By Mitali Dahanukar, Intern Summer 2019

Mitali Dahanukar

My internship at WI-HER, LLC has been an incredible and enlightening journey. As a Georgetown University Master’s student, I was applying for various summer internship positions to gain experience in the field of global health. What caught my eye at that time was that WI-HER is a woman-owned organization for social good. I also wanted to learn more about business development at international development consultancies. I remember walking in on my first day for the WI-HER orientation, the same way I remember my first day of grad school: exhilarated and nervous, but the entire team was extremely welcoming and supportive.

Professionally, I never imagined I’d learn so much in just a period of two months! Allison Foster, the Vice President of WI-HER, taught me how I can judge business forecasts based on the requirements of the organization.

This gave me an insight on how set-asides, contracts, and task orders function. I wrote a report on ‘How private companies recruit women’ and created an informative presentation on USAID’s Takamol Project in Jordan. Further, I supported the development of a desk review for Kebbi State in Nigeria which helped me acquire skills in secondary data collection methods.

My favorite part was attending a planning meeting for the USAID-funded ACHIEVE Project for which WI-HER is the lead gender partner and actively working towards gender integration in HIV programming across the globe. It taught me how private organizations that specialize in different sectors collaborate together to achieve a common objective. Although, I only worked at WI-HER for a little over two months, my supervisors always encouraged me to attend various meetings and conferences, and to think strategically about how our work supported global health improvement outcomes.

Personally, what made my experience special were my colleagues: Allison Foster, Morgan Mickle, and Dr. Taroub Farmand. They gave me constant advice on various deliverables and were extremely approachable even after work. I was fascinated by the stories they shared from their past experiences from different parts of the world. While, working for WI-HER I was also preparing for my field research module in Ghana. This reminds me of a time when Dr. Taroub told me to conduct research on a topic which hasn’t been previously explored. I am inspired by WI-HER’s capacity building approach since they not only train local staff but also facilitate deep-rooted interventions.

As my internship comes to an end, WI-HER has taught me the importance of perceiving community-based problems at grass-roots level before conducting any global health research. This has been extremely helpful while selecting my thesis topic titled ‘adolescent mental health in Ghana’. I feel like I wouldn’t have been able to obtain better hands-on experience elsewhere. I am tremendously grateful for the opportunity of working with WI-HER this summer. Lastly, I would like to say that this invaluable experience has definitely increased my interest in working for a global health consultancy in the future.