Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey

Jennifer Schneider: From the Classroom to Kazakhstan

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Listen to Jenni's experience with USAID.


September 10, 2009

By jove, there are real world applications in our homework!

Jennifer Schneider (MBA '09) is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (Uzbekistan '03-'05) and had also interned at USAID with the Bureau of Europe and Eurasia. Currently, she is an adviser with the Emerging Markets Development Advisers Program (EMDAP) in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Prior to this assignment, she had taken Development Economics with Dr. Robert McCleery. She specifically mentions how homework assignment #3 is directly applicable to her current job assignment. In homework #3, students took the list of development priorities (based on an assessment of national governments, donors, international development community, and objective assessment by students) created by a previous student group and design development policies to address those priorities for their assigned country (in Jenni’s case, Sudan). These policies included target groups, implementation plans, and assessment/evaluation strategies. While detailed financing plans was not required, understanding budget constraints was necessary.

With EMDAP, Jenni is currently assigned to the American Chamber of Commerce in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Within the first few days of being on the job, she realized that the program she is managing is essentially development economics HW #3!

Her job is to manage working groups composed of leaders in the Kz business and development communities on 5 topics essential to Kazakhstan's business sector development. Every 6 months each group produces a white paper with recommendations which is presented directly to the Prime Minister's Office (ideally in the future, there will be implementation of the ideas as well, but as the program is in its first year, they are focusing on making the groups function and produce at a high/useful level). Needless to say, as she was reading the white paper's, she noticed stunning similarities to the content/structure of the final development econ project.

Jenni can now officially say that her development economics homework assignments have been the most applicable to her post-MIIS life.

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