Internship Series: Latin American Scholarship Program of American Universities

October 20, 2013

Alex Valdovinos
CAS’13 | Major: International Relations
Research Intern, Latin American Scholarship Program of American Universities

In the fall of 2012, Alex Valdovinos began as an intern for the nonprofit organization, Latin American Scholarship Program of American Universities (LASPAU). After finding out about the nonprofit through a newsletter from BU’s International Relations department, Alex contacted the organization and began the internship two weeks later. After a great first semester, he was offered a chance to stay during the spring of 2013 and jumped at the opportunity.

CCD: Tell us about your experience at Latin American Scholarship Program of American Universities.

Alex: My main focus was to write a country strategy report on Mexico. The organization focuses primarily on higher education initiatives. Topics included general structure of higher education, government initiatives, expenditures on higher education, availability of scholarships, inequalities in education, and more. At the end of every two weeks, I would meet with my supervisor to talk about my work and what I had found. She edited my work, as well as provided guidance and assistance as the project moved forward. At the end of the semester, I presented my full 20-page research report to the full LASPAU staff, including the executive director. My work impressed them enough that they asked me to return during the spring 2013 semester to delve further into Mexican education and politics!

CCD: What have you been working on during the spring semester?

Alex: This semester, I have been heavily involved in two projects at the office. The first directly involves the Mexico Department of LASPAU. The research comes at an exciting time, since Mexico has just recently elected a new President, and he has pushed forth sweeping reforms in the education and political sector, so the experience I am gaining is invaluable. My second project involves a team effort. My supervisors and I created D-LAT, a technology growth group that is working to implement new research and organizational technological tools to improve efficiency and reduce workload for employees.

CCD: What has been the best thing about your internship?

Alex: The research and the people. Everyone at LASPAU is accommodating, interesting and helpful. The vibrant feel in the office is unmatched in my experience, and I cannot get enough of the various languages that float around. English, Spanish, French, Portuguese – LASPAU really is a melting cultural pot. Also, LASPAU has allowed me to attend and even interact in all-staff meetings, something I never thought was possible as an intern.

CCD: What is one thing that you’ve learned that will be most beneficial in your next internship?

Alex: I have learned how to work within a bilingual office, and most importantly, I have learned how to conduct research in more than one language. I want to work in the Latin American region and so this experience is providing a thorough foundation for success.

CCD: How has this internship changed your future plans?

Alex: LASPAU has shown me the importance of higher education and how government policy and local policy affects it, not only in the short term, but in the medium and long term, as well. I have thought more and more about working in places that deal with education, because through LASPAU, I have gained a new appreciation for the integral importance of higher education in improving the lives of people.

CCD: What are the top three skills you’ve learned from your internship?

Alex: There are so many things I’ve learned at LASPAU, but if I would get them down to three, I would say how to work in an office group setting, how to give professional office presentations, and how to be on time with work deliverables.