Written by Gaurav Tiwari, master’s candidate in the Public Diplomacy Program at Syracuse University.
This summer, Gaurav has been working as a consultant for the Open Development Technology Alliance with the World Bank .
With the lengthy processes and bureaucratic obstacles of foreign affairs and international development, have you wondered if anything can be done? I was in the same boat when I was planning for a worthwhile summer experience. What better way to find answers than some exposure and experience at a leading international organization, I told myself.
My summer internship has embodied the wide-ranging possibilities of Public Diplomacy as a discipline. I have certain required deliverables but there is room for me to explore other topics of my interest. From contributing to a massive analytical study of past projects in Africa to exploring the possibilities of open source software and design thinking in government services, the internship has allowed me to use and perfect a wide range of skills. Some might also say that rubbing shoulders with policy wonks, analytic experts, and technology geeks from around the world should count for something in itself.
The internship is primarily tailored towards improving government service delivery with technologically enabled citizen participation. Planning and participating in a startup weekend and a hackathon apiece, consulting for governments seeking loans for specific projects, writing policy briefs and reports, stepping in for the design team, among other things, have all been a part of the summer.
Besides, the diversity, accessibility, opportunities, and culture of Washington D.C. is a winning combination. One of the main reasons many of us pursue Public Diplomacy as a discipline is its core focus in building a strong base in International Affairs and Communications, but there is no limit to what you could do with it. I am glad that I could use my summer to get hands on experience with relevant work. The location for such an internship could not have been better either.
In spite of a busy summer, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in D.C. In fact, I have loved the capital so much that I did not even mind working full time and taking evening classes for more than half the summer. As for the mind-numbing bureaucracy and colossal structure of international institutions, they serve a special purpose, as I have come to realize. Despite their shortcomings, they address issues that no one else would care about or is in a better position to affect change. It is just heartening to see they realize that they have to improve. As new president Jim Kim says, they have the expertise, data, and experience, they just need better organization.
Views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect any other agency, organization, or department.