The American University of Rome supports student endeavors to gain ‘real-world,’ practical work experience by offering internship opportunities every semester. Academic internships for course credit provide students with a practical way of relating their studies to their career interests.
Bethany Eigenfeld, M.A. Food Studies
World Food Programme, Italy
For the internship course of the Food Studies Master’s program at the American University of Rome, I had the opportunity to work at the World Food Programme headquarters. My contract was with the Market Analysis team of the Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping (VAM) unit, however I have also had the chance to work with the mobile VAM unit (mVAM) on some of their surveys as well as on my Master’s thesis. The most fulfilling experience of my internship thus far has been a migration study conducted by the market team with the help of the mVAM team, especially as parts of the study were very helpful and relevant to my thesis. The migration report done by VAM helped to provide evidence of food insecurity as being a key driver of international migration and refugees. It also established links between armed conflict, food security, international migration, and refugees. Understanding the effect of conflict on food security has been where I have directed my studies at AUR, making the opportunity to work with the subject in a professional setting an amazing turn of events. The main recommendations that came out from the migration study done during my time at WFP were to continue research into the food security of countries with high amounts of refugees and migrants as well as to further development of understanding the links between conflict and food security. In terms of my program at AUR, these recommendations have fit very well into the research I have done throughout my studies and for my thesis. And last but not least, I also had the exciting and rewarding opportunity to participate in a FAO session to present the focus group discussion section of the migration study I worked on during my internship.
Theresa Lonetti, M.A. Food Studies
Bioversity International. Italy
My internship at Bioversity International gave me first-hand experience in applying to real life situations the lessons learned during the M.A. Food Studies program on development, policy, agricultural practices, and research methods. The internship tasks consisted of reviewing literature and landmark publications on conservation and sustainable use of on-farm conservation and participatory plant breeding in order to provide a report on background and context, methods and approaches, advantages and disadvantages, main achievements, barriers and constraints and future opportunities of these practices.
This internship was focused on various issues discussed in the Food Studies program including: the projected growth of global population to 9 billion by 2050, the SDGs eradicating poverty and hunger by 2030, the fundamental ideas of climate change adaptability, equity, biodiversity, agricultural practices, and using a bottom-up approach of partnering with small farmers to ensure adoption and resilience for a sustainable increase in food production for a more food secure future. It was important for me to see that all of these topics discussed in the program’s courses are at the center of international organizations like Bioversity, thus proving that the Food Studies program at AUR provides students with the tools to be knowledgeable and useful in the context of global international development.
Rita B. Pacheco, M.A. Food Studies
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Italy
I had the valuable opportunity to do an internship with the Nutrition and Food Systems Division (ESN) of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). My main tasks included reviewing draft documents of training materials, which would eventually become publications. I also developed an analysis on food logistics. This internship opportunity strengthened my conviction that poverty, food insecurity and malnutrition issues are no longer exclusively rural concerns; they are serious urban developmental problems that need to be addressed by country authorities and development agencies worldwide. In order to achieve FAO’s three main goals: eradication of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition, elimination of poverty and the pursuit of economic and social progress, there has to be an improvement in food systems and food consumption patterns, among other factors.
Christina Kae, M.A. Food Studies
Bioversity International, Italy
The internship I have completed was through Bioversity International in the nutrition division. I first heard about said internship through an email that was circulated by American University of Rome’s Food Studies program director, Maria Grazia Quieti. I was extremely interested in working for Bioversity International as well as conducting work that was close to the context of the classes I took during my time obtaining my undergraduate degree. This was due to the fact that I was extremely interested in the topic and wanted to focus my thesis and future endeavors in the realm of improvement of diets/nutrition.
Bioversity International stood out to me when the director general came to a visit at the American University of Rome and conducted a lecture for the faculty and staff. The fact that the organization focuses on improving environmental conditions while improving diets and looking at the biodiversity that was already present in the area fit in with how I sought to address the issues of food insecurity, land degradation, and biodiversity loss. Bioversity International’s headquarters are stationed here in Rome; however, they have offices across the globe. This includes Europe, Central and South America, Africa, and Asia. The organization’s initiatives are focused on a number of key topics including: healthy diets; farms, forests, landscapes and genetic resources, and their research portfolio addresses a wide variety of issues including: adaptation to climate change, agricultural ecosystems, banana genetic resources and management systems, conservation of crop diversity, diet diversity, forest and tree crop diversity, markets for diverse species and policies for plant diversity management. The experience that I have gained from this internship is incredible; to be able to learn more about myself and my abilities in research and in the workforce are worth more than I can imagine. This worth cannot even begin to include my understanding of the way that the CGIAR centers in particular operate, along with the knowledge gained on how programs are brought about, implemented and reported. Having established connections with lead researchers in the field of my current and future interest is something that I cannot put a value on as well. I will forever be grateful for the opportunities that I have received from the American University of Rome and from Bioversity International. I can only hope that I will take all the lessons that I have learned with me in all my future endeavors.
Giulia Tufano, M.A. Food Studies
BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), Bangladesh
The internship which I had the fortune to undertake was at the BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD) in Dhaka, Bangladesh. My overall impression and thoughts on this experience are very positive. This internship enriched me both personally and professionally, and I am very grateful to the University for having made this possible. I feel that the possibility of the “hands-on” experience in a Master’s degree is essential and can only better and reward you. Some of the achievements obtained through a series of main and minor tasks during this internship include making contact with some of the principle investigators of Microcredit research projects at BRAC and the world-famous Grameen Bank, which I could not have achieved if I had been in Rome. The main and most valuable achievement, however, was the two-week field trip that I had the fortune to participate in to the largest slum in Dhaka, the Korail Slum. I was often saddened by the poverty, which is so evident. I will never forget the terrible conditions that these poor people are obliged to live in. I was able to actually see with my own eyes the terrible and sad conditions of poverty that still exist there, not to just read about it in books and newspapers. This experience reinforced my desire to work in a humanitarian organization in the future.
Elinor ZE Brett, M.A. Food Studies
Un Development Programme, NUPRP Headquarters, Bangladesh
The National Urban Poverty Reduction Programme (NUPRP) is a large-scale United Nations Development Programme project that aims to ensure that rapid urbanization in Bangladesh is inclusive and results in better livelihoods and living conditions for poor urban residents. My internship with NUPRP involved assisting senior members of staff in project tasks, contributing to a report about livelihoods interventions and authoring a paper about the importance of food security as an aspect of poverty reduction. I also accompanied international consultants on fieldtrips and sat in on meetings with donors, NGOs and municipal leaders. The internship was a valuable learning experience in which I was able to witness first-hand how large-scale development programs are conceived and organized. Dhaka was a challenging environment to work in, but it was highly rewarding to apply so many of the skills and concepts learned during the MA in Food Studies to real life project tasks, and to have the opportunity to engage with my colleagues and the communities with whom they work.
Kathleen Fantozzi, M.A. Food Studies
Bioversity International, Italy
I interned at Bioversity International who, alongside their partners, are developing a tool to generate insights on consumer preferences and acceptability of better quality diets when compared to current diet composition. The tool aims to close a gap in the understanding of the convergence between what people want to (or currently) eat and what is healthy for them to eat, i.e. diets that meet nutritional recommendations for both adequacy and moderation for micro-nutrients and to achieve recommended proportions of energy, carbohydrate, fat, and protein. My role was to prepare background literature related to drivers of consumer choice and consumer choice theory to inform the development of the consumer acceptability tool to be tested in Ethiopia and Vietnam. I hope this internship leads to a future job!