Students Navigate Virtual Internships

Monday, Nov 16, 2020

The year 2020 will be remembered for many things and no less so for the way that the typical summer internship suddenly became virtual. JRCPPF supported three virtual internships during summer 2020 for undergraduates pursuing unpaid opportunities at government agencies and nonprofit startups. In spite of all the challenges posed by the pandemic, these virtual internships helped students hone their economics and finance policy skills, grow their professional networks, and gain valuable professional experience. All of the Center’s undergraduate associates are eligible to apply for funding. We will begin accepting applications in March for Summer 2021 internships.

Tara Shirazi ‘21, a Near Eastern Studies major pursuing certificates in Statistics & Machine Learning and Environmental Studies, spent her summer working with the international affairs office at the U.S. Treasury Department. Her office coordinated with ministries of finance and economy across the Middle and Near East and she helped prepare background research and briefing papers for numerous virtual summits. Tara developed economic and financial profiles for key countries drawing on her training in Arabic and quickly coming up to speed on the economy of the region. She also prepared the first draft of a speech for Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and contributed to a series of lectures for employees at the State Department, the Treasury, the World Bank, IMF, and IFC about fragile and emerging economies. She noted that despite a steep learning curve, she learned an enormous amount and was invited to continue the internship part-time during the fall.

Anna de Bernardini ’23, an Economics major pursuing certificates in  Finance, History and Diplomacy, and Computer Science, interned with the Italian Trade Agency in Bangkok. Having previously lived in Thailand she was excited about the opportunity to learn more about Italian-Thai economic relations by assisting the team working on regional market research and outreach. Although the pandemic impeded much of the economic diplomacy that she was hoping to learn about, she still found the experience to be useful and her supervisor asked her to work with the agency again in the fall.

Michael Watson ’21, a Politics major, worked with DIFFvelopment, a recently founded nonprofit organization that aims to address gaps in financial and entrepreneurial literacy specific to the Black community. Michael analyzed the organization’s business processes to identify potential cost-savings and streamline operations, particularly in the area of communications and outreach. He also restructured the organization’s fundraising strategy, identifying potential sources of grant revenue and proposing a new model for donation tiers. He said he drew on his social science training in dealing with the challenges of improving an organization and, in the process, he discovered a passion for helping companies realize their full potential.


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