The Peace Corps traces its roots and mission to 1960, when then-Senator John F. Kennedy challenged students at the University of Michigan to serve their country in the cause of peace by living and working in developing countries. From that inspiration grew a federal government agency devoted toworld peace and friendship. Today, the Peace Corps is dedicated to bringing new ideas, fresh approaches, and five decades of proven and promising practices together to ensure that the agency remains in the vanguard of international volunteerism, grassroots development, and cross-cultural exchange.
Since its creation, over 220,000 Amerians have served as Peace Corps Volunteers, living and working side-by-side with local community members in 141 countries around the world. Based on the results achieved, the Peace Corps is widely recognized as a highly efficient and cost-effective mechanism for both community development and public diplomacy, simultaneously addressing host country needs for capacity building and contributing to high levels of cross-cultural understanding between Americans and those they serve.
The IOP Director's Intern will serve in the Office of Strategic Information, Research, and Planning (OSIRP) at Peace Corps headquarters in downtown Washington, DC. Through direct collaboration with other headquarters offices and overseas posts, OSIRP guides agency planning, enhances the stewardship and governance of data, and conducts research and evaluation of agency-level programs.
OSIRP interns will gain valuable training and hands-on experience in research support, data analytics and visualization, evaluation, and strategic planning. A major focus will be global survey administration, database management, and data analysis including the creation of graphs, tables, and other data visuals using various software applications to meet internal and external data requests. The position will also include editing and proofreading reports and presentations.
Possible projects for the IOP Director’s Intern are:
- Supporting research into the perceptions of local counterparts on the effectiveness of Volunteers
- Reviewing indicator validity and measurement tools for Volunteer activity data
- Organizing meetings and events to promote the agency’s strategic plan
- Participating in the evaluation of agency operations in direct support of the strategic plan
- Supporting team members with creative visualizations of existing data for internal and external use
- Assisting in the administration of agency-wide surveys, including the Annual Volunteer Survey, Global Counterpart Survey and Host Country Staff Survey
- Implementing a validation and verification system for agency performance data
- Supporting advanced analysis of survey and administrative data
- Promoting OSIRP’s research, evaluation, and data products
The internship will expose students to international development at an organizational and individual level. It is a great way for students thinking of joining the Peace Corps to learn more about the work of the agency. Interns will also have the opportunity to attend occasional inter-agency and/or agency meetings with OSIRP's Director.
Required knowledge, skills, and abilities: experience with MS Office Suite software including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint; analytic skills with attention to detail; a proactive and results-oriented approach to work; the ability to multi-task while working in a team environment; excellent writing skills; quantitative or research methods coursework and experience with statistical software (e.g., SPSS, R, SAS, MS Access, Nvivo) preferred but not required; and a strong interest in international development and volunteerism.
2017 Intern Reflection:
Working at the Office of Strategic Information, Research, and Planning over the course of this summer has been a great experience. The specific team that this internship places into is the Performance Team which focuses on things like long-term strategic planning processes and measuring agency performance goals. However, there is a great deal of flexibility within the office to collaborate and start projects with other teams that focus on your interests. My work so far has included a variety of things such as performance analysis, literature review, and meeting preparation. Some specific projects that I enjoyed have been looking at data on volunteer resignations, writing an internal communications strategy, and analyzing trends in post-level strategic frameworks. A note on skills, there are very few skills which are specifically required in this internship, and they are very willing to tailor projects to your skillset. However, a few skills may be particularly useful; a working knowledge of Excel, experience with SPSS, and an understanding of qualitative data analysis.
As for office culture, the entire office has been very welcoming, and they all reached out very early on to offer coffee and talk about their roles at the organization. Furthermore, there are a series of Employee Resource Groups which focus on things from cultural diversity to M&E that can put you in touch with people that share your interests. The key to this internship really is taking advantage of the people around you and being clear with what you are capable and excited about doing.
2016 Intern Reflection:
This is an extremely exciting time to be working in the New York City’s Office for Technology and Innovation (MOTI), which was started just two years ago by Mayor Bill DeBlasio. It is still a relatively small office with about fifteen full-time employees, which is a great opportunity to get to know everyone and see the impact of your work. The office is also in the midst of implementing a variety of really groundbreaking programs—many of which are the first of their kind in large cities. Replacing telephone booths with high-speed Wi-Fi in all five boroughs of the city, piloting new smart city technologies, and having “smart” garbage cans installed that both help the environment and optimize garbage collection routes are just some of the many projects I’ve been involved in over the summer.
My role consists primarily of conducting research on a variety of the projects. I started off the summer by working on finding products to list on a new digital discovery tool for city agencies to find smart city technologies. This marketplace was created in an effort to make technology implementation more demand rather than supply-driven, as well as to provide a place for products from all different sized companies to receive equal weight. I’ve also worked on an initiative to pilot smart city technologies on a small scale in a way that engages the community before implementing them more widely, and standardizing the “Internet of Things” implementation guidelines for city agencies, the first of its kind. Throughout the internship, everyone I’ve worked with has been extremely supportive, informative and helpful—the office is made up of really creative, intelligent people, drawing on their varied backgrounds and experiences to bring truly groundbreaking technological changes and initiatives within a huge city government. I’ve also really enjoyed both the ability to explore a wide variety of projects over the course of the summer as well as the fact that the internship has a great balance of guidance and being self-driven.
Olivia Chen '17
2015 Intern Reflection:
This summer, I have had the wonderful experience of working with the performance team in the Office of Strategic Information, Research, and Planning (OSIRP) at the Peace Corps. My primary role is assisting in the evaluation of the agency’s progress toward its goals in the third quarter of this fiscal year and in the preparation of the performance plan for the next fiscal year. My work has included a report on the Annual Strategic Review event, various small research assignments, the development of analysis plans, and meeting preparation, attendance, and follow-up. Overall, my internship has focused more on the strategic planning and evaluation components of OSIRP’s work than on the data analysis and survey administration elements, but this may vary from year to year based on the office’s projects. OSIRP has a professional and productive culture, and not only my direct supervisors, but everyone in the office has reached out to welcome and get to know me. All of the assignments that I have been given are thoughtful and substantive. Through this internship, I have also attended exciting events related to performance and international development.
I would highly recommend this internship to anyone who is interested in big picture thinking about public service work. OSIRP tackles questions such as: How can the Peace Corps know what impact it is having on the world? and How can it use data to guide the agency’s operation to maximize this impact? One of the reasons this internship is so valuable is that the work that this office does is also done by all other federal agencies and many public service organizations. Additionally, this experience provides a window into how federal agencies work and an opportunity to learn from many employees what serving as a Peace Corps volunteer entails. In my opinion, no particular skill set is necessary for this internship, but those with experience working for a public service organization and with some background in data analysis may be able to gain and contribute more.
Olivia Turner '16