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Each year, Duke Master of International Development Policy (MIDP) fellows complete a summer internship before their final year to gain hands on-experience working in global development organizations.

This year, five MIDP fellows were chosen to work at the United Nations. Assiya Abzalkyzy of Kazakhstan, Bendi Devi of Indonesia, Namgay Rinchen of Bhutan, Leonardo Rueda of Colombia, and Madi Tazhikenov of Kazakhstan were all selected to intern at United Nations agencies, including the UN headquarters in New York and permanent missions to the UN.

“We are so proud of our fellows for being chosen to intern at the leading global institution for peace, security, and global cooperation,” said Eddy Malesky, director of the Duke Center for International Development (DCID), which houses the MIDP program. “Their selection illustrates the value and strength of the MIDP program as well as the services that the Sanford School offers to prepare students for global policy careers.”

To identify prospective internships, the MIDP fellows worked closely with Marion Pratt, director of Global Careers in the Sanford School of Public Policy Career Services Office. Pratt helps students to bridge the gap between students’ academic and professional experiences through internships and jobs.

Recently, the fellows shared highlights of their experiences:

Assiya Abzalkyzy (MIDP ‘23)
Permanent Mission of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the United Nations

Women smiling in black coat with dark brown hair is standing in front of a white wall with a light blue and white flag on her left and a light blue and yellow flag on her right

“The UN is a really fascinating, intricate place to work, where I experienced tremendous professional and personal growth. The most beneficial thing that I learned is that networking is the key,” Abzalkyzy said. “My internship and program, in my opinion, are closely related, because they both emphasize finding practical answers to world issues including economics, education, poverty, health care, and human rights.”

Regarding the internship application process, she said, “I took a class in the fall semester with Dr. Pratt who instructed us on the steps we needed to take. I carefully considered the requirements for the internship such as writing my cover letter and rewriting my resume. Before the interview, I was prepared.”

Bendi Devi (MIDP ‘22)
The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA)

Man with glasses in grey sweater is smiling at the camera and standing in front of the sphere within a sphere sculpture in New York

“The process of shaping global-level policy is the most beneficial thing I’ve learned here…I’m assisting with several tax policy formulations. In doing so, I work with the UN Tax Committee of Experts from around the world,” Devi said. “This internship has not only given me tremendous knowledge about international tax issues being discussed globally, but it also taught me about the practical process of policy formulations.”

“To prepare for my interview, I studied technical knowledge about international taxation. It turned out the questions were indeed technical,” Devi said.

After graduation, Devi will return to the Indonesian Tax Authority. He aspires to become a tax policy maker.

Namgay Rinchen (MIDP ‘22)
Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Bhutan to the United Nations

Man with glasses in black suit is looking at the camera standing in front of a brown wall and podium

Before Rinchen decided to join the MIDP program, he worked with His Majesty The King’s Secretariat (HMS) of Bhutan, where they carried out welfare projects to better serve the community.

As part of his internship, Rinchen compiles reports, contributes to the preparation of statements for meetings, and attends high-level virtual and in-person meetings at the UN to discuss initiatives that will benefit society. In his spare time, Rinchen has been volunteering at the Care Center Organization in New York, where he assists with packaging and distributing meals as well as agriculture projects.

“Each country is dependent upon one another. No matter how big, small, or poor the country is,” he said. “For example, I’m from a landlocked country, so there is a platform where we can discuss the constraints, problems, and issues that my landlocked country is facing.”

Leonardo Rueda (MIDP ‘23)
United Nations Sustainable Development Unit (UNSD)

Man in black shirt and jeans standing at bottom of gray stairs in front of gray concrete wall with railing.

The UN Sustainable Development Unit, which Rueda supports, tackles problems such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ukraine war, and climate change, according to Rueda.

“Renowned academics, heads of NGOs, and other multilateral institutions produce a set of recommendations to be presented in different meetings with world leaders,” Rueda said. “I had the opportunity to better understand all the various sources available in the market to finance the 2030 Agenda …What I have learned here is how to make this agenda a reality.”

“Applying for the internship was an online process and very competitive. Hundreds of highly skilled professionals around the world apply for these positions,” Rueda said.

Madi Tazhikenov (MIDP ‘22)
United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD)

Man with black suit on standing at the back of a room that is filled with chairs and tables that are in rows

Madi Tazhikenov worked in the National Statistical Office of Kazakhstan for about seven years before joining the MIDP program.

“The work at the UNSD is a great opportunity to understand the true meaning of statistical information in the international context and how it should be applied to bring benefits to society,” Madi said. “The UNSD is the main provider of statistical information, methodologies, and standards in the world, and understanding them is the backbone of any successful policy.”

“There are many opportunities in the UN system,” he said. “The connections and skills that I am building here will support my job search in the field of international development.”

Housed in the Duke Center for International Development (DCID) in the Sanford School of Public Policy, the Master of International Development Program (MIDP) is a rigorous interdisciplinary program for mid-career and senior-level professionals who plan to dedicate their careers to policy-making and public service in and for developing, post-conflict and transition countries. For more information or to apply, visit the MIDP website.

By: Jacquazha Nettles, DCID Communications Intern

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