Summer Internship with RTI International and the LEVE Project in Haiti by Cara McDonald, CED Major


Posted: October 8, 2015

I met many people working in Haiti and learned from everyone I worked with.
Field Visit

Field Visit

From June 2, 2014 to August 15, 2014 I was a summer intern with RTI International on the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funded Local Enterprise and Value Chain Enhancement (LEVE) project in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. As a student in the Community Environment and Development major with a minor in International Agriculture and many years of experience in Haiti, I was excited for the position of: Workforce Development Summer Intern. During the internship, learned a lot, gained many skills and developed future opportunities for my career.

I was eager to find an internship position in Haiti that would provide real life experience in the international development field. In the past, I had volunteered in Haiti every year since I was 15 years old and I spent two summers teaching English at an orphanage there. After my first time to Haiti I wanted to move there right away to do what I could to help. It was not until I witnessed an 18 year old girl give birth at a medical clinic that I decided to pursue an education first and I am thankful now that I did. I learned the language and found a program at PSU that I could apply to the kind of work I am passionate about.

For my internship, I wanted a position where I could use my skills in language, cultural understanding and knowledge of Haiti to help people while experiencing the work environment. Securing the position highly matched my interests and opened up a new avenue of possibilities for me.

My favorite part of my internship was going to meetings with stakeholders and doing field visits. During my position as intern I was not shy about asking to attend meetings or go on field visits to gain experience. There where many instances that I was able to accompany other employees to visit farmers, government officials and other NGOs. I met many people working in Haiti and learned from everyone I worked with. I was able to grow my networks and make connections.

I also learned about all the positions within the office. I asked questions and became friends with those working in the office. I made relationships that will last a long time. The staff helped me to learn about their positions in grant management, finances, and sector team leads. During my internship I completed many tasks to utilize my skills and education to help the project. The best part about being an intern is being able to get involved in everything.   

I am now confident about working in a professional setting internationally. I understand how to act as a professional including everything from appropriate attire to communicating with authority and clients. As well as growing professionally, I made valuable connections with people that helped me learn. The skills I learned will help me in any career position I find myself in.

I was able to apply the theories learned in the classroom of international development to the real world experience that I had during my internship. I am also able to apply the experiences I had in the classroom as I continue to learn at PSU. I gained skills and grew personally. Overall the experience was exceptional.