Summer Internships 2018

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And just like that… its over

This past week at CSS was my last week at the internship. The week before was Eid al-Adha so we enjoyed the entire week off. I was invited to an Eid lunch and was very glad I got to take part in that. Each night during Eid I went downtown or to popular areas and was able to see how Jordanians celebrated the Eid. People would pray in the late morning/early afternoon and then go home and get prepared for whatever event, party, or dinner they were going to that evening. After their evening festivities, many Jordanians took to the streets to go to cafes, restaurants, and even bars. It was something I enjoyed witnessing.

Looking back at the internship, I am very happy with my time at CSS. I learned a lot about myself, research, and Jordanian society. My research I completed this summer has definitely made me a better researcher, academic, and student. I feel much more confident in my ability to conduct research and to write papers. I made contacts and friends for life. I look forward to the academic semester next week here in Jordan to improve my Arabic and knowledge of Jordanian and Arab culture!

Next Steps…

So what now after this summer? …

Well I’m not sure yet. I am currently studying abroad in Akita Japan. But in a few months it    will be time to apply for a new summer job. I don’t think I can return to breakthrough for my own good. I love my students and they begged me to return, but I also love myself. I realized have out grown the Breakthrough summer teaching fellowship and need to find a new job that will help take my career where I need to be.

Therefore, this fall when I start looking for a new job I would need to find an organization that matches my believes and will allow me to grow everyday. This time I will learn from my mistakes and use the resources that are around me. I am planning to keep in contact with someone from Dickinson’s career center in order to make sure that what I am doing is that right fit for me. This summer I made a lot of mistakes; my biggest one being not communicating with the people who would have my back no matter what happened, the INP staff.

So in short, my next step is to have a fresh start and find a job I would love doing everyday no matter the obstacles. I need a job that fits the new stage in career and life I am in.

Why I do this

Despite the unpleasant summer I had, it    will not deter my dreams of becoming a teacher. This summer was just a minor set back. I know that teaching is my passion because even though I had the worst summer of my life I still want to teach, I still want to learn, and I still want to grow. In fact after reflecting, I want to be a teacher more than ever because I know what keeps me going, I know why I do this.

The answer to why I do this is simple. I do it  for my students, my old students, my new students, and most of all my future students. If I give up after one bad summer, what kind of example would I be setting? Deep down I know this summer made me stronger. I learned that a classroom, a school, or any work environment would never be perfect. But because they are not perfect it    does not mean that I do not deserve support or that I have to put up with uncomfortable situations and degrading instances. A lot of the times this summer I felt like I couldn’t speak up about  a lot of things because I am a young professional and no one would take me seriously. However, I was wrong. Nothing should ever stop me from speaking up and demanding what I deserve. This terrible summer has taught me to respect and value myself as a professional by teaching me to speak up when I do not feel good about what’s going on around me.

Why do I teach? Why do I keep going? At this point, not only for my students, but also for myself. How can I ever advocate for my students without advocating for myself? How can students look up to me if I sometimes think my thoughts would have no value? Teaching is all about trial and error, feedback, and constant adjustments. One summer is never going to stop me from wanting to be a teacher. Instead I should look back at this summer as an error to continuously work on.

I can never stop wanting to be a teacher, I have students that will depend on me, I have students to push and inspire, and most of all I have students to learn from. Teaching is my passion and I can only hope to continue to learn and grow to bring the best me forward for  my students and for myself.

From TORs to proposal to evaluation

The humanitarian evaluation sector is of extreme importance in addressing gaps in humanitarian programs, ensuring accountability, and making sure that agencies with ample resources use them in the best possible way. This sector has the capacity to apply pressure onto these agencies in ways not generally known to the public. Civil society should have more exposure to these evaluations for them to be truly impactful. Otherwise, their goals of learning and accountability might lean more towards lofty promises, rather than substantive ideals.

I wanted to briefly outline part of the process in the making of evaluations. Dara is part of so-called frameworks made up of other similar organizations. This allows a limited number of organizations to compete in proposing evaluation plans to big humanitarian agencies. The key here is that humanitarian agencies distribute TORs, or terms of reference, which outline the program they want evaluated and details about the kind of evaluation they want. Thus, a lot of the terms are set before proposals roll in from organizations like Dara. Proposals comprise things like detailed expertise, team leaders and team members that work alongside in a coherent manner, proposed desk support by the organization, and a very detailed financial outline. Depending on the agencies involved, the geographic scope of the programs in question, or the temporal span of the evaluation, evaluations can cost between several tens of thousands of dollars to several hundred thousand. A lot of back and forth ensues in this process until the evaluating organization is finally chosen.

Whenever Dara is chosen to be the evaluating organization, team members are dispatched to the country where the program to be evaluated has taken place (though sometimes they meet in the headquarters of the organization beforehand). Our team in Madrid coordinate them as they perform the necessary fieldwork and advises them though desk support that is not directly accessible on the field location. That work can take many months and leads to a set of deliverables, many of which are compiled into the final evaluation to be presented to the commissioning organization. I have worked on precisely these evaluations, since a lot of work falls on Dara employees here. My help has evidently constituted more basic elements of the process than those that occupy my colleagues, but those have nevertheless exposed me to the complexity behind the reports. I have also had the opportunity to review alternative deliverables unique to Dara’s standards, like narrative reports containing large amounts of photography to depict a particular situation more authentically and make it appealing to larger audience beyond the usual teams responsible for evaluations at humanitarian organizations.

Last Day :(

My last day working for the Governor’s Office in the Statehouse was on Monday. It was not a typical day, because us interns had quite an interesting Speakers Series set up for us by our internship coordinator. Governor Baker was to sit down and talk to us interns for an hour or so and have some pizza with us, to get to know us a little bit and to thank us for the work we did for the state government, and to talk a little bit about some of our experiences this summer. This was pretty great; in addition to free pizza, we got to spend some time with the head of the Massachusetts Government. Instead of him talking to us, he wanted to get to know each of us a bit, so we went around the room and told him a little bit about ourselves; our name, where we are from, where we go to school, what we did as interns this summer, a funny story or experience we had from the internship, and then a fun fact about ourselves. I mentioned the fact that after working in the office of the Governor’s Council and reviewing many applications for service as a notary public, its become quite clear that a good amount of  people in Massachusetts don’t know what county they live in. I also shared that at Dickinson, I cut people’s hair in the dorm room bathrooms for a bit of extra spending money- he thought that was funny and asked if I ever had any repeat customers, which I have had many of.

After introductions, the Governor took a couple questions, but had to leave after an hour or so to keep with his very busy schedule. Still, before he left all of us interns posed for a photo or two with him, one serious and one goofy. I’ll attach them to this post.

It was a great experience to work in the Statehouse and get the opportunity to see what working in state government looks like on the inside. I want to thank you guys for reading my posts and joining in on this experience through this blog, and hope you maybe learned a thing or two from my experiences as well. It was a great summer of interning and working in Boston and I hope your summers were great as well. I am flying off to Bologna, Italy in a couple of days for a semester abroad. My Italian is a little bit rusty after a summer of English only, so wish me luck!

-Nathaniel

Sample work

This is a version of a video I created on the RRI for a side meeting that took place during a larger conference. The video was aimed to be a background animation to help attendees visualize the ideas being presented. Creating the video and the visualizations it contains was the result of lots of discussion with RRI team members regarding the means and the goal of the index.

That’s a wrap

Time flies. I just never thought it would be that fast. This week marks the end of my 3-month internship at AhaMove where I have grown so much both professionally and personally.

This internship enables me to improve my technical knowledge and skills in data analytics. As a data analysis intern, I could access to all databases of AhaMove without limitation, understand about data structure and play around with many datasets. From writing ad-hoc queries to creating more complicated report and analysis, I was able to apply my learning at Dickinson such as statistical background from math courses in building models and business mindset through economics courses in approaching problems, which was one of learning objectives for this internship. Working on some big projects along with other colleagues in my team, not only did I learn a lot about different programming languages such as SQL, R and Python, but I also obtained more insights of data and its development trend in Vietnam.

Along with the promising potentials, this internship gives me an exposure to the challenges in this field as well. Rooted in my lack of knowledge and experience, these challenges sometimes made me feel unmotivated and thus wonder whether this career journey is truly for me. Often time, what hampers people from achieving their goals is not the difficulty itself but their fear of experimenting, failing and taking risks. What matters the most here is the way I face it, deal with it and win against it to pursue the chosen path. The long-lasting “battle” may occur internally in our mind instead of being controlled by any external factors, and will settle once I figure things out myself. It takes time but it works. Again, perseverance is a key of success.

I mentioned so many times on my blog how much I love AhaMove’s working environment and I am sure that the reason comes from its people. They are young, carefree and may be inexperienced, but always energetic, passionate and inspiring. With their support and care for me and for each other, I have learned how mutual bonds beyond the office can help strengthen connections between every team member and leverage the productivity of the team as a whole. As the youngest one in the team, I was always instructed, fostered and cared for, which made it so hard to say goodbye. Words cannot describe how grateful I am for having a chance to meet and work with these amazing coworkers. The mentorship and connections I have at AhaMove are so valuable to me because I have learned so much from their talents and prior experiences with which I could have a clearer career orientation based on their recommendation and guidance.

It has been my pleasure to work as a data analyst intern of the Business Intelligence department at AhaMove. This is so far the most memorable summer of my college life, thanks to the internship. I look forward to exploring myself further to find my own way and keep moving forward in the future. Hopefully in that journey, I will have more career opportunities like this internship again.

Our team winning the 1st prize of the office decorating contest for our company's 3rd birthday
Our team winning the 1st prize of the office decorating contest for our company’s 3rd birthday

Finishing your internship – last impressions

It’s important that whatever you do on the last day of working as an intern, that you leave on a good note. You can do this by continuing to work hard throughout the day. Not only will this type of effort be impressive to your supervisor, but it could be something that they remember about you when future employers call on them as a reference. My last task of my internship was putting materials in folders for our Executive Director, for meetings he would have with political leaders and potential donors. To say the least, these packets had to look good so that the people that the Executive Director would meet with would have a positive impression of the work our organization does. On my last day, it was actually the day that I was at the work for the latest, since there were quite a lot of these packets to make and I was assigned to make them very late in the working day. I was focused on doing a good job on these packets, and in hindsight, I’m very glad that I put a lot of effort into them. Finish strong!

Almost Over

This past week marked the 8th and penultimate week of my internship at the Center for Strategic Studies at the University of Jordan. I had quite a busy week. Not only did I have deadlines to meet at my internship, I was also busy being a personal tour guide in Amman! My professor’s nephew from Turkey was visiting Jordan and she was unable to take him around and show him all the wonderful sites Amman has to offer, so I agreed to take him around Amman. Many of the attractions and sites I took him to I had already seen, but it was very interesting seeing them from a new perspective- a student/researcher living in Amman and very familiar with the city and its history. I was able to appreciate these sites and the history of city in a way I had not before.

At the internship, a few of the fall interns arrived to help replace the summer interns that had departed. This coming week I have off all week because of Eid al-Adha on Tuesday. Eid (as it is commonly known) is the biggest celebration in Islam. The city is bustling even moreso than usual with people scrambling to buy their Eid outfits and accessories. I have been invited to an Eid lunch by a colleague and am looking forward to attending this special celebration. After this week, I will be at the center for my last week and tying up loose ends and finishing up research before my semester starts in two weeks!

(all interns gave consent to this photo being posted on my blog!)

Politics in the Statehouse

Hi folks,

I write this the weekend before my last week of my internship in the governor’s office. Although the internship is winding down, the State House has been very busy, especially the Governor’s Council, which I have been working for this summer. The political environment in the state house has been pretty contentious lately, especially regarding the judicial branch of the Massachusetts government. As a result of a couple of tragedies that have occurred in the state this summer, where repeat law breakers have murdered a couple police officers and other innocent people in the state, many outraged people have questioned why judges in the state have failed to keep violent criminals in jail instead of out on bail or parole. Because the Governor’s Council is group of elected councilors who review and make decisions on the judicial appointments made by the governor, the councilors have come under fire a bit as well because they gave jobs to the judges that have been causing problems. As a result, the hearings that have been occurring lately for recent appointees have been long and very thorough. Some of the main issues that the councilors have been grilling appointees lately on are the ones relating to public safety- maximum and minimum sentences, bail hearings, second amendment issues, ect.

Usually after the council holds its hearings on Wednesdays, Lieutenant Governor Polito chairs an official meeting of the council, where they formally vote on appointees, but last Wednesday, instead of the Lt. Governor chairing the meeting, Governor Baker took her place and was the head of the meeting. Although I have seen him in passing many times as I spend a good amount of time in his office, (Council meetings and hearings occur in his section of the state house, and actually occur in the room next door to his office. ) it was cool to see the most powerful Massachusetts government official, Mr. Baker, at work. The parents of a slain police Sean Gannon officer from Yarmouth, who was shot and killed by a man who was already on probation for previous crimes and was wanted for violation of these probationary terms for owning an unregistered firearm, addressed the council and Governor Baker as well on Wednesday, imploring them to put more thought into who they appoint to be a judge, as they have a hand in keeping violent criminals off of the streets. This tragedy occurred last April, and was very sad, but very important, to hear the words of his parents regarding the responsibility the Councilors have to promote public safety by appointing well qualified judges who recognize their role in creating a safe state for Massachusetts residents.

Next Monday, the Governor is meeting with us interns for an hour to answer some of our questions and tell us a little bit about what being the Governor of Massachusetts is like, so stay tuned!