Carmen Pathe graduated from IRIO last semester and she has done two internships. In this interview she will tell you more about her internship in Berlin at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, and about her internship at the Representation of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia to the European Union.
Could you give us a short introduction about yourself?
My name is Carmen. I started studying International Relations and International Organizations in 2018. I graduated last November, and at the moment, I am doing a gap year before starting my Master's this autumn. I do not know yet which Master I will choose, but I am thinking about environmental sciences or an interdisciplinary Master who could include
aspects of International Relations and environmental sciences.
Which internships did you do?
I did two internships, one in Berlin and one in Brussels. The first one was in 2020/21 under the Placement Minor. The internship was in Berlin at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, and more precisely, I was in the Climate Finance Department. I decided to do the internship for the whole semester, which meant that I had a study delay.
The second internship I did was at the Representation of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia to the European Union in the Energy and Climate Policy section, which also included the aspect of digitalisation. I did the internship for three months, from December 2021 to February 2022.
What tasks did you have during your internships?
For the internship at the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, I had several tasks, which included, for instance, developing the German position for the council sessions of two international organisations, which are the Green Climate Fund and the Global Environmental Facility. For that, I had to do a lot of research (what position does Germany have, which motions does Germany support, why does Germany support it). Another task I had to take care of was collecting and evaluating data on which country to choose for a climate partnership. Here, I collected data from various departments of the ministry and analysed it using Excel.
For the second internship, I did a lot of political observation, so I was looking at what is happening in Brussels regarding Energy and Climate policies and their implications for the state of North Rhine-Westphalia and its businesses.
What did you like most about the internships?
I think, first of all, that you can see how you can apply IR and that what you learned over the past years is actually relevant. Another point is the closeness to politics and knowing that you can shape and influence political decisions and directions.
What are the most important things that you learned during your internships?
I learned things like time management and how to structure my schedule. However, since we have to write so many essays in our studies, I felt like the writing skills were already there. Also, I got to understand how the world, the EU and how a ministry works. This gave me an insight into the public sector, which is helpful for later to decide whether to work in the public or private sector. I was also again amazed by how much is happening in the EU. During my internship, part of the EU taxonomy on sustainable finance was released. It was a great experience to learn how such policies are communicated both by the EU institutions and within individual member states, which can differ quite a bit.
Did the internships give you an idea of where you want to work after graduating?
Yes, for sure. For example, during the first internship, I realised how interesting the climate topics are, and I really enjoy working and thinking about them in my daily life. So therefore, this shaped the rest of my bachelor's, since I did my thesis on Nord Stream 2, I did the energy Minor and generally specialised in energy. Then, I did my second internship on Energy and Climate, and I have another internship planned in a consultancy firm for sustainability consulting to have a look into the private sector. So I am trying to get as many insights as possible for the future. But I am sure it is going to be something related to sustainability or the environment.
Is there any advice you would like to give to students who are unsure whether they want to do an internship?
It depends on the students' preferences, but doing an internship is great to get some practical experience since our studies are pretty theoretical. I feel like there are a lot of opportunities. You can go into research institutes, think tanks, the public or the private sector. You can also schedule an appointment with the Placement coordinators, and they give you several ideas as to where you could do an internship. They have a database with all the IR students who did an internship, which can inspire you to find some interesting internships.