During their internship, Alexandre Marchand (MIE, ‘21), Ashwini Tallur (MDEV, ‘20) and Angela Minyi Hou (MIA, ‘21) worked to facilitate negotiations between WTO members and governments seeking membership under the China’s LDCs and Accessions Programme. Their tasks included policy and economic research, conference and webinar organisation, in addition to organising capacity-building workshops for government officials.
“Due to the pandemic, our internship was virtual for the most part”, remarked the students. “Thankfully, we had the opportunity to work in the office for the first month, which allowed us to familiarise ourselves with the inner workings of the Division in-person, and more importantly, enabled us to connect and get to know one another as colleagues and as members of the Graduate Institute community. We worked extremely well together as a team, thanks to the connections facilitated by the Institute’s network, and we leveraged the training and knowledge from our different master’s programmes to learn from each other’s (inter)disciplinary skills and refine our professional approaches”.
Alex and Ashwini also contributed to the Trade for Peace Programme during their time at the WTO, which emphasises the role of economic integration in promoting peace and security, and enhances collaboration between trade, peace and humanitarian communities. Notably, Ashwini was a part of the Capstone Project team that worked with the Division on the role of trade in peace-building in the Horn of Africa region. She spearheaded the research, analysis, and writing of the report, thus gaining the skills and knowledge that were beneficial in this internship.
The students’ internship at the WTO spanned 10 months, during which they were “integrated into the Division's work and entrusted with substantive tasks, despite the virtual circumstances resulting from COVID-19”. They added that “through this internship, we learned to harness each of our strengths, which is a testament to the success of the interdisciplinary environment of the Graduate Institute”.
“Our supervisors were patient and meticulous mentors who provided detailed feedback and encouraged us to challenge their approaches”, they continued. “We also thoroughly enjoyed working with colleagues who involved us in their projects and brought us to external meetings with diplomatic missions. Overall, we had approachable and receptive co-workers who valued our contributions despite our status as interns”.
Reflecting on their time as interns, Alex, Ashwini and Angela noted that “as young professionals, we have used this internship as an opportunity to develop our written and oral communication skills, enhance our understanding of the WTO accession process, and expand our knowledge of trade law, economics and policy, in addition to sharpening other soft skills such as professionalism, collaboration and time management -- all of which will certainly serve us well in our future careers”.