Kacana Sipangule, from Zambia, currently studying at the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, was at UNU-WIDER for three months, aiming to further her PhD research on tenure security, smallholder land investments, and large-scale agriculture.
Did the internship develop further your research proposal?
The internship was extremely beneficial in helping me to develop one of the chapters of my PhD dissertation. UNU-WIDER proved to be the ideal environment to focus and improve my research topic. I greatly benefited from the infrastructure, access to a library well stocked with books on development economics, and support from fellow PhD interns and Institute's staff. Additionally, frequent interactions with my mentor, Saurabh Singhal, enabled me to further develop my proposed methodology and ideas.
Did you have opportunities for networking with other researchers?
Getting to meet other researchers through the Institute's network was extremely insightful. During the internship, I was fortunate to participate in three UNU-WIDER events: Extractive industries and development project meeting, the conference on Human capital and growth, as well as a seminar on Unlocking Africa's development potential co-organized by the African Development Bank. Attending these events exposed me not only to the high-quality research conducted by the Institute and its partners, but also to more policy-relevant development economics research.
The possibility to present our work within UNU-WIDER’s internal weekly seminars was also extremely beneficial as it enabled me to receive feedback and comments from more experienced staff on the early versions of my work.
Did the UNU-WIDER internship programme meet your expectations?
The internship definitely exceeded my expectations. I was extremely happy with the work environment that was provided and also enjoyed the opportunities to interact with colleagues outside the office—for instance, the group trip to an African film festival in Helsinki. In addition, being in Helsinki during the ‘lightest part of the year’ was definitely an experience worth seeing.
It is difficult to pick just one highlight of the internship as I learnt a lot over my three-month stay in Helsinki. I really enjoyed being part of an international and diverse environment in which I could learn about different countries’ approaches to reducing poverty, promoting growth and development.
In the future, I hope to work in an institution that provides research-based policy-relevant recommendations for development. Being exposed to the work at UNU-WIDER that adopts such an approach was extremely insightful.