Field work: Eight students on internship at UNICEF
Eight students from the Middlebury Institute are doing internships with UNICEF this academic year in five different country offices, representing various work assignments.
This year’s cohort is larger than usual, thanks to an agreement signed last summer between UNICEF and the Institute’s Immersive Professional Learning, Employer Outreach and Partnerships teams. The agreement gives exclusive access to certain internships for students of the Institute.
“We are excited to see this agreement formalize and clarify the process,” said Carolyn Taylor Meyer, Director of Immersive Professional Learning at the Institute. “This should help us ensure that we have a steady flow of students interning at UNICEF and hopefully launching coveted careers at the UN. The Institute is currently exploring a similar sponsorship partnership with other UN organizations.
We spoke with two of the interns – Elena Klein MPA/MAIEM ’23 and Katherine Treat MAIPD ’22 – about their experiences so far and how it has enhanced their education and professional development.
Joint MPA/MA student in International Education Management (MPA/IEM) working on nutrition with UNICEF Nigeria, Akwa Ibom State.
Please tell us about the work you are doing in Nigeria.
“I work on the data management chain: data validation and basically system strengthening for the data collection system. One thing I learned at Middlebury is that every program or policy should be evidence-based as much as possible. It sounds obvious, but it’s actually quite difficult to put in place — to get that evidence, to analyze it, and then to show the people who are making the policies and programs why it’s so important. So that’s what interests me and I’m working on that skill set here.
Master’s student in International Policy and Development (IPD) for an internship at the UNICEF Evaluation Office in New York.
Can you describe the work you did during your internship at UNICEF?
The UNICEF Evaluation Office supports the work of other offices within UNICEF, regionally or nationally, with programs that help support children and their caregivers. So for every program it is really important to understand if it actually works. We have these goals, we put in place this project, activity or intervention, and we want to make sure that the way we implement it really works and achieves the goals we set for ourselves. This is where evaluation comes in, being able to determine if the activities you are carrying out are leading to the desired results. The Evaluation Office supports the work of these regional and country offices in how they are able to evaluate their programs.
What would you say to future students of this internship?
“I was nervous, but surprisingly prepared for this experience. I was definitely a bit intimidated at first when I found out I had this opportunity to be at UNICEF because it’s a United Nations fund. , and he has so much prestige with him I wasn’t sure I could fill those shoes and be everything UNICEF needed me to be as an intern, and found out I was really prepared for my internship, actually. I had already learned a lot of basic skills and knowledge that I needed for the job I was going to do. What I do is a bit technical and MIIS definitely helped me prepared for this by offering courses that had associated technical skills.
How was this kind of opportunity factored into your decision to pursue studies at the Institute?
“I noticed that the Institute had a strong focus on professional learning, which was exactly what I was looking for. You can see that past internship experiences have taken place with other UN agencies, the US government, other overseas governments, and major international organizations. That’s what I was interested in doing, and I saw through the career services center here at the Institute that there was a lot of opportunity to be exposed to larger NGOs, which is basically why I went back to school and it’s the space I want to work in.”
In addition to Treat and Klein, the following Institute students are interning with UNICEF this spring and summer: Steven Vetarbo in Ghana; Eryn Wang of the UNICEF Evaluation Office in New York; Katarina Zomer at UNICEF ECARO in Turkey; Tuyisenge Dina at UNICEF Cambodia; Lameese Madi at UNICEF Madagascar; and Michael Coughlen in Nigeria. In addition to UNICEF posts, students from the Institute also serve with UNODC in Vienna, UNFPA in Togo, IOM in Washington, D.C., and UNOCT, UNODA, UNDP, and the United Nations. ‘UNIDIR in New York.