As part of its ongoing efforts to promote international internship models, InteRDom recently organized a conference entitled, “Internships to Increase Competitiveness,” led by Gizem Eren-Baig, Coordinator of the World Bank’s at Voice Secondment Program at FUNGLODE headquarters in Santo Domingo.
“One of our core objectives is to encourage international internships that have transnational impacts such as the program directed by Eren-Baig. While internships often affect productivity in a given company, the World Bank’s Voice Secondment Program benefits not only the Bank itself, but also the countries with which it does business,” explained Alicia Alonzo, InteRDom Coordinator.
The World Bank official explained that the program undertaken by the Bank has generated very positive results and is well structured and administered at all stages. “We began it in 2004 as a high-level program to increase capacity among staff in government institutions, especially in low-income countries. Ninety-six persons have graduated to date, and we are now on the fifth round, which will result in a total of 122 interns trained in public service.”
Eren-Baig explained that the experience lasts for six months. “Afterward, the graduates return to their offices for two years so that the investment pays off for their respective departments. The system of instruction is based on everyday experiences and practical learning. We assign them to a concrete operational team. This gives greater depth and information to the participants who can then apply the lessons learned wherever they go.”
“It is a very robust program that includes completing a series of tasks so that upon graduation the beneficiaries are fully prepared,” stated The World Bank official. “They work and take the class at the same time. Each week we meet to learn from their experiences.”
She described the nomination and selection process and governments participate in. Once selected, nominees are distributed among different departments based on the administrative needs within the multilateral institution and are usually based out of the institutions’ central office.
Eren-Barig described how the interns are integrated into the life of the institution beyond the professional setting to include the cultural sphere. “It is important to provide the interns with the support they need. We have units that oversee the placements and identify a person to be responsible for day-to-day support to each intern. There are also social challenges, cultural adjustments to be made, so we look for people who can facilitate the social integration of the interns outside of the organization. They provide constant support, and we are proud to have a generous staff that volunteers their efforts to these programs by providing professional and social support.”
“The best recommendation for the program is to get the assignments and placements right. For this reason, we monitor them very closely to correct any problems that might arise,” conveyed Eren-Barig.
Another key to the success described by Eren-Barig is the development of a contact network. “We realized that the interns need further coaching and adaptation after they finish the program and saw the importance of establishing a networking platform. We created an internet platform in the form of a blog where I put my announcements and information and where we discuss different matters, situations that arise, etc. Bank experts often participate in the discussions, which provide ongoing training and keep the interns in touch with each other, which are very important.”
After discussing the management and financing aspects of the program, the program coordinator referred to the themes of supervision and evaluation. The program is meeting its objectives, and we share this information, which is very important for marketing and sustaining it. We have a 90% satisfaction rate so far and positive results from all those involved. Additionally, we monitor and evaluate the interns’ work nine months after finishing the program.”
About Ms. Gizem Eren-Baig
Gizem Eren-Baig joined the World Bank’s Human Resources Partnership Programs Unit to launch the Voice Secondment Program (VSP) soon after its initiation by the World Bank’s Board in 2004. The VSP is a capacity enhancement program for civil servants of the Bank’s client governments with 96 graduates and 26 participants currently on board.
Prior to the VSP, Ms. Eren-Baig worked in the World Bank’s Europe and Central Asia Region for 15 years, during which time she coordinated the Region’s Country Units and 26 Country Offices. Before joining the World Bank, Ms. Eren-Baig worked in two private sector companies in Ankara and for the Ambassador of Spain (Dean in 1989) as his Protocol Secretary, managing the Diplomatic Corps’ activities in Turkey. Ms. Eren-Baig holds an MBA in International Business Finance from the George Washington University, USA, and a BA in Archeology from the Ankara University, Turkey. She continues to focus her learning and development on cross cultural studies, management science, diversity & inclusion and nonprofit organization management.