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This is the UNDP Poverty Reduction & Competitiveness Team at the retreat in Cuernavaca, Morelos. I also had the opportunity to understand current priorities and challenges for the environment & sustainable development team, as well as the democratic governance team.

Internship Spotlight: Natalia Ariza ’18

What did you do last summer? We asked rising second-year MBA students to check in from their summer internships, where they applied the lessons of their first year at Yale SOM.

Internship place and location: United Nations Development Program. Mexico City, México
Hometown: Bogotá, Colombia & Miami, FL
Favorite Yale SOM Class: Macroeconomics

About the Internship: The United Nations Development Program (UNDP)–Latin America and the Caribbean established a partnership with the broader Yale University so that on a yearly basis candidates from the Jackson Institute, the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, and the School of Management are considered for the internships offered throughout the region. This summer I had the opportunity to work with the Mexico office in the poverty reduction and competitiveness group. The main objective was to share perspectives. Since I have spent all of my career in the private sector, I contributed to the development of proposals with the integration of such an audience in mind. My goal for this internship was to gain an overview of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), poverty-reduction initiatives, and operations management of an agency in an upper-middle income country such as Mexico.

Summer Projects: I kicked off my internship by analyzing the socioeconomic status of Campeche state to support the UNDP Combos initiative, which offers holistic consulting and assessment services for state strategic plans. I leveraged the Customer class frameworks from the core curriculum to complement a nationwide SDG awareness campaign to be launched in the coming semester. I spent the bulk of the summer developing a labor-inclusion strategic proposal for young prisoners, migrants returning from the U.S., Central American refugees, and people with disabilities. This project required extensive qualitative research that stretched me, as I reviewed government normative frameworks and many other development topics that I was completely unfamiliar with. The Innovator class came in very handy as Professor Canales had connected me with relevant stakeholders such as the director of CONAPRED (National Institute to Prevent Discrimination). I also used the reframing innovation tool to develop user archetypes for each of the groups of interest. This was immensely helpful as I developed a solution proposal from the perspective of the user, and not the entities who are solving the problem.

Networking Opportunities:  I was  lucky to meet George Gray, chief economist in the Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean, based out of the New York office. During our call with the Chiapas sub-secretary of development, I gained an understanding of how UNDP seeks to improve policy execution at the state level. Also during the Mexico office retreat, I met Carlos Benitez, a country support specialist based out of the Panama regional office. Carlos shared an interesting regional perspective since the regional organization transitions into an implementation phase rather than advocacy only. Outside of UNDP, I connected with leaders from the Reinserta and Entrále Foundations. These are impactful groups that partnered with the private sector to bridge labor-inclusion gaps for young prisoners and people with disabilities.

Final Thoughts:  Working on a proposal that can help approximately 2.5 million people has been a privilege, and I am thankful to the SOM Internship Fund, which financially supported me. Additionally, as a Colombian-American immigrant I was motivated to rethink the strategic approach to helping the immigrant and refugee groups. Although I didn’t relate as much with the other groups, I am so fortunate to now understand many of the obstacles these vulnerable populations face. My long-term aspiration is to build a few social enterprises that address prevalent problems in my home country and region. Hence, this internship was very valuable because I gained a granular familiarity of the current challenges that must be addressed not just by foundations or government, but also by businesses. All in all, this summer has inspired me to continue searching for creative and sustainable ways to help people in Latin America.