Toby Greenfield

Toby Greenfield, MPA '18
Summer Intern at the UN Migration Agency in Geneva, Switzerland

Rockefeller College opens doors for students to gain invaluable internship experience both at home and overseas. Toby Greenfield, MPA ’18 spent the summer of 2017 interning at the UN Migration Agency in Geneva, Switzerland. We caught up with her during her time abroad.

Q: What is it like interning at the UN Migration Agency in Geneva, Switzerland?

Toby: Interning at the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is an incredible, unique and invaluable experience. The organization recently joined the U.N. so they are part of the bigger, collaborative cluster system. But they still run the organization on a projectized and very local basis so I am able to learn about both processes. As part of the Migrants Assistance Division (MAD), I am helping the team with their communications on various projects such as the World Day Against Trafficking of Persons campaign and the launch of a new global open database of trafficking victims. I have learned about the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals, the inter-agency Global Action to Prevent and Address Trafficking in Persons (Glo Act), the international Global Compact for Migration and IOM’s Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration program. The people I work with at headquarters and in the regional offices are smart, dedicated and innovative. I am proud of the work I have been able to help them do and this experience will have a great impact on my future career.

Q: What does a typical day look like for you?

Toby: There really is no typical day at my internship. Because I am serving in different roles on each project I am working on, there is always something new to learn and do. Some days I am crafting the marketing campaign message for the new global database, coordinating with the internal research team and the external partner Polaris. Other days I am designing internal communications for our regional and country offices around the world. I work with the research and data analysis team, the Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration group, the Assistance to Vulnerable Migrants group, the lead on the Glo Act and the head of the MAD division, depending on the project I am working on. But everyone at the IOM serves many functions and handles multiple projects so I do not think anyone who works there has a typical day.

Q: What are you enjoying most about the summer experience?

Toby: I am at my internship as part of a Duke University fellowship program. In addition to the internship we participated in an intensive course week where we talked to staff members at various U.N. agencies and NGOs including OCHA, UNDP, UNHCR, OHCHR, UNICEF, Care International, Médecins Sans Frontières (AKA Doctors Without Borders), World Food Program, Amnesty International and International Committee of the Red Cross. We even spoke to an American diplomat from the U.S. Mission. Being able to talk to people in a variety of organizations and jobs really helped me learn about the humanitarian field, its intersection with human rights and its changing role in the world. It was an amazing week.

Q: How did Rockefeller help to prepare you for this internship?

Toby: In my first year at Rockefeller I took mostly core classes and like many people, I’m guessing, never thought I would use what I learned. But I was wrong. Being able to analyze stakeholders’ interests and influences helped me craft the communications messaging for my projects. I learned about the balance non-governmental entities aim for trying to influence the policy makers that fund them which allowed me to understand the position IOM and other UN agencies are in every day. And, of course, everything we learned in the data methods classes helped me understand the data projects I am working. Overall, developing critical thinking skills in the public administration field as part of the Rockefeller program has benefited me in this job because I have been able to quickly understand what is needed and offer plans to achieve our goals.

Q: With a background in television, why did you choose to pursue an MPA at Rockefeller College?

Toby: I studied and worked in television for 20 years but I found myself becoming disenchanted with the industry. My desire to make the world better was not being fulfilled. I decided what I really wanted to do was work for a global nonprofit. After almost a year of applying for jobs with no responses, I realized my work experience was not enough to get me through the door. I had to have the education and internships in the field to provide me the right background. So, I began researching graduate programs and found that Rockefeller had everything I was looking for: a strong nonprofit program, connections at a lot of organizations close to New York City where I plan to return to, and it was affordable. Once I talked to the professors and staff, my decision was made.

Q: What are your career aspirations?

Toby: A lot of the reason I took part in this program was to help me figure out what my next career looks like. I know I want to work in advocacy for stronger policies and practices to protect women, likely on an international platform. I am very interested in counter-trafficking, but I do not want to limit my options. I just believe this world cannot thrive unless equal rights, protection and opportunities are afforded to all people.

Toby Greenfield