Internships at Athena Infonomics: In Their Own Words

Internships at Athena Infonomics: Develop through Data
Internships at Athena Infonomics: In Their Own Words

An internship at Athena Infonomics allows you to develop, both professionally and by creating an impact in people’s everyday lives through the use of data. It offers a 360 degree view of the development sector, allowing you to contribute to projects for some very prestigious clients. Athena supports multilaterals, federal and provincial governments, private sector, international NGOs and more, across a variety of sectors.

Since being founded in 2010, our portfolio has grown to over 130 projects. We’ve served over 60 clients in more than 25 countries across 20 sectors. Many of our current employees started out as interns. The kind of work that Athena does, such as helping to improve improve water supply in Myanmar or developing a Monitoring, Learning and Evidence (MLE) tool for Fecal Sludge Management (FSM) gives interns an exposure that enables them to better map their future career path.

How do our past interns feel? Adyasha Mohanty, Sophie Wang and Chloé Beaudet interned at Athena in 2019. Below is an account of their internship experience in their own words.

During her 3-month internship, Adyasha Mohanty supported our urban development practice. She also delivered knowledge transfer sessions for the team on her research surrounding child mobility in India.

Adyasha Mohanty“Over the past few years, I have developed a strong academic interest in issues of urban development, and particularly, in those of urban transport and mobility. I recall enthusiastically meeting with Athena’s director Mr. Vijay Bhalaki in Washington, D.C. to discuss potential projects, several months before my internship officially began in Chennai. Athena has various projects in the urban development space for prestigious clients. But I am glad I was guided, from the very outset, by Athena’s senior management towards projects that excited me not just professionally, but also personally.

Throughout my internship I could be found conducting extensive literature reviews, discussing research road-maps with the project managers, preparing case studies, and developing a quantitative research instrument to support larger projects looking at safer and more inclusive road transport infrastructure in urban India. Staff at all levels were happy to explain their projects, diverse backgrounds and approaches in tackling development challenges. I found myself evaluating my own research approach through various lenses, by interacting with urban planners, architecture and design experts, economists and experts in social inclusion.

The work culture of Athena leans towards the exchange of ideas and constructive feedback. With this in mind, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to lead a webinar style-presentation for the Athena team (across all the offices), in which I discussed interventions in child-friendly mobility in urban India and beyond. I was able to use the extensive feedback I received from the research team to give a novel direction to my research effort.

Although I have grown up in various metropolitan cities of India, this was my first stint in Chennai. I used the weekends to explore the towns close by with my co-interns, acquire a taste for Madras filter coffee, and pick some conversational Tamil. Given the relevance of my project, I could put to use the observations from my daily commute in expanding the scope of my work in Athena. The chance to learn about the complexities and developmental challenges of my own country with a renewed curiosity is something I am thankful to Athena for. ”

Sophie Wang comes from a private-sector consulting background and supported our Africa business development team.

Sophie Wang“Coming from a primarily private-sector consulting background, Athena was my first professional experience focused on global development consulting. This is a niche sector in the consulting space where some of the large firms do not always have the strongest expertise, which is why I decided to apply as soon as I stumbled on the opportunity. Although founded in India, Athena has a truly global practice and offers a vivid environment for exchange. The team at Athena is a tight-knit, with little hierarchy and offers lots of opportunities for exchange. This means that I was able to share insights and learnings with senior members of the team directly.

I worked primarily with the Africa business development team. This gave me a 360-degree view of how new business opportunities are identified and won. I enjoyed the fact that interns are given access to conversations going on at the management level, which helped me understand the bottlenecks encountered in business development from a strategic perspective.

I had the opportunity to work on the approach & methodology for a technical proposal along with the opportunity to see how research methods are applied in fieldwork. This has given me direction on which methodology courses to take going ahead in my studies. My internship has also helped me understand the eco-system surrounding development aid projects. This knowledge will be extremely useful with my future employment research in the future, given that I have greater clarity on the mission of various organizations.”

Chloé Beaudet supported our WASH practice, and wrote a blog piece on including women in decision making to mitigate the effects of drought in India.

Chloé Beaudet“My internship with Athena enabled me to discover the global development sector first hand. As a novice to the sector, my internship gave me the opportunity to apply the technical skills I learnt during my studies to diverse development challenges. For example, I worked with Athena staff to identify potential solutions to improve water coverage in Mandalay (Myanmar). We used statistical and econometric tools to understand water usage patterns in the region.

This internship has given me clarity regarding my career choice in the development sector. My experience with Athena will be very useful for my future interviews, as it provides me concrete examples of development job-related experience.

From a personal perspective, interning at Athena and living in Chennai was also a wonderful opportunity to visit the country. I went to the impressive Meenakshi temple in Madurai, discovered the beautiful ghats and mountains in Kerala, and visited Pondicherry. It was a rewarding experience as I discovered South of India from all angles: its culture, religions, history, and the development challenges that the country faces.”

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John Harvey
John is a former UN Women (South Asia MCO) intern and freelance writer. His clients include Huffington Post and WSSCC (Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council). John holds a bachelor’s degree in the study of religions, and master’s degree in development studies from SOAS (University of London).