Jessica Dubow, International Division Intern/Washington, D.C., Fall 2014
I’m interning for the Center for Health Information, Monitoring, and Evaluation (CHIME) in fall rather than over the summer. I graduated this past May, and in a few months I leave for the Peace Corps. Meanwhile, I hope to develop a stronger background in health and expand my understanding of how large public health organizations work.
People at JSI have a wealth of experience and love to share it. I attended a lunch presentation about an intervention that introduced iron into Cambodian diets, and all week I heard people referring to it. I’ve since been to another short presentation on useful design tools. Even the people I haven’t met individually have been extremely friendly and welcoming. I admit I was taken aback at first by everyone saying hello in the elevator and making small talk in the kitchen.
Two days after beginning my internship, I received news that my Peace Corps placement had changed from Nicaragua to Ethiopia. After spending six months expecting to go to Nicaragua, I suddenly had only seven days to decide whether I would commit 27 months to a region and culture I knew absolutely nothing about. My supervisor immediately connected me with several people at JSI who are Ethiopian or who have worked in Ethiopia. Everyone was more than happy to talk with me, lend me books, and teach me some phrases in Amharic, which made me both more excited to accept my invitation and more comfortable at JSI.
Jennifer Gilbert, International Division Intern, Fall 2013/Spring 2014
Interning at JSI was one of the most valuable experiences I had in college. During my year as an International Division intern, I had the pleasure of supporting staff members on everything from technical manuals and family planning interventions to hiring staff for bilateral proposals.
JSI exposed me to all of the components that go into large-scale international public health projects. The variety of things I learned include budgeting, procurement, proposal design, human resources, and travel logistics in addition to more advanced research and data analysis. One of the project coordinators described working at JSI as a sort of “MBA in public health,” because you learn many business and operations skills that are not always emphasized in the classroom. Some of the most notable memories I have were designing checklists and evaluation data on emergency obstetric care and clinic preparedness for a project in Timor-Leste, as well as preparing posters and newsletters for family planning work.
A great aspect of JSI is that people are really accessible. I worked with staff from all levels of the division and many went out of their way to talk with me about my future. Several technical staff members made time to advise me about different educational or career opportunities. JSI encourages this environment by offering occasions to volunteer, learn, and enjoy food together. Few large organizations are as tightly-knit.
Working at JSI was wonderful. I leave with a much broader vision of global health and a number of mentors to whom I can turn as I go forward.
Erin Glese-Smith, International Intern, Summer 2014
When I interviewed at JSI, a former intern explained to me that there was no such thing as an “intern task.” I didn’t realize how true that was until I spent a summer with JSI. Everyone does a little bit of everything here, from making copies to writing proposals, and that leads to a uniquely varied and educational experience.
One of the most significant aspects of interning at JSI was exposure to the various components of supporting large-scale health projects oversees. I worked on everything from USAID financial audits to developing a toolkit of resources to run a contraceptive day. This variety helped me define the areas of global health that I hope to work in, and gave me a greater understanding of the landscape of the international development field.
My time at JSI has truly shaped how I will approach my last year of graduate school at the University of Michigan. I now have a more defined career path and areas to focus my time and studies. JSI provided a comprehensive introduction to the field of global health project implementation and an experience for which I am extremely grateful.
Tarikwa Leveille, International Intern/Pretoria, South Africa, Summer 2014
As an intern for the MEASURE project, I gained an understanding of program evaluation and its role in improving public health. With the help of JSI, the South Africa Department of Health implemented the District Health Information Software to monitor and evaluate data quality for evidence-based health care services. The data they collect from facilities determines which health services are needed and provided to the people of South Africa. The training for the software, which I attended, gave me a new appreciation for the importance of a functioning system to monitor and evaluate data to provide health services.
My internship was the first time that I was treated as a professional with something to offer—not just much to learn. My supervisor asked me for ideas and valued my knowledge. He gave me the autonomy to pursue whatever interested me at the office.
But I was also part of the team, in and out of the office. On July 18th, in honor of Nelson Mandela Day, everyone is encouraged to serve the community. The JSI South Africa team painted a classroom for the Tembisa Child Welfare Society for abandoned, abused, orphaned, and foster children. It was wonderful to spend time with the children, and served as a reminder of the privileges that many of us take for granted, regardless of the part of the world we inhabit.
Jeff Paddock, International Division Intern/Washington, DC, Summer 2014
My internship at JSI’s Washington, DC office was a fantastic look inside a truly diverse company. Internships are meant to be mutually beneficial, and nowhere else is this exemplified the way it is at JSI. I was able to work on numerous interesting projects and was encouraged by my supervisors to make connections wherever I could. I participated in research for the International Association of Public Health Logisticians resource library, and spent much of my time using QGIS software to research open street map supply routes in Tanzania. These tasks marked my first contributions to foreign aid, and I don’t just say that lightly. JSI seems to be composed of nice people from every fascinating walk of life who decide to nest here, and they showed me a degree of respect that encouraged me to pursue my own path at the end of the summer.
Ari Radcliffe-Greene, Health Services Intern, Summer 2014
I am split about which part of my experience at JSI I have liked the most. There is the job itself of course, but that would not have been as enjoyable if not for the JSI community.
In support of the first option is the experience I have gained. As a communications intern for the AIDS.gov project, I had the luxury of sampling pieces of some very specific but fascinating disciplines. I learned about the challenges of running a government website, keeping it well managed, and discussing difficult issues in a way appropriate for an official resource. At the same time, we had to maintain viewers by offering useful tools in an exciting way. The complexities of the AIDS.gov project behind-the-scenes is truly fascinating, from organizing spreadsheets to posting on more than five social media sites to filming HIV-related videos.
Through all of that, I was supported by my AIDS.gov teammates. They challenged me but never left me at a loss. They gave me the space to work diligently and were wonderful role models, and for that I thank them.
So which is better, the love of the job or the community around it? I guess I’ll never know.
Mercy Simiyu, International Division Intern/Ethiopia, Summer 2014
Every day this past summer, I ate injera, smiled, and laughed. I was an intern in Ethiopia, providing communications and documentation support to JSI’s Integrated Family Health Program (IFHP) Oromia Regional Program Office. This opportunity allowed me to meet some of the most public-health minded folks in Addis Ababa. My colleagues made this position especially wonderful. They welcomed me warmly and took time to make sure I understood every aspect of IFHP’s regional office.
As any intern would attest, I was thrilled to do more than what my ‘title’ indicated. Not only did I visit health centers in low-resource settings, I also conducted field-level data collection, entry, analysis, and reporting; focus group discussions with community health workers on the use of technology for service improvement and the determinants of oral rehydration systems use at the household level; and attended trainings on how to fill in maternal and child health register books.
I have always wanted to come back home to Africa to work on global health issues, and this internship strengthened my resolve to do so. I appreciated the daily cultural immersion in Ethiopia (enjoying injera, the occasional raw meat (kitfo), and practicing Amharic), but was truly inspired to be involved with IFHP’s community-level work, which focuses on health care quality improvement, building health care staff capacity, and ultimately, improving people’s lives.
Gagan Verma, International Division Intern/Ethiopia, Summer 2014
This summer I spent two months as an intern for JSI’s USAID-funded Integrated Family Health Program (IFHP) in Ethiopia, which aims to reduce maternal and child mortality, improve child nutrition, and increase the availability of long-term family planning methods and immunizations. I helped program directors analyze project data and created a feasibility analysis to strengthen maternal delivery services and infection prevention by implementing rainwater harvesting in rural health centers.
I also visited rural health posts to gather information about the use of oral rehydration treatment and conducted focus groups with Health Extension Program staff, the IFHP-trained community health workers. I learned how important it is to promote health-seeking interventions that respect cultural traditions. Above all, my time in Ethiopia reinforced my goal to develop health care systems in low-resource areas.