Ekshana Karki Chhetri MPA '18 is currently completing her Design, Partnering, Management, and Innovation (DPMI Plus) practicum as a Youth Workforce and Entrepreneurship Intern at World Learning in Washington, D.C. Originally from Nepal, Ekshana received her Bachelor’s in Social Work and English from St. Xavier’s College in Kathmandu, Nepal. She went on to work with Empowering Women of Nepal in Pokhara, Nepal, a local grassroots organization that empowers, educates, and creates employment opportunities for underprivileged girls through tourism and sports. She was a participant in the Women Win Digital Storytelling and Mentorship program in the Netherlands, during which time she launched “Go Girls,” a community outreach project that offers life skills programs to young girls. Ekshana’s sister, Archana Karki Chhetri, also attended the Middlebury Institute and graduated in 2009.
How did you find World Learning? What was the application/interview process like?
I found World Learning through Carolyn Meyer (Director of Immersive Professional Learning and Special Programs). Carolyn introduced me to alumna Elizabeth Silva MPA '11, Senior Program Officer at the Women’s Empowerment Program at The Asia Foundation. The Asia Foundation already had an intern for the spring semester, but Elizabeth was very kind to forward my resume to her circle of friends and that is how I learned about World Learning (WL).
I did some research about WL through their website. The organization attracted me immediately and I was very impressed by their work. It was definitely an ideal organization for me because some of the important work they were doing in the U.S and abroad was vested in empowering and educating youths through exchange programs and creating entrepreneurship skills.
The application/interview process went very smoothly. Within a short period, I interviewed with World Learning and received the offer right away. Now, I am here in DC!
What is the best advice you received for working in development?
Go out and network with people in the field as much as you can. You will learn a lot from their experiences.
Which courses at the Middlebury Institute have been the most beneficial in your current work? Why?
As a Youth Workforce and Entrepreneurship Intern, I have been assisting my supervisor to develop a career center toolkit. This toolkit will provide important information about career development centers and services in academic institutions. My role includes literature reviews on career centers and services in community colleges as a way of learning from existing models and how to develop more. Since I am interested in learning more about project design and evaluation, DPMI has been one of the many crucial courses that have helped me to understand project design and evaluation. DPMI provided me with the basic understanding of project design and also provided the platform for practical experimentation within the classroom. Additionally, the courses I took as part of Sprintensive 2017 provided further understanding of storytelling within development work.
Courses such as Finance Functions, Proposal Writing, Leadership and Social Innovation have been very helpful with the practical skills. Professor Lisa Leopold’s course on Professional Presentation skills has turned out to be very handy in my internship as I am expected to present research findings with my team.
In Professor Arrocha’s globalization class I had written a policy memo about youth migration in Nepal and everything I am doing at World Learning has been helping me to narrow down my policy memo. It has been really helpful because it has allowed me to focus and not feel overwhelmed.
What is something you had to learn “on the job?
One of the many things I like about my internship with World Learning is that my supervisor creates the platform for me to attend and observe several project design-related meetings. Every day I am learning so much at World Learning. Additionally, I am learning new technological skills, such as utilizing Zotero to manage references for my research work.
Tell me about your favorite memory from your time at Middlebury Institute?
It’s difficult to share my favorite memory from my time in Monterey because I have so many. The best part was meeting students from all over the world and interacting with them in and out of class. I enjoyed learning from them and hearing about their world wide experiences.
I really enjoyed group work because it pushed and challenged me in so many ways.
Besides academic life, I worked as a Library Graduate Assistant, which was a great way to interact with students, staffs and faculty. I also had a plot in the school garden and enjoyed looking after it with my friends and planting vegetables. When I needed to distress and reconnect, I liked to cook and eat with friends.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Honestly, I am not quite sure where or what I will be doing in five years; however, I have always been passionate about working for youth engagement and women’s menstrual health. I believe I will be utilizing the skills and experiences I have learned up to this point in order to bring change in this field.
Internship and job searches are usually one of the most stressful processes for students. Always reach out to your adviser, faculty and alumni for connections and resources. Don’t be afraid, be open, be kind to yourself and trust your journey.
Aricquel Payne MPA '18, is completing her IPSS practicum at Six Square, Austin’s Black Cultural District, in Austin, Texas.
From the GSIPM blog: For this month’s DPMI spotlight, we spoke with January 2018 DPMI Rwanda participant Tyler Henry. Tyler is a returned Peace Corps volunteer who served in both the Ukraine and in Cameroon. Currently, he is completing his final semester in the MPA program specializing in monitoring and evaluation. He spoke to us about why he chose DPMI Rwanda vs DPMI in the US, challenges he faced during his time in Rwanda, takeaways from the experience, and provided advice for anyone interested in participating in DPMI in the future.