Graduate Student Serves as Intern for Government Agency from Afar

Hillary Corwin

Hillary Corwin

Hillary Corwin’s internship was a product of a late-night Google search.

The international political economy graduate student was looking for an affordable experience that would fit her long-term goal of becoming a researcher and professor, but not interfere with her current schoolwork at UT Dallas.

The Virtual Student Foreign Service eInternship was just that. Working remotely for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean, Corwin provided research support and policy analysis for the agency's Strategy and Program Office.

“With the Virtual Student Foreign Service program, the government really recognizes that there’s this huge segment of untapped potential,” said Corwin BS’13. “It gets a much broader pool of applications from a variety of different backgrounds.”

The overall goal of the agency in the region is to improve security and economic and political inclusion, Corwin said. Her work focused on improving economic development outcomes for vulnerable populations, such as young men in areas with high gang violence or women in areas with minimal economic, political and social inclusion.  

Corwin also had the opportunity to analyze existing public-private partnerships for economic development and recommend new partnerships.

Corwin is interested in exploring the political economy of multinational corporations in regard to corporate social responsibility initiatives and how to leverage the private sector to achieve economic development outcomes. She said her internship has helped her identify the unexplored areas of political economy and sociological research.

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“I’ve seen so many giant holes in research where policymakers want to be informed of the current context and situations where it worked and where it didn’t, and there’s just no research out there,” Corwin said.

The workload, which averages about 15 to 20 hours per week, could be completed all from the comforts of her home or any location she chose.  

During her internship, Corwin traveled to various national parks, spent a couple of weeks in Spain and France, and even worked from a Colorado mountaintop. She enjoyed working at her own leisure, often logging in at 2 a.m. to get work done. Most of the communication was done via email, shared documents and conference calls.

After interning from September 2013 to May of this year, she was asked by the agency to continue her work until May 2015, when she is scheduled to complete her master’s degree.

“Hillary found the opportunity on her own and made it happen — which exemplifies her independence and drive,” said Dr. Jennifer S. Holmes, professor and department head of political science and public policy and political economy. “She has worked on original policy relevant to critical issues of importance for quality of life in Latin America, especially issues of gender, security and environment. Hillary’s internship with USAID is a perfect fit for her.”

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].

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