This past summer, current student Roberto L. Estevez Magnasco interned in the Shri Kshetra Dharmasthala Rural Development Project and challenged himself by experiencing international development issues in a foreign country. He received funds to support his internship from the Susan C. Schwab Internship Fund. He worked in marketing, impact evaluation and carbon monitoring of their clean energy products project in association with MicroEnergy Credits, an India-based social enterprise. The organizations are dedicated to bringing clean energy technologies such as solar lights, water purifiers and efficient cook stoves to remote villages in India.
Estevez Magnasco, who is specializing in international development, says, “It was significantly important for me to gain additional experience in working hands-on in the developing world on projects that aim to reduce poverty while having a positive impact on the environment.” While in India, he focused on last-mile implementation and evaluation of the development program aimed at promoting the use of clean energy technologies and financing their purchase through microcredits.
My time at SPP provided me with a wide framework on policy and international development issues that allowed me to see projects in perspective and be aware of the context.Roberto L. Estevez Magnasco SPP Student
He was drawn to this internship because of the opportunity to work on a project that would help to improve lives and address environmental concerns. “My responsibilities varied a lot from one week to the other. The most interesting days involved leaving the office early in the morning, hopping into an SUV or on a motorcycle with a local colleague and visiting houses in far-off rural areas,” Estevez Magnasco says. “We would interview the organization’s clients and ask about the impact the clean energy technologies have had in their lives and those of their family members.”
Collaboration and teamwork played an important role in Estevez Magnasco’s internship. “As a foreigner working in a completely new culture, I had to deal with language and cultural barriers on a daily basis while not letting that affect the quality of my work,” he says. “I could only overcome those problems with a lot of help from my colleagues and high doses of patience and good humor. I always had a good relationship with my coworkers and tried to learn as much as possible from them.”
He adds that the information he’s learned at the School of Public Policy also helped him through his experience. “My time at SPP provided me with a wide framework on policy and international development issues that allowed me to see projects in perspective and be aware of the context,” he says. “It also allowed me to acquire communication skills, particularly writing skills, that I found to be priceless on the job and when communicating with senior management.”
The internship proved to be beneficial for Estevez Magnasco. He says, “I was able to gain experience in development project implementation and evaluation in India, I learned to adapt and succeed in a completely different culture from my own and I learned valuable lessons from senior employees in the organizations I came in contact with.”
Estevez Magnasco also says his favorite part of the internship was being able to live immersed in a new culture while performing a meaningful job. “I had the opportunity to appreciate the hard work needed for these kinds of programs to succeed, while also gaining valuable insight on the needs and concerns of the rural families that are the actual end-users,” he says. “In addition, I took advantage of this unique opportunity to dive into India’s rich culture and interact with people from different backgrounds, learning about the concerns and projects of the people I related with.”