Kimani DeShields-Williams is a fourth-semester International Policy and Development student, completing her International Professional Service Semester with the International Organization for Migration in Bangkok, Thailand.
What were you doing before you came to the Middlebury Institute?
Before MIIS, I was completing my undergraduate degree at the University of Delaware! My experiences on campus with study abroad, service trips with the campus ministry, and interning at the IRC had a huge influence on my decision to go straight to graduate school. MIIS was the perfect fit!
How did you find your internship? What resources would you recommend using?
During my first semester, I printed out a list of all the internships previous students held to get an idea of different possibilities. After deciding what experience I wanted to gain and which organizations I would like to work for, I began to make connections. Carolyn Meyer (Director of Immersive Professional Learning and Special Programs)helped me get in contact with the Regional Office here in Bangkok and now I’m here! In my opinion, the best resource is your network! Simply talking to people, asking questions and not being afraid to reach out will take you a long way. Not to mention, the MIIS mafia is strong. We have connections everywhere!
Have any of the lessons you learned at the Institute been applicable to your current position?
I feel everything I studied at MIIS has been applicable. My internship involves a lot of proposal review. Drawing from my experience in Professor Ortiz’s proposal writing and Beryl’s program evaluation, I have felt confident in utilizing my knowledge to improve project proposals and develop tools. In addition, the hands-on nature at MIIS has taught me how to be critical and innovative.
What has been your favorite moment of the internship so far?
My supervisor “threw me into the fire”,as he said, and gave me the opportunity to present a new framework to a group of project managers from different country missions. The first big presentation is always the scariest, but it felt good to have the opportunity to put myself out there.
My other favorite moment was my first day. My supervisor once again threw me in and sent me to a meeting to represent the IOM among other UN agencies. I was inspired by the representatives at the meeting and could not believe I was in the same room them. The United Nations has been a dream of mine since my freshman year of high school. Being in that meeting at that moment motivated me to continue on my path.
Working abroad can be mentally and physically exhausting. What do you do for self-care?
Bangkok is a busy city. When I feel overwhelmed, I try to find a quiet place to write. I enjoy sitting on my balcony or going to the park for a quiet and pretty place to take a “breather.”
If you could give first semester-Kimani advice about school, work, internships…what would it be?
It all works out in the end! Don’t doubt yourself!
Do you have any final thoughts you would like to share?
I know the process of finding an IPSS placement can be stressful. For anyone who is in the middle of searching for internships, don’t give up! Also, don’t be scared to take this opportunity to learn about a new culture or branch out!
Thank you, Kimani. We wish you all the best moving forward!