CID Interns in Albania


This summer, 13 HKS students have converged in Tirana, Albania, to work with Harvard’s Center for International Development (CID) on the Economic Growth in Albania project. CID is a university-wide center that works to advance the understanding of development challenges and offer viable solutions to problems of global poverty. CID is Harvard’s leading research hub focusing on resolving the dilemmas of public policy associated with generating stable, shared, and sustainable prosperity in developing countries.

In cooperation with the new Government of Albania and the Open Society Foundations, the Center for International Development  launched a research project that aims at identifying Albania’s binding constraints and proposing policy solutions that can relax them. CID gathered a team of prominent researchers and experts in the fields of macroeconomics, energy policy, public finance, agriculture and labor markets, among other fields, for this mission.

“This project is unique in that it focuses on enabling the government to implement, rather than just providing consulting advice,” says Boban Paul, who is spending the summer working with the Ministry of Agriculture in Albania.

Albania, one of Europe’s poorest countries, has recently embarked on what the government calls a “renaissance” – a concerted effort to revitalize the struggling economy, reduce public debt and unemployment and work toward integration with European markets. HKS students are spending the summer working in 6 different ministries on policy issues ranging from regional integration to establishing favorable conditions for industrial park development. They have been working with Ministers on the one hand, and CID faculty and research fellows on the other to build the government’s capability to implement economic growth strategies.

Through these internships, students have had the opportunity to directly apply their academic studies to real problems in Albania’s public sector. “At the beginning of my internship in Albania, a fellow student and I were sitting with Professor Ricardo Hausmann in the Minister of Energy’s office discussing the government’s plan to tackle theft in the electricity market,” says Francisco Mejia, who is working with Ozair Ali in the Ministry of Energy on issues relating to oil and electricity. “Four months ago we were analyzing a case study on the Albanian electricity sector in class and now we actually have the opportunity to tackle these problems directly with decision makers at the highest level. It is exciting to see the doors the MPA/ID program and the CID internship have opened for us.”

Many of the students are working with teams of experts in their ministries to develop policy solutions to some of the country’s most challenging economic constraints. “The most important thing that this internship taught me was the definition of a feasible and good policy,” says Hanieh Mohammadi, who is working in the Ministry of Trade, Economic Development and Entrepreneurship. “I am learning to apply my academic knowledge to the reality of this country’s context, while always remembering we can bring about real changes, even if it is through a small step of a simple policy.”

The internship program in Albania will culminate in a two day workshop where students will have the opportunity to present the results of their work and discuss policy proposals with Ministers, directors and other key government staff, as well as HKS professors who will travel to Albania to be part of the event. 

“I think this internship is a great example of the unique opportunities that come with being part of the MPA/ID program at the Harvard Kennedy School,” says Boban Paul. “I’m not sure how other schools work but being a student at Harvard has made the ministries very receptive to me. The expectation to perform is high and people in the ministry actually push to make your project a success.”

Read more about the work of HKS interns on the Economic Growth in Albania project blog.

Tags: internship

One Idea Video Series - Post 4

The May 2014 Ideasphere conference at Harvard Kennedy school celebrated ideas of all kinds that come out of HKS – from our alumni, our professors, from research centers, programs, and our students. The “One Idea” series spotlights student ideas and their connection to the HKS mission of making the world a better place.

Fourth in this series is recent MC/MPA Mason graduate Ifueko Omoigui Okauru, who talks about elderly care services in her home country, Nigeria.

Access to YouTube is required to watch these videos and email subscribers may need to visit the blog directly to watch.

Series Links

Post 1, Post 2, Post 3

2014 Summer Student Series — Post 11: Mirco Guenther, MPA ‘15

imageMirco Guenther is a McCloy Fellow and Master in Public Administration (MPA) candidate. Before coming to HKS, he worked as a Political Officer and Coordinator of the Ambassador’s Office at the Mission of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in Tajikistan, seconded by the German Foreign Office. In late March, Mirco left Cambridge for a 6-month assignment with the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine.


The news that I would be going to Ukraine to support the newly established OSCE Special Monitoring Mission approved by the OSCE Permanent Council on March 21 came on an early Thursday morning during Spring Break, and it came with short notice. Less than 48 hours later I arrived in Kyiv.

After a 3-day induction course, we were deployed to different duty stations throughout Ukraine - in my case the country’s second largest city Kharkiv, in eastern Ukraine close to the Russian border, where I now work as a Deputy Team Leader. Our team currently has 35 international monitors from 22 countries (including the United States, Russia and many European countries) and 8 local staff, and may further increase to 60 if the Mission were to go to its full capacity of 500 observers foreseen in the mandate.

Our monitoring team brings together international colleagues with diverse backgrounds - border guards from Lithuania, human and minority rights specialists from Spain, retired police officers from the United States, Russian diplomats, Finnish lawyers, gender experts from Italy, journalists from the Czech Republic, reporting officers from France and the Kyrgyz Republic.

The OSCE’s job, being one of very few international organizations still on the ground in eastern Ukraine in the current crisis, is to monitor and report on the security situation 24/7. This includes cases of security incidents, human rights and fundamental freedoms, and overall inter-ethnic relations, which we summarize in daily and weekly reports shared with the 57 OSCE participating States. A condensed version of the report is also being shared with the wider public (

So what does our daily routine look like? We have patrols going out every day to meet with senior regional authorities, law enforcement and military officials, religious leaders, representatives of minority groups, civil society and members of the local population. Our teams also serve as intermediaries to facilitate dialogue in order to reduce tensions, monitor IDP flows, and visit check and border crossing points. We regularly host visiting delegations, be it the OSCE Secretary General, ministers, members of parliaments or international journalists from a wide range of countries.

For months, the Ukraine crisis has been making international headlines. The April 17 Geneva Agreement, the takeover of public administration buildings, clashes between Euro- and anti-Maidan protesters, hostage takings of OSCE military observers and civilian monitors, the May 25 Presidential Election, military operations and ongoing fighting in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, internally displaced persons fleeing from the affected areas, expectations for the OSCE to monitor a still to be agreed upon ceasefire — it’s been an intense yet rewarding experience to be part of a peace mission literally created over night and deployed immediately.

During the past 14 weeks, I received numerous messages from HKS friends and colleagues enquiring how I am doing and about my experience in eastern Ukraine. I am enormously grateful for all the support and well wishes, and am looking forward to being back in Cambridge in September for what will surely be a memorable second year at HKS.

2014 Summer Series Links

Post 1Post 2Post 3Post 4Post 5Post 6Post 7Post 8Post 9, Post 10

One Idea Video Series - Post 3

The May 2014 Ideasphere conference at Harvard Kennedy school celebrated ideas of all kinds that come out of HKS – from our alumni, our professors, from research centers, programs, and our students. The “One Idea” series spotlights student ideas and their connection to the HKS mission of making the world a better place.

Third in this series is MPP student Divya Dhar, who talks about improving communications in hospitals.

Access to YouTube is required to watch these videos and email subscribers may need to visit the blog directly to watch.

Series Links

Post 1, Post 2

Tags: MPP video

2014 Summer Student Series — Post 10: Carol Tan, MPP ‘15 

imageCarol Tan is a Master in Public Policy student focusing on conflict management and humanitarian affairs strategy. At HKS, she supervises pro-bono projects for non-profits, international organizations and government clients with the Harvard Law and International Development Society (LIDS). In keeping with her roots, she is also the co-President of the Southeast Asia Caucus. Born in sunny Singapore, Carol was previously a management consultant with The Boston Consulting Group and worked primarily with Southeast Asian public sector clients on economic development, infrastructure, transport, planning etc. She is also devoted to SEA community development and anti-human trafficking issues. Carol graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with honors in Economics and Political Science.

HKS can be an overwhelming world to step into. Hundreds of students mill around chatting vivaciously about current affairs, star-studded faculty members eat lunch next to you and speeches, seminars, conferences, panels, study groups, projects seem to go on all at once. For me, FOMO (fear of missing out) rears its head everyday, but we all have to choose what to spend time on and how; once the Harvard engine rumbles to life, the year hurtles ahead at full speed.

Therefore, know with crystal clarity what you came to HKS for, then go for it.

I started at HKS thinking I would be deepening my experience giving policy advise through studying complexity economics, infrastructure development, social entrepreneurship etc. So imagine my surprise when most of the classes I wanted to do were on global governance, human rights, humanitarian policy etc. and the most appealing events were on anti-trafficking, human security and refugee issues. If this happens to you, it’s ok! Apparently, graduate school provides fertile ground for deep-seated passions from the past to emerge. Allow those to percolate up, then make a choice. And pursue your chosen path with laser-like focus because the first year flies by in the blink of an eye.

Don’t allow fear (of anything) to prevent you from trying.

The highlight of my first year, by far, was the field study course in Jordan to assess the Syrian Refugee Crisis that Claude Bruderlein and Anaide Nahikian led. Refer to our posts at the Middle East Initiative for a summary of our experiences in Jordan, but here’s a picture!


Yet, I almost gave that experience of a lifetime a miss because it was so expensive to spend a whole month in Jordan. Thankfully, with my husband’s encouragement, I decided to accept the field study position and kept my fingers and toes crossed for funding to come through. It did. Thanks to the generous grant of the Middle East Initiative, I found myself in Amman in January. With my fingers and toes still crossed, I spoke with refugees and Ministers, figured out how to put a field mission together, learnt to conduct incisive interviews in delicate situations, soaked in the warmth of the Jordanians, listened to the heartbreak in their music, rode camels, chilled out in the Dead Sea and found my dream summer internship. And let’s not forget the impressive, intimidating team I went there with that ultimately became family.

So put in that application for the role you feel under-qualified for, invest in the experience that seems unaffordable, speak to the professor about the opportunity that seems ridiculously out of reach. Then brace yourself for a jaw-dropping ride.

The people you meet along the way are indeed awe-inspiring.

Not just for academic and professional credentials, but also for the genuine desire to make the world a better place. At HKS, a community that hears the cries of the voiceless and makes every effort to change the status quo lives and breathes. My classmates care profoundly about righting injustice. While we may not always agree about what justice entails, the fact is we have a community of fellow change-makers to bounce ideas off and commiserate with. This is a priceless gift.

The people I have been most touched by, however, are the indomitable spirits who do not move within Harvard’s ivy-covered walls. During a ‘trek’ organized by students to the West Bank to learn about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict during spring break, we met Israelis who use their bodies to shield Palestinians, mothers who weekly protect their children valiantly from harassment, courageous individuals who seek to document evidence of human rights violations at all cost. The beauty of human kindness is also found nearer home, where many volunteer at odd hours to keep homeless shelters and food kitchens running, coach underprivileged students etc. People come in all shapes, sizes and packages but they never fail to inspire.

Finally, leading smart people can be immensely frustrating, though exhilarating.

In autumn, I led a consulting project on spoiler management strategies during constitutional drafting for a post-conflict African nation. I had the privilege and nightmare of coordinating 8 HKS, HLS, GSAS and Fletcher students. Our clients were ultimately blown away, but that experience forced me to face hard truths about my leadership style and seek change. It also opened my eyes to both the successes and pitfalls of the student pro-bono consulting model. Therefore, my co-VP of Projects and I are dedicated to professionalizing the delivery of LIDS advice these few months in order to create even higher impact projects.

Over summer, I am working in the Office of the President at the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva. I will share about this experience in a few weeks! For now, it has been a real privilege spending the last year at HKS and I am eager to see what’s round the bend in Fall.

2014 Summer Series Links

Post 1Post 2Post 3Post 4Post 5Post 6Post 7Post 8, Post 9

Tags: MPP internship

Additional Student-led Information Sessions – Serbia and England

Student-led Information Sessions

We are happy to announce some additional opportunities to learn about HKS from current students. The hosts will discuss HKS degree programs, curriculum, and student life.

Belgrade, Serbia
Thursday, July 17, 2014 from 5:30–7:00 PM

Supermarket Concept Store
Visnjiceva 10

Please click here to register.

London, England
Wednesday, August 20, 2014 from 5:00–8:00 PM

5th View
203-205 Piccadilly
United Kingdom

Please click here to register.


Other upcoming information sessions:

Tirane, Albania - July 9

Vienna, Austria - July 9

Edinburgh, Scotland - July 9

Brasilia, Brazil - July 11

Washington DC - July 22

Washington DC - July 24

Seattle, Washington - July 26 

2014 Summer Student Series — Post 9: Sebastián Parot, MPP ‘15

Sebastián Parot is an HKS/HBS joint degree student, pursuing a Master in Public Policy and a Master in Business Administration. He is from Chile, where he initially worked in Investment Banking and then for the Chilean Government as Chief of Staff and Head of Advisors for the Public Works Minister and then in the same position for the Mining Minister. He also is co-founder and Past President of IdeaPais, a Chilean NGO aimed at training young leaders for politics. 


One year goes really fast, and especially at HKS—an amazing experience that enhances your vision of world and politics, and strengthens your leadership skills. I want to share the four things that impressed me the most of this first year in the MPP. As an engineer don’t expect fancy and long explanations: I will get straight to the point.

1. A dynamic and diverse classroom.

I never imagined such a rich environment inside the classroom. Having people from different backgrounds, countries and political positions, with an impressive track record and experience, takes the class discussion to another level. You can really notice how positions change in different directions, creating a dynamic system that you probably won’t find anywhere else. I was, and still am, really impressed.

2. Inspiring stories with every classmate.

I am still surprised with the stories and experiences of my classmates. HKS offers such a diverse environment with extraordinary people that have done great projects to pursue social change, that they become your teachers. I discovered inspiring backgrounds in every single one of my classmates and friends that enhanced my view of social challenges.

3. Activities for every interest.

Here, the learning experience goes beyond the classroom experience. There are activities and projects for every interest that you might have: and if not, you can create it. I have always been passionate about politics, with great interest for Latin America. At the beginning of my MPP I joined a new study group: Latin American Politics. Every Friday I met with 25 extraordinary people to discuss and debate the main political issues and challenges of our region. The possibility of doing so with a group of leaders of incredible diverse political backgrounds, political positions and countries, has been one of my best experiences of this year. A unique opportunity to share and grow, enriching my own perspective and strengthening my network with future political partners who share a common vision: how to confront the social and political challenges of Latin America.

4. Get to know the world: there are treks everywhere!

These are student-organized trips to different countries with a specific agenda: culture, politics, businesses or leadership. And if a specific region is not “available”, you can create it. This January I had the opportunity to organize one, where I took 15 classmates from my Joint Degree Cohort to my home country Chile. We spend 15 days deeply involved with local politics, businesses and also, funny places. This was a rich experience where I could show my culture and create bonds to my country.

This first year at HKS has been a unique experience. After this year I feel much more prepared to confront the future and to collaborate in solving social challenges in my home country. This way, cooperating with others in making Chile and Latin America a region of freedom, justice, prosperity and equal opportunities.

2014 Summer Series Links

Post 1Post 2Post 3Post 4Post 5Post 6Post 7, Post 8

Tags: MPP internship

Recruitment in Washington, DC

An Evening with W3D - Women in Defense, Diplomacy and Development

Tuesday, July 22, 2014 from 7:00–9:00 PM

Meze Restaurant
2347 18th Street, NW
Washington, DC
United States

  • Learn about HKS degree programs and admissions procedures
  • Hear from alumnae working in these dynamic fields
  • Network with DC professionals

Please click here to register.


Harvard Graduate School Outreach Event: Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard Law School, Harvard Business School, and HBX

Thursday, July 24, 2014 from 6:30–8:30 PM

1776 DC
1133 15th St NW
Washington, DC 20005
United States

This event is designed for college students who are currently interning in the Washington, DC area. The event will include the opportunity to speak with Admissions Officers from Harvard Kennedy SchoolHarvard Law School and Harvard Business School and HBX. This event is sponsored by National Education Week. Registration will begin at 6:30 PM.

Please click here to register.

By the Numbers

HKS is currently engaged in a fund raising campaign and here a few numbers of note from the campaign website.


Tags: alumni

2015 Application Long-Term Planning Series - Post 3

This is the third post in our long-term application planning series. Post 2 provided general recommendation letter advice and questions at some recent recruitment sessions focused on who should write the letters.

There is no specific requirement as far as who should write recommendation letters, but we do have general guidance applicants should consider. Letters generally come from either academic or professional sources. There is only one combination of letters that should be avoided and that is three academic letters. Because the degrees offered by HKS are professional degrees, we prefer to see at least one professional letter of recommendation.

Applicants who have recently graduated (within one or two years) are encouraged to submit two academic letters of recommendation and one professional letter. The reason for this is that we like to see letters from those who know the applicant the best, and it is likely that faculty members in this case will be able to write more effective letters. For less experienced applicants, a letter from an internship supervisor is considered a professional letter. 

Recent graduates or applicants still in college who have strong internship experience(s) may submit a second professional letter if they feel it will best reflect their skills and abilities, but the letter writer should be someone who has spent a great deal of time supervising your work.

Applicants who have been out of school for some time are welcome to seek out an academic letter of recommendation, however it is not required.  We want to read letters from those who know you the best and who can effectively access your skills and abilities.  If you have been out of school for some time and feel like contacting a previous faculty member would be a stretch, there is no need to request an academic letter of recommendation.

Series Links: Post 1, Post 2