Tag Archives: internship

Summer Series: Crisostomo Ala ’18 and CRS Ecuador

By: Crisostomo Ala ’18

The purpose of my internship with CRS Ecuador is twofold: to gain work experience, insight, and involvement in the development sector and to understand the field operations of development NGOs whom I used to collaborate with when I worked for the consulting industry.

Upon my arrival in Ecuador, I was sent to Esmeraldas from Quito to support the shelter, water, and sanitation project of CRS which provided low cost housing and latrines to the most vulnerable communities affected by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake of April 2016. The city was characterized by economic activity limited to the production and sale of mostly agricultural goods and also, by poor infrastructure investments concretized by unfinished buildings along the province’s coastline. Esmeraldas is locally known as a tourist destination and such investments were intended to be profitable hotels and tourist attractions. However, after last year’s calamity, they were immediately abandoned placing a great strain on the area’s economic development.

I was assigned to the project’s operations where we had to acquire raw material to manufacture into housing parts that can be delivered and assembled on site. I handled inventory, monitoring and evaluation of delivered parts, and payroll of drivers who delivered these parts. My main role was to ensure that the beneficiaries received the correct amount of parts and in good quality for them to be able to construct their houses. By fulfilling my role, I was able to be involved in the implementation of the project on the ground. Furthermore, I was also able to observe how the specific process I handled was integrated to the project as a whole and how each procedure was meant to ensure donors that budgets are being spent in a cost-effective manner. The main purpose of this was to optimize operations so that the least amount of money was being spent while retaining the same level of quality in project delivery. In essence, the goal was to spend optimally so that the savings from one project can be used in other program efforts.

As such, by contributing the operations side of the project, I was able to gather sufficient understanding of how projects are executed on the ground. I can use such experience in the future when applying for career opportunities in development NGOs, like CRS and other similar organizations as well.

Moreover, apart from merely being part of the process ensuring seamless transactions at the operational level, I was also enabled to observe and understand how NGOs function at the field level. Previous work experience in the consulting industry taught me that the performance of NGOs is measured by the utility they bring and the cost-effectiveness of their operations. I was able to observe this from the HR side for the past 6 years, how one can improve operations while optimizing salaries and benefits, one of the biggest costs of an organization. Similarly, from this internship, I was able to learn the importance of cost optimization not just at the regional level, but also at the field level when it came to the execution of procurement transactions of raw materials for a shelter and water sanitation project. It was indeed a learning experience for me as it provided the link I was searching for between field operations and regional operations.

Overall, it was an experience filled with lessons both on international development level and actual project implementation on the ground. This internship trained me to respond to unforeseen circumstances in the field and have contingency plans in place for such instances which will be very helpful for either a career in development or HR consulting. Being involved at the field level allows one to understand local circumstances, gain anticipatory insight in project development, and adapt project execution to the local level whenever circumstance dictates to ensure seamless delivery.

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Summer Series: Jackie Yap ’18 and the Diplomatic Fellowship at the Holy See Mission to the UN

By: Jackie Yap

Photo credits: Anna Fata, Holy See Mission to the UN

After finishing my IPED courses last December 2016, I began my full-time, six-month fellowship at the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the UN (Holy See Mission) on January of 2017. The Holy See Mission is the diplomatic section representing the Vatican at the UN.

As a diplomatic fellow, my day comprised mainly of attending meetings and conferences at the UN headquarters. Occasionally, I would stay at the Mission office to attend briefings, discuss my insights with my supervisor, and write my reports. At the meetings, I listened to ambassadors, heads of states, and experts give statements on economic, social, and political issues. Since it is a small group, I was privileged to shadow negotiators and get a preview of what their day-to-day was like, especially during negotiations.

 

Given my training in Political Economy and Development, I was assigned to follow the various commissions and political negotiations in Economic and Social Committees (2nd and 3rd committee, respectively). In these commissions, I gained a better and multi-disciplinary understanding of the global discourse on various socio-economic issues surrounding Women Empowerment and Gender Equality, Indigenous people’s issues, Ocean Conservation and Preservation, Science and Technology, and Human Rights. I was assigned to manage and coordinate the staff reports during the 2-week long Commission on Status of Women week March 2017. It was a hectic yet unforgettable experience.

I looked forward to each week because it was different from one to the next. The variety gave me plenty of opportunity to learn about different issues around the globe. It was challenging to digest a lot of information but the training I received from Economic and Political Science courses taught me to write comprehensively and concisely. The summary reports that I have written and organized were eventually submitted to the head office in Rome, Italy.

It is also worth noting the collegiate and familial atmosphere at the Mission. We began with a morning meeting and since lunch was served, everyone had to sit in one large table and talk to each other. The attachés, including the ambassador, His Excellency Archbishop Bernardito Auza, were my mentors and they were generous in sharing their knowledge with the interns.

I landed this fellowship through IPED’s program partnership with the Holy See Mission. While I had to undergo the internship application process, Dr. Schwalbenberg, the program director, had been very supportive and generous, providing me the funding in order to make the experience possible.

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Coverdell Fellows at Fordham IPED

Michael Johnson at the Fordham BID

Michael Johnson during his duties at the Fordham BID

Each year the IPED program, in conjunction with the Peace Corps Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program, offers several Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) an academic fellowship to attend Fordham IPED. Recipients of the fellowship are partnered to work with a local community development organization. Last year, IPED offered five fellowships to incoming graduate students for the class of 2018. Each of the fellows has an internship with a Bronx community partner to gain experience in urban development in the United States.

Erika Cox, Class of 2018

Erika Cox with a community art piece for the Fordham BID

 

Michael Johnson and Erika Cox are both partnered with the Fordham Road Business Improvement District (BID), an organization comprised of local retailers who promote business development and improve the quality of life along Fordham Road, a major retail street serving various immigrant and low-income communities in the Bronx. Michael works in a role as Business Outreach Coordinator and managing the team of Fordham undergraduate interns. Erika spends her time coordinating public affairs campaigns, planning art beautification projects, and as the organization partner liaison.

Kelsey Garcia, Class of 2018

Kelsey Garcia during filming of a promotional video for the Belmont Community

Kelsey Garcia is partnered with the Belmont BID, to promote the economic wellbeing of the business community by promotion of the “Little Italy in the Bronx” brand and its strong ethnic heritage and leadership in the community. The BID’s focus areas are sanitation, security, marketing and promotion, cultural programming, and streetscape improvements. Kelsey is a community relations intern and was recently featured in a promotional commercial for the community.

Jessica Way, Class of 2018, at UNHP

Jessica Way at the UNHP 2016 Fundraiser

Jessica Way is a research intern at University Neighborhood Housing Program (UNHP), a north-west Bronx non-profit dedicated to improving affordable housing attainment in the community. UNHP achieves its mission by issuing low interest loans and providing technical assistance to community leaders and affordable housing managers through the Northwest Bronx Resource Center. UNHP has a blog with more information.

Cody Harder, Class of 2018

Cody Harder works with the Fordham Bedford Housing Corporation (FBHC) as a Project Development Intern. The Project Development Department is responsible for construction projects from beginning to the completion and closing.

All Coverdell Fellows are full-time students pursing their internships on a part time (12 hours per week) basis.

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Student Spotlight: Liya Khalikova at the United Nations’ Counterterrrorism Executive Directorate

Liya Khalikova (IPED ‘18) is an intern with the UN Counterterrorism Executive Directorate (CTED) at the UN Headquarters in New York City. CTED  was created in 2004 to strengthen and coordinate the global terrorism monitoring process and to support the United Nations’ Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee, established in 2001. CTED currently employs approximately 40 individuals, primarily holding roles as legal, political, and human rights affairs officers.

Liya Khalikova, IPED Class of 2018

Liya’s position is in the public information section, helping CTED’s communications advisor. Her daily responsibilities include compiling media digests, assisting with social media, drafting posts/documents, assisting in the organization of briefings and meetings, taking notes in said briefings, helping with research, etc. LIya says of her work: “Tasks are not limited to anything in particular and are based on the sphere of my interests. I can [always] find something exciting to do!”

Liya, who is a Fulbright Student from Russia, says that the internship has allowed her to become more comfortable writing in English and has exposed her to the unique “UN language.” She continues to say, “Part of my internship was helping to translate committee’s website into Russian which took a lot of time and effort. The Russian version of the website should be online sometime soon.”

Liya and her fellow interns at the CTED

Liya found the internship through the UN careers website and applied by filling out a standard UN application on Inspira. After several weeks she was called for an interview. The whole process took around a month. Initially the position was for three months, but was then prolonged for an additional three months.

Liya shared the following advice for those applying for internships. “Apply for positions that have a direct interest to you and can impact your future career, and be patient – sometimes the recruitment process, even for an internship, can take several months.”
Liya pursues her studies with IPED as a full time student and Fulbright Fellow while fulfilling her internship duties on a part-time basis.

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Student Spotlight: Alex Zakrzewski at the United Nations’ Department of Public Information

Alex Zakrzewski (IPED ‘18) is interning for the United Nations’ Department of Public Information, NGO Relations & Advocacy Section (DPI/NGO). The office is tasked with serving a liaison between civil society and the United Nations. The NGO Relations Section within the United Nations’ DPI is the link with approximately 1,500 Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) who are partners and members in association with the Department of Public Information and support the UN efforts to disseminate information on the priority issues on its agenda, including sustainable development, creating a safer and more secure world, the importance of prevention, helping countries in transition, empowering women and young people, and addressing poverty, among others.

Alex at the DPI/NGO

Specifically, Alex is on the association team which includes reviewing documentation of NGOs’ applying for formal association with DPI. His tasks include reviewing and verifying these NGOs’ documents and work and fielding questions concerning the attainment of association status. He also works with the association team on examining their current NGOs annual reviews, reports demonstrating their continued commitment to the UN’s agenda and goals.

Alex’s work-space at the DPI/NGO office

Alex shared his thoughts on his most recent weekly briefing: “Last week’s [briefing] was a particularly successful gathering with over 400 attendees and focused on faith-based NGOs and their work with refugees. The briefing was led by a strong multi-faith panel including individuals from Islamic Relief Society, UNICEF, the US Department of State, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was very well received and particularly poignant given the state of current world affairs.”

Alex found his position through an email received from the Fordham Alumni Office and applied via the United Nations Inspira portal with the engagement and support of a Fordham staff member who frequently participates in UN activities.  

The United Nations Headquarters

Alex is a part time student in the IPED program while he performs his duties with the DPI.

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