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Public Policy In Action


Getting an MPA and Interning with Oxfam America to Help Female Farmers

Posted by Jessica Lavides on 11/14/19 10:55 AM

Jessica Lavides is a second-year CIPA student who is completing a concentration in Public and Nonprofit Management. Prior to CIPA, she spent six years working in a variety of analytical roles for three different New York City government agencies. Currently, she is interested in the intersection of environmental and social policies and how they impact women.

Here's what Jessica had to say about her MPA internship at Cornell.

I was fortunate to locate my summer internship with Oxfam America through an email shared by Millie Reed in CIPA’s Office of Career Management. My work at Oxfam focused on conducting an updated assessment on Oxfam’s engagement with multi-stakeholder initiatives (MSIs). I conducted qualitative research, taking advantage of the research partnership that exists between Oxfam America and Cornell University on Integrated Land Management. Through my work, I ultimately learned more about the negative impact that agricultural farming practices and the supply value chains involved can have on women farmers.

Learn more about the experiential learning opportunities in our MPA by  downloading our resource:A Guide to Internships & Externships in the Cornell  MPA Program!

Jessica-LavidesPart of the internship included participating in a week-long immersive workshop on Integrated Land Management where various academic and industry professionals discussed the complexities of the topic.

For me, a highlight of the workshop was having a small group of fellow CIPA students participate; together, we went on a field visit to a local dairy farm. At the end of the week, all of the participating graduate students gave a presentation on value chain commodities such as silk, sugarcane, and beef.

Prior to my internship this summer, I had never lived outside of New York State, so I was excited to experience living in Boston where the Oxfam America office is located. During my new hire orientation, human resources emphasized the importance of participating in the organization’s learning and development workshops. I took advantage of these training opportunities and in so doing, I learned a great deal about Oxfam’s commitment to creating an inclusive and mission-driven office environment. The office also hosted a field day for employees at a local amusement park in New Hampshire, which showed me that Oxfam supported a strong work-life balance for all of its employees, including interns!

A unique aspect of my summer work was conducting interviews with key internal and external stakeholders on Oxfam’s MSIs engagement. The interviews were predominantly conducted over Skype or Zoom, since stakeholders were located in other Oxfam offices or were working remotely in Southeast Asia, Europe, and Washington, D.C. My supervisor was also working remotely in South Africa and Cambodia during much of my internship, but we communicated frequently to check-in on the progress of my research. Additionally, since the internship was through a partnership with Cornell, I had an academic advisor from the Integrated Land Management workshop.

I was fortunate to receive support from both my supervisor and academic advisor as I compiled my research findings in a presentation and report that I provided at the end of my internship. I was able to use skills learned through my graduate courses to allow me to successfully complete my internship and provide a deliverable that would be beneficial in future evaluations of Oxfam’s MSIs engagement.

Experience Real-World Learning in Cornell's MPA

In Cornell’s MPA program, there are several options for fulfilling the Practical Experience requirement for the MPA. Real-world consulting opportunities, internships, off-campus study, and Capstone experiences help you develop the skill set you need to be successful in your future careers. Whatever your area of interest, there's a hands-on learning opportunity perfect for you.

If you're interested in learning-by-doing, transforming the lives of others, and positioning yourself to be successful in the field of public affairs, we encourage you to request more information!

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Explore our interactive resource: A Guide to Internships & Externships in the Cornell MPA Program to learn more about experiential learning at Cornell! 

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