New Partnership Enables Harris Students to Make a Difference from Day One

A new partnership between Chicago Harris and OxFam America will provide Harris students with valuable policy internship opportunities and a launching point for future employment with the wide-reaching global organization.

OxFam America is part of an international confederation of 18 organizations working in more than 90 countries with a goal of mobilizing the power of people against poverty. Through practical, innovative solutions, OxFam organizations help people to lift themselves out of poverty and to prosper. 

Under the partnership agreement, two first-year Harris students will spend the summer as interns with OxFam in Washington, D.C. The internships will give students the opportunity to identify, research and recommend programs and policy positions relevant to Oxfam’s work in strategic areas.

“The OxFam partnership is a prime example of how we're empowering students to make an impact from the moment they enter Harris,” says Daniel Diermeier, dean and Emmett Dedmon Professor at Chicago Harris. “Long before graduation, Harris students are developing the skills necessary to tackle serious policy questions, and our partners recognize that."

Harris students have been selected to spend this summer working with OxFam in two strategic areas. First-year MPP student Thelma Armendariz will focus on inequality, with an emphasis on the role banks play in allowing wealthy individuals and multinational corporations to move wealth to low tax jurisdictions; meanwhile, first-year MPP student Miriam Gonzalez will focus on displacement—specifically, the causes of global migration and displacement, and methods of getting services to displaced people. 

“I decided to apply to this position because Oxfam is an organization with a strong influence on public and private leaders,” says Gonzalez, “and I believe that working with them is an extraordinary opportunity to make an impact in the world.”

Paul O’Brien, Vice President of Policy and Campaigns at OxFam America, recently spoke on campus about the partnership, describing OxFam’s policy practices and its approach to tackling poverty, hunger and social injustice. He applauded Harris’ rigorous teaching methodology, which he says produces students who can further OxFam’s mission.

“For an organization that’s committed to influencing global to local policies, it’s invaluable to have a relationship with an institution that cares about evidence-based policymaking and teaching people how to do that,” says O’Brien. “We’re really looking forward to seeing what this partnership will bring.”

Students who complete the internship will gain a familiarity with OxFam’s programs, making them promising candidates for permanent jobs. OxFam has agreed that upon graduation, those interns will have the chance to interview with OxFam America or one of the 18 member organizations in OxFam’s confederation.

“This new partnership with OxFam America is a great example of the Career Development Office’s efforts to open up new doors to Harris students in the policy arena,” says Adam Heeg, director of the Career Development Office (CDO) at Harris. “By emphasizing full-time and internship pipeline programs, CDO is helping students connect with the world’s leading organizations in ways that were previously unavailable.”

OxFam’s reach into more than 90 countries could be especially important to Harris’ international students, many of whom may look for jobs in their home countries upon graduation.

Adam McGriffin, Associate Director for NGO Sector Relations at CDO, says the agreement with OxFam is the latest strategic partnership that lets students put their knowledge to work from day one at Harris.

“Harris students are passionate about making a difference in the world and are fortunate to have this unique opportunity,” says McGriffin. “These internships and policy projects provide meaningful contributions to the policy practices and research that OxFam undertakes in order to right the wrongs of poverty, hunger and injustice around the world. These experiences put our students on the road to becoming effective change agents and policy leaders.”

—Brian Wallheimer