Social Internship at the UN World Food Programme

At IESE, the summer internship is a great opportunity to test drive a new career, try something completely different or re-affirm your passion for a particular sector or role. Masafumi Irie (MBA Class of 2018) wanted to explore the social sector and spent his summer with the UN World Food Programme (WFP) in Rome. In this post, he talks about how he found this internship and what he learnt from it.

Why did you decide to do your internship with WFP?

The reason why I pursued an internship in WFP is that I thought my supply chain management expertise gained from the previous professional experience in the oil & gas industry may be transferred to the humanitarian sector to assist people in real needs. And the WFP was an ideal place, as the largest humanitarian agent, delivering foods and supplies to the most difficult places to reach in the world.

This sounds like a unique opportunity. How did you secure your internship?

I secured the internship through networking. As it is non-traditional MBA career, I had to put in a lot of effort on my own. But the great thing of IESE network is when I talked with IESE alumni and professors who had experiences in the development sector, those people kindly introduced me to other people in the industry through their own network. It was a combination of good luck and good timing to have this opportunity. Through 4 tiers of my friends (i.e. friends’ friends’ friends’ friend), I managed to connect with a staff in WFP Supply Chain. Following both casual discussion & interview, my supervisor created the 3-month internship position for me. The formal internship application for the UN is quite often for a minimum of 6 months (a few for 3 months), so I was lucky to get this offer.

You deserve it after all your hard work! What were some of your responsibilities during these 3 months?

During the internship, I was mainly working on the establishment & management of private partnership with the WFP supply chain team in Rome HQ. In line with the Sustainable Development Goal 17 (Partnership for the Goal), there is an increasing focus to enhance the collaboration with the private sector, in order to seek expertise and resources that WFP does not possess or is not good at, from private partners.

For example, I was working on the project proposal to design a new partnership from private sector (supply chain & energy industry), defining the scope of partnership, areas of opportunities for know-how sharing and way forward in the project proposal. I was also working with an existing private partner (major logistics company) to optimize the spare parts management for 800 WFP trucks.

Photo courtesy of UN WFP

What did you like and not like about your experience?

The best part of my internship experience was the real exposure to international cooperation and diversity in the UN. For me, I made up my mind before starting the MBA that I wanted to try something new and have an experience in an international NGO during summer, in order to decide my post-MBA career path. It was valuable experience working inside the organization, to get an idea of their culture and talk with people in the organization. The negative part of my experience was that because I was based in the Rome HQ, sometimes it was difficult to grasp the real feel of WFP operations and its dynamics in the field.

After this internship, do you intend to continue in this sector when you graduate?

Post-MBA career, let’s see where the opportunities are. After this internship, I am now keen to find out more about the social impact career opportunities in the private sector as well. Overall, these international organizations are very interesting. And if you would like to tackle this sector, the social internship during summer would be a great opportunity to discover!

Thank you Masafumi for sharing your summer experience with us.

Photos are courtesy of and

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Camille Chow View more

Associate Director, Admissions (MBA '16)

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