Being a recipient of the Susan Casey Brown Fund for McGill, McGill International Experience Awards, has allowed me to pursue my summer research internship with the International Institute for Sustainable Development. I would not have been able to take up this position if not for the contribution of this award. I want to thank Mr. Garvin Brown and the founders of the MIEA for their generosity.
I wanted to pursue this internship because of how it aligned with my own academic and career interests. This past year, I’ve come to realize that I feel very fulfilled when researching about gender equality and social justice. The research position requested an intern with passion for those fields, and I envisioned myself being a fantastic fit. I’m grateful that my interview panel agreed that I was a good candidate for the job and brought me aboard for the next three months.
The International Institute for Sustainable Development is a policy thinktank based in Canada. Its mission is “to accelerate solutions for a stable climate, sustainable resources, and fair economies”. It’s a large organization, with many divisions. In my position, I belonged to the Resilience team. IISD Resilience works on facilitating climate change adaptation, preparing people and countries for the inevitable impacts of global warming.As a research intern, I had many different responsibilities. My overarching project was to create an annotated bibliography on the differential impacts of climate change on marginalized social groups. I conducted research on minority groups such as the LGBTQ+ population, people with disabilities, ethnic minorities, and Indigenous peoples. I also helped out with other administrative tasks, creating reference lists, and taking notes during online research webinars.
During my time with IISD, my aim was to get a better understanding of both policy and research, and to see if these pursuits represented a good fit as a potential career path. I also wanted to improve my research skills. Going into my third year at McGill, my courses have not required more heavy research and so I was curious to see if I could push myself to take on research that was more nuanced and challenging. I also wanted to build some networks in the development field, and see what a ‘day in the life’ of a policy researcher looks like. I was really grateful that my colleagues at IISD were incredibly welcoming, and never shied away from sharing their wisdom and insight with me.
Some highlights of my internship included getting to attend the Generation Equality Forum, a virtual summit attended by many countries and NGOs on the topic of gender equality. The event was hosted to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the foundational Beijing Conference on Women in 1995. I also got to organize and run a mini-event on the virtual platform Gather.town. My colleagues at IISD had been interested in running events on the platform, and since I had prior experience with it, I offered to create a demo for them. Undeniably, I most enjoyed doing my final presentation of the research I had done. I received very good feedback on the presentation from my colleagues, and I was proud of the work I had done.
Having taken a few courses in Political Science and International Development, I felt well-equipped to approach the field of sustainable development. I would say that my passion for gender equality really came to fruition through my coursework. I noticed that when given opportunities to write research papers, I gravitated towards examining women and gender. I took a course in the first semester of my second year on Gender and Canadian Politics, and it was transformative of the way I viewed feminism and women’s rights. My studies at McGill have always allowed me to pursue my interests and academic priorities.
This internship has been incredibly informative for my career path. I came to the realization that I loved the topics that I was learning about, but that the research itself ended up taking second place in my preferences. Although I was eager to share my findings and enlighten my colleagues, the actual research process did not spark as much joy in me. Without my placement at the IISD, I would never have learned this as early as I did in my academic career. I’m incredibly grateful that I was able to have this experience now, accompanied by financial support from your contribution, rather than years from now.I know I am very fortunate to have had this internship process facilitated by the Internship Offices Network and the generosity of McGill International Experience Awards donors. As I had mentioned earlier, having the financial flexibility to pursue my interests and passions is not something that many of my peers have had the same access to. I certainly would not have had access to it without this award. I’m grateful for the time I spent with the IISD, and I know that my experience would not have been the same without the funds allotted to me by the Susan Casey Brown Fund for McGill.
Thank you to the McGill International Experience Awards founders, and Mr.Garvin Brown for making this experience possible!