Notes from the Field: Pooja Singhi ‘18

Student Intern: Pooja Singhi '18

Internship Organization: 
U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)

How would you describe your employer in one paragraph? What’s the elevator pitch?
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is the U.S. government agency responsible for managing and administering civilian foreign assistance. USAID seeks to achieve its goal of "ending extreme poverty and promoting resilient, democratic societies." USAID has various regional and technical bureaus in Washington as well as numerous missions abroad.

What are your specific responsibilities in the organization?
I work in USAID's Bureau for Legislative and Public Affairs on the Public Engagement team. I assist with a variety of different projects ranging from core message tracking to helping plan big events to working on the Impact Blog.

How did you feel on the first day of your internship?
During my first week at USAID, I attended the New Employee Orientation. On my first day, I listened as new employees described their past experiences, which included a Peace Corps volunteer in Liberia and Ghana, a biodiversity coordinator for NGOs, and an Ebola response team member. I was inspired by their stories and realized I want my future career to include diverse and international experiences as well.

What is your favorite part of the internship so far?
One rewarding part of the internship experience has been attending lectures, conferences, and other presentations around Washington, D.C. For example, I attended a presentation at the Newseum in which a photographer and a poet talked about HIV/AIDS. A few days ago I went to Women and Countering Violent Extremism: Strengthening Policy Responses and Ensuring Inclusivity, an event at the U.S. Institute of Peace.

What challenges have you faced so far?
A big challenge I faced was understanding how a federal agency like USAID is structured. From abbreviations to bureaucratic processes, jumping into my internship was overwhelming at times. I responded to this challenge by talking to as many USAID employees as I could. I also made sure to pay close attention to what was going on around me. As a result, I gained a much better understanding of the Agency's structure and function.

Broadly speaking, what do you hope to achieve by the end of your internship?
I hope to better understand how international development programming and policy work, and what challenges the development community faces. I also hope to learn about what responsibilities public engagement teams have. Finally, I look forward to interacting with USAID employees and hearing more about their work experiences, which span from being a Foreign Service Officer to a liaison between the Agency and the Hill.

What have been some practical lessons you've learned in the day-to-day life of your internship?
D.C. metro stops downtown are fairly close to each other. If you only have to go one stop, just walk. Additionally, subscribe to 730 DC, "the daily newsletter for young Washington." Lastly, go to the monuments as much as you can!

Rockefeller Center-funded interns reflect on their experiences as part of our Notes from the Field series. The Rockefeller Center helps students find, fund, and prepare for a leave-term internship experience in public policy research, public policy analysis, issue evaluation, or activities which help shape and determine public policy.