Within the first month of the program, we already had the chance to work on T20, the official think tank engagement group of G20 as part of CIPS’ role in the task force on food security and sustainable agriculture.
This T20 opportunity gave us hands-on experience on how to contribute positively to discussions on key global agricultural issues, learn how to critically analyze relevant policy briefs and liaise with global experts to facilitate meaningful discussions on relevant issues.
Working on T20 also provided access to side events and discussions with Ministries, officials, academics, and key research institutes, which brought about many insightful discussions on policy issues that matter to me both professionally and personally.
Overall, I gained valuable insight into the inner workings of a high-level summit, how to professionally conduct myself and effectively communicate with various stakeholders.
As a research trainee, I also gained hands-on experience in policy research by working closely with the research units at CIPS. In my capacity, I mostly worked with the Agriculture Research unit and the Education Research unit.
In the former, I learned how to write a research report. This entailed learning how to develop research concepts and implement these ideas, and conduct interviews and literature reviews to support my arguments. These tasks taught me how to conduct professional interviews with various stakeholders such as officials, academics, and community leaders.
By working on various food commodities, I also learned how to search for quantitative data and work with statistical databases, and use my critical analysis to discern which sources are reputable and applicable to the project at hand.
I also became more informed and aware of changing trends in various aspects of key food commodities and how to read and analyze key regulations. Through this, I formed a greater understanding of how these changes impact daily life.
In essence, I learned valuable technical skills on how to conduct policy research and it also served as an opportunity for me to familiarize myself with a new policy issue.
Working with the education unit, I rekindled my personal interest in education as a policy issue. I got to further my interest in education inequities and pedagogies through various works in this unit.
In this unit, I learned the advocacy aspect of working in policy research, how to pursue key stakeholders and invite them to participate in the advocacy process. The advocacy process also refined my communication skills enabling me to effectively convey policy research findings to the relevant audience.
The projects from this unit also allowed me to develop and present a research proposal and learn how to properly break down a research topic into feasible and workable components.
This unit also taught me how to develop a comprehensive and succinct literature review and refined my research skills in discerning which sources are reputable and relevant to the research project at hand.
Aside from unit-specific tasks, the program also offered various training opportunities with interactive projects and insightful discussions.
Training in data and statistics, interviewing skills, professional writing skills, policy advocacy, fundraising, writing for the media, and understanding digital communication through content creation and determining our target audience, all provided by inhouse staff.
I also received external training from Thinkpolicy, a renowned public policy initiative that provides training on critical thinking, market failure, Root Cause Analysis, Policy and Regulation, and Decision-making.
These intensive sessions were valuable because they connected me with experienced players in the industry who each provided insightful presentations and hands-on interactive learning activities. They helped me form a better understanding of public policy that I would not have gotten from just reading about policy issues.
Essentially, the program allowed me to work on policy issues that matter to me and also gave me an opportunity to learn and gain awareness of other equally profound policy issues.
The program has also helped me expand my professional network and form connections with leading policy experts and industry players. These benefits are crucial for me to grow as an aspiring policy researcher and I would recommend this program to other young professionals who are thinking of starting a career in public policy research.