Thursday, September 10, 2015

Higher Education Solutions Network

I was able to work at USAID for the summer of 2015 through a specific internship program of the Higher Education Solutions Network (HESN). HESN is a group of universities which the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) supports and collaborates with. My HESN Lab, the International Development Innovation Network (IDIN) at MIT, is one of eight university partners of USAID. The HESN team at USAID supported a robust group of 14 interns during the summer. 

While many interns worked on teams within the U.S. Global Development Lab (“The Lab”), interns also worked on teams in the Bureau for Economic Growth, Education, and the Environment (E3), the Bureau for Food Security, Asia Bureau, and the Global Health Bureau. We interns stayed connected during the summer through a professional development series which the HESN team at USAID organized. The HESN team created opportunities to meet and converse with leaders at USAID and outside of the Agency such as:
  • Ann Mei Chang, the Executive Director of the U.S. Global Development Lab at USAID. Ann Mei was previously a Senior Engineering Director at Google before she led the Lab at USAID.
  • Dave Ferguson, the Director of the Center for Development Innovation (CDI) at USAID. Dave was a corporate entrepreneur at AT&T in Asia before he led CDI at USAID. Interestingly enough, Dave grew up in Wellesley, Massachusetts where Babson College is located. Dave remembers Roger Babson, Babson College's founder, who paid him to memorize and recite bible verses as a child.
  • Ticora Jones, the Division Chief of the Higher Education Solutions Network. Ticora was a classically trained engineer from MIT who came to USAID through a AAAS Fellowship. 
  • Kristi Ragan, the Chief of Party for the Center for Development Innovation at DAI, a contractor supporting the Lab. Kristi is one of the most well-connected people in the international development arena. She was a peace corps volunteer twice.
We interns had the opportunity to learn about the wide spectrum of career opportunities and entry points into international development. We met and heard the stories of Presidential Management Fellows, AAAS Fellows, Foreign Service Officers, and Civil Service Officers.

Upper Left: The summer of 2015 HESN interns gather with Ann Mei Chang, the Executive Director of the Lab. Upper Right: A group of USAID interns join forces for a the classic egg-drop ice breaker. Lower Left: The first HESN professional development meeting in the Nelson Mandela room in the Ronald Reagan Building. Lower Right: Me with fellow interns from MIT and William & Mary having coffee with Ticora Jones, the Division Chief of HESN.

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