In the U.S. and Beyond, SPIA Students Travel the Globe for Internship Experience
When students from Princeton’s School of Public and International Affairs take what they have learned inside the classroom to the outside world, the knowledge becomes proof of concept. This year, nearly 70 SPIA students completed external internships — with federal, local, and state agencies, non-profit organizations, and private sector entities in a variety of fields — to further their understanding of public and domestic policy and international relations.
Below, SPIA students share some of their favorite internship moments from 2023.
Sara Clark MPA ’24
Internship location: The White House
The internship experience: I had a fantastic experience interning at the White House Domestic Policy Council, where I worked on the education team. Every day was different, but I spent a lot of my time drafting memos and one-pagers to inform decision-makers on issues in early childhood, K-12, and higher education. I also worked with federal agencies and stakeholders outside of the government, often having meetings each day to inform and implement policy with these groups. One of my favorite parts about working at the White House was supporting events that brought together folks from across the country to work together and share ideas on the most pressing issues in education. These events provided cool opportunities to meet some of the people affected by the issues I'd been working on. I'd definitely recommend a White House internship to anyone interested. It was one of the best professional experiences I've had, and I learned a remarkable amount in just 10 weeks.
Justin Schuster MPA ’24
Internship location: City of Philadelphia
The internship experience: Prior to SPIA, I spent seven years writing about public policy in a small, non-profit newsroom in the Middle East and with a foreign policy think tank in New York City. In these capacities, I informed policymakers about the war in Syria and educated students about the issues that shape today’s world. However, I came to graduate school to transition from a career writing about policy to one built around designing and implementing it. With this goal in mind, I had the fantastic opportunity to spend the summer interning with the Policy and Strategic Initiatives team at the City of Philadelphia’s Managing Director’s Office (MDO). Given the cross-cutting nature of the MDO, which oversees the City’s operating departments, any given day could entail conducting policy research on gun violence prevention and supportive housing initiatives, facilitating focus group meetings on Philadelphia’s school crossing guard program, and enjoying coffee chats with experts leading the City’s climate and sustainability efforts. In a summer filled with many memorable experiences, one highlight certainly had to have been the unique opportunity to drive a car in President Biden’s motorcade during one of his visits to Philadelphia. I am immensely grateful to have had this deeply meaningful introduction to government service — all while supporting a city I care so much about.
Brontë Forsgren MPA ’24
Internship location: Innovations for Poverty Action
The internship experience: This summer, I interned for the Right-Fit Evidence Team at Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) in their Kampala, Uganda, office. While with IPA, I assisted on two main projects. The first was completing process evaluations for a group of seven partners seeking to improve education services in refugee camps in Northern Uganda. For this project, I led literature reviews and completed quantitative analyses of program data to see if the program's models were being implemented correctly and if they were leading to initial impacts. For another project, I worked with three organizations seeking to expand early childhood education in Uganda, Rwanda, and Zambia. I also helped design an upcoming impact evaluation of one of the programmatic models and edited a blog series on the partners' successes. I'm really thankful for the opportunity I had to complete this internship. Deepening my experience in the research and evaluation space helped me build knowledge and connections as I continue with my career. In particular, the ability to travel to Uganda and conduct work on the ground was very informative and helped me always remember that the focus of research should be improving people's lives.
Maya Woser MPA ’24
Internship location: United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific
The internship experience: As part of my graduate program at SPIA, I interned with the Socioeconomic Transformation Section within the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP). My team analyzed progress on sustainable development goals using the “Leaving No One Behind” tool to track how various circumstances interact to create large differences in access to basic opportunities. This tool relies on “Classification and Regression Trees,” a machine-learning model, to select the circumstances that shape which groups are furthest ahead and behind in given indicators. The algorithm is applied to countries across the region using survey data. As a graduate social sciences intern, I supported the team by applying this tool to two new sets of indicators: one on awareness and coverage of social protection and the other on digital skill levels. This type of disaggregated analysis enriches the conversation around development by moving towards an intersectional lens in which we acknowledge and address that access to basic opportunities continues to be defined by individual and household characteristics. This is a first step towards designing more dynamic and inclusive policies. My technical papers on social protection and digital skills are published and available on the team's website.