Student Stories

Summer Spotlight: Jamie Koenig

UChicago students are spending their summers across the city, country, and globe this summer. Whether working at paid internships or learning new languages, students use the summer to complement the learning they do in the classroom during the school year. With a little more of summer left before school starts, we’ll feature students and their opportunities throughout the summer!

Name: Jamie Koenig

Graduation Year: 2019

Major: Economics

Minor: Human Rights

Summer Opportunity: Intern, Mahila Housing SEWA Trust, Ahmedabad, India

Jamie KoenigWhat do you do on your internship day to day?

The office environment is really welcoming and friendly. I've definitely learned a lot about India from my co-workers. The main projects I've been working on are constructing a database of potential funders and partner organizations for MHT and writing case studies on various outcomes experienced by women who have taken the training. I go on a field visit probably about an average of once a week, during which I get to visit one of the slums in Ahmedabad that MHT works in, see the progress, and learn about obstacles/successes. A few weeks ago, they sent me to Ranchi (a city about 1000 miles east of Ahmedabad) to interview women for case studies. And tomorrow I'm going to Jaipur (a city a little northeast of Ahmedabad) to do a similar project. The chance to see more of India is really amazing, as what works in one city often differs from another city. There are even enormous variations slum to slum in what will work, so the chance to learn about these differences is really great.

What’s been the highlight of your summer?

When I was in Ranchi, I went on a site visit to observe the Karmika School, MHT's construction training program for women from the slums. The particular training I went to was for masonry, which is the most popular course. The classes have to take place at night as these women work all day, typically as unskilled laborers. They then come for the part-time training, which extends well past sunset. For the 6 months of training, most of their days start before 6 am and extend until at least 10 pm. To see their commitment was amazing. They had to hang lights to work by and they used wet sand rather than cement so that all materials would be reusable. Many also have to bring their children with them, as there's nowhere else for them to go. After a while, I had the chance to interview some of them (with the help of someone translating) and hearing about the obstacles they face and also their optimism and faith in their ability to succeed impressed me so much.

How does your summer opportunity contribute to your academic experience in the College?

I first learned about MHT in a class I took last quarter, which has been one of my favorite classes taken while at UChicago. The opportunity to see firsthand what I first learned about in the classroom and above that, the chance to contribute to an effective and noble cause, is frankly all I could have asked for in a summer internship. This opportunity is also helping me more finely hone my interests and figure out what I want to do in the future.