Ethan’s interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length.
Please introduce yourself – what is your name and your current position? Tell us a bit about your background – what was your journey before Konexio?
My name’s Ethan. Currently, I’m interning with the International Development team. Mostly that means I’ve been doing a lot of comms stuff and some funding related grant work – prospecting, that sort of thing. I’m currently a student at NYU, I’m in my last semester, so I graduate this winter. I’m studying abroad, that’s what brought me to France. I’m studying history and journalism, so before this I was doing a lot of freelance writing, a bunch of personal projects, stuff that started under the purview of school and expanded. Now I’m here and I’m enjoying it.
Can you tell us about your first few months at Konexio? What were your initial expectations, and how have they compared to the reality of the internship?
It’s been good. I feel like I’ve been given enough responsibilities that the work is engaging but not so much that I feel overwhelmed given that I’m still relatively new. That definitely feels pretty good. I didn’t really know what to expect coming in other than I would be involved in funding and comms stuff to some degree. I guess in that sense my expectations were met, but that’s vague. I didn’t really have any specific expectations but so far it’s been good.
What projects or tasks have you been working on during your time with us? Can you share some highlights or challenges you've encountered?
The biggest things would be a handful of specific grants – the Hilton Foundation, SIFA. Besides that, there’s been some more overarching stuff. Working monthly on content for the newsletter, doing some internal stuff for the funding process that seems like that’s gonna be continuing after I leave. In terms of challenges, I would say that, depending on the urgency for some of this stuff, you sort of just get started on it. I’m new, so for the Hilton Foundation, that was the first grant I’d been seriously involved with, and I just started my week and it was like, “alright, you’re doing Hilton.” I managed, I think it turned out pretty well, and I appreciate the help I got from everyone else on it, but it’s a little tricky to get situated in that position.
As a new intern and a student, how do you balance learning and contributing to the team? Any strategies you've found effective for managing your workload and responsibilities?
I’m lucky in the sense that I’ve already done all of my requirements for graduation, so going into this semester I could be very flexible with my schedule in a way that makes doing two things at once very convenient. All of my classes are confined to two days of the week, so I do only school two days and only work three days, which makes it easy to keep everything balanced. The two competing demands on my time don’t really bleed into each other all that much, which is nice for my own peace of mind. I don’t have to be constantly switching back and forth between tracking one thing and tracking the other, I can just kind of wake up and it’s either I’m in work mode or school mode and whatever’s going on in the other sphere doesn’t need to be on my mind, at least right now. So I guess the strategy is to keep the two as distinct as possible.
What is your favorite aspect about working at Konexio?
There seems like, at least within the team and the people I’m working with, it seems like there’s a fair amount of trust. That might just be a result of us working remotely, so I don’t have someone literally checking in on me to see what I’m doing, but I do really like the element of the work where there’s the trust that I will be productive and that I will be doing these things without the need to confirm that minute to minute. I appreciate that sort of leeway being given and I would like to think that so far I have justified that with the work that I’ve done.
Have you come across any learning resources or mentorship opportunities within Konexio that have helped you develop your skills further?
I think that the people like Elaine [Konexio’s International Development and Communications Coordinator] and Allegra [Konexio’s International Development Manager], who are in charge of delegating things to me, have done a really good job at slowly expanding the sphere of things I’m expected to do in a way that lets me really get comfortable with something before the responsibilities increase. That’s helped me pick up a lot more than I would have if I was immediately expected to juggle these things. A lot of the projects that I’ve been doing that are more collaborative, the exposure to other people in the process, being able to see the things that pop out to them, the things they identify as tricky or easy, the resources they lean on to make things go faster – I’ve gotten a lot from that.
Looking ahead, how do you envision this experience shaping your career path?
It’s definitely put things on my radar that I wasn’t aware of before. I’m a writer, mostly, I think that’s where the bulk of my skills lie. As a student I apply that in history and journalism, settings where that’s very much the reason you’re there. You do those things specifically to write. Then you have something like Konexio where there’s a space for those skills that might not be super immediately obvious if you aren’t familiar with the field that they’re working in. So this experience has made me aware of options and it’s given me the confidence that I’ll be able to find places that I can apply what I’m best at in the future.
So you are studying abroad in Paris this semester. What are some key differences between your program there than in NYC? How do the two compare?
I think the big one would be that, because NYU Paris is a study abroad site, the experience is more structured around being in this new place and getting familiar with it in a way that the New York program isn’t. All the classes here, unless it’s something like Computer Science, they try their best to get as much of a local angle as possible, they try to get you out and into the city. This might be a result of me taking fewer classes than other people but I’ve noticed that the workload seems lighter. I think that they’re working with this expectation – not that people won’t care about their studies, because they obviously do – but that being in this new place in a culture and a language that you might not know anything about, I think they’ve built that expectation into the program.
What is your favorite food in Paris?
Close to the place that my dorm is located, there’s a really fantastic bakery that I’ve been going to more or less every day for breakfast. Shout out to them. They make these little quiches, so I get one of those and a croissant. They’re very good. They have all sorts of plaques and awards and whatnot for making the flakiest croissant in the region or whatever. It’s very decorated.
What are your hobbies outside of work?
I read a lot. I write a lot. I’m very into science fiction so I write a lot of science fiction-y stuff. I own far too many books, even here. I have no idea how I’m gonna get these back to the US. I like to cook even though I don’t know how good I am at it. I also make field recordings.