Bridging the Gap between Research and Practice with International Innovation Corps (IIC)

November 14, 2017

We work to bridge the gap between research and practice, supporting governments as they translate policy recommendations into on-ground implementation efforts. 

This goal motivates the International Innovation Corps (IIC) Fellowship Program, as described by Nicole Anderson, IIC’s Associate Director for Talent & Program Operation, during a special information session held recently for CEU students. 

Thanks to CEU’s state-of-the art technology, it was an inter-continental information session. Anderson addressed the Budapest-based CEU audience from the United States. Ann-Kathrin Beck (SPP ’17) and Andrea Kobor (SPP ’17), two CEU alums currently taking part in the Fellowship Program, connected remotely from Delhi, India to describe their experiences.

The IIC is a social-impact advisory and policy implementation program based at the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy. It aims to implement scale-able solutions to pressing development problems, one project at a time. IIC recruits top graduates of universities from around the world to spend a year serving on consultant teams with public sector and non-profit organizations in India. The organizations operate in spheres including education, health, sanitation, energy and the environment, social enterprise and urban development. After an initial year with IIC, some Program Associates extend their terms for up to three years, attracted by the opportunity to continue engagement with their host organization and contribute to their project as it progresses through successive phases.

IIC alumni go on to work at international firms and organizations including the World Bank, numerous consulting firms in the US and India, the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, the White House, JPAL, DIMAGI, the Mexican government, and various NGOs around the world.

Founded in 2014, IIC was initially open to students from the University of Chicago and selected Indian universities. Last year, the program began recruiting more broadly. Fellows come from institutions including Harvard University, University of Cambridge, Columbia University, IITS and University of Delhi. Thus far, Anderson emphasized, CEU one of the only universities other than the University of Chicago to have sent two of its graduates to the program.  

IIC recruits graduates and young professionals with strong skills in areas including but not limited to project management, data analysis, behavioral change, problem solving, stakeholder management, consensus building and design thinking. The program welcomes applicants from multiple academic disciplines taught at CEU, including economics, law, policy development, education and finance as well as energy and the environment. Only six percent of applicants make it through the selection process, which makes IIC a particularly competitive program. 

Beck and Kobor generously sat up until nearly midnight in Delhi in order to share their experiences as IIC Project Associates. They described it as an excellent personal and professional development opportunity, full of satisfactions and also plenty of challenges, including adjusting to life in India and learning to develop their own projects, from concept to implementation. Their experiences exemplify the variety that characterizes IIC. Beck is working with an India-wide labor union of informal women workers, where she is involved with a number of projects including an ambitious monitoring and evaluation initiative looking at the impact the association has through its programs. Kobor is also contributing to multiple projects including a Corporate Social Responsibility plan with the Rural Electrification Corporation, which has set the very ambitious goal of bringing electricity to every household in India by 2018. You can read about their experiences in detail here 

One thing is certain: the IIC is not the right stepping-stone for everyone. Project Associates receive a living wage and a stipend to cover travel. In return, they have an unparalleled opportunity to gain the sort of intensive field experience that viewed as useful in professional areas including policy, social impact and international development. 

Anderson urged eligible CEU students and alumni to apply to IIC. The deadline for the 2018-2019 intake is 19 January 2018. Full information is available in career>next.

reported by Kenan Sadovic (LEGS ‘18)

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