MPP student Paola Guerra details her summer internship experience at NGO Vision Democratica in Washington D.C., where she organized the first Venezuelan Diaspora event in the NGO’s history.
Paola Guerra Guevara: My name is Paola Guerra. I interned in an NGO that is called Visión Democratica, “Democratic Vision,” which is a Venezuelan NGO in D.C., and I was a project manager of the first diaspora event in the NGO.
When we finished classes in April, I didn’t have an internship yet, so I decided to go to D.C. to meet with people that I have met through Graduate Career Services and through my brother’s network. It was an easy way to be there and have coffee and say I’m available. So I went and had a meeting with a friend that my brother went to his Master’s with. I met with him just so he could recommend me to other contacts, and he’s an executive director of the NGO where I interned, so when I talked to him, he offered me the internship in that meeting, so that was really great.
Basically, I was the project manager of the first diaspora event that was ever done in the U.S. for the Venezuelan diaspora. We were a country of receiving other people’s diaspora, so we are such a diverse community in Venezuela, but we have never been the diaspora ourselves. This is a new concept for us, given the situation that is happening. The main goal of the NGO is to connect the Venezuelan diaspora, Venezuelans that go abroad, in this case to the U.S., to involve them in the economic and social development of Venezuela. That’s the mission of the foundation.
It was a lot of work, but honestly my boss gave me a lot of space to move around, he trusted me. So I had a lot of responsibilities, but also a lot of freedom in how to do the job.
When I went to D.C., I wasn’t going with a lot of expectations, I thought I was not gonna like it that much. But I loved it. So I made sure I had at least two coffees per week with somebody that I didn’t know. I met these alumni I had never heard of and they were so kind. I met people from Berkeley Public Policy, and they had a happy hour and invited me. Harvard did the same thing. We were like a group of public policy that were together and that’s how you know people. I think it’s important that you don’t get just so focused on the work you’re doing every day, but that you make sure to save some space to meet new people. That will keep your doors open to move around.