During the last six months, I have had the opportunity to intern in IBI’s project management unit. For a second-year graduate student in International Commerce and Policy at George Mason University, this experience has given me the chance to see how theory and government policy affect work on the ground, and to develop skills that will help me advance in the job market. Here are 4 reasons why others should work or intern in project management at some point in their international development careers:
1. Understand how theory affects development realities
In the university context, we learn about how theories affect policies. At the project management level, I was able to gain an understanding of how theories guide development objectives, determining how international development projects are created and funded.
2. Become familiar with government contracts and learn about the business side of development
There are hard and fast business realities that implementing international development projects present. Everyone wants to make the most use of the money available, and that means monitoring project budgets with a keen eye. From fixed price contracts to cost-reimbursement contracts and incentive contracts, I have had the chance to track budgets and monitor their progress during project execution.
3. Learn about the rules and procedures of donor agencies, knowledge that makes you marketable
As could be expected, there are a lot of rules and procedures that go along with implementing projects, and learning them is best done when working on practical issues with guidance from a knowledgeable team. These procedures shape how projects are implemented, and what I’ve learned at IBI will make me a more knowledgeable employee in this field. For example, I had the chance to observe project work plans, the recruiting process, and marketing plans. Moreover, understanding federal government contracts is really important in this field; its requirements, terminology and regulation gave me a solid knowledge of how to implement them.
4. Make great connections
I am pleased that I became a part of IBI’s team. The great professional network I have developed and the friendly staff of IBI’s home office created a delightfully energetic working environment! Nobody knows what future opportunities for collaboration can bring, but working with this staff of such diverse personal and professional backgrounds has given me a glance into the career paths that may be possible.
I encourage anyone working in international development to spend some time in the project management arena.