Friday, September 27, 2013

J-PAL Info Session
Thomas Chupein, Policy Manager

The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) was established in 2003 as a research center at the Economics Department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Since then, it has grown into a global network of researchers who use randomized evaluations to answer critical policy questions in the fight against poverty.

J-PAL is recognized as the "gold standard" of organizations conducting RCTs in the developing world.  Additionally, they are launching a new North American division that will be looking for researchers with a domestic focus. 

Jobs AND internships available -- apply between Nov 15th and Jan 5th!

This is a fantastic organization to intern with if you're interested in obtaining hands-on, international field research experience. 

If you're interested in full-time employment, take classes at GSPIA that emphasize the following skills: Microeconomics, Development Economics, Program Evaluation, Quantitative Methods, Stata.

Previous international travel or experience is important, as if a foreign language -- however, it is NOT necessary!

If you're interested in the policy track, be sure to have excellent writing skills.

To apply:
1. Apply to the specific positions that interest you (as many as you like).
2. Fill out the common application.

Ben Jaques: (research and training jobs)
Thomas Chupein: (policy jobs)

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Rick, MPIA-SIS, 2014

I’ve always had a passion for international affairs and related issues. My experiences domestically and abroad during my undergraduate business and postgraduate law degree put me on a path towards returning to school and earning an MPIA at GSPIA. I hope that after GSPIA I can transition to a career combining the aspects of my far-too-long-for-comfort educational history into a career as a Foreign Service Officer or in a foreign affairs-related career in the civil service.

For the fall semester I am interning with the United States Department of State in the Bureau of Administration while taking part in the Global Security & Development Program with other students from GSPIA, the Maxwell School of Syracuse University, and the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver.

Fair warning, I will not go into detail about my internship, the operation of the State Department, or myself for security reasons. In fact, during orientation on the first day we were read a rather incredible account of a previous intern and the security violations that ensued from improper disclosure of information on the intern’s personal blog. I must also disclaim that any views I present here are my personal views and do not represent the views or of policy of the Bureau of Administration, the Department of State, or the Government of the United States.

I know it sounds a bit overdramatic. I’m sure at least some of you are thinking “the Bureau of Administration? Who cares?” Well, it may not be the “sexiest” Bureau in the Department, but is definitely challenging, internationally focused work. In my office I am able to receive some level of exposure to a great swath of the State Department’s operations: In the morning the office might be on a call with the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa, Canada, spend the afternoon working with a consulate in Saudi Arabia, and the next day we can be coordinating with DoD policy in Afghanistan. Dealing with so many issues in so many places really gives me a sense of satisfaction that I am contributing to the mission and operations of the Department of State domestically and around the world.

I hope my posts will help give you some idea of some of the opportunities available to GSPIA students in Washington D.C., dispense some useful advice, and perhaps open some eyes to other, potential, career avenues.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

RealStart Internship Post

Julianne Norman, MPIA-HS, 2014
Alison Waterson, MID-NGOCS, 2014

Hello out there!  Our names are Julianne and Ally and we spent six weeks of our summer performing a program evaluation for a non profit (RealStart) in George, South Africa. George is a picturesque seaside town located about 4 hours east of Cape Town in a region called the Western Cape, and sits right on the coast of the Indian ocean.


 George is a relatively small town by South Africa standards, with a population of 120,000. Like the rest of South Africa, it is incredibly diverse and unequal with large affluent golf resorts backing onto poverty stricken townships.

We arrived in George on Thursday, May 16th, after 48 hours of travelling, two upgraded first class tickets, one ripped pair of jeans and one coke stained pair of leggings…and one lost bag. All three of our suitcases managed to make it across three continents, yet somehow the journey from Johannesburg to George was too much of a stretch. Here, finding a lost bag is like trying to track a tadpole in a large pond.  All of the bags have labels on them, but no one knows where they are.  After numerous phone calls with the typical response, “um, we’ll look for it” or “let me ask my friend who works in the airport” (we know what that really means), and a day of sharing clothes, we finally decided to head out to the airport and wait there until they located the bag. They told us they had heard nothing of the bag since their last employee had called earlier that morning.  Their suggestion was wait for the next flight from Jo-burg landing in George in 15 minutes and see if it had appeared with the luggage. We waited for the flight and then watched all of the luggage filter through and no bag.  Then, Julianne looked across the room and low and behold her bag was sitting in the corner of the room...just chillin’.

A little bit about RealStart – RealStart is a South African based non-profit which focuses on the holistic development of impoverished young people. They currently run a year-long youth development program across two campuses, with the hope of expanding the program throughout the country. They also have a number of other exciting projects in the pipeline. I (Alison) have been affiliated with RealStart for a number of years and have known its founder for five years. This was Julianne’s first interaction with the organization.

The first week of our evaluation consisted of us finding out a little more about RealStart and what it was they wanted us to achieve with our evaluation. As non-experts in the field, we spent copious hours sitting outside in the sun reading a program evaluation textbook one of our professors had given us.

We soon discovered that we did not have enough data (RealStart is only 3 years old) to do a quantitative evaluation and thus had to focus on a more qualitative one. The next few days involved writing up questionnaires and contacting as many stakeholders as we possibly could in order to set up interviews to ask them questions about the organization and their relationship with it.

Our next blog post will be coming soon...check in for the next installment, which may contain a crazy adventure or two!


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Guest Blogger: Jon Russell, Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh

Jon Russell, MPIA-HS, 2014

This summer I had the pleasure of serving as the intern in the Housing Department of the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh (URA).  This appointment took me all the way from Pittsburgh to… Pittsburgh, so needless to say, the move was stressful.  When first arriving at GSPIA back in the fall of 2012, I capitalized on a connection I had within the URA and set up a lunch meeting with the director of the Housing Department.  After an official interview in February, I was offered a summer internship with the URA.  (Let me be an example that networking actually does pay off!)  By the second week of May, I was deep in the throes of my URA responsibilities.

The seemingly insurmountable task laid before me was the completion of the HUD Larimer Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grant Application (CNIG) for $30 million to revitalize the Larimer section of Pittsburgh.  The project was spurned by a desire on the part of the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh (HACP) to replace the East Liberty Gardens and the Lincoln/Larimer public housing units.  These units are in severe disrepair and do not serve their residents adequately.  HACP partnered with the URA, the City of Pittsburgh, the Kingsley Association, East Liberty Housing Corporation, East Liberty Development Inc., the Larimer Consensus Group, Jackson Clark Partners, McCormack Baron Salazar, and Urban Strategies to implement the work of the Larimer Consensus Group and the Larimer Vision to Action plan which outlines the community’s desire for their neighborhood.

The Larimer CNIG has three primary components to its funding structure; Housing, People, and Neighborhood.  The Housing section is headed by the HACP and provides the applicant with $21 million to rebuild the public housing units.  The People section provides $4.5 million to work with the residents of the public housing units to get them back on their feet by providing individuals with employment and educational opportunities.  The URA is the lead entity on the Neighborhood section which provides $4.5 million for the rehabilitation of the entire Larimer community.  I was responsible for working with all of the CNIG partners as well as URA staff to craft a neighborhood strategy that was faithful to the Larimer Vision to Action Plan while simultaneously remaining financially feasible.  This involved attending weekly community meetings at the Kingsley Association and phoning in on weekly CNIG planning team conference calls.  Once a policy was decided upon, I drafted a description of it, worked to create a budget for the initiative, and identified key partners in the implementation of the policy.  The combined efforts of the CNIG partners and the community leaders of Larimer resulted in a competitive application to HUD which will be submitted on September 10.

While the Larimer CNIG application demanded most of my attention, the URA staff found tasks to occupy the rest of my time.  I worked on drafting URA Board of Directors Agenda items, completing multiple Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission Section 106 Project Review Forms, compiling a PA Department of Community and Economic Development Keystone Communities Grant Application for Wood Street Commons, and developing multiple Requests for Proposals (RFPs) for various development projects in the City of Pittsburgh.

This internship at the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh equipped me with skills in community engagement, in writing grant applications, and in creating project budgets as well as providing me with valuable experience in public administration, especially in an urban setting.  (The networking opportunities alone would have made this internship worthwhile.)  I will continue to work part time at the URA during the fall semester.