Rachel Landers at the Institute of International Education, Mexico City

BY RACHEL LANDERS

I loved my classes at TC, but as I sat through summer school, I knew I wanted another international experience under my belt before hitting the job search. WIth two credits and an IP left to complete before I could graduate, I spent a few intensive days scouring the internet for whatever possibilities I could find. One caught my interest right away, but I knew that selling the relocation to my family and friends would be hard. The Institute of International Education’s Office for Latin America in Mexico City was hiring for a fall intern in the scholarships division and the EducationUSA division. I applied for the former and was accepted within several days. I was excited to have another opportunity to use my Spanish professionally and spend a few months in a sunny–and much cheaper–place.

Having spent less than 10 days in Mexico before in my life, I thought I would have trouble adjusting. Going to a city that dwarfs NYC in both number of people and square miles wasn’t easy, but my colleagues and the community I developed there made the transition much easier.

IIE-Mexico is a small office with only a small pool of employees divided between two buildings that house various US education entities: University of Arizona, the Fulbright Commission, the Department of Trade and Commerce, the US Embassy, and the like. I split my time in the Scholarships Division betwene several projects, initially. I worked with the NYU Abu Dhabi Outreach Officer on planning several of her trips abroad to promote NYUAD and attended several college fairs around the city with her, I conducted research on educational trends in Latin America for promotional pitches to corporate donors, and I organized a reception for a fellowship alumni group. This was just the first two months.

My main project while in Mexico was to develop, propose, and manage a scholarship program for ExxonMobil that would promote undergraduate research in the sciences and math. This involved creation of a proposal and budget that would be accepted by Exxon and turned into a viable program with various learning opportunities and financial benefits. Once it was presented to the university students we aimed to benefit, I gathered the applications, formed a selection committee, and organized an interview day. Though I had to leave right after informing the students that they had been selected to receive the scholarship, being able to be a part of a process from start to somewhat of a finish was a great reward for me.

I send out internship notices for IIE-Mexico all the time, so be on the lookout on the SIE listserv!

Rachel graduated from the IED Master’s program in Februrary of 2012.  She can be contacted at rml2150@tc.columbia.edu.

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