Internship at the International Development Organization: Asian Development Bank (ADB)

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Figure 1. Me and the fellow interns (I am the second person from the right). Photo source: ADB Website
Figure 1. Me and the fellow interns (I am the second person from the right). Photo source: ADB Website

Have you ever wondered how is it to work at an international development organization, such as Asian Development Bank (ADB)? What are the benefits and how do you land an internship (job) in such organization? Rica Martyna is excited to share her experience through this article. Let’s check it out!

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I have always dreamt of working in an international development organization. My eight weeks in Asian Development Bank (ADB) was such a dream come true; not only working with experts and professionals, but also experiencing ADB’s strong culture environment.

In 2018, I had an opportunity to work in a Fecal Sludge Management (FSM) project as a South Asia Department- Urban Development and Water Division intern in ADB, Philippines. This eight-week internship program is a project-oriented learning opportunity for graduate students to gain experience through research assignments based on ADB’s current operational needs.

I met a lot of passionate people within my field of expertise. They were very enthusiastic to share their knowledge and opportunities that are valuable to grow my career. I made friends with other interns who played a significant role as a support system through my internship.

What’s special about ADB?

Figure 2. My final internship presentation in ADB. Photo by author.
Figure 2. My final internship presentation in ADB. Photo by author.

ADB is an international organization with a strong Asian culture. As an intern, I got an opportunity to experience the facilities that ‘the bank’ has such as healthcare benefits, sports clubs, conferences and ADB events. There was a vast option of foods and café that I didn’t even try to taste all.

ADB Headquarters is located in Metro Manila, Philippines. The ambience reminds me of Jakarta, the city that never sleeps. I was working eight to ten hours on average as my working schedule was flexible.  On the weekend, I went out with my fellow interns to explore the city’s gems. The food was sourly amazing, the people are friendly and unquestionably make you feel safe. My internship life was definitely work-hard, play-hard.

At the end of my internship, I delivered my research results through a final presentation. It was very surprising that experts from other divisions were present, asked questions and also shared their experience on FSM projects. Furthermore, after the presentation I had three meetings to discuss some outstanding questions. It was a positive feeling that they appreciated my internship work.

ADB intern’s benefits

Figure 3. ADB Library. Photo source: ADB Website
Figure 3. ADB Library. Photo source: ADB Website

Through this internship I broadened my network by acquainting myself with people from my area of expertise. These people are important to open the door for a young professional in a sanitation area like me. Even though I only worked there for a short period of time, I received a long list of constructive feedbacks from supervisors, experts and other staff, whose honest view made me more professional. With my fellow interns that I proudly called friends, we shared our time and food seven days a week, and at the end of the internship we had a wee trip to Palawan.

Besides those invaluable benefits, as an intern I also received:

  • Reimbursement for an airfare ticket and visa to the Philippines (with a fancy pick-up service);
  • A stipend of 69 USD per day for 56 calendar days;
  • Internal sports club with professional coach and free lessons (I participated in squash club);
  • Subsidised food and beverages (including those fancy coffee brands);
  • Library and learning resources centre that have all the references you need; and
  • Many things that will make you just want to stay at work.

My internship selection process

Figure 4. My last-day-of-internship pose. Photo by author.
Figure 4. My last-day-of-internship pose. Photo by author.

I applied to the internship in December, as the competition was very high, I didn’t expect anything. However, I got an email somewhere in March which said that I was selected to move forward. I was surprised that I only had 24 hours to prepare for my phone interview.

As a self-proclaimed audiovisual person, I prepared myself using videos on YouTube. The strategies that I used for the interview:

  • I watched the common interview questions and answers from this video and adjust it to my conditions;
  • I familiarised myself with ADB and my division through their website, videos, and articles;
  • I also did a bit of digging through my supervisors’ professional articles and profile to see their perspective on the internship topic;
  • I practiced the interview until I was confident

It was seven o’clock in the morning and my interview lasted no more than ten minutes. I was interviewed by one of my supervisors and she said that there are forty people made to the interview stage, so I’d better give my best and not lose the opportunity.  The questions were surprisingly to the point and quite technical. Such as:

  • What do you think about sanitation infrastructure nowadays?
  • Why do you think sanitation infrastructure is not working well in such countries?
  • What knowledge and experience can you contribute to this project?

After the interview, my supervisor asked me to send one scientific essay to measure my English proficiency. It didn’t take more than a week before I got an email that I was accepted as an Intern in ADB for that period.

How can you become an ADB intern?

First things first, is to see if the internship assignment is available and matches your background and education. There are some requirements to apply to the internship vacancy: you need to be either a master or PhD student. You also have to be a national of one of ADB’s members. You can read all of the application information here.

After you submit the application, you’ll need to wait patiently until the application is closed before you can expect an email for the interview. Unfortunately, they will not contact you if you don’t make it to the next round.

Don’t worry about the administrative work, they will make sure that you have a smooth preparation before on-board the ADB.

A tip for future interns

Figure 5. A wee trip to Palawan, my friends fell from a banana boat while I took picture from a water ski. Photo by author.
Figure 5. A wee trip to Palawan, my friends fell from a banana boat while I took picture from a water ski. Photo by author.

I didn’t regret anything but if I could change something, I would’ve talked to a lot of people as soon as I joined ADB. At my first week, I really struggled to see how ADB is going and how the knowledge [is being transferred] there. I didn’t really set the scope, so I was really catching up and I read a lot of projects. But instead, I could’ve just talked to people.

Is there any chance to work with the ADB after the internship? 

Of course! There is a lot of opportunities to join the organization after the internship. Once you are in the organization, you will get better access to information on the opportunities in the bank as well as international agencies and organisations that work with the ADB.

Source: https://www.adb.org/site/careers/internship-program

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Rica Martyna
Rica Martyna [Pasaribu] is a junior environmental engineer in offshore pipeline installation, heavy lift and subsea construction company. She is working on environmental and sustainable related activities within the corporation such as energy efficiency, waste generation and wastewater treatment for vessels, yards and offices. Her educational backgrounds are environmental engineering from Institut Teknologi Bandung and environmental sciences from Wageningen University. Her passion lies in domestic wastewater infrastructure on which she still dreams to pursue for her future career. Besides her job, she spends her time by taking care of her house plants, traditional dancing in Indonesian cultural events, and binge-watching Ru-Paul Drag Queen and Star-Trek series.