Name: Jessey-Ariel Niyongabo
Major: Environmental Studies and Economics
Title: Environment & Natural Resources Management Intern
Place of Internship: World Bank Group - Washington, DC
How did you find out about the internship and what was the application process?
I found out about the internship through a connection working overseas for the World Bank Group. At first, I had thought that I would not qualify to intern in such an organization. Nonetheless, faith, being the only fuel that drives me, made me not to disqualify myself without having tried. I sent out my resume along with references to the connection that I had and I got a response after few days.
What are some of the highlights?
I was given an opportunity to apply some of the things I've learned for the past three years in a real life setting. This was a highlight! Another highlight was going to meetings full of experts and professionals from different fields. Except from strictly departmental meetings, I had the opportunity to attend small meetings on expert reports or the launching of a program. I vividly recall my first meeting to which the President (Robert Zoellick) and different officials from other organizations were inaugurating a joint project. Also, interacting in offices or even in the elevator with environment specialists was an experience I will never forget. Another highlight was that I was a proud representative of Saint John's. Most of the interns coming from all over the world attended Ivy League schools (Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Ecole des Mines, Ecole des Ponts in France, etc.), and had never heard of SJU. It was a great opportunity to get to know each other and establish relationships. Living in the nation's capital and experiencing the diversity was also a major highlight.
What was a "typical day" like? What were some of your major responsibilities?
A typical day could consist of a variety of things. I spent most of the time researching, collecting data, and editing documents that would be part of final reports on a given project. I also attended different meetings and gatherings to understand better how this type of organization functions. Given my language ability, I was also entrusted in translating official documents, mostly French to English and vice-versa, which allowed me to get familiar with technical vocabulary and with different projects our department financed.
What did you learn?
I learned a lot about how the World Bank and other organizations with a matrix system operate. I also witnessed how making and maintaining connections is a very important exercise in getting opportunities. This was a practical experience that my mentors, and especially the Entrepreneur Scholars program through the McNeely Center for Entrepreneurship, have taught me for the past years.
What were some of the challenges of your internship?
A major challenge that any work place offers is the establishment of a trusting relationship with coworkers, especially the site supervisor. In such a professional world, being an undergraduate student was uneasy to have the supervisor's entire trust. But, with time and hard work, a better and stronger relationship builds up and greater responsibilities come along.
What advice would you give other students interested in internships?
The advice I would give is not to limit oneself to opportunities offered and to apply as early as sophomore year. The more internships or jobs you get in different areas of your study, the more you get to know what you really like and would like to pursue as a career. Also, as the market becomes global, your competition can come from anywhere around the world, so globalize your opportunities. The World is flat.