Tag Archives: Summer

Ivan Zhivkov’s Rewarding Experience at World Meteorological Organization

Ivan Zhivkov also interned at the U.S. Department of State in the European Affairs office as part of the Maxwell-in-Washington program.

My name is Ivan G. Zhivkov and I am a Master of Arts in International Relations student, focusing on security and diplomacy pertaining to Eastern Europe. Having spent the initial two semesters on campus, partaking in the core MAIR and some fascinating elective courses, I decided to spend my summer 2016 studying abroad. I chose the Graduate Internships in Geneva program, due to the unique opportunity that it offers to intern with an international organization at the heart of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Upon multiple interviews, I was selected by Werner Schleiffer to be a part of the program and placed to intern with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

Working in WMO was intensive, educational, and extremely rewarding. I was placed in the Climate and Water Department, serving as an Intern with the Agricultural Meteorology Division. I was in charge of working on Drought Management, National Capacity, and improving the Integrated Drought Management Programme (IDMP) for Central and Eastern Europe, the Horn of Africa, and West Africa. I had two supervisors, the Director of Agricultural Meteorology, who assigned me to work on drought and flood management, and the Senior Program Officer for the IDMP. I was in charge of researching, assessing, and reporting on National Drought Programs (since only 18 UN Member States have so far implemented them), Intended Nationally Determined Contributions and how they relate to a country’s effort to reduce its Greenhouse Gas emissions, and the indicators of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Ivan Zhivkov at the UN in Geneva

Ivan Zhivkov at the UN in Geneva

My responsibilities were wide and diverse. I had the opportunity to attend branch, council, and town hall meetings, learning how WMO functions and where it needs to improve. The statistics bureau of the International Labour Organization was hosted on the third floor of the WMO building, allowing me an easier access to another organization and learning from its work. Working with WMO was an invaluable experience for me. Although it did not directly relate to my focus of studies, some of the skills that I acquired at Maxwell allowed me to thrive in WMO.

Living and working in Geneva opened my eyes to the function of international organizations, their relationship with the local community, and to experience life in Switzerland. Rich and diverse experiences characterized my time in Geneva. I was the only American from a group of roughly twenty interns in WMO, which allowed me to learn from their cultures, share common experiences, and practice foreign languages. Interacting with locals allowed me to make friends and improve my French. Overall, the Geneva Summer Practicum was invaluable to my education, to my development as a future international relations professional, and to my improvement as a world citizen. I would recommend it to anyone and I would not trade it for the world.

Ivan Zhivkov at his desk at WMO

Ivan Zhivkov at his desk at WMO

Ivan Zhivkov in UN Assembly, Geneva

Ivan Zhivkov in UN Assembly, Geneva

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Oleksiy Anokhin, The Carter Center: Waging Peace, Fighting Disease, Building Hope

Oleksiy Anokhin is a student in Maxwell’s Executive MPA and MAIR programs. These programs are aimed at mid-career professionals with significant management experience.

I spent summer 2016 in Atlanta, GA, as an intern at The Carter Center (TCC). I chose this organization as my internship opportunity intentionally for several reasons. First of all, my previous work experience in Ukraine was primarily related to public service, elections, and law. I regularly communicated with representatives of US NGOs, which observed several electoral campaigns in Ukraine. As a result, I became interested in their activities and wanted to learn more about their internal management process.

The Carter Center, which is still actively managed by the former US President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn, has an excellent reputation in international development. The Center observed more than 100 elections during last 25 years across the world, is actively engaged in conflict resolution and human rights advocacy projects, and manages various health programs. For instance, TCC fights several diseases in developing countries. Due to efforts of TCC and their partners, one such disease, the Guinea worm disease, which infected approximately 3.5 million people in 1986 in 21 countries in Africa and Asia, has almost been eradicated. In 2015, only 22 cases were observed. One more example of their impactful activity is TCC’s Syria Conflict Mapping Project, which analyzes information about a complicated military conflict in this country.

I was an intern in the Democracy Program, which is primarily focused on elections and improving TCC legal knowledge about European electoral standards. This work gave me a chance to learn more about the real-life work of an exceptional US NGO, build connections with excellent experts, and gave me several ideas about crucial skills necessary for working in international development such as data analysis and budgeting. As a result, I picked my fall 2016 courses based on my experience in TCC and have been very pleased so far.

The second reason for me was a chance to be involved in amazing humanitarian work, which is conducted by Jimmy Carter. He still remains extremely proactive, participating in various TCC events and making decisions in the Center. Jimmy Carter became a moral leader for millions of people across the world, and especially effective in the humanitarian field. TCC makes for a great job, organizing different social events for their interns with the former President and the First Lady and inspiring the younger generation to follow their life path.

Finally, TCC and Atlanta became an interesting cultural experience for me as a foreigner. After one year in Upstate New York, I was interested to see the South and compare it with the North.

In general, internships in TCC are unpaid, but partial funding is possible (and I got it). However, right now I understand the benefits of internships in the US professional culture more. In my case, having almost 10 years of legal and government experience, I was more interested in TCC activity as a professional, not as an intern. I tried to note their effective and ineffective managerial processes, and understand how to cooperate with such organizations and their experts in future as a Ukrainian public servant.

I strongly encourage those Maxwell students who are interested in conflict resolution, human rights, elections, and health management to consider TCC as a possible internship and future job opportunity. I was impressed that people in this organization are so focused on values promoted by TCC and work hard to make the world a better place. Jimmy Carter still remains their fierce chief and a moral leader for many others. TCC is an excellent place for those who are driven by Maxwell’s Athenian Oath ‘to transmit this city not only not less, but greater, better and more beautiful than it was transmitted to us’.

Oleksiy Anokhin
October 17, 2016

Oleksiy Anokhin with Former President Jimmy Carter and Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter

Oleksiy Anokhin with Former President Jimmy Carter and Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter

 

Maria Chiara Vinciguerra, A Deeper Understanding of the UN System

Maria Chiara Vinciguerra is currently doing a joint Master’s degree, known as the Atlantis program, which will allow her to obtain a M.A. in International Relations from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University, and a Master of Public Policy from the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin by July 2017. Last summer she participated in the Graduate Internships in Geneva program.

This summer, I had the opportunity to intern as part of the Graduate Internships in Geneva program with the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), within the organization’s inter-agency unit based in Geneva, Switzerland. WFP is the UN agency responsible for providing food assistance worldwide, and is headquartered in Rome, Italy. The WFP Geneva Office I worked for is an extended branch of the organization, responsible for advocacy and public information. The unit consists of a small group of staff with multi-year experience both from the field and the HQ, and with varying expertise covering disaster preparedness, climate change, HIV, protection, and so forth.

As an Inter-Agency Affairs Intern, my work mainly entailed assisting WFP representatives at intergovernmental meetings – the 66th Meeting of the UNHCR Standing Committee being one of them – and reporting on these meetings either by producing inputs for the WFP Geneva Weekly, Notes for the Record, or by providing oral feedback. In addition, I was often tasked to assist my supervisor in the preparation and facilitation of presentations to various audiences, including a group of German graduate students and SIT Study Abroad undergraduate students from all over the USA. Moreover, I supported the preparation of WFP’s Readout on the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS), as well as the production of a matrix to monitor WFP’s commitments at WHS. I also made an infographic on the latest “Global School Feeding Sourcebook: Lessons from 14 countries.”

My experience at WFP Geneva was both challenging and enlightening. It provided me with a deeper understanding of the UN system and its inter-governmental networks and inter-agency dynamics. This experience also gave me the chance to further improve my research and writing skills. Paired up with Professor Schleiffer’s class, the Geneva Practicum was a unique experience that I am grateful for.

Maria Chiara Vinciguerra above Lake Geneva

Maria Chiara Vinciguerra above Lake Geneva

Learn more about the Graduate Internships in Geneva Program

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Megan Soule Builds Network in Public Affairs at DOS

This summer I lived in Washington, D.C. as an intern with the U.S. Department of State. At State I worked in the Office of Public Affairs and Strategic Communications (PASC) within the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). ECA works to build friendly, peaceful relations between the people of the United States and the people of other countries through academic, cultural, sports, and professional exchanges, as well as public-private partnerships. My office oversaw all public affairs and digital communications for the entire bureau. Some of the program offices we worked with were Fulbright, CLS, Education USA, and Edward R. Murrow Fellows program.

PASC is made up of a group of videographers, photographers, graphic designers, data analysts, web developers, and public affairs practitioners. I worked on projects with all aspects of our office, but mainly I served as a digital designer. I led the design of the Discovery Diplomacy brand through the U.S. Diplomacy Center and the redesign of the International Education Week branding (look out for it November 14th-18th this year). Over the course of twelve weeks I was put in charge of designing the design guidelines for ECA that will then be used to shape all public diplomacy for the entire State Department. The design guide that I created was presented to the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and other public diplomacy officers in D.C. and at posts.

I was lucky enough to be given a lot of responsibility as an intern and be able to head several high priority projects. Everyday I was putting the skills I had learned in the Public Diplomacy program to use. Since my officer served as the in-house digital communications team it was not only our job to produce content, but to ask why this campaign or this method of presenting information was necessary. I spent much of time team researching objectives, goals, and target audiences of programs so that I could create the most effective and engaging design materials for each office.

While I was at State I was able to meet many Syracuse alumni across many bureaus and across government agencies. Even being in D.C. for only three months allowed me to significantly grow my network. Every week I was able to meet with one or two alums to talk about life after Syracuse, tips they had for me in their first jobs, and other career advice they were willing to share. Most of all this summer has also helped me shape where I want my career to start after Syracuse. I am excited to be continuing my internship virtually with my office in the Fall and back in D.C. in the Spring.

Megan Soule, 10,000 Women Dinner with First Lady, Michelle Obama at the U.S. Department of State

Megan Soule, 10,000 Women Dinner with First Lady, Michelle Obama at the U.S. Department of State

Learn more about the Maxwell-in-Washington program

Rosalina Jowers Explores Stewardship in Asia

Rosalina Jowers is a second year graduate student in the joint MAIR/MSPR Public Diplomacy program. She was a research assistant for the Public Relations department of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and is currently a research assistant in the Tully Center for Free Speech during the fall of 2016. She participated in the Singapore Summer Internship Program during the summer of 2016 and interned with the Stewardship Asia Centre.

This summer, I had the opportunity to intern with the Stewardship Asia Centre in Singapore. Throughout my three months in the position, I worked as both a research assistant and a public
relations and marketing intern for the team.

SAC is a thought-leadership center based in Singapore that conducts research and holds regional events to advocate for corporate stewardship, governance, and responsibility in the private sector. The center holds an annual event inviting international business leaders, CEOs, investors, and government officials to discuss best practices, challenges, and emerging themes that impact corporate stewardship and add to the existing literature. Within their Knowledge Center, SAC produces white papers, media articles, and has recently published a book about the necessity and prevalence of stewardship internationally.

Due to the small size of my team, I played a multifaceted position and was able to become thoroughly involved in various roles. My primary role was to contribute to SAC’s Knowledge Center by conducting research about stewardship in regards to cultural differences, family businesses, and sovereign wealth funds. I compiled my findings into three separate research articles that will be published within the Knowledge Center and used for future book publications and media articles.

Secondly, I worked with SAC’s public relations team in event planning, media relations, and brief writing. SAC’s annual roundtable event was held towards the end of my internship, and I was able to help with the planning, implementation and evaluation of our media and event strategies. I helped pitch and coordinate with media personnel, assist in interviews with key speakers, and ensure the smooth running of the event. For SAC itself, I was able to create the
event insights report, informational videos about the center and the event, and also create briefs for the center’s CEO for his regional speaking platforms promoting stewardship and CSR.

Lastly, I worked with the marketing team in promoting the center’s first publication, Inspiring Stewardship. In collaborating with the book’s publisher, Wiley Asia, I helped create a marketing plan for both the regional and international promotion of the book, communicate with key media contacts in Singapore, and plan a book launch event that will be held in Singapore this upcoming fall.

Aside from the valuable experience I gained throughout these varying roles, I was able to network with a variety of top executives from the Southeast Asia region to expand my network and acquire valuable contacts for the future. Thankfully and because of this experience, I gained valuable insights into the work, social and political environment of Singapore, and was able to explore the region unlike I have ever been able to before.

Rosalina Jowers at Temasek's Stewardship Asia Centre

Rosalina Jowers at Temasek’s Stewardship Asia Centre

Ann Van Reconnects by Working with Refugees

Syracuse is a refugee resettlement city, offering students the possibility of getting involved with this community, and interning at organizations assisting refugees. Ann Van is currently completing course work in Syracuse towards her MAIR degree.

My identity, ever since childhood, has centered around being Vietnamese‑American. These are words with a lot of meaning packed into them.

Vietnamese: I get this from my parents, and their parents, and their parents—but these folks are long gone.

The hyphen: war. A war turns me from Vietnamese to American. It pushes my parents up mountains, across oceans and out of the country.

 American: I am the first born in the new world. I have opportunity ahead of me. But even at a young age, I was trapped in being the provider—the parent to my parents. I deeply resented that hyphen for creating me and making me provide out of necessity.

It was only this past year that I tapped back into the world of migrants and new Americans by volunteering through the Syracuse University Program for Refugee Assistance (SUPRA). For a handful of reasons, I felt very lonely in Syracuse while studying at the Maxwell School. But on the first day with SUPRA, I felt like I was reliving the good parts of home.

This inspired me to reconnect with my refugee background, which led me to a summer internship with the Carolina Refugee Resettlement Agency (CRRA). CRRA is a small agency serving the Charlotte, North Carolina area. Over one hundred individuals from across the world were resettled over the summer. I met folks from countries I barely recognized on maps. (Can you find Eritrea?)

A couple things helped make this internship very fulfilling: 1) SUPRA prepared me for interacting and connecting with clients despite language, age or educational differences. I also taught classes to refugee clients, empowered by the experience I gained with SUPRA. 2) The global programs award* allowed me to intern full time, while many of my co-interns left midday to work part time jobs. The award also gave me freedom to take clients on special field trips—to landmarks, parks and local cafes—because my fuel bill was not covered by the agency.

This was a very meaningful internship for me, because I reconnected with moments of my past. I also found company in some resilient and impressive refugees who I continue to stay in touch with. I recommend that everyone use this time in their professional lives to pursue a meaningful experience. The global programs award and other resources at the Maxwell School serve to enhance these moments.

*Global Programs Awards are available to students pursuing off-campus opportunities.

At CRRA, clients are shown their first American park near the bus routes during transportation class.

At CRRA, clients are shown their first American park near the bus routes during transportation class.

At CRRA, clients went around the room pointing out their home countries on a map during cultural orientation class.

At CRRA, clients go around the room pointing out their home countries on a map during cultural orientation class.

Charlene Cordero Learns How the Private Sector Advances Public Policy

Charlene Cordero is currently taking advantage of Maxwell’s World Partner Program with Sciences Po in Paris, France, where she is taking graduate courses and honing her French language skills even more.

This summer I worked as a Global Fellow at the Podesta Group (PG) in Washington, D.C. As an international security student with substantial work experience in be public sector, I wanted to spend the summer learning how the private sector can aid foreign and sovereign entities in advancing their public policy interests in Washington. PG allowed me to work closely with an exceptional team of public policy experts, dive into foreign policy issues that I would usually not be exposed to, and perfect my memo writing skills.

Though the caliber of PG and its staff made it a great workplace, the relationships I forged with my coworkers and other fellows became my favorite part of working at PG. I have honestly never worked somewhere where I felt so validated. Every time I completed a task or wrote a memo and sent them to the team, principals would reply lauding my good work and thorough memos. I often felt like my work did not call for such praise, as most went through numerous rounds of edits and comments with the team. But, the fact that the principals would take a few moments to reply how much they – and by extension the clients – appreciated my work made the whole experience a whole lot more fruitful.

Another great experience came from the exposure to issue areas that I would normally not know much about. At Maxwell – and for most of my life, if we’re being honest – I’ve strongly focused on Western Hemisphere issues due to my Dominican background and upbringing in the Caribbean. However, over the summer I learned more about the South China Sea dispute than I ever thought I would know. The research I did at PG allowed me to really learn about the conflict, the actors and issues at play and the potential international outcomes and reactions. I remember musing over the excitement I felt as I waited for the decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague and the potential reactions of China, the Philippines, and the United States. That was something I did not expect to learn this summer!

My summer at Podesta was a great introduction to the work the private sector can do in advancing public policy. I’m humbled and honored at the work I completed and relationships I forged and leave DC ready to apply my newfound memo writing skills and South China Sea expertise at the Maxwell school.

CCM-PG

Charlene Cordero with Shelby Jamerson, Global Fellow and Alyssa Hassett, International Policy Analyst. Charlene's closest coworkers PG.

Charlene Cordero with her closest coworkers at PG: Shelby Jamerson, Global Fellow and Alyssa Hassett, International Policy Analyst

Charlene Cordero at the Podesta Group

Charlene Cordero at the Podesta Group

Learn more about the Maxwell-in-Washington program

Sam Connors Gains Field Experience at IOM Ghana

Sam Connors is a MAIR student on track to graduate this semester. His interests are in Africa, migration, aid, and development, which is why he took part in the Survey of Current Issues In African Migration program during the summer of 2016.

Considering this was my first time traveling out of the United States, my summer spent in Ghana was unlike anything I have previously experienced. Interning with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) was not only an opportunity for me to test my professional ability in a new environment, but a chance to explore the dynamics of migration – the focus of my studies.

The IOM program in Ghana was an ideal fit for me due to my interest in migration but also considering my desire to gain field work experience with an IO. I was able to gain a comprehensive understanding of working as an expat in both the field and capital city of another country, splitting my time with a month in the field and a month in the IOM office in Accra. Another Maxwell student, Emily Hoerner, has captured our experience in Accra well in a previous PAIA blog entry, and I suggest learning of that portion from her entry.

My time spent in the field was working with IOM’s counter trafficking department in the Ho West district, 3 hours north of Accra. This time was without a doubt the most interesting and impacting facet of the program for me. Not only was I able to participate with the IOM on one of their projects, I was also given a stipend along with my fellow Syracuse students to design a small aid project of our own in the region.

The IOM counter trafficking project was targeted at preventing the selling and trafficking of children in the Volta region of Ghana. This effort took the five of us to five different rural communities in the surrounding area – though we resided in one community (Dodome Tsikor) for the month. Along with local government officials, we would introduce a program designed to educate these communities concerning the rights of a child and perils of trafficking. This introduction was ceremoniously celebrated with a painting by the whole community – the tree of life – as a symbol of the community’s commitment to protect their children.

Community volunteers, members, and Syracuse University students (starting 2nd from left): Sam Connors, Hatou Camara, Alison Rivera, Francis Morency, Jinpu Wang) in front of the tree of life community painting

Community volunteers, members, and Syracuse University students (starting 2nd from left): Sam Connors, Hatou Camara, Alison Rivera, Francis Morency, Jinpu Wang) in front of the tree of life community painting

It is not possible to fit the sheer volume of information and lessons I gathered during my time in Ghana in one blog post. It is not possible for me to quantify the personal and professional growth I experienced working for an IO in a foreign country. The most important professional lesson I gathered is the simple yet oft underappreciated lesson of –  communicate, communicate, communicate. The most lasting personal lesson I found reinforced in Ghana is of similar characteristics – live with love and understanding will follow.

Syracuse University students L-R: Jinpu Wang, Hatou Camara, Alison Rivera, Sam Connors, and Francis Morency in the field

Syracuse University students L-R: Jinpu Wang, Hatou Camara, Alison Rivera, Sam Connors, and Francis Morency in the field

The pouring of libations ceremony performed by a community Chief and elders

The pouring of libations ceremony performed by a community Chief and elders

The Chief of Dodome Tsikor and SU student Jinpu Wang

The Chief of Dodome Tsikor and SU student Jinpu Wang

Alison Rivera and Francis Morency

Alison Rivera and Francis Morency

Emily Hoerner, Sam Connors, Hatou Camara, Alison Rivera, Francis Morency, and Jinpu Wang at Elmina Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage

Emily Hoerner, Sam Connors, Hatou Camara, Alison Rivera, Francis Morency, and Jinpu Wang at Elmina Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage

Francis Morency, Hatou Camara, community volunteer, Alison Rivera, Sam Connors, & Jinpu Wang

Francis Morency, Hatou Camara, community volunteer, Alison Rivera, Sam Connors, & Jinpu Wang

Alison Rivera, Francis Morency and Sam Connors interview an IOM program beneficiary

Alison Rivera, Francis Morency and Sam Connors interview an IOM program beneficiary

Learn more about Survey of Current Issues In African Migration: A Fieldwork Practicum

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Maxwell African Scholars Union

Janessa Price & JIU’s 50th Anniversary

Janessa Price is a Public Diplomacy student who will graduate with a Master of Science in Public Relations (MSPR) and a Master of Arts in International Relations (MAIR) through the Newhouse School and the Maxwell School at Syracuse University. She wrote this account of her internship in Geneva last summer.

This summer, I had the opportunity to intern in Geneva, Switzerland with the United Nations Office at the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU). Pursuing a career with the United Nations has been a goal of mine for quite some time so I was very excited to be presented with this opportunity.

The JIU is the only independent external oversight body of the United Nations system mandated to conduct evaluations, inspections and investigations of most of the UN’s programs, funds and specialized agencies.

While the JIU typically focuses on monitoring and evaluation, this year the Unit is celebrating its 50th anniversary and opted to launch a communications campaign to highlight the Unit’s work and achievements since its establishment. Since the Unit does not have someone internally who would typically perform this type of work, I as a public diplomacy student, had the opportunity to utilize the knowledge and skills I had acquired both at the Maxwell and Newhouse schools to help coordinate a series of activities and events to celebrate the Unit’s 50 years.

Since I’ve started at the JIU, my main responsibilities have included:

  • Providing support to the organization for events and the preparation of the communications campaign
  • Preparing and reviewing a series of public information/communications papers on various aspects of the history and the work of JIU
  • Designing and procuring a number of visual communication products to accompany written material
  • Drafting various materials (invitations, letters, etc) for outreach to various members of the United Nations and Geneva diplomatic community

My experience thus far has given me a glimpse into what work at a UN organization would be like, specifically in a communications role. While the role entailed a great deal of responsibility, I’ve felt thoroughly prepared because of my education at Syracuse University.

I’ve had the opportunity to learn the ins-and-outs of JIU while simultaneously getting a better understanding of the United Nations system as a whole.  Additionally, living and working in Geneva this summer has allowed me to meet with and learn from a number of individuals working with various international organizations, including a public diplomacy alum! Coming to Geneva has been one of the best decisions I have made both on a personal and professional level and I am happy I was able to take advantage of this opportunity.

Janessa Price, Suhyeon Lee, and Claudine Lim in Parc des Bastions, Geneva, Switzerland

Janessa Price, Suhyeon Lee, and Claudine Lim in Parc des Bastions, Geneva, Switzerland

Ivan Zhivkov, Janessa Price, and Program Director Werner Schleiffer at the Berner Munster (Bern Cathedral), Bern, Switzerland

Ivan Zhivkov, Janessa Price, and Program Director Werner Schleiffer at the Berner Munster (Bern Cathedral), Bern, Switzerland

Learn more about the Graduate Internships in Geneva Program

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Matt Kienzle Joins Team at GAO in DC

Matt Kienzle is a former teacher pursuing the MPA/MAIR to facilitate a career change. He began working at the U.S. GAO last summer and has taken evening courses as part of the Maxwell-in-Washington program.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has a boring name. Thankfully, it was not a boring place to have a summer internship. GAO is a Federal Government oversight agency that has Congressional authority to investigate any agency or program where Federal money is spent. I was fortunate to secure an internship at an agency that does meaningful work, employs good people, and allowed me freedom to produce quality products.

I was placed on the Leadership and Executive Development Program Team in the agency’s Learning Center, and immediately assigned to complete useful and visible long-term projects. During my first week, I was tasked with analyzing the effectiveness of the nineteen Leadership Development courses at GAO, mandatory for all employees promoted to management, and presenting recommendations to senior staff about how to improve them.

The project required me to utilize many of the skills that are taught and reinforced at Maxwell. I gathered both quantitative and qualitative data to determine which courses were functioning as intended, which could be improved, and why. I attended many of the courses to better understand how they function in practice, a technique that had the added benefit of allowing me to take courses that are only open to managers.

Another reason my experience at GAO was positive is that the team I worked with was very supportive and allowed me to independently complete tasks. I was given assignments and projects, and expected to complete them in a timely and competent manner. Autonomy allows me to produce better work because I feel greater ownership over the product. For example, twice a year, the agency hosts a Leadership Speaker Series, which brings experts in the leadership field to GAO to present to employees. My supervisor granted me the responsibility to identify the speaker, negotiate terms, and organize logistics for the agency-wide event.

Since I was primarily working on projects independently, I quickly learned that I was expected to meaningfully contribute during team meetings and update coworkers on my progress. Initially, it was an intimidating prospect, and doubly so because GAO is a fairly complex agency that can be difficult to understand. Despite the learning curve, it was satisfying to reach a level of familiarity with the agency, and to engage in projects in which I was responsible for calling meetings both to discuss my progress and solicit opinions.

Overall, my experience at GAO was highly positive and I am looking forward to an opportunity to return in the future.

Matt Kienzle in front of the GAO

Matt Kienzle in front of the GAO

Learn more about the Maxwell-in-Washington program