Thursday, July 21, 2016

Summer Internship in Peru: Putting my newly acquired economics skills to the test

The majority of students at SAIS work an internship in the summer between their first and second year of study. The internships are an opportunity for students to gain more insight into the careers they'd like to pursue after SAIS. 

The locations of the internships are as diverse as the student body at SAIS Europe, where students come from several dozen countries and represent all continents.

In the last post, students working in Brazil talked about their experiences. This week, Michelle Mora, a student in the MA program focusing on Latin America, tells us about her professional, cultural and personal experience in Lima, Peru.

Pisco sours, fresh ceviche, dune buggying and --the most exciting of all-- international trade in action. That about sums up my summer, although it’s winter here, in Peru.

I'm originally from Illinois and before starting my master's degree at SAIS Europe, I worked in international recruiting in Miami for four years.  After an incredibly challenging, rewarding, and fun year in Bologna, I again hopped continents and quickly settled into Lima, Peru, where I have been working at the U.S. Commercial Service for the past two months.
Michelle (right) with two fellow SAIS classmates in Lima, Peru

The Commercial Service is the trade promotion arm of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Agency tasked with promoting U.S. exports internationally.

My days have been filled with matchmaking meetings between Peruvian and U.S. companies looking to do business; preparing for trade shows; and attending cross-agency meetings with Economic and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Officers at the Embassy.

I have enjoyed putting my newly acquired economics skills to the test by researching and drafting market reports on “SMART city” initiatives, education, healthcare, and intellectual property protections in Peru, among other topics. I had the opportunity to attend a few Embassy events including the Peruvian-American bi-national party; the Ambassador’s Fourth of July party --in which Peruvian President-elect Pablo Pedro Kuczynski  stopped by for a surprise speech; and, arguably my favorite, a USDA “Burgers and Beer” event promoting U.S. beef and craft beer exports to Peru.

Outside of work, I have been enjoying living with two other fellow SAIS Latin American Studies students who are also working in Lima. We have been adventuring and tasting our way around this beautiful country. Consistently rated as one of the top culinary destinations in the world, Peru has some of the freshest, most complex and diverse plates I have ever seen. Every trip to the supermarket includes trying a new fruit or vegetable.  Just considering potatoes, Peru has more than 3,800 varieties!

In Huacachina

On the weekends we have visited the sea lions and penguins at Las Islas Ballestas (coined “the poor man’s Galapagos”), screamed our heads off on a dune buggy ride in the coastal desert town of Huacachina, and watched the condors soar over Colca Canyon, one of the world’s deepest canyons.

With only one month to go before heading to Washington, DC for my final year, I look forward to continued challenges at work, a trip to the Amazon, Machu Picchu trekking, visiting Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world, and maybe a few more pisco sours.

Michelle Mora 
SAIS Europe 2016

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