Internship report: Mahi ElAttar, World Bank

  1. Where did you do your internship and what was your role?

 

Just as I was getting desperate from not being able to find an internship to validate my M2, I got accepted as a Research Assistant in the Middle East North Africa regional unit at the World Bank headquarters in Washington DC. I moved to the US’s capital to work with the newly appointed Senior Advisor to the region’s Vice President on Reconstruction. Our work revolved around envisioning and planning of the reconstruction of conflict affected countries in the Middle East, as part of the World Bank’s new strategy for the region. In fact, the region has been engulfed in conflicts and wars for the past decades, and the World Bank decided to start working on rebuilding the resilience of the citizens of the region and planning for its reconstruction even before the end of the conflicts. I had the opportunity to work on drafting the region and country specific long term visions for these countries, and to link between different units of the Bank. It was also a great learning experience to see how international development organizations work from the inside.


2. How did your studies at TSE help you during the internship?

My work mainly concerned political economy and public policies. Seeing that I did M2-PPD, working on the reconstruction of conflict affected countries in a multilateral aid organization was a great opportunity to apply the theoretical approaches to development we covered in class. It was also a great chance to couple these theories with my knowledge of the Middle East, seeing that I was born and raised in Egypt. Therefore, the topics we covered in the classes of Political Economy and Development, and Foreign Aid and Governance were particularly useful when trying to envision what should be considered when planning for the reconstruction of the conflict countries. However, I did not use the quantitative approaches we studied in TSE, since the World Bank is such a huge organization that it hires its own specialized econometricians and modelers. It is all for the best anyway, since I am not that good in econometrics!

3. How did you find the internship? What would be your advice for students looking for a similar internship?
Thanks to our beloved TSEconomist and the amazing Careers office in TSE, I was part of the ushering group (parrainage) during the Business Networking Day held in November 2016. I was assigned to help the visiting Senior Economist from the World Bank, Mrs. Nadia Belhaj Belghith, who also did her PhD in Toulouse. She later helped me get in touch with the Senior Advisor on Reconstruction at the Middle East North Africa regional unit. I remember that my phone interview was on the day of the Gala (March 3rd, 2017). Two weeks later, I was preparing to move to the United States.
In order to find an internship in big international organizations in general, I would recommend getting in touch with specific individuals who work in the fields that are most relevant to whoever is looking for an internship, without being too nagging. It might sound like a cliché, but I would also recommend not setting the bar too low for yourself. I had never imagined that I would get the chance to work in an institution such as the World Bank, and now I got offered a contract for another year. So, dare to dream big!

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