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 to world 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 240,000 Americans have served as Peace Corps Volunteers, living and working side-by-side with local community members in 142 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 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 and operations.
OSIRP interns will gain valuable training and hands-on experience in data analytics and visualization, evaluation, strategic planning, and performance management processes in the federal government. Major focus area will include database management and 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 and/or preparing minutes at strategic review meetings with high-level agency staff.
Possible projects for the IOP Director’s Intern are:
- Organizing meetings and events related to annual updates to 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
- Supporting advanced analysis of survey from the agencywide Annual Volunteer Survey and administrative data
- Assisting in the development of OSIRP’s evaluation and administrative data products
- Support research in administrative records for the upcoming 60th anniversary of the agency
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 and for those interested in the federal government to see how an agency operates. Interns will also have the opportunity to attend meetings with senior staff of the agency.
Required knowledge, skills, and abilities: experience with MS Office Suite software including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint; excellent writing skills; 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; 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.
2019 Intern Reflection:
This summer, I am having an awesome time working in the Office of Strategic Information, Research and Planning (OSIRP) at Peace Corps. Peace Corps has a lot of interns in different offices at its head quarters in downtown DC (where around 600 people work), and my particular office, while small, has four other interns, most of whom are grad students, working on data-related projects. I have really enjoyed getting to know everyone in this relaxed work environment.
Our office works on agency-wide strategic planning, survey development and research, and data analysis for other offices as well as general analysis projects. My background is pretty quantitative, so I've been able to do a good amount of that kind of work, but this internship does not require a strong technical background. My work so far has been in a few areas in the agency. One project involved empirical impact evaluation for Peace Corps's projects around the world. Another project is focused on developing a predictive model to reduce volunteer attrition during application and training. I have been working mostly in Excel, R and SPSS, but knowledge in these programs is not required.
Some benefits I did not expect: I have learned a lot about government operations and structure by attending meetings and talking to people here, as well as taking advantage of opportunities in DC like visiting the Supreme Court on a decision day. Another benefit has been learning about nations around the world I knew very little about (e.g., Micronesia, Eswatini, Vanuatu) through my research projects as well as through other Peace Corps employees (almost half of people who work here are Returned Peace Corps Volunteers). Peace Corps is a really unique organization and there's a lot to learn here!
Beatrice Farb '21
2018 Intern Reflection:
This summer I'm interning with the Office of Strategic Information, Research, and Planning. My supervisor has been super accommodating with my schedule, start dates, and other requests. And you can structure your work the way you would like. My main project has been researching for a strategic objective about Peace Corp's development impact, where I've also been able to plug in on some qualitative data coding. So far, the work has not been technical, but this varies a bit year to year based on the intern's skill set. Probably the most important thing for this internship is a level of enthusiasm/curiosity for government, strategic planning, and the Peace Corp's mission. One cool perk is that you have access to a bunch of free trainings via Lynda or other government conferences, and if there are skills you want to learn (Excel, coding languages, statistical packages etc.), you can definitely develop them here even if they aren't required as part of your day to day work.
Theo Lebryk '19
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.