests

Ngoc Hong Le is a recent graduate of Maxwell’s MAIR program. For her final two semesters, she participated in the Geneva Summer Practicum and the Maxwell-in-Washington Program.

Fall internship at ASP in Washington, DC

Ngoc Hong Le smiling in front of ASP's photo zone

Ngoc Hong Le smiling in front of ASP’s photo zone

After coming back from Europe with a wider knowledge of the migration and international relations fields, I decided to challenge myself to understand a new security field related to climate change: Climate Security. Personally, I am very concerned about the impact of climate change from manufacturing to human being’s daily lives. Climate security involves challenges from climate change to national security.

American Security Project (ASP) invited me to be a climate security intern in Fall 2015. ASP is a nonpartisan organization created to educate the American public and the world about the changing nature of national security in the 21st Century in the U.S. ASP brings together prominent American business leaders, former members of Congress, retired military flag officers, and prominent former government officials to address climate security.

As a Climate security intern, my daily duties were providing news articles related to climate change policies adopted by countries around the world and in turn following the latest news about climate change in social media such as Twitter, Google+, and other news sources. In addition, my position involved posting blog post(s) on the ASP website related to climate security issues under ASP aspects and personal aspects, and attending conferences on the Hill and around Washington D.C that were related to climate change and climate security. In addition, as an intern in ASP, I assisted ASP staff to operate conferences related to security issues, such as cyber security. Moreover, interns rotated daily to contribute to “In Case You Missed” for ASP subscribers. This gave interns the opportunity to improve knowledge on many security subjects such as American competiveness, national security strategy, asymmetry operations, public diplomacy, climate security, energy security and nuclear security, in addition to their own focus.

While interning in ASP, I got to learn basic public relations skills associated with social media, and this was a valuable contribution to interning at ASP. Public relations and communications are a tools to promote your business, as well as to increase reader viewership. The internship taught me many new things that I did not know before and it was a great experience.

Summer internship at IOM in Geneva

Ngoc Hong Le is enjoying the beauty of La Rade Lake and the Jet d’eau Fountain Geneva after the first day of work

Ngoc Hong Le enjoying the beauty of La Rade Lake and the Jet d’eau Fountain in Geneva after the first day of work

IOM Headquarters located in Geneva, Switzerland gave me an opportunity to work with the Governing Bodies Division, Department of International Cooperation and Partnerships during summer 2015. IOM is the leading inter-governmental organization in the field of migration and works closely with governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental partners. My department was responsible for supporting and coordinating organization relations with IOM Member States, inter-governmental organizations, civil society and the media.

I spent a whole summer at IOM assisting staff working on the Annual International Dialogue of Migration, named the Conference of Migrant and Cities from October 26 and 27, 2015 in Palais des Nation, Geneva, Switzerland. My internship duties included providing information about potential guest speakers for all five sections of the two-day conference, as well as responding to requests from attendants and guest speakers about visas, accommodations and travel arrangements. I also attended conferences in Palais des Nation related to migration issues in the world. I have learned a lot about how to organize an international conference with VIP level guests, which I did not have before. I was able to have a great learning experience in Geneva thanks to IOM.

In addition to my daily duties, I had the opportunity to attend weekly lunch meetings, featuring different departments in IOM with other interns. They taught me how an intern-government organization works with countries and international communities. I got to know more about how field work takes place in developing countries, and I wish to learn more about my international relations field because of this experience.

Even though I did not work on the conference with staff until the last day, my knowledge of migrants has expanded, and I’ve learned necessary conference operation skills from being so deeply involved in the “Migrant and Cities” conference. It was a unique experience that I could only gain from my master’s degree from the Maxwell School of Public Affairs and Citizenships.

Ngoc Hong Le traveling in Jungfrau mountain region

Ngoc Hong Le traveling in the Jungfrau mountain region