The World Bank Group estimates that the coronavirus pandemic could push as many as 60 million people into extreme poverty. The pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives, and its impact on the developing world lays bare the urgent need to eliminate global poverty through sustainable development.
Rinat Kapev, a 2020 Edmund S. Muskie Intern from Russia, spent his summer interning with the World Bank, helping the organization achieve its goals of reducing extreme poverty and promoting shared prosperity.
In this Q&A, Rinat tells us about his summer internship and his passion for international development.
Tell us about your academic background and expertise.
My academic path has been unique – full of international experiences, challenges, losses, and victories. While earning my undergraduate degree at the Russian Presidential Academy, I served as the president of my university’s Student Scientific Society and spent two semesters in Hungary and Slovakia, and completed a summer internship in Hungary, Slovakia, and Germany. Additionally, I participated in a variety of training courses in many other countries, including Poland, the Czech Republic, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States.
I completed a MS in economics at the Russian Presidential Academy as well, graduating with honors. I recently finished my studies at North Carolina State University, where I received a master’s in international studies. As part of the program, I attended Duke University for three semesters and received certificates in leadership development and cross-cultural competence.
I have always been interested in international relations and development. My passion for international development stems from the desire to promote well-being for all people in the world. When I was considering my potential career path, I knew that working in international relations can help me achieve my goals and utilize my education and skills to make the world a better place.
What contributed to your interest in interning with the World Bank specifically?
I had previous experience working in research, trade, and consulting, and I have been always interested in international relations and development. The World Bank is a well-known intergovernmental organization that has life-changing international development projects in more than 170 countries. Without a doubt, it is the best place for people who are passionate about international development. I thought that an internship at the World Bank would give me a unique chance to be a part of a team that helps millions and changes the world.
Share some of the highlights from your internship experience. Are there any exciting projects you worked on or any interesting things you learned?
I worked with the Doing Business Unit. The Doing Business Unit provides objective measures of business regulations and their enforcement across 190 economies. The team collects and analyses comprehensive quantitative data to compare business regulation environments across economies.
Within the Doing Business Unit, I worked on the Getting Electricity team. The Getting Electricity team analyzes and benchmarks the electricity sector in 190 countries. The team I was on encourages countries to compete towards more efficient electricity regulations; reforms to streamline the electricity acquisition process; reliable electricity supply; and serves as a resource for everyone interested in the electricity sector of different countries.
Even though I was only an intern, I carried out the full responsibilities and tasks of an analyst. The work was challenging but very interesting. I conducted interviews with government officials and relevant local private sector experts to gather the data my team needed to analyze and compare different countries’ electricity sectors.
By the end of the internship, I had analyzed more than 30 countries and conducted over 50 interviews with government officials and private sector development experts on the electricity acquisition process to evaluate criteria that inform countries’ business and investment climate. To evaluate the criteria, the Getting Electricity team uses a specific methodology and codes collected data in advanced data management applications. We assign scores based on different criteria such as reliability of the electricity supply, transparency of tariffs, price, et cetera. By coming up with an overall score it is easier to benchmark the sector, identify weak points, and propose solutions.
Before each interview, I had to learn about a country’s electricity sector and relevant regulations to keep up with the conversation and ask effective questions. Through this experience I also learned how to diplomatically communicate with foreign governments. By the end of my internship, I had prepared 27 high-level government responses to data updates and data challenges.
Lastly, I produced research write-ups on relevant policy issues, including COVID-19’s impact on the electricity infrastructure sector. I never dealt with the energy sector prior to joining the World Bank, so imagine how much I learned!
How did you adjust to a remote internship? Do you have any tips for getting the most out of the experience?
Working remotely is challenging, especially when starting a new position. However, my team helped me a lot. They organized virtual happy hours, virtual coffees, daily check-ins with other team members, weekly team meetings, and constant communication – all this contributed to building connections and productive work. Despite completing my internship remotely, I managed to embrace the culture of the organization and feel that I was a part of a team. I was even offered a position as an analyst at the end of my internship!
One useful tip that I can give remote interns is to always share your expectations, motivations, and goals with your team and supervisor. If you want more opportunities and you want to continue working with the organization after your internship, tell that to your supervisor. That is what I did. In fact, it is why my team leader assigned to me the full responsibilities of an analyst – because I let everybody know that I was interested in doing a full job and that my interest was to get the most out of the experience and contribute as much as possible.
How will you apply what you have gained from the Muskie Program and your time in the U.S. going forward?
I want to continue working with international organizations and contribute to global development. My Fulbright experience helped me receive an advanced degree and knowledge in international relations, and the Muskie Program allowed me to implement this knowledge in practice.
I have accepted a job offer with the United Nations. I will join the Food and Agriculture Organization’s mission in Europe and Central Asia. My Muskie Internship with the World Bank enhanced my analytical skills and knowledge of business regulations throughout the world. It also introduced me to the complicated global development system and granted access to the network of relevant international relations practitioners. Furthermore, the internship has significantly improved my intercultural skills. I believe this set of improved and gained skills and knowledge will help me effectively contribute to the development of my region.