Archive for Mexico

Summer 2010 Internship – Post 5

This is the fifth entry in our recap of summer internships completed by SIPA students working in the Admissions Office this year.  Beatriz Guillén is a second year student concentrating in Economic and Political Development. 


How to do an Internship, get married, and go on your honeymoon in the same summer

Photo BeatrizI am originally from Spain but have worked and studied in Italy, Mexico and Venezuela, which can be a prototypical profile of a SIPA student. This summer I add an additional international component to my life, and married a Salvadorian Dow Jones correspondent who, oddly enough, is also at SIPA doing a dual degree with the Journalism school.

But I also had time to do my internship. I worked for Enterprise Solutions to Poverty (ESP) an organization based in New York City that mobilizes leading corporations and emerging entrepreneurs to build competitive and inclusive growth strategies that engage large numbers of low-income people as suppliers, distributors and consumers. ESP’s goal is to support companies in increasing the income and assets of over of low-income people. I started working at ESP a few hours a week since last February, and then began working full time during the summer.

While working at ESP I focused on agribusiness, decentralized distribution, financial products and profitable social services. Over the last four years, ESP has mobilized the leaders of over 150 large companies and entrepreneurs in India, China, Mexico and Colombia, with activities initiated in Kenya and Brazil. Part of my work at ESP included:

  • Working on a range of rural finance initiatives in China, including work with China Mobile and the Agricultural Bank of China on building out rural payments and banking in China.
  • Developed fruit and vegetable initiatives with leading agribusinesses in Colombia.
  • Was part of the team that worked with Novartis in financing rural health providers in Novartis’ massive Arogya Parivar rural health initiative in India.

For someone that had never worked before in the United States, working in New York was a challenging experience. Moreover, working in development with the private sector gave me a new perspective on how to tackle with development problems and find innovative solutions.  I didn’t have the opportunity to travel during my internship, but since I worked with Colombia, China, and India I sometimes had to adjust my working hours to those of our partners in different countries!

Overall, I can say that the experience was great and helped me a lot in my career.

Although I didn’t travel with my internship, I traveled to my hometown, Barcelona (Spain), as I said, to get married. Yes, it is possible to combine your personal life with your studies and with an internship. I started working in my internship in February so that I could take a month of for the wedding and the honeymoon. The wedding was great with people from all around the world. After the wedding we flew to Sicily and spent a couple of weeks traveling around the island enjoying the food and visiting ancient Greek ruins, medieval towns and enjoying the beaches.

These are some of the pictures from the trip to Sicily.

bgbp1San Vito Lo Capo




Monreale Monastery

Capstone Workshop: Consulate General of Mexico

The following was contributed by Anesa Diaz-Uda, a second-year MPA student.


At the beginning of my last semester, I wondered how I was going to spend the few remaining months in the program.  The past year has been pretty busy with my commitments to student groups, but now that I will no longer be on the board of any of these student groups, what on Earth will I do?

  • Play with my puppy English Bulldog more – check
  • Hang-out with my SIPA and NY friends more – check
  • Sleep more – check
  • Continue my fellowship in the Office of Admissions – check
  • Job-hunt (SIPA students are getting jobs!  I signed my contract with Deloitte Consulting in October, so don’t fret 😉

You read earlier in John’s post that SIPA students are given the opportunity to participate in Capstone Projects.  As an MPA, I must enroll in a Capstone project.  These projects are great experiences because we finally get to put all the reading, memo-writing, quantitative classes and analytical skills to use.  I was placed on the Consulate General of Mexico in New York City project.  I’m very excited to put my Management classes to use, as we dive into a Project Evaluation for the Consulate General.  I’m also really nervous about my ability to remember my college Spanish!

My team met with the Consulate General and his staff at his New York Office. Below is what we’ll be working on, and I’ll keep you posted with our work!

Workshop: Consulate General of Mexico in New York City

Over the past year, the Consulate General of Mexico in New York has radically altered its practices and administrative procedures to improve services provided to Mexican nationals located in the states of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. With one of the largest concentrations of Mexican nationals in the United States, the primary service conducted by the New York Consulate General office is the issuance of identity documents, such as passports and matricula consular IDs, though other services are provided as well. Ambassador Ruben Beltran, Consul of Mexico in the City of New York, formerly Consul General in Los Angeles, implemented a series of administrative changes upon his assignment to the New York office.

Modeled upon Ambassador Beltran’s previous work in Los Angeles, the goals of these changes were to reduce appointment backlog and reduce wait time at the Consulate General for consular services.  Two strategies were implemented to tackle these challenges, including a decentralization of consular services (Consulate on Wheels -a mobile consulate unit which visits areas with a high concentration of Mexican national in the Tri-State area) as well as a redesign of the work flow of consular activities in the actual Consular Office.  The Consulate General would like Columbia University to document and evaluate these changes, as well as offer suggestions to further improve the efficiency of their services.


This project will document recent changes to the practices and administrative procedures conducted by the Consulate General of Mexico in New York, evaluate these changes using performance measurement techniques, and provide suggestions to further improve these services. Specifically, tasks include (1) documentation of recent changes made by the General Consul, as well as other successful strategies to improve services in similar work environments, (2) an analysis of the impact these changes have had on Consular services and customer satisfaction, using both qualitative (e.g. focus groups, individual  interviews with Consulate employees and Mexican nationals using Consular services) and quantitative methods (e.g. analysis of administrative data, survey data, etc.),  3) Provide recommendations for further improvement of services/identify constraints to further improvements, (4) identification of best practices which could be replicated by other General Consul offices.  As a final deliverable, the client will receive a final report evaluating changes to Mexican Consular General services.

Latin America Financial Aid Opportunities

I was recently informed of a tremendous resource for those from Latin American countries. The  Latin American Network Information Center has published a page on financial aid opportunities for applicants living in Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and South America.  I highly recommend that applicants check out the page for more information on the types of funds available and the associated deadlines.  Happy hunting!


Are You An Incoming or Current SIPA Student from Mexico?

If you are an incoming or current SIPA student living in Mexico City you have the opportunity to get together with other students from SIPA prior to the start of the fall semester.  I recently received an inquiry from an incoming student living in Mexico City, Celcilia, who has an interest in getting together with other students in the area.  The following is her message:

If you are from Mexico City and will be attending Columbia next fall this message is for you.

My name is Cecilia and I will be attending SIPA. I am planning a reunion for future Columbia Mexican Students in Mexico City before we all leave to NYC in order to get to know each other and to exchange experiences about different issues such as housing, travel, phone company etc.

If you are interested, please send an email to cf2389 [at]



If other students wish to have similar messages posted to the blog for public consumption please send a message to the Office of Admissions at

The People You Meet

One of the things I love about my job is that I constantly get to meet fascinating people.  This is certainly the case for SIPA students as well due to the vast number of events held on campus.

This week I participated in a Marine Executive Association event in New York City.  The event was a career and education panel focused on helping active and retired Marines think strategically about their future.

During the networking portion of the event I met a gentleman by the name of David Danelo who it turns out is an accomplished author.  He has written two books and I immediately added both to my “to read” list.   If you are interested in border issues and/or security issues, it sounds like his two books provide deep insight and fodder for future study and analysis.

The book that especially piqued my interest is entitled, The Border: Exploring the U.S. – Mexican Divide.  To research the book, David traveled the length of both the U.S. and Mexico sides of the border over a period of several months.  Border issues are a hot political topic and the likelihood of increased discussion in the future makes this sound like a fascinating read.

George P. Shultz, U.S. Secretary of State from 1982-89 states:

“Danelo provides invaluable information and insight in this book, which deserves a wide and attentive audience.”

The other book is entitled, Blood Stripes – A Grunt’s View of the War in Iraq.  The mainstream media often pays attention to the large policy issues related to the war in Iraq, but very rarely have I heard in depth accounts from those in the field.

Both of these books look interesting and if either of these topics is of interest to you and you plan on studying at SIPA, they might provide great preparation and insight prior to enrolling in our program.

The New York Post states:
“Activists, left or right, will find this book uncomfortable, but its honesty makes it a great education for the rest of us.”

"The most global public policy school, where an international community of students and faculty address world challenges."

—Merit E. Janow, Dean, SIPA, Professor of Practice, International and Economic Law and International Affairs

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