I performed my IPSS at the Policy Center at Conservation International (CI) headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. The time spent working for Conservation International at their headquarters was a period of many lessons learned, especially regarding the dynamics of a large-sized non-governmental organization. I’ve learned that there are big challenges in succeeding as a large non-profit, but, on the other hand, there is great potential to increase a project’s reach and impact.
My project was to analyze policies that could help countries to achieve multiple environmental commitments, specifically the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Sustainable Development Goals. I focused on policy mechanisms for the conservation of tropical forests and mangroves because they are extremely important, both because of their high biodiversity, as well as their contribution supplying sustainable livelihoods for its inhabitants. As I completed my research, I worked with the CI International Policy team to finish the policy briefs to be used in CBD meetings later this year.
In addition to my research, during my time at CI headquarters, I had the opportunity to meet many of its staff, from undergraduate interns to the CEO, Dr. Sanjayan. CI headquarters had many opportunities to meet other staff, such as lunch break brown bag presentations, all staff meetings, and social gatherings. They also promote internal workshops for staff development.
Living in Washington D.C for four months was also a great learning experience. I was able to go to many professional events during my stay there, including the MIIS Exploration Week. These events gave me the opportunity to meet a number of highly qualified professionals, many of them MIIS alumni, which helped me to improve my professional network and networking abilities.
Overall, my immersive learning was a period of intense professional training. Although I highly appreciate the classes I had at MIIS, I felt that the immersive learning was the best option to finish my master’s. Working for an organization, especially in Washington D.C., where you gain so much international perspective, allowed me to apply the skills I’ve learned in my IEP classes and hone them with real world experiences. I think it was a great transition for me to be back in the workplace and I look forward to what is to come next after I graduate in August. I am also thankful to all the MIIS community that was extremely supportive during all my IPSS experience. I am leaving MIIS already knowing that I will miss it, but also very excited for my next professional opportunity. I feel prepared and ready to go!