2016 Summer Interns

The Schull Yang International Experience Award, supported by Joseph Schull (BA ‘82, MA ’85) and Anna Yang (BCL, LLB ’88), helps undergraduate and graduate students gain first hand international experience related to their fields of study. The award provides full or partial funding to assist students with tuition, travel, and other expenses related to their international experience. The Schull Yang International Experience Award is part of the McGill International Experience Awards. For more information, click here.

The Internship Offices Network is pleased to announce the selected McGill students for the 2016 summer internship at the United Nations World Food Programme in Panama, and the recipients of the Schull Yang International Experience Award.

Sou Joung Kim, BEng Bioresource Engineering

Sou is a third year undergraduate student in Bioresource Engineering, a discipline that applies engineering principles to the enhancement and sustainability of the world’s natural resources. It was while growing up in Ivory Coast that Sou developed the interest in sustainable development that would respond to humans’ basic needs. She is very excited for her upcoming internship with the United Nations World Food Programme, in which she hopes to assist in the numerous plans of the UN in social development, promotion of food security, and humanitarian aid.

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I am a fourth year undergraduate student in Bioresource Engineering. This summer, I had the opportunity to intern with the United Nations World Food Programme in Panama, which is the regional bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region. I applied for this internship because I have always been interested in pursuing a career with the United Nations in the future. I thought that through this internship, I would be able to gain a better understanding of the organization and to assist its programs in social development, promotion of food security and humanitarian aid. As expected, I was able to better understand the inner workings of the UN system, learn more about WFP’s food assistance programs, as well as gain firsthand experience in the administration and internal bureaucracy of the organization. Most importantly, this internship allowed me to further my experiences in international development.

My host organization, the World Food Programme (WFP), is the voluntarily funded food assistance branch of the United Nations and the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide and promoting food security. Its food aid is also directed to fight micronutrient deficiencies, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, and combat disease, including HIV and AIDS. As a WFP intern, I assisted the Communications and Knowledge Management Unit by editing and posting content such as news releases, web stories, hunger stories on the WFP external websites; monitoring the media for mention of the WFP’s work in LAC, then creating content for “WFP in the News”, which is an internal email newsletter, shared daily within all WFP staff; producing Facebook and Twitter Analytic Metrics Reports to evaluate the performance of the WFP’s Spanish social media accounts; proof-reading, editing and translating documents; helping to format texts into official templates for external distribution.

Several aspects made this experience unforgettable, such as the country, the working environment, all the people I have encountered and everything work has taught me. In fact, the location was one of the highlights of this internship, as the office was based in Panama City, within the City of Knowledge, a sustainable city that houses more than fifty different NGOs, international organizations and other United Nations agencies. Being able to travel and discover a different country while gaining a new work experience was incredible. Moreover, this internship opened my eyes on international crisis and nutritional problems and on solutions to fight them. The second highlight of this internship was the working environment: it was very enjoyable and welcoming, contrary to expectations that one may hold about large bureaucracies. My supervisors and coworkers were all open, friendly and most of all respectful and this greatly contributed to my work experience. The first day of my internship, my supervisor told me how the role of interns is very crucial in this unit and that was true indeed; my contributions and opinions were taken into consideration and appreciated at all times. Another highlight was the conferences reuniting WFP Panama’s staff as well as WFP Headquarters’ staff from Rome, which I was able to attend. It was an honor to be able to participate in discussions aiming to improve WFP’s operations. However, just as any other intern working in a new organization, I faced some challenges as well. The language barrier was for me the biggest, but everyone in the office kindly helped me with this.

Working with the World Food Programme gave me better ideas on where I see myself in the future. Now that I have gained experience working in a Regional Bureau of the UN, I would like my future experience to involve working in a Country Office, to get directly involved in specific projects regarding the country, depending on its social and economic background. This opportunity could not have been possible without the help of the Schull Yang International Experience Award and my donors Mr. Joseph Schull and Ms. Anna Yang. The funds I received helped pay the airfare, the accommodation and my living expenses. I would like to once again thank Mr. Joseph Schull and Ms. Anna Yang for their generosity and for making this incredible opportunity possible for me. I would also like to thank the Internship Offices Network for providing me with this opportunity as a McGill student. Through this internship, not only did I learn valuable skills and meet wonderful people, but I also grew as an individual and a professional.

Sou (left) with fellow interns and supervisors Hannah and Tayra, attending Social Media Day, an event organized for people working in Communications.


Alexandra Matas Calderon, BA Honors International Development Studies

Alexandra is a second year student majoring in Honors International Development with a minor concentration in Economics. Before coming to McGill, Alexandra lived in several countries in Latin America, West Africa and the Caribbean. This contributed to her interest in development, economic empowerment, and food security. She is looking forward to interning with the United Nation’s World Food Programme Regional Bureau in Panama, a wonderful experience for personal and professional development.

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I am entering my third year in International Development at McGill. I developed an interest in humanitarian aid and development after growing up in several countries across West Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. The hands-on, multicultural and engaging aspects of development are just some of the reasons I decided to pursue this field. This summer I had the opportunity of interning with the United Nations World Food Programme in Panama City and further develop my interest in food security.

WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian association addressing hunger and promoting food security. Beyond food assistance in emergencies, they help communities rebuild and strengthen their livelihoods. Their mission goes hand in hand with the second Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) which aims to achieve a world with “Zero Hunger” by 2030. Interning with WFP presented itself as a wonderful opportunity for professional and personal growth. Beyond gaining experience in international development, this internship allowed me to develop new skills as well as put my knowledge to practice. Working in the regional office of the Latin America and Caribbean region allowed me to simultaneously learn about all of the projects WFP is implementing in over 12 countries and the challenges it is facing in the region.

As an intern I would translate, format and edit material (articles, stories, press releases, best practices etc.) from regional and global operations for WFP’s online platforms. I also assisted the Social Media Coordinator in creating posts for their social media accounts. Our supervisor encouraged us to take initiative and develop our own projects, thanks to which I was able to improve my graphic design skills. A highlight of my internship was seeing these graphics featured on the homepage of the WFP website and on their English, Spanish and French social media accounts. It was a huge honour to be entrusted with important responsibilities and to be recognized for my work.

The second highlight of my internship was the work environment. We were welcomed with open arms on our first day and were surrounded by some of the most knowledgeable, open-minded and endearing people I have ever met. Throughout my three months with WFP I was part of their team and our opinion and work were always valued. I truly enjoyed my time there and couldn’t have asked for better colleagues and supervisor. I did not receive any credit for this internship but have taken a lot of things from this incredible experience.

Thanks to my academic background I was already familiar with many of the things that WFP focuses on, but despite my previous knowledge and being bilingual, the technical terms and extensive acronyms used in many of the documents I had to translate were a real challenge. The “WFP jargon” was truly intimidating at first but over time I became comfortable translating those documents.

This wonderful experience has been an immensely valuable asset to my undergraduate degree. I was able to experience what working for a large bureaucracy like the UN is and expand my knowledge beyond what I could’ve learned in class. The stories of many of the colleagues and life-long friends I have made have inspired me and furthered my interest in development. I would love to keep working in development, especially in an international organization like WFP.

This opportunity could not have been possible without the Schull Yang International Experience Award, which helped me cover the majority of my expenses. I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation to my donors Ms. Anna Yang and Mr. Joseph Schull; their support has truly positively impacted my life. I would also like to thank the Internship Offices Network for providing me with this opportunity.

Alexandra with supervisor Alejandro Lopez-Chicheri.