Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Policy and Advocacy Internship with Mercy Corps


Mercy Corps works in countries in transition, where communities are recovering from disaster, conflict, or economic collapse.  With field programs in more than 40 countries, and an annual budget of more than $200 million, Mercy Corps is one of the largest relief and development NGOs in the US.
 The Mercy Corps Policy and Advocacy team serves as the main interface between Mercy Corps and external partners (particularly the US government) on issues of policy.  The team seeks to advance Mercy Corps’ values and interests by promoting policies that support our mission. We work to inform and shape policy in a number of ways, including:
  • Congressional Advocacy: direct meetings with key congressional offices, participation in briefings and hearings, review and commenting on draft legislation, active participation in discussions related to the foreign aid budget, and linking Members of Congress who are travelling with our teams in the field.
  • Administration Advocacy: meetings with Administration officials, ongoing communication with key partner agencies in the USG, participation in joint consultations and briefings together with partner NGOs in DC.
  • Joint work with NGO partners: active participation in Interaction working groups and other coalition efforts organized in DC on priority issues or countries for Mercy Corps, drafting of joint documents, organizing joint lobby days on Capitol Hill.
  • Organizing DC visits for visiting Mercy Corps field staff: scheduling meetings for visiting staff and accompanying them to ensure adequate preparation and follow up to these visits.
  • Publications: preparing and disseminating policy briefs on key issues, circulating information on Mercy Corps programs to key policy makers, participating in joint documents and sign-ons with other NGOs, working with field staff to draft joint articles on policy-related issues for publication.
 The intern(s) will support and participate in the work of the Policy and Advocacy team.  Areas of focus may include:
  • Response to humanitarian crises in Syria, Central African Republic and South Sudan
  • Support the team’s strategic analysis and advance priorities in the next Administration
  • The Sustainable Development Goals, with a focus on ending extreme poverty
  • Improving aid effectiveness in transitional environments, including limiting the securitization of US foreign aid
  • Implementation of the Administration’s aid reform agenda, as enshrined in the Presidential Policy Directive on Development, the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, and USAID FORWARD
  • Promoting effective food security policies and food aid reform, including the Administration’s Feed the Future Initiative and USAID’s resilience agenda
  • Defending foreign aid budgets in an era of fiscal austerity
  • Country-specific priorities (e.g. Afghanistan, Colombia, Afghanistan, Iraq, the Sahel) or other policy team or agency priorities, such as engaging with Mercy Corps’ global team
 LEARNING OBJECTIVES:
  • Understanding the linkage between international policy, programming and outcomes in the humanitarian and development field
  • Understanding core elements of the US policy process, including the roles of Congress, USAID, State, and the White House in development policy-making
  • Knowledge of key qualitative and quantitative resources related to US development policy
  • Understanding specific policy issues, as listed above, or according to the interests of the intern
 DELIVERABLES:
 The Intern will support the PA team through the following activities:
  1. Conduct policy and practice research in support of Mercy Corps advocacy initiatives
  2. Assist in drafting advocacy documents such as reports, briefing notes, talking points, ‘Dear Colleague’ letters, or factsheets on relevant policy issues
  3. Attend meetings and hearings of interest to Mercy Corps and report back on key issues
  4. Assist in organizing meetings with Congressional offices, Administration officials, and other contacts, and in maintaining a database of key interactions
  5. Review external and internal reports and publications and summarize relevant findings
  6. Assist in communicating policy and advocacy updates to the broader Mercy Corps community through Mercy Corps’ intranet system, weekly newsletter, and website

IDEAL CANDIDATE SHOULD POSSESS THE FOLLOWING QUALIFICATIONS:
 The Policy and Advocacy is seeking an intern to support the breadth of the team’s portfolio.  If qualified, the intern may have the opportunity to specialize in one or more areas, though engagement in all areas will be expected. 
 All interns should have the following core qualifications: 
  • Interest in humanitarian and development issues and policy and advocacy
  • Demonstrated solid writing, editing and researching skills
  • Ability to multi-task and prioritize in a fast-paced work environment
  • Solid computer skills:  must be able to work effectively and accurately with MS Word, Excel, email and internet applications 
  • Flexible work attitude: able to work productively in a team environment and independently
Potential qualifications for portfolio-specific interests are below (not required, but preferred):
  • Previous Capitol Hill experience or knowledge of Congressional processes
  • Other specific thematic expertise in any of the areas of focus listed above 
 Mercy Corps interns and volunteers represent the agency both during and outside of work hours and are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner and respect local laws, customs and MC's policies, procedures, and values at all times and in all in-country venues.
 APPLICATION PROCESS:
Students interested in this internship should submit a resume and a statement of interest.  In your statement, you are encouraged to discuss any experiences related relevant to the projects outlined.  You may wish to describe your career interests (specifically as they relate to policy and advocacy, humanitarian aid, or development) and discuss your previous work and educational experiences demonstrating these interests.  A short additional writing sample (under five pages) is also acceptable, but not required. Apply here.