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Field Work: Eight Students Interning with UNICEF

Eight Middlebury Institute students are completing internships with UNICEF this academic year across five different country offices, representing diverse 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 provides exclusive access to certain internships to Institute students.

“We’re thrilled to see this agreement formalize and clarify the process,” said Carolyn Taylor Meyer, director of immersive professional learning at the Institute. “It should help ensure we have a steady stream of students interning at UNICEF and hopefully launching coveted UN careers. The Institute is now 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.

Elena Klein

Joint MPA/MA in International Education Management (MPA/IEM) student working on nutrition with UNICEF Nigeria, Akwa Ibom State.

Please tell us about the work you’re doing in Nigeria.

“I work on the data management chain—data validation and basically system strengthening for the data collection system. One thing I’ve learned at Middlebury is that every program or policy should be evidence based as much as possible. That seems obvious, but it’s actually quite difficult to get put into place—to get that evidence, to analyze it, then to show the people making the policies and programs why it’s so important. So, that’s what I’m interested in and I’m working on that skillset here.”

Katherine Treat

MA in International Policy and Development (IPD) student pursuing a practicum with the UNICEF Evaluation Office in New York.

Can you describe the work you’ve been doing through your UNICEF internship?

The UNICEF Evaluation Office supports the work of other offices within UNICEF, either at the regional level or at the country level, with programming that helps support children and their caregivers. So, for each program, it’s really important to understand whether it’s actually working. We have these goals, we set up this project or activity or intervention, and we want to make sure that how we’re implementing it is actually working and achieving the goals we set out to achieve. That’s where evaluation comes in—being able to track whether the activities you’re doing are leading to the outcomes you want. The Evaluation Office supports the work of these regional and country offices in how they are able to evaluate their programs.

What would you tell future students about this internship?

“I was nervous, but surprisingly prepared for this experience. I was definitely a little intimidated at first when I found out I had this opportunity to be at UNICEF because it’s a UN fund, and it has so much prestige with it. I wasn’t sure I could fill those shoes and be everything that UNICEF needed me to be as an intern, and I found that I was really prepared for my internship, actually. I had already learned a lot of the basic skills and background I needed for the job I’d be doing. What I’m doing is a little technical and MIIS definitely prepared me for that by providing courses that had technical skills associated with them.”

How did this kind of opportunity factor into your decision to pursue a degree at the Institute?

“I did notice that the Institute had a strong focus on professional learning, which was exactly what I was looking for. You can see that past practicum experiences have taken place with other UN agencies, the US government, other governments abroad, and large international organizations. That’s what I was interested in doing, and I did see through the career services center here at the Institute that there were a lot of opportunities to get exposure to larger NGOs, which is essentially why I came back to school and it’s the space I want to work in.”

In addition to Treat and Klein, the following Institute students are completing UNICEF internships this spring and summer: Steven Vetarbo in Ghana; Eryn Wang at 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 the UNICEF positions, there are also Institute students serving at UNODC in Vienna, UNFPA in Togo, IOM in Washington, DC, and UNOCT, UNODA, UNDP, and UNIDIR in New York.

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