Bonjour Paris!  

Saruul Erdem, Master of Education, 2024 

During this summer, I had the incredible opportunity to work at the International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP), UNESCO, in the beautiful city of Paris, France. Being affiliated with UNESCO, IIEP holds a prominent position in educational planning and policy, making it an ideal place for me to gain valuable experience and knowledge aligning with my future career goals.  

From the very beginning, IIEP was my top choice for a prospective internship organization. Their work deeply inspired me even while I was in my home country. Despite having six years of working experience, this was my first time working abroad. Thus, the internship component offered in my program, International Educational Development, at the Graduate School of Education, University of Pennsylvania, played a significant role in my decision to choose this academic path.  

Preparing and submitting my application materials to prospective internship organizations reminded me of my time working on my graduate school application. It involved revising my resume, cover letter, and applications and preparing for the interview. This entire process has been valuable in sharpening my job-hunting skills and readiness.  

During my internship at IIEP UNESCO, I was a part of the Knowledge Management and Mobilization (KMM) team. It was an exciting time as the organization celebrated its 60th-anniversary milestone, and I had the privilege of contributing to the early-stage planning for the commemoration. Working within a team-oriented environment was an essential aspect of my experience, and I learned the value of effective collaboration and meticulous planning in achieving our goals.  

One of my tasks during the internship was conducting desk research for the internal quality assurance of higher education institutions. My work also involved reading and summarizing various policy papers, country notes and conducting interviews. The process was intellectually stimulating and gave me valuable insights into educational policy and quality assurance.  

I was fortunate to work alongside wonderful co-workers and a supportive supervisor. Their guidance and care made my internship experience enjoyable and fulfilling. Additionally, I found an instant connection with fellow interns, who quickly became great friends and travel companions, tour guides, and valuable sources of knowledge.  

Throughout the internship, I was exposed to a variety of experiences that were both rewarding and eye-opening. Engaging in interviews, conducting research, and collaborating with professionals from diverse backgrounds significantly enhanced my communication, interpersonal, and professional skills. I am grateful for the networking opportunities that allowed me to learn from others and broaden my perspective on global educational challenges.  

Living and interning in Paris was a truly enriching experience. The city’s vibrant culture and endless opportunities for exploring museums and sightseeing during weekends added a remarkable dimension to my stay in France.  

Overall, my internship at IIEP UNESCO has been a formative chapter in my professional journey. The knowledge gained, the relationships built, and the personal growth will undoubtedly continue to influence my future endeavors positively. I am deeply grateful to GAPSA for providing the funding that made this experience possible. 

This is part of a series of posts by recipients of the 2023 GAPSA Summer Internship Funding Program that is coordinated by Penn Career Services. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they spent their summer. You can read the entire series here.

By Career Services
Career Services