Major: International Politics & Economics (with French)
Financial Inclusion Intern at Coordination Nationale de la Finance Inclusive in Antananarivo, Madagascar
”Working in a developing country is challenging, and to be successful you need to know what resources are available to you and how to take advantage of them. On the other hand, you need to know what resources aren’t available and how to find solutions without them. The “roll-up-your-sleeves” attitude goes a long way and definitely is a valuable asset in a professional setting, particularly in developing countries. ”
Tell us about your internship. I lived in Antananarivo, the capital city of Madagascar, for 10 weeks during summer 2019 and worked with the National Coordination for Financial Inclusion (an office within the Ministry of Finance) to develop a basic insurance education program for the general public, all in French! Only 1% of the population in Madagascar is subscribed to some type of insurance or microinsurance (insurances designed for low-income families and businesses), despite the fact that there are many insurance products available here. What’s even more surprising is the fact that a lot of people have some type of insurance (offered through a cellular network, for instance), but don’t even know it! As you might have guessed by now, there is truly no insurance culture in Madagascar. We’re hoping that by implementing an education program, we can start to change that. Living and working in a developing country certainly had its challenges, but it also provided so many learning experiences. Whether I was riding to work in a taxi or doing research on insurance education programs across the world, I was constantly learning. Living in Madagascar helped me to understand another culture and exposed me to new ways of life as well as the daily challenges faced by many people.
How did you find your internship? I found it via Handshake, and it was also sent from a professor.
How did CCI help you find this opportunity? CCI helped me discover and fund this internship. I found it on handshake, and subsequently received CCI funding for the internship. It would not have been possible for me to go Madagascar without CCI funding!
What advice do you have for Middlebury students looking for an internship? When I asked people this question, I always got the same answer. Network, network, network. While this is important too, I don’t believe that finding an internship is contingent upon your networking abilities. That said, don’t overlook professors. They are often very well connected and could be your path to getting an internship. I think it’s also important to relax and be patient. Everything will work out one way or the other! It’s also important to have some idea of what you’re hoping to get out of your summer. Not only will you get asked this in interviews, but it will also help you identify relevant opportunities and find an internship that you’re really excited about.
What was the most rewarding aspect of your work? The most rewarding part of my internship was the high degree of self-direction that I developed over the ten weeks. While I struggled with this at the beginning, I believe that I was able to develop this skill by the end. I also really enjoyed knowing that the work that I was doing would have a direct impact on the lives of others.
What do you wish you knew before interning that you would like to share with other students? I wish I knew how to self-direct better and take advantage of resources. Working in a developing country is challenging, and to be successful you need to know what resources are available to you and how to take advantage of them. On the other hand, you need to know what resources aren’t available and how to find solutions without them. The “roll-up-your-sleeves” attitude goes a long way and definitely is a valuable asset in a professional setting, particularly in developing countries.
Interested in getting help with summer internships? Come meet with one of the Peer Career Advisors (go/pcas) to learn more about how to search for internships, and how to apply for funding.
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