By Umema Aimen '14
Doesn’t every student dream of an internship that allows them the luxury of working from home? If that doesn’t have you drooling, just imagine that your work is presented in an International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank general meeting!
Marijke Schouten ’15 was lucky enough to have one such internship. She spent the summer in Lusaka, Zambia, living with her parents, and interning with Rabobank’s food and agriculture research department. She learned of the internship from her father, who works with Rabobank, a Dutch multinational, financial services company and a global leader in food and agricultural financing and sustainability-oriented banking. Schouten, who designed her own special major, food and agriculture politics, saw this as perfect fit for herself.
Since her boss was stationed in Tanzania and her co-workers were spread across the world, Schouten worked from home for approximately five hours a day. Her weekly meetings with colleagues were conducted via conference calls. For four months, she and her teammates worked on putting together a report that will be presented at the annual Duisenberg Lecture at the IMF and World Bank general meeting on October 13.
The report looks at the potential for Africa to be self-sufficient in meeting its own agricultural demands. It focuses on the huge climate variation within Africa that makes it almost impossible for individual countries to be self-sufficient, as crops do not find suitable climate for growth throughout the region. The overall objective of the report is to inform Rabobank clients about potential investments and the local markets in Africa.
Schouten describes her job as collecting and processing data.
“What I did was fill out matrices for regions of Africa that collected data on infrastructure, import, and export,” she says. Having not taken a statistics or research methods class at Mount Holyoke, Schouten honed her analytical and statistical skills through her internship.
“I also learned a lot about my topics of interest, like informal markets and women as emerging players in the African economy.”
“My work provided context for what I had studied at Mount Holyoke,” says Schouten, who she sees her internship as being fully linked to her academic work. She is very excited to have the opportunity to build further on this knowledge during her study abroad in Australia next spring. After graduating, she plans to work with a company that researches topics related to food and agriculture politics.
Meanwhile, Marijke Schouten anxiously waits for the report to be presented at the IMF and World Bank general meeting next month. She explains, “Six of my graphs are in the report.”