We Are Knox...
Asian Studies and Economics Double Major
Marta Schneider is currently interning with the U.S. Department of State
as part of the Virtual Student Foreign Service e-internship. Working with
President Obama's Feed the Future initiative, Marta writes blog posts
and conducts research for a variety of international food service sites.
Can you cite an example of how your in-classroom and/or out-of-the-classroom experiences at Knox have benefited you in the internship?
At Knox, we have these things like independent studies, Honors projects or senior research, and we're always just talking about "doing your own thing" and how you're able to pursue what interests you. I've already done two independent studies, so being able to work on your own, being able to have these abilities, and to do research and to push yourself to keep moving forward -- that is really good, [and it shows an ability] to take initiative. I have to research and create my own blog posts, so all of those skills that you learn at Knox, they all come together.
Describe your day-to-day experiences.
Because I'm working from home, it's really different all the time. When I first started, my bosses would send me some literature to look at and I'd have to read it to learn about food security/Feed the Future, etc. The U.S. Agency for International Development [USAID] has this website, Agrilinks, where I [now] do a majority of my work. It's made for people who are in the field, dealing with food security issues and agriculture, or just for people who are doing research at home who work for the government. One of the things they first had me do was to post events that were happening around food security or agriculture.
Most recently, I started writing blogs for Agrilinks. Our blog posts aren't very long; they are simply 500-800 words, on some aspect of agriculture. [One of my posts] was on cassava, which is like a root, but a crop grown in Africa that is a rising cash crop that could be really beneficial. It could be used in a lot of things like medicines and food, for starches. It's also very protein-rich. I wrote a very basic blog post on that just to get the word out there for people who don't know and have very little experience with it.
From here, it's looking like I'll get to do bi-monthly blog posts on Agrilinks.
How do you think this internship experience will benefit you in terms of your education, future career plans, personal development, etc.?
I really like that it's expanded my knowledge so much, especially about all of these channels within the U.S. government and all of the things being done to improve food security for emerging nations such as in Africa and other places around the world.
At the time [of application] I was taking a class about international organizations, and I was really interested in the [United Nations] so I decided to take a chance. I picked Feed the Future after learning about the U.N. World Food Program in my International Organizations class. It just really struck a chord with me, the importance of needing food. There's something about that particular organization that really spoke to me at the time, and I just felt that any kind of international organization is definitely where I see myself, where I think my skills will be useful.
So far, it's been really useful and has definitely helped me realize that, yes, working with international organizations is definitely where I want to go. I'm a lot more interested in food and nutrition now and would like to work for the U.N. World Food Program. It's exciting because this is just the beginning of me exploring a potential job like that.
What has been the coolest part of your internship?
It's really cool that all of these other people, who are so much higher up than I am, are potentially reading my blog posts. Also the people that I get to work with are all amazing, and have accomplished so much, and are willing to give advice. One told me, "If you haven't noticed already, we've all done a bit of wandering. So, expect to do some wandering yourself, and everything will be OK."