If you want an opportunity to change the world around you start by asking around
by Sergio Figueroa Sanz
After a few intense months of researching, interviewing, emailing, and pulling all the tricks in the graduate students’ bag of summer internship search and engagement, my path lead to Agora Partnerships. Writing this during my third day as an enthusiastic Summer Associate for Agora makes me reflect on what brought me here in the first place. Certainly, this is not merely circumstantial, yet an element of good luck can’t be ignored. After all, I’m new to this sector that people “in the know” label in as many ways as politicians and policy makers in my home country –Mexico, label their ideologies and adherence to schools of thought. So, how is it that a Master in Public Administration candidate with an academic background in economics and law and roughly five years of experience in a ratings agency finds himself in Washington D.C. over the summer at Agora? Short answer: I asked around. Sounds like a reductionist’s response but there are a few things about it you may find useful thinking about yourself.
Agora is, at the core, an initiative for business from the business sector. Cofounded by accomplished business and finance professionals, it recruits talent from top business schools and benefits from the advisory of the sector’s tip of the spear. From a business sector world perspective, this is as good as it gets. However, I pursued graduate studies in the field of economic and political development with a clear interest in veering away from that microcosm. My goal for a summer internship was to find a place where the analytic and problem solving skills my private sector experience had honed would be valued to provide for solutions–or at least to collaborate in providing for solutions, to the world’s most challenging developmental hurdles. This place, ideally, should also explore alternative approaches to such problems instead of replicating standard –and futile, models for development. Food security, peace, stability, health, education, equality, justice, prosperity, and perhaps even and ultimately happiness… all of these causes that populate headliners every day and to which everyone seems to have an answer but no one has the political will and resources to put them to action captivate my imagination and motivate my academic and professional choices. I searched for an internship experience among the usual suspects in the international institutions construct, represented by all too well known acronyms, and whose loss of legitimacy seems gradual yet unavoidable. None seemed to be truly shifting gears towards testing new approaches and most seemed to be satisfied with conforming to the development aid paradigm along with all its flaws. So, I asked around.