I completed all four of my learning goals for this summer. I created well over 4 MRE Data Tools for Peace Corps, attended 25 professional development workshops put on by Peace Corps and/or other agencies, spoke with 5 professionals in the field of international development and read two Programming and Training manuals from the PC Knowledge and Learning Unit. In addition to completing my specific goals I worked on many other projects throughout my internship experience including: research, preparing materials for PC workshops, graphic design and Standard Sector Indicator revisions.
I will continue to use the knowledge I learned, through my internship experience, to enhance my education at Tulane. I understand how the fundamentals taught in my classes apply to real world experiences and situations. This has also shown me how important learning the fundamentals are.
I have only scratched the surface of monitoring and evaluation as a field through my internship. I hope to learn more about the different processes within M&E and continue to learn more about data analysis, data-driven decision making and application. My experience at Peace Corps has opened my eyes to a new side of international development that could be a very interesting career path in the future.
If a student is interested in getting an internship in this field I would suggest network, network, network. It pays to know people and sometimes that means either getting the job or not. I have learned how competitive international development jobs are and how useful it can be to make connections.
In general, my view of social justice has been reinforced. My beliefs have not changed but rather strengthened. It is our civic duty to engage the world’s problems and to provide sustainable solutions as a citizen of the world. My internship has provided great insight into effective change, leadership and civic engagement.
As I will be starting my fifth week at Peace Corps, I am almost exactly half way through my internship. One week in I came up with objectives/ goals I wanted to achieve during my time at Peace Corps and shared them with both of my supervisors to hold me accountable. My objectives were the following:
- By July 1st I will have created my own Data Tools and uploaded them onto the Peace Corps Intranet for posts abroad to use.
- By July 20th I will have attended 20 professional development workshops put on by Peace Corps (i.e. Brown Bags, lectures, Lynda.com tutorials, etc.).
- By the end of the summer I will have spoken to three different professionals in the field of international development regarding the path they took to get to where they are today (i.e. masters programs, PC, field experience, etc.).
- By the end of my internship I will have read two Programming and Training manuals from the Knowledge and Learning Unit.
So far I have completed objective 1 (well before the objective date). In regards to objective 2, I have attended 10 professional development workshops put on by Peace Corps. I may have to extend the deadline to a more realistic one but we will see as time goes on. I currently have one lunch meeting set up with the head of the Evaluation Unit at PC and a coffee meeting set up with one of my supervisors to discuss my future, how they ended up at PC, where they’ve worked previously, etc. (objective 3). And finally, I am half way through objective 4, having read one training manual on the role of the volunteer in development and the promotion of capacity building.
The goal setting was just one of the ways I have tried to make the most of my internship. I have such a fabulous opportunity working for, what I would argue, the coolest federal agency. I have an excel table with my goals and check-in dates to meet with my supervisor and assess my progress. I also created an excel document to monitor and track the activities, tasks and seminars I attend. I’ve also reached out to meet with people in the office to look over my resume and discuss interview skills.
Objective 1 is what I am most proud of. For the first two weeks I was solely responsible for uploading data collection tools, made by sector specialists and our resident MRE employee responsible for data collection tools. Finally, it was my turn to create, design and develop my own data collection tools, in conjunction with the CED sector specialist, for the Community Economic Development sector. They are now on the PC Intranet page for posts and volunteers to use abroad. They will improve the overall data quality.
Everyday I learn something new and everyday I am even more grateful for this opportunity. All of the skills I have learned and will be learning in the future are transferable to my career and marketable to future employers. I am gaining real world experience with the government and it’s intoxicating.
This summer I am interning at the Peace Corps Headquarters in Washington, D.C. in the unit of Monitoring & Evaluation (M&E) under the Office of Overseas Programming and Training Support (OPATS). There are three goals of the Peace Corps and remarkably, they are the same three goals instituted by the agency at its creation under President John F. Kennedy. The goals are the following: to help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women, to help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples serve and to help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans. I find the first goal to be extremely unique in comparison to other development and diplomacy organizations and agencies. The Peace Corps only sets up posts in countries that request PC Volunteers.
In the M&E unit, I am responsible for a variety of tasks including: creating visuals and graphics, improving data collection tools, updating data collection sheets and attending all relevant OPATS and M&E meetings. There are also more tasks and responsibilities that pop up as the summer continues.
I was given a contact at the PC through a family friend and emailed her asking abut internship opportunities for the summer. She then forwarded me to the person responsible for finding interns and a few weeks later I heard back after my interview that I had secured the internship.
Overall, my first week has been absolutely more than I could have ever imagined. The agency as a whole is incredible and filled with talented and passionate employees. I have been given real projects to work on and treated as a team member. The PC has Brown Bags where upon returning back from abroad (either training posts, doing field work or research), employees share their experiences with their coworkers. I’ve gone to a few of these lectures and have learned so much (about literacy workshops in the Pacific island of Tonga, the first PC trip to Nepal, etc.). There is also a PC Library that includes travel books, language cds and books and training manuals used for PCVs that employees are allowed to check out. In addition, there is always food and snacks from a variety of different countries around the world available around the office and every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday there are free Yoga, Zumba and Pilates classes. One thing I found surprising and very cool is that the Peace Corps not only recycles but composts!
My expectations are high for the rest of the summer. I’ve interned at other organizations and I can honestly say this one is extremely unique. I know the agency is going to not only use me to the fullest but improve my understanding and knowledge of M&E, development and diplomacy.