Monthly Archives: June 2013

Summer Internship Series #2

Our second internship post is from Natasha, MPP post grad 2014.

I’ve just finished my sixth week at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFRPI). IFPRI is pronounced “if- pre,” which I didn’t learn until three weeks of being that intern who mispronounces the acronym. Don’t worry guys, I’m making Batten proud! IFPRI is a policy think tank that specializes in “sustainable solutions for ending hunger and poverty.” They do a lot of program analysis for the World Bank.

My summer project is to evaluate an innovative poverty reduction model in Tanzania that the Bank launched in 2011. The program is the first time a conditional cash transfer (CCT) was combined with a community-driven development (CDD) framework.

CCT’s are welfare programs that are conditional upon receivers’ actions. For example, the program I’m evaluating requires that all participating households meet the following education and health conditionalities:

  1. all children age 7-15 must attend school, with a minimum 80% attendance rate
  2. all children age 0-5 must visit a health facility three times a year
  3. elderly household members (60+ years) must visit a health facility once a year

CCT’s represent a more holistic approach to poverty reduction- they aim to reduce short-term poverty with direct cash transfers, while also fighting long-term poverty by increasing human capital among the poor. CCT’s have had major successes, such as in Brazil where the Bolsa program saw poverty rates fall by 27.7% among treated households.

In the CCD framework, the poor are treated as partners in the development process. The model was developed in the 1990s when it became clear that the socio-political complexities of the field made topdown, state-led big development strategies ineffective. CCD initiatives give control of the development process, resources, and decision making to a community group. The underlying assumption is that communities are the best judge of how their lives and livelihoods can be improved, rather than an international group coming and saying, “we’re going to do this with the funds.” CCDs also offer the added benefit (at times) of ripple effects that include promoting equity, inclusiveness, efficiency and good governance.

The project I’m helping to evaluate represents the first time this combo-model has been tried, anywhere. So far the program has been evaluated at the baseline and midline (18 months after implementation) and I’m now working on the endline evaluation. I’ll be sure to report back on our findings- but (spoiler alert) we’re already seeing some exciting improvements!

It’s crazy how much Batten-knowledge I’ve used so far. My project, at times, feels like IPA II: The Eightfold Path Never Ends. And, I’ve now logged my 217th hour in Stata where I’ve been using…instrumental variables. Remember when we all considered skimming that chapter? Ha.

While our first year was challenging and grey-hair inducing, it feels good to look back and realize that all that work has now allowed me to be entrusted with interesting and meaningful work. (….Someone please remind me of this come midterms this fall!)

 

 

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Summer Internship Series #1

Our first internship post is from Victoria, MPP post grad 2014.

As a native of the New Jersey/New York area, the idea of spending a summer in the Midwest terrified me. Prior to my departure out west, Madison reminded me that although Kansas City was not New York City (and not by an ocean), it was still very much a city with restaurants, bars, coffee shops, and shopping. Accepting the fact that I was going to spend my summer in Kansas City was the moment I realized I was adding this city to the list of my adventures, and I knew I needed to embrace the experience.

What is there to do and see in Kansas City? Well, here are a few of the “fun facts” I have learned so far:

  • Kansas City is home to the best BBQ in the country.
  • It is home to the only national World War I museum.
  • Sprint and Hallmark Cards are headquartered here.
  • You can tour the Harley Davidson Factory.
  • Kansas City ignored the prohibition during the 1920s.
  • Kansas City is home to the largest maker of boxed chocolates in the world.

I have only been here for a little more than three weeks, but I can tell you there is a lot more to do here than I anticipated. Spoiler alert: the Batten motto, “Policy is everywhere, lead from anywhere” actually applies.

I am currently in Kansas City because I found my dream internship. After months of networking, submitting applications, and phone conversations, I landed a position with a Fortune 100 company, doing exactly what I came to Batten for — Corporate Social Responsibility. Although it was not an easy ride, I learned throughout the duration of my internship search that perseverance, dedication, and hard work do eventually pay off. I have the distinct pleasure of working with extremely talented and bright individuals. These women and men teach me something new every day, and ensure that I am getting the most out of my 10 weeks here.

So far, I have had the opportunity to explore multiple sides of this business, while also meeting with highly experienced and ranked professionals within the organization. Admittedly, there were times when I didn’t think I had chosen the right education to get me where I wanted to be. But, by the end of year 1 at Batten I realized that the skills I was learning in Garrett could and would help me anywhere as long as I tailored them specifically to what I wanted to do.

Kansas City has indeed been an adventure so far, but this ride is nowhere near over. I have met wonderful people, mentors, and friends, who I know will make this summer an adventure to remember. I have a little over 8 weeks left to visit a number of destinations including the Boulevard Brewing Company, The Roasterie, and Oklahoma Joe’s. I will keep you posted on how this adventure unravels, but I will let you know that apparently the best BBQ in the country is served out of a gas station…

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Summer Internship Series

Summer 2013 is well underway and dozens of rising second-year MPPers are completing internships all over the country.  The incoming Batten Council will use this blog to inform the Batten community and prospective students of just a few of the internship experiences that are occurring this summer.  Use the tag or category “internships” to follow this series of posts.

All students completing internships are welcome to write a blog post to share their internship experience.  Contact Luke (lkh3g@virginia.edu) or Alex (iad8f@virginia.edu).

 

 

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