Mario Schulz's Internship Experience at FNF

15.02.2020 - 30.04.2020
Feature01.05.2020Mario Schulz

Who are you? (Where are you from and what interested you in an internship at FNF MENA?)

I’m Mario from Germany. I spent a few months with FNF MENA as part of my Mercator Fellowship on International Affairs. I’m interested in the bureaucratic steering processes that operate in the background of international cooperation – therefore, the MENA office of FNF was a perfect fit for, as it coordinates the operational work around the region, in addition to conducting its own events. 

What were the two most important, exciting and/or interesting things you worked on during your time at FNF MENA?

During my work placement in Amman – and then remotely from Germany, due to COVID-19 – I got to work on the budget applications for the upcoming funding period. For me, this was the perfect task, since I got to learn about theories of change, program goals and indicators for project success, important tools in the “engine room” of the foundation’s work abroad. Also, I had the chance to write parts of various publications. To combine analytical writing with liberal political arguments was a cool experience for me, since so far I had written mostly in academic settings or the think tank world.

What was different in Amman and/or the office from what you had expected, prior to joining the team?

When arriving at the MENA office, I was surprised to find something that resembled a startup, rather than a German bureaucracy: Open space offices, a fun, young team and agile project management tools (that allowed for a seamless transition to the home office when the lockdown due to Corona came into effect). I loved the fact that the team usually had lunch together in the big kitchen, wonderfully prepared by Khouloud. 

What advice would you give a future intern?

Ask people about their work – you’ll be able to learn a lot in a short amount of time. Eat often and a lot at Hashem Restaurant Down Town – it’s cheap and delicious. Also, give Amman’s quasi-public transport a try! 

What does freedom mean to you?

As a social liberal, freedom to me is something that needs not only to be ‘defended’ – it also needs to be actively pursued, for instance by ensuring that economic markets work for everyone. The state and other social institutions fulfil a crucial role in combating injustices and leveling the playing field for all, so that people can make meaningful choices in their daily lives.