Internship Stories

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

Daniel Matthews Explores Global Competitiveness in US Production

Daniel Matthews took advantage of the Maxwell-in-Washington program during the Summer and Fall semesters, where he interned at the USITC during the day while taking Maxwell courses at night.

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This summer, I was able to work at as Pathways Intern with the United States International Trade Commission (USITC) in Washington, D.C.  The USITC is an “independent, quasijudicial Federal agency” that investigates the impact subsidized and dumped imports have on the competitiveness of U.S. industries.  International Trade Analysts and Economists gather and analyze trade-related data and present this information to the President, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), and Congress so that each may be able to make informed decisions regarding trade policy.  The USITC receives investigation requests from USTR, the Senate’s Committee on Finance, the House of Representatives’ Committee on Ways and Means, and from various domestic industries.

I was hired on as an intern with the Office of Industries’ Natural Resources and Energy (NRE) division.  Earlier this year, the Committee on Ways and Means of the U.S. House of Representatives requested that the USITC conduct a 16 month investigation under section 332 of the Tariff Act of 1930 to obtain information on factors that affect the global competitiveness of the U.S. aluminum industry.  As the NRE division intern, I have been tasked with conducting extensive research on trade flows of various aluminum products identified under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) and North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), the production processes of various forms of aluminum, and other background information relevant to the investigation.  I will also have the opportunity to have my research published as part of the report, and will be coauthoring the first chapter with the project leader.  As part of the ongoing investigation, I will also be able to travel to industry facilities throughout Maryland and Virginia in order to observe the production of aluminum products used in the automotive, aerospace, and other downstream industries.

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USITC Building, Washington, DC

Through this internship, I have been able to work directly with Trade Analysts and Economists on an increasingly important industry in the United States.  Aluminum’s qualities, including its lighter weight relative to steel, resistance to corrosion, malleability, and ductility are increasingly sought in the automotive, aerospace, construction, and energy industries.  This position has complemented research and coursework that I have undertaken at Maxwell, and has allowed me to apply many of the analytical, research, and writing skills that I have developed as an MAIR student in a professional setting.

Daniel Matthews at the USITC
Daniel Matthews at the USITC

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Corena Sharp, Advocacy & Innovative Partnerships at UNICEF

Corena Sharp is a MAIR student currently interning at the United States Department of State’s Office of International Labor Affairs in Washington, DC. She interned at UNICEF as part of the Graduate Internships in Geneva program.

This summer I traveled to Geneva, Switzerland for an internship with UNICEF. While the headquarters of UNICEF lives in New York, nestled next to Lac Leman and a botanical garden is UNICEF’s Private Fundraising and Partnerships Division. Within the Division, I am a part of the Advocacy and Innovative Partnerships Unit.

What This Means

UNICEF has three main parts: Headquarters, Country Offices, and National Committees. National Committees are their own NGOs who are affiliated with—but not technically under the UNICEF administrative umbrella in rich countries—as compared with Country Offices that are direct extensions of UNICEF in developing countries. In practical terms, this means that National Committees cannot run any programming and must get permission to use UNICEF branding. The existence of National Committees is based in the agreement that UNICEF’s true focus needs to be where children are most vulnerable, yet recognizes that rich countries are by no means perfect advocates for the rights of children. The 34 National Committees fundraise and run political advocacy campaigns to help improve the situation of children domestically and abroad.

This is where my team comes in. We help coordinate between the National Committees and Headquarters and give support in a variety of ways. I participated in two Working Groups on Humanitarian Emergency Advocacy and the SDGs. I helped National Committees strategize and learn from each other, by creating documents of best practices and drafting content for UNICEF’s intranet.

One of my primary projects was to design a 125-page interactive document that maps the Convention on the Rights of the Child with the Sustainable Development Goals. It capitalizes on the momentum of the SDGs by exploring the inextricable links between the rights of children and each goal. When I completed the document, I helped develop the dissemination materials. The document will be circulated across the organization as well as to external partners, such as the Committee on the Rights of the Child.

I was also given the freedom to explore human rights outside of the office. While the 32nd Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council met, I was encouraged to go and attend meetings. My two favorite days were watching the council vote to appoint an Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity; and attending a panel on ‘Violence against indigenous women and girls and its root causes.’

This was truly an amazing experience that will carry close to my heart as I continue to work for the empowerment of women and girls everywhere.

Corena Sharp in the village of Gruyere, Switzerland in June
Corena Sharp in the village of Gruyere, Switzerland in June

Learn more about the Graduate Internships in Geneva Program

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Vahid Khatami, Monitoring & Evaluation at IRD

Vahid Khatami is a joint MPA/MAIR student who spent his Summer Semester taking part in the Maxwell-in-Washington program where he interned at IRD during the day while taking Maxwell courses at night. Vahid is currently still in Washington, DC interning at IRD and at Microfinance Opportunities.

Based on the Global Humanitarian Assistance report, at least 42% of people with extreme poverty – around 677 million people – are estimated to live in countries that are politically fragile. Many international organizations have been established to address such conflict and post-conflict environments, including International Relief and Development (IRD). With their headquarters in Arlington, Virginia and 18 years of experience, IRD currently operates in more than 15 counties across Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, the Americas, and the Middle East. The international programs address relief, stabilization, and development needs in the areas of health, agriculture, infrastructure, emergency response, and governance.

Vahid Khatami at IRD headquarters in Washington, DC
Vahid Khatami at IRD headquarters in Washington, DC

As an intern in the applied learning unit of IRD, I reviewed mostly current performance reports of the projects to pull out the critical lessons learned and build a database to improve the quality of data-driven policies in the organization. To improve the accuracy of the contents, I did several interviews with program managers to reflect their viewpoints on the most important lessons learned from the programs. Such interviews helped me to improve my work relations with other staff.

I have also performed more technical jobs such as building a database of all the consultants’ historical records who have worked with IRD. For this purpose, I wrote several text-mining codes to extract the relevant information from a mass of documents which resulted in more than a thousand records. Writing the codes to automatically extract data, made a huge difference in my work rather than doing the same job manually. In the end, I suggested developing a managerial dashboard for databases including the lessons learned and consultants and indicators. This was all implemented by the M&E interns’ team and accepted by the office director.

As my career track is focused on international economics and development, I found my internship a good step to leverage my knowledge in the field. I better understand some of the development challenges in the real world and the culture of a non-profit organizations working in international development. I expanded my communication skills through the tasks and applied my technical skills in a professional environment. I hope to find my next professional position in the same career track based on this experience to improve my portfolio.

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Emily Hoerner Finds Great Rewards Working for IOM Ghana

Emily Hoerner used her previous experience in the non-profit sector to contribute to IOM Ghana’s mission through the Survey of Current Issues in African Migration global program. This program gives students experience doing field work for a UN agency.

As a joint-degree MPA/MAIR, my first year at Maxwell has been a whirlwind. Without a doubt, the most rewarding part of my Maxwell experience so far has been the two months I spent interning with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Accra, Ghana this summer.

I was drawn to IOM’s Ghana program because it offered me the opportunity to work on the ground with a respected international organization. I wasn’t disappointed. After a week of cultural and professional orientation to Ghana and IOM, I spent four weeks working with IOM’s Assisted Voluntary Return & Reintegration (AVRR) team. The AVRR program aims to help migrants who have left Ghana and wish to return, providing them with reintegration assistance like accommodation or support if they wish to start micro-businesses.

My time with the AVRR team was spent primarily working on their reintegration database. I looked at trends and best practices from other IOM missions’ AVRR databases, and suggested improvements to the system the Ghanaian AVRR team was currently using. I then worked with a member of the AVRR team to re-build their database from the ground up, in the hope that this new framework would allow them to capture, input, and report out on migration and reintegration data more effectively and efficiently. When the database was complete, I also performed some trend analysis for the team on their migration data from the past five years, creating charts and graphs from the data that the team could use for informational one-pagers about the AVRR program.

Me with Reintegration Assistant Emmanual Oppong, working on the AVRR database.
Me with Reintegration Assistant Emmanual Oppong, working on the AVRR database.

The final two weeks of my internship were spent doing a bit more fieldwork: traveling in and around the greater Accra region to speak with beneficiaries of the AVRR program. This was, by far, my favorite part of the internship. Though I knew the database work I completed was important, having the opportunity to speak one-on-one with AVRR beneficiaries put a truly human face on the program. Some of the beneficiaries I spoke with were quieter or more reserved than others, but I loved having the chance to speak with these people and hear their stories of hardship, perseverance, and sometimes triumph.

Overall, my internship with IOM Ghana’s AVRR team was a fantastic introduction into the world of international development, and what it is like to work in a country office of a complex international organization. My time with IOM was replete with frustrations, challenges, and opportunities for both personal and professional growth. Above all, my internship solidified my desire to work in the complicated, frustrating, and rewarding field of international development.

SU students (from L-R) Francis Morency, Hatou Camara, Sam Conners, and Alison Rivera at Black Star Gate, in downtown Accra. This picture was taken on a weekend when we explored landmarks around the city.
SU students (from L-R) Francis Morency, Hatou Camara, Sam Conners, and Alison Rivera at Black Star Gate, in downtown Accra. This picture was taken on a weekend when we explored landmarks around the city.
During a long weekend, I had the chance to visit Cape Coast and Elmina Castles, both of which played a pivotal role in the trans-Atlantic slave trade. This is me in front of Elmina after a tour of the castle, including the horrifying slave dungeons and the haunting ‘door of no return.’
During a long weekend, I had the chance to visit Cape Coast and Elmina Castles, both of which played a pivotal role in the trans-Atlantic slave trade. This is me in front of Elmina after a tour of the castle, including the horrifying slave dungeons and the haunting ‘door of no return.’
Me with AVRR beneficiary Marvin Aidoo, who currently runs an agricultural NGO meant to employ Ghanaian youth. Having the chance to speak with AVRR beneficiaries like Mr. Aidoo was one of the most rewarding aspects of my internship with IOM.
Me with AVRR beneficiary Marvin Aidoo, who currently runs an agricultural NGO meant to employ Ghanaian youth. Having the chance to speak with AVRR beneficiaries like Mr. Aidoo was one of the most rewarding aspects of my internship with IOM.
Me with IOM Ghana’s AVRR team (from left to right, Doris Ohene-Kankam, Emmanuel Oppong, and Nuria Vidal-Fernandez).
Me with IOM Ghana’s AVRR team (from left to right, Doris Ohene-Kankam, Emmanuel Oppong, and Nuria Vidal-Fernandez).
SU students (from L-R) Francis Morency, Jinpu Wang, Sam Connors, Hatou Camara, Emily Hoerner, and Alison Rivera with EMPA alum Erika at her home near the University of Ghana.
SU students (from L-R) Francis Morency, Jinpu Wang, Sam Connors, Hatou Camara, Emily Hoerner, and Alison Rivera with EMPA alum Erika at her home near the University of Ghana.
SU students (from L-R) Francis Morency, Hatou Camara, and Emily Hoerner with IOM Reintegration Assistant Doris Ohene-Kankam and IOM AVRR (Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration) beneficiary Nelson Amtwi. This photo was taken after an interview with Amtwi at his convenience store in Spintex, just outside Accra.
SU students (from L-R) Francis Morency, Hatou Camara, and Emily Hoerner with IOM Reintegration Assistant Doris Ohene-Kankam and IOM AVRR (Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration) beneficiary Nelson Amtwi. This photo was taken after an interview with Amtwi at his convenience store in Spintex, just outside Accra.

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

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James Murray Does Impactful Work at UNDP

James Murray is a MAIR student who obtained his internship at UNDP with the help of Emily Fredenberg, a former participant in the Graduate Internships in Geneva program. He wrote this post in August 2016.

For the past three months, I’ve been living in Geneva, Switzerland while working for the United Nations Development Programme as an intern. In less than two weeks time, I’ll be heading back to Syracuse to complete my last semester as a graduate student. The experience I’ve had this summer has provided me with working knowledge of how the international humanitarian and development systems function, and provided me with the opportunity to develop and sharpen the tools necessary to be an effective contributor in such an environment. Also, living in Geneva, a city with incredible natural beauty and wonderful history, has been a dream come true.

Before I started my work with UNDP this summer, I was slightly apprehensive that I would be given limited job responsibilities and relegated to a position with little ability to make a meaningful contribution to the organization. This assumption turned out to be completely incorrect. My two supervisors at UNDP gave me the structure necessary to ensure that my work would be impactful, while granting me the freedom to take on assignments that were of particular interest. My work was primarily focused in the health sector, specifically on reducing the global burden of non-communicable diseases, and working with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.

The sheer scope of this work allowed me a wide range of options when considering possible project opportunities. In my time with UNDP, I feel that my work made a positive impact while also further developing my abilities.

While the internship with UNDP may have been the most rewarding experience of the summer, living in the beautiful city of Geneva has enriched my day-to-day life for several reasons. First, while Geneva is quite a small city, there is always a festival or celebration going on each weekend. For example, this past weekend was the Fete de Genève, which was celebrated by great music, delicious food, and the best fireworks display I’ve ever seen. It lasted nearly an hour! Second, there is a tangible and exciting sense of international community that can be felt throughout the city. While being one of the most international cities in the world, it is only slightly larger than Syracuse. Lastly, Geneva has more natural beauty than any place I’ve ever lived. I consider myself an avid outdoor enthusiast, and I’ve been able to find a great hike with extraordinary views each and every weekend.

This summer has been a great opportunity for personal growth, while also being exciting and fun.

James Murray in Geneva, Switzerland
James Murray in Geneva, Switzerland

Learn more about the Graduate Internships in Geneva Program

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Ana Monzon, Indonesia Happens All Around You When Doing M&E for MCC

Ana Monzon is a Robertson Fellow and a joint MPA/MAIR student who will take part in the Maxwell-in-Washington program for her Fall 2016 semester. While in Washington, DC, she will begin an internship at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Office of the Millennium Challenge Account, Indonesia- implementing entity of the MCC Compact- in Jakarta, Indonesia
Office of the Millennium Challenge Account, Indonesia- implementing entity of the MCC Compact- in Jakarta, Indonesia

“Indonesia happens all around you” was the motto of my Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) Internship at the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) this Summer. My first days here indeed were wild. On my second week, I set out on trip to what was supposed to be a field visit with MCA-I staff from the Green Prosperity (GP) project, the biggest of three projects encompassing the 600 million USD MCC Compact in Indonesia, to monitor cocoa sustainability projects. I never made it, and instead, I was stranded in a layover island for three days (mainly due to an airplane’s broken window and the airport’s remote location). It was a first introduction of all that can go wrong, but also a first wonderful experience in the remoteness of rural Indonesia. As excited as I was to begin my third week of work in Jakarta, my laptop died on the first day back in the office. After many exasperating trips to IT centers, due to the infamous Jakarta traffic, I learned that Indonesia does not carry my laptop for which reason I flew to Singapore on the last week of Ramadan, a week-long holiday!

Once my ordeal was over, almost a month later, I quickly began working on looking at the proposals/ implementation plans of the 8 grantees (e.g., Rainforest Alliance and WWF) of the GP project’s resource management activities, “Window 1”. I was charged with identifying targeted indicators tracked by the MCC’s Indicator Tracking Table, from the grantees’ proposals and developing a thematic roadmap of each; strengthening the link between indicators and the GP Theory of Change in the master M&E plan. These tasks will help support and hold grantees accountable in the coming months and as the MCC Compact comes to an end in 2018.

Excitingly so, and to get contextual background on tasks realized in the office, I also partook in field site visits (unlike in the first attempt, all ensuing visits were a SUCCESS; no broken airplane windows!) for three different purposes; monitoring grantees’ projects, in support of a high-level management delegation from the MCC headquarters in Washington D.C., and to inform a policy paper I will spearhead on another of GP’s activity, Participatory Land Use Planning, for the World Bank’s Conference on Land and Poverty 2017. In every field visit I was marveled by the diversity in Indonesia; each region’s distinct and unique languages, foods, religions, landscapes, and customs (working in MCA-I, staffed by all Indonesians, made this discovering all the more “local”). Underlying commonalities, most characteristically the friendliness and warmth of Indonesians, persisted everywhere I went.

Indeed, Indonesia happened all around me, way too quick and with much intensity, contributing to both my professional and personal growth in ways I never fathomed. This was a dream come true for an international development aspiring professional as myself, and I owe it to all the generosity of all who financially and otherwise made it happen: Terima kasih Maxwell, Robertson Foundation, Clements and Global Awards, MCC, and MCA-I!

Kupang, Indonesia- Visit to the home of smallholder family diversifying income generation through local instrument making/ selling (role of men in the picture below) and hand weaving (as assigned to women)
Kupang, Indonesia- Visit to the home of smallholder family diversifying income generation through local instrument making/ selling (role of men in the picture above) and hand weaving (as assigned to women)
Bandung, Indonesia- Field site visit to verify the progress of project from Window 1 grantee, Consortium HIVOS, and identify lessons learned on utilization of biodigesters, bioslurry and lemna (mixture of cassava flour and grass, fed to cows for extra protein, held in picture below) in West Java.
Bandung, Indonesia- Field site visit to verify the progress of project from Window 1 grantee, Consortium HIVOS, and identify lessons learned on utilization of biodigesters, bioslurry and lemna (mixture of cassava flour and grass, fed to cows for extra protein, held in picture above) in West Java
Subang, West Java- Taking notes during a site visit to Micro-hydro Power House and Cooperative PLTMH Cinta Mekar, realized by Washington D.C. MCC delegation to discuss with IBEKA, GP Window 2 grantee, and cooperative members regarding community-based renewable energy implementation
Subang, West Java- Taking notes during a site visit to Micro-hydro Power House and Cooperative PLTMH Cinta Mekar, realized by Washington D.C. MCC delegation to discuss with IBEKA, GP Window 2 grantee, and cooperative members regarding community-based renewable energy implementation
Bandung, Indonesia- Meeting of MCC and MCA-I country directors and MCC’s Washington D.C. delegation with Mayor of Sukabumi (in the middle) to discuss achievement in procurement of MCC Compact project
Bandung, Indonesia- Meeting of MCC and MCA-I country directors and MCC’s Washington D.C. delegation with Mayor of Sukabumi (in the middle) to discuss achievement in procurement of MCC Compact project
Visit to women’s traditional hand weaving cooperative, Patuh Cooperative, during field site visit in island of Lombok, Indonesia; wearing a traditional wedding dress
Visit to women’s traditional hand weaving cooperative, Patuh Cooperative, during field site visit in island of Lombok, Indonesia; wearing a traditional wedding dress
Learning how to hand-weave at Patuh Cooperative
Learning how to hand-weave at Patuh Cooperative
Selong Belanak Beach, South Lombok- Alongside staff from the GP Participatory Land Use Planning (PLUP) project activity on a remote rural beach on the way to a project site
Selong Belanak Beach, South Lombok- Alongside staff from the GP Participatory Land Use Planning (PLUP) project activity on a remote rural beach on the way to a project site

Mark Temnycky, Greeting from Ukraine

Mark Temnycky is currently taking part in the Maxwell-in-Washington program while simultaneously interning at the United States Department of Defense working on NATO policy. He also had an article published in Forbes. Check out his Forbes article>>

My name is Mark Temnycky. I am a Ukrainian-American pursuing a Master of Public Administration and a Master of Arts in International Relations. I am also seeking a Certificate of Advanced Study in the European Union and Contemporary Europe, and a Certificate of Advanced Study in National Security Studies.

This summer I was fortunate to intern at the Committee of Foreign Affairs of the Verkhovna Rada [parliament] of Ukraine, where the duration of the internship lasted 9 weeks. During this period I wrote various reports for the committee on world events and how they affected Ukraine. For example, I provided analyses on what ‘Brexit’ might mean for Ukraine’s EU membership bid; how the developments of the NATO Warsaw Summit might shape the future of national security in Eastern Europe; and the EU’s current strategies on Russian sanctions. In addition, I translated government documents from Ukrainian into English, and translated international documents, such as news reports, from English into Ukrainian.

During my days off, I was able to explore Kyiv and other regions of Ukraine, such as Lviv, to learn more about the history, culture, and traditions of Ukraine. For example, I visited the grand churches of Kyiv; the old memorials to the Soviet soldiers who had fallen during World War II; the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv, which recently started its own Master of Public Administration Program; and visited longtime friends from the Plast Ukrainian Scouting Organization. Moreover, given my particular interest in Eastern European affairs, I was fortunate to have traveled to various Eastern European countries during my time abroad. Through these trips I was able to build a stronger appreciation for Eastern European history and culture; further strengthened my Ukrainian and German language skills; developed rudimentary Russian language ability; and learned what it meant to be a citizen of Ukraine and Eastern Europe.

Overall I am very blessed and thankful for this experience. I learned more about the various administrative processes of the Verkhovna Rada and its parliamentary system, the various issues that Ukraine faces during the twenty first century, and the strength that the Ukrainian people have in order to overcome these issues. The experience was simply surreal. Thank you Ukraine!

Mark Temnycky in Ukraine
Mark Temnycky in Ukraine

Camila Urbina Escobar, Stopping Malnutrition with World Food Programme in Timor-Leste

Map of Timor-Leste & location on the globe
Map of Timor-Leste & location on the globe

Camila Urbina is a joint MPA/MAIR student who secured her internship at WFP by writing directly to country offices and looking outside well known locations. For her Fall 2016 Semester, she plans to study at Sciences Po in Paris through one of SU’s World Partner Programs.

Amongst the amazing opportunities the Maxwell School has provided me during my joint degree, this summer was certainly the most life-changing. I could have never imagined the incredible professional and personal experiences and growth that awaited me while working for the World Food Programme (WFP) in Timor-Leste.

Timor-Leste is one of the newest countries in the world, the proud and resilient Timorese gained their independence from Indonesia after a terrifying war only 16 years ago. With one million inhabitants and a young government, Timor is navigating post-conflict, much like my native Colombia, with the help of the UN.

The country has the world’s worst stunting in the world and some of the worst malnutrition numbers in Asia; this is why the World Food Programme is supporting the Timorese Ministry of Heath to conduct a mother and child nutrition programme. The programme provides nutrition screenings, education and supplementary foods for pregnant and lactating mothers and malnourished children under two years old in 6 of the most critically malnourish municipalities in the island nation. WFP is also providing technical assistance and capacity building to the Timorese so that they may eventually take full control of the program.

My three months were divided into working in the main office in the capital Dili, supporting the monitoring and evaluation department, and working in the field, providing food and nutrition education for the country’s most remote and malnourished communities in the mountains of enclave province of Oecusse.

The WFP country office in Timor is aiming at creating a social accountability mechanism to include in their nutrition program. During my time in Dili, I was tasked with creating a benchmark of the mechanisms and strategies used by those other UN agencies and NGOs in Timor to get feedback from communities and help put together a proposal to create the country office’s own social accountability system. Furthermore I was in charge of creating a gender action plan for the office, based on the guidelines provided by WFP headquarters in Rome, in order to help materialize WFP’s commitment to women empowerment and gender balance in all aspect of their work. I also supported various communication needs, writing stories, interviews and particularly covering the work in the field during international Breastfeeding week.

It was a profoundly enriching experience to be a part of the country’s learning process in matters of nutrition and social resilience and to experience not only the challenge of working with government in a different culture but more importantly the joy of serving in the remote and beautiful villages. This summer was an incredible experience, serving the resilient and loving Timorese and living amongst the wild and the unbridled beauty of their island-home has provided me with new perspectives on humanitarian work and given me the opportunity to practice all the theory provided by the Maxwell School to the benefit of the most vulnerable.

Camila Urbina in Maquelab, Timor-Leste screening a child for malnutrition on June 22, 2016
Camila Urbina in Maquelab, Timor-Leste screening a child for malnutrition on June 22, 2016
Camila Urbina celebrating Breastfeeding Week with mothers in Oecilo, Timor-Leste on August 3, 2016
Camila Urbina celebrating Breastfeeding Week with mothers in Oecilo, Timor-Leste on August 3, 2016
Camila Urbina in a nutrition screening with the community in Oecusse, Timor Leste on June 22 2016
Camila Urbina in a nutrition screening with the community in Oecusse, Timor Leste on June 22 2016

Deborah Baldwin Does Coms for The Brookings Institution

Deborah Baldwin is a recent graduate of the Public Diplomacy program. She earned a joint Master of Arts in International Relations and a Master of Science in Public Relations from the prestigious Maxwell and Newhouse schools.

From introducing me to new tools and software, giving me opportunities to perform and learn more about research, and allowing me to gain hands-on experience in engaging with their target audience, The Brookings Institution’s communications department provided me with an unforgettable internship experience. I interned this past spring semester with the organization’s social media team, which was a great experience for me being a Public Diplomacy student with an interest in research. I got to not only read much of the great research published by the institution, but I also had the opportunity to learn how to best market it to their online public audiences through tweets, Facebook posts and Medium. I would then gauge how the audience interacted to it. In addition to learning how to market others’ research, I got to perform some of my own, writing reports to help determine the direction of the department’s iTunes U channel and giving recommendations on whether and how they should engage with their public over Snapchat.

The communications department was also open to letting interns get involved in other areas and meet people working outside of their own teams. When the events intern took a new job and left, I filled in for him, checking in guests at the events, helping facilitate discussions with panelists (one of whom was Deputy Secretary of State Anthony Blinken), and learning to use attendance tracking tools to add to my resume. I also made some really great friends with whom to try out the local restaurants.

Brookings has some awesome perks, including a great cafeteria with a specialty coffee machine, a library that not only allows interns to check out an unlimited number of books for up to four weeks, but is also staffed with the sweetest librarians you’ll ever meet and a bookshelf of giveaway books, and events that are free and open to the public. I frequented all of these things, especially the coffee machine. Not only did I see Anthony Blinken at a Brookings event, but I also got to see Gayle Smith, executive director of USAID, along with Justice Stephen Breyer, Turkish President Erdogan, and Sen. John McCain. I even got to see what may have been the largest protest in the history of The Brookings Institution, conducted by Amnesty International when President Erdogan came. From a public relations perspective, it was a good experience to see how an audience might react to a decision made by your organization with which they might not agree, so I got to take advantage of a learning opportunity by going outside and talking to protestors.

This internship allowed me to gain experience in digital communications and relationship building with organizational public audiences while also giving me insight into writing research and helping me to make new contacts in the policy sector. I especially enjoyed getting to know the faces behind the Brookings social media accounts, the YouTube channels and the Brookings Cafeteria Podcast, as well as some of the researchers of the number one research institution in the world.

Deborah Baldwin at The Brookings Institution.
Deborah Baldwin at The Brookings Institution.

Learn more about the Maxwell-in-Washington program