Giving Back Abroad: Matthew Miller '21

Matthew Miller
Matthew Miller

Throughout this summer, we will be spotlighting the summer experiences of our IOP students working in politics and public service through their internships across the country and globe.

The Director’s Internship program has been a signature of the Institute of Politics for nearly 25 years and each summer the IOP works with more than 150 government offices, non-profits, and news organizations to provide internships for students who are looking to pursue careers in politics and public service. The IOP also offers summer stipends for rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors accepting non- or low-paying summer internships in local, state, or federal government, public interest groups, non-governmental organizations, political organizations, and political campaigns.

This summer, as in years past, many of those students will be spending their summer giving back abroad - gaining experience working with governments and organizations across the globe.

Matthew Miller '21 is spending his summer in Paraguay working with the Fundación Paraguaya and Presidential Management Unit of Paraguay.

What inspired you to choose this public service internship?

I chose my internship because I wanted to combine my background speaking Spanish, my interest in government as Chair of the Harvard Political Union, and my experience analyzing data as an Applied Math concentrator to contribute to meaningful initiatives in public service.

What issues have you been focusing on in your internship?

With Fundación Paraguaya, I have been cleaning, organizing, and documenting their Poverty Stoplight survey database, which contains data from over 80,000 families. I used Tableau and Python's matplotlib library to visualize and map both socioeconomic and geographic patterns in the data as well as generate networks of organizations sharing common needs. With the Presidential Management Unit, I worked on planning an Innovation Fellowship to be implemented in the coming months by the Paraguayan government. This fellowship will allow young innovators to contribute their skills to government ministries in need of technological solutions.

What are you most excited about working in public service and government?

It has been exciting to explore the infinite applications of programming and mathematics to address challenges facing the public sector.

What have you learned from/gotten out of your internship experience this summer?

This summer, I have learned about the role of and need for data analysis and innovation in the public sector. It has been incredibly rewarding to see the utility of what I have learned as an Applied Math concentrator, as the concepts I learned in the classroom helped me generate visualizations and draw conclusions from the data. I am grateful to have gained a greater understanding of the intersection of the public sector and technology, an intersection that I hope to continue to explore in future courses and beyond college. Finally, it was an unforgettable experience to meet so many Paraguayans, travel around the country, and learn about the nation's vibrant history and culture.