Archive for IEM Practicum

Monday, October 2nd, 2017

IEM Practicum Spotlight: Dave Malacki

We spoke with the always delightful Dave Malacki about his current IEM practicum experience in Portland, Oregon. Read on to see what he has to say about the pros and cons of staying local vs. working abroad, post-practicum plans, and tips on finding the best practicum fit for you!

How did you find your practicum? What is your job title? How big is your office?

My practicum search first began by identifying liberal arts institutions in California, and after discussing some options with IEM faculty I expanded my geographic search northward into the Pacific Northwest (PNW). I conducted informational interviews with IEM students on practicum and IEM alum in the PNW as well as having a cold email template ready to send to any institution that met my search criteria.

I held multiple conversations with the assistant director in Lewis & Clark College’s Overseas & Off-Campus Programs office and opted to join their team based on the projects I desired working on that aligned with their needs. The Overseas office has three full-time staff members and three student workers. I’m serving as their graduate assistant for the term.

What has been the most surprising/unexpected thing to happen to you at work?

Well, before even having the first conversation with LC I knew their study abroad participation rate was rather high (60-65%), yet did not expect such high interest from newly matriculated students. This was a pleasant surprise and required me adapting my advising strategy away from major-specific advising more towards general education advising as most freshmen have yet to declare majors.

On another note, the first project I worked on was a rather robust redesign of their application portal. Due to it being a large project, it was somewhat daunting and required working with campus stakeholders to identify resources available on campus to reduce the final price point. It was surprisingly challenging, yet very rewarding to see it implemented for all fall applicants.

What are the pros and cons of doing your practicum in the U.S. vs abroad?

Well, doing practicum in the US was a very personal decision between my partner and I. We both would have loved to live overseas, but didn’t really want to go through immigration procedures again if we decided to come back to the US.

A pro of doing practicum anywhere in the US is the ability to network in that location. It’s great to do phone informational interviews, yet doing them face-to-face really helps both parties establish a bit more rapport which could lead to potential job notifications earlier.

Do you have a favorite local Portland spot?

Ohh, I have this awesome tea spot, Tea Chai Té (where I’m ironically writing this), that serves the best milk tea I’ve had outside of China! To jive with the hipster vibe, one of their locations is inside of an old train caboose.

Aside from businesses, the entire Columbia River Gorge and areas around Mt. Hood for hiking and exploring are easily my favorite places to enjoy some time in nature and escape from city life. Unfortunately, the fires in the Gorge have closed a couple of the epic trails I did there. However, for anyone looking to get some awesome exposure, the Cooper Spur trail on the NW flanks of Hood offers views of Rainier, St. Helens, Adams, Jefferson, and on clear days a couple of the Sisters. It tops off around 8,500 feet with nearly 5,000 feet of elevation gain in about five miles. Well worth the constant trudge up!

Which IEM course has helped prepare you the most in your daily work?

It’s difficult to pinpoint one specific course, yet based on the book that I find myself reaching for in the office most days I suppose Education Abroad Management. Advanced Topics in Education Abroad, as well as Design & Assessment, were both highly useful in the work that I’ve done thus far, too. I’m continually referring to the NAFSA Guide to Education Abroad to ensure that my project work is getting rooted in established practice. Both skills developed through D&A, along with topics discussed during Advanced Topics have helped me greatly in drafting reports and informing the designs of projects.

Do you have any plans post-practicum? If so, what are they?

Find a job! Extending beyond that I’m planning on returning to Pittsburgh a bit later in 2018 to see my two best friends get married. As always, I have plenty of concerts I want to attend and the northwest is a great place to ensure that happens! Professionally speaking, I do want to stay connected in the field through conference attendance and establishing connections with organizations like Lessons From Abroad and PDX Abroad.

What has been your favorite cultural experience?

I think most of my classmates know I have a keen interest in live music. Recently, I caught a performance by a solo pianist in an old church that had the most amazing acoustics. It certainly helped that the performer was covering mostly Phish and The Grateful Dead, two of my favorite bands. Initially, I wanted to write going to Powell’s Bookstore for the first time, but that just seemed too generic. However, Powell’s is a great place to get lost on any rainy day!

Final thoughts?

The process of finding a practicum site accompanying with having a full course load was a stressful experience for myself. I had classmates that didn’t find practicum until well after the end of the spring term, and having that patience could prove useful when determining the best fit.

Best of luck in the future Dave!

Thursday, September 28th, 2017

IEM/DPMI Plus Practicum Spotlight: Charlotte Grant

Charlotte Grant is an IEM/MPA student who is currently completing her IEM/DPMI Plus practicum working as an Adolescent Initiative Intern for Save the Children in Laos. We spoke with Charlotte about which classes from MIIS have helped her the most, the pros of taking an unpaid internship, and what life “on the ground” is like in Laos!

How did you come across your internship?

Actually, I was in the process of sending emails to UN offices and IOM offices in Southeast Asia when a friend mentioned that there was one at Save the Children in Laos that she wasn’t going to take. I had a quick Skype session with her contact and it sounded like what I wanted to be doing and was a position where I could learn a lot in a very short amount of time.

Why did you choose Laos?

It sort of chose me I guess. I knew I needed my practicum/DPMI+ to be either paid or cost neutral. I looked for opportunities in Southeast Asia so I could take advantage of the Freeman Foundation monies. Since cost of living in Laos is so low the $5000 grant is going really far. If visas allowed for it I could probably afford to stay longer than 6 months. Unfortunately business visas are pretty highly regulated.

What has been the most unexpected thing to happen to you at work? Outside of work?

I expected to be working on design and evaluation planning components of a new project. But I’ve actually been able to work a lot on the new global Every Last Girl campaign and International Day of the Girl events. I’ve created two videos, one of which will be shown at the event as well as at a regional conference in Bangkok. I was also sent into the field to photograph young mothers in everyday life. Many of my photos will be printed and displayed at a gallery for International Day of the Girl and others will be used for the global campaign. I’ve always loved photography so getting to combine my passion for development AND photography has literally been a dream come true. I spend my days at work creating frameworks for situational analyses and editing photos and videos. If I was getting paid I would probably never leave.

Outside of work I’ve been surprised with how friendly and happy everyone is here. Having previously visited communist countries I half expected the same demeanor. However, Laotians are nothing but friendly, helpful and caring. The people I rent my apartment from lived in France for many years so we actually communicate in French instead of English or Lao. On Wednesday nights I play board games with their son and his friends from France. Learning to play new games in a language I’m still learning has been a challenge but really fun!

What has been your favorite cultural activity in Laos?

Hopefully that will come next week! All of this month has been the boat racing festival. Each village has their own boat races and then there is a national holiday for the Vientiane boat race. I went to one village’s race on the Mekong but supposedly the one next week is huge since everyone has work off and people come from all over.

Much like the American south with churches on every corner, here there are temples on every corner. Many times they are used as landmarks. For example, “the mini mart with good bread is by this temple” kind of thing.

What is one thing you hope to gain from your experience abroad?

I hope I don’t just gain one thing! Overall, I would like to feel confident about going to work in an international development office in the field. I think there a lot of things I need in order for that to happen but so far, I’m gaining all of that and more here in Laos.

Which class or classes have helped you the most so far in your new position?

Language! I know it’s a prerequisite for MIIS, but honestly doing SILP and learning French has been incredible. Not only has it given me a circle of friends here I never would have known previously, it’s also opened work opportunities and allowed me to communicate with locals who speak French.

Data and Policy Analysis- Laos is communist. That’s no secret. But because of that there is very limited data and research done on touchy subjects. Having learned R has actually allowed me to be able to pull UN data and run my own analysis which I’ve then been able to use in reports and even in the video I created.

Not a class, but Human Centered Design has been HUGE for me here. I pitched the idea of running a short workshop with my team to help us design the new program for very young adolescents and my supervisor liked the idea so much she thought of three more ways we could use it. One of which is coming up very soon. I’ll be introducing the idea of HCD through a workshop aimed to build community. Though not confirmed the topic will be “How can we build community on a multi-cultural team.” Save the Children Laos recently hired two Hmong staff members to work on this project because we are targeting Hmong communities. They speak a different language and have many unique cultural traditions. Since they came on board there has been a clear divide in the staff. This workshop will attempt to begin to bridge that gap and then will be followed up by a staff retreat where we can delve deeper into some of the things that came up and where we try to prototype some of the ideas that came out of the workshop.

Favorite new food from Laos?

SO MANY! I’m super into the BBQ right now. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Not US BBQ, Korean, nothing. Super tasty and fun. You BBQ everything at your table and there is sort of like a moat of broth and veggies surrounding the meat that’s over the fire so the veggies cook as the broth heats. I’ll send a photo or video of it.

Do you have any tips for people who are apprehensive about taking an unpaid internship?

JUST DO IT. I cannot say this enough. If you are apprehensive about it, do it in SE Asia so you can apply for the Freeman. The flexibility my office has given me with deliverables is incredible. They’ve been so open and accommodating and are grateful for everything that I produce. They’ve been impressed with what I’ve been able to do after my 3 semesters at MIIS. (hopefully this means they’d be open to someone else taking on my role!)

Yesterday I had dinner with Save the Children Norway and they mentioned jobs they had available. My resume has been pushed into the hands of CRS, Unicef, and USAID chiefs of party and country directors. The connections you make while in the field are incredible. I understand MIIS has deep connections but it pales in comparison to the personal relationships you build while simply being in country (sorry MIIS Mafia) and actually being able to sit by a pool and talk about your career goals over a cold Beerlao (This literally happened. I was sitting by a pool with a USAID Nurture Chief of Party, mentioned CRS, and she mentioned the country director lived right behind her. He now has my CV and is circulating it to see if there are any positions that fit my skill set). This experience has become the cornerstone of my resume and the $3000 it would have cost me on my own was probably worth it. Fortunately, with the Freeman I didn’t have to worry about that.

 

To follow Charlotte on her journey abroad check out her blog: lifeofasaveintern and instagram: chgrantz.

If you would like to learn more about DPMIPlus email Miranda Meyer at dpmiplus@miis.edu

 

Wednesday, September 27th, 2017

IEM Practicum, DPMI Plus, IONP, and Boren Fellow Participants for Fall 2017 Announced

For fall 2017, a total of 58 Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey students will participate in our distinguished semester long immersive learning programs, to be placed around the country and the globe. Domestically, students are as close as Monterey, CA and as far away as Washington, D.C. Internationally, they are spread across five continents.

Programs include the International Education Management (IEM) Practicum, DPMI Plus, International Organizations and Nonproliferation Program (IONP), and the Boren Fellows Program.

Below is a list of current participants, their organizations, and their locations.

International Education Management (IEM) Practicum

Name Placement Location
Christopher Adams Middlebury School Abroad Spain Spain
Lauren Bell Peace Corps Liberia Liberia
Noelle Boucher Education USA Malaysia
Khatab Cissokho Middlebury School Abroad Cameroon Cameroon
Caitlin Cook Portland Community College USA
Janira Cordova California State University at Dominguez Hills USA
Jessica DiFoggio Middlebury C.V. Starr School in Italy Italy
Grace Earley DC Language Immersion Project USA
Catherine Golub Middlebury Schools Abroad at ICU in Tokyo Japan
Charlotte Grant Save the Children- International Laos(SCIL) Laos
Eli Hatch NYU School of Professional Studies, Tokyo Japan
Schuyler Horn Monterey County Weekly USA
Victoria Hudak UC San Francisco USA
McKenna Hughes Middlebury C.V. Starr School in France France
Elizabeth Imasa Knowledge Exchange Institute (KEI) USA
Alyssa Jackson EUSA Madrid Spain
Martha Jensen DIS Study Abroad in Scandanavia Denmark
Seth Joyner Univeristy of Utah Asia Campus South Korea
David Malacki Lewis and Clark College USA
Anna McCreedy UC Berkeley International Office USA
Jessica Meado CEA Study Abroad Prague Czech Rep.
Melissa Nix EUSA Spain
Karla Piacentini Foundation for Sustainable Development USA
Erika Quinonez Florida International University USA
JoLyn Rekasis The Andean Alliance for Sustainable Development Peru
Rebecca Richey Performing Arts Abroad (PAA) and Syracuse University Madrid Center USA
Hope Sanders Kent State University USA/Italy
Alexander Smith Northeastern University, Global Experience Office USA
David Smith EUSA Sevilla Spain
Daniel Solomon CIEE USA/Chile
Brett Srader International School of Myanmar Myanmar
Eric Staab WorldChicago USA
Laura Stipic Syracuse University France
Shayna Trujillo Diversity Abroad USA
Yijun Wang California State University San Marcos USA
Stephanie Weisfeld Case Western Reserve University USA
Sarah Whitley University of Utah Asia Campus South Korea
Katy Wilson Middlebury Institute of International Studies USA
Ayako Yamada Asian Institute of Management (AIM) Philippines
Zilin Zheng ISS and FIUTS offices, University of Washington USA

DPMI Plus

Name Placement Location
Eli Hatch NYU School of Professional Studies Tokyo Tokyo, Japan
Sarah Whitley University of Utah Incheon, South Korea
Amy Nguyen Relief International Myanmar (remote)
Karla Piacentini Foundation for Sustainable Development Sacramento, CA
Charlotte Grant Save the Children Luang Prabang, Laos
Malvya Chintakindi Outline India Gurgaon, India
Lauren Bell Peace Corps Response Liberia
Katie Morton TechnoServe Johannesburg, South Africa
Katie Boynton Oasis Legal Service Oakland, CA
Cody Minnich   Unicef Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Ayako Yamada Asian Institute of Management Makati, Philippines

Boren Fellows

Name Placement Location
Chelsea Lavallee African Flagship Language Initiative (French) Senegal
Andrew Meador Hopkins-Nanjing Center Certificate of Graduate Studies (Mandarin) China
Jimmy Smith Middlebury Schools Abroad Jordan

International Organizations and Nonproliferation Program (IONP)

Name Placement Location
Joseph Rodgers UN Instistitute for Disarmement Research (UNIDIR) Geneva, Switzerland
Stephanie Halasz International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Vienna, Austria
Maria Rivas Cueva Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) Vienna, Austria
Paul Warnke UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) New York, New York
Margaret Rowland UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) New York, New York


Leave of Absence

Name Placement Location
Ariana Alva Ferrari Think Beyond Plastic Honduras

Monday, May 15th, 2017

IEMer Heather Rahimi Excels on South Korean Practicum

Heather Rahimi MAIEM ‘17 has spent the last four months on practicum at the University of Utah Asia campus in Incheon, South Korea.  Having never set foot on the Asian continent prior to her practicum, Heather utilized takeaways from her MIIS coursework, non-verbal communication and flexibility to excel throughout her experience.

What has been the most surprising thing you have encountered on your practicum in Korea?

Seeing as it’s my first time in South Korea, let alone Asia, I have encountered many surprises. I think the biggest surprise, or at least the one that has had the biggest positive impact on me, is understanding that one doesn’t need verbal language to communicate with others. My Korean is limited to “hello”, “thank you”, and “goodbye”, so coming here inspired a certain amount of fear in me. However, I discovered so much can be said without words, especially in Korea. A simple grunt can say a million words! These days I grunt at everything, it can mean “yes”, “oh!”, “I understand”, “I’m so sorry”, you name it! So here is a word of caution to all those who see me after I return state-side, be prepared for countless grunts, warm smiles, and a little bit of pushing.

Credit: Snow College News

What has been one of the most valuable skills or takeaways from your coursework at MIIS that has helped you succeed in your practicum work?

I was pretty nervous for my first day on the job, I was certain I wouldn’t know anything and would have to constantly ask my supervisor for help. But, I quickly found out, my coursework at MIIS had taught me so much more than I thought and left me utterly, if not overly, prepared for this position. I was most grateful for the skills I learned in my Staff Management course. Even as an intern, I definitely needed to manage up, be aware of cross-cultural differences, such as communication styles, and be prepared to lead a meeting when no one else was up for the task.

How has your experience in Korea informed what you hope to do next (whether or not you know what that is at the moment)?

My practicum position at UAC has taught me many invaluable lessons and enabled me to grow as a person and a professional. As an intern, I have been able to work on a variety of projects that wouldn’t typically fall under one person’s job responsibilities. Each project has given me insight into what type of work I want to do in my future and made me realize that although I would prefer to work in education abroad, I am now also open to and enjoy working in international student and scholar services. Whereas before I only wanted to work in education abroad, I can now broaden the scope of my job search and better identify positions that I will thrive in based on my first-hand experience with job responsibilities and work environments.