ciee - council on international educational exchange

Professional Internship Program

BAFF News Blog

Learn more about the organization and past events.

12 posts from June 2017


Liene Putnina mastering Edtech in Boston

"I found the BAFF program to be enormously useful on a number of levels. In addition to gaining insights into education technology industry in the US and seeing how an overarching organization is operating on day to day basis, I also got to improve my social skills, got to travel all across the US and learn about different cultures and make a long list of inspiring and potentially very useful professional and personal connections." Liene spent her internship at LearnLaunch Accelerator in Boston, where she learned about the full cycle of operations in an Edtech startup accelerator, and honed skills in market research, business plan evaluation, development, deal sourcing, and  company portfolios. Her supervisors, Sam Silver, Asad Butt, and Liam Pisano all boast a wide spectrum of experience involved in tech roles, startup accelerators, and investment banking. 

The success of Liene's internship combined with her shining personality has  landed her several job offers back home in Latvia. She is enthusiastic to continue working in the Edtech sector, although is considering the possibility of furthering her education in finance sometime in the future. Until then, Liene is setting aside some time for herself to revel in all the splendours of Latvia. 

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Kiau Koll interns at Brand Assembly

Estonian intern, Kiau Koll, has enjoyed her internship immersed in the New York fashion scene. Brand Assembly is a multi-faceted fashion ecosystem which helps emerging designers in the operations, wholesale and retail aspects of their brands. Kaiu's roll has been to organize and promote the top women's contemporary tradeshow in Los Angeles, manage marketing campaigns for the Brand Assembly Square,  as well as any other events pertaining to Fashion Week in New York.  Kaiu has gained extensive knowledge of budgeting, the creative thinking required for tradeshow preparation, marketing and social media,  and the buying cycle in a department store. Kaiu learned from her supervisor, Hillary France, whose career trajectory consists of a period at Diane von Furstenberg, as well as running a small fashion house called Kimberly Ovitz.

Kaiu comments, "I am very happy with my experience and I feel that I got good support from the program. It has been very useful for my future career, good contacts and opportunity to see inside big city companies." Once repatriated to Estonia, Kaiu plans to get some much need R&R, regroup with old friends and family, and begin building her own clothing brand and collection.

Photos courtesy of @markus.nikola.mironovic .

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Emilija Bruzgyte's internship at Elegran

Lithuanian intern, Emilija Bruzgyte, has just completed her year-long internship at Elegran Real Estate in New York. As a finance intern, Emilija trained on providing analytical support to all new businesses initiatives, including but not limited to, financial modeling, capital markets and risk management. She was engaged in observing the New Business Development team to aid in the execution of new ideas to determine market viability as well as profitability for Principal Real Estate Investors. Emilija received supervision from Elegran CEO, Micheal Rossi, a graduate from the London School of Economics, who has developed his real estate career in the Caribbean, Costa Rica, and the UK.

Emilija has shared with us a reflection of her internship: "I spent a year working in a tech-driven luxury real estate firm in Midtown Manhattan. I had an opportunity to work as an assistant for one of the top agents in a firm, overseeing real estate transactions from initial contact with clients to closed deals. In addition, I had a chance to assist CFO and sales manager in financial/business analytics projects, as well as preview many new developments in the city. It was indeed a wonderful professional and cultural experience."

Emilija is looking forward to her return to Lithuania, and is aiming high to find a truly challenging and interesting position. 

Broker preview of one of the newest buildings in Manhattan
Broker preview of one of the newest buildings in Manhattan
Office work - assisting top agent at Elegran - Chris Fry
Emilija assisting Chris Fry, top agent at Elegran


Exchange Foundations Visits the New York Interns

In early June 2017, the CIEE Portland team ventured off to the Big Apple to check in on the cohort of New York interns, as well as extend a friendly handshake our esteemed Host Companies. Our first stop on that sizzling Thursday morning was to The Riverside Company at Rockefeller Center, a private equity firm. We were welcomed by Sarah Spencer, Director of Strategic Analysis & Sourcing, and supervisor to our newest intern to the New York area, Goda Gausaite. Sarah was eager to share helpful feedback about our internship program, and we were delighted to learn how the PIP program has made a positive impact on The Riverside Company throughout the several years of partnership. 

Goda Gausaite, BAFF Intern, and Ms. Sarah Spencer, Director and Supervisor
Kelly Francis, Denise Desrochers, Maggie Ivanova, Goda Gausaite

Our next stop was to our cherished real-estate host company, Elegran Real Estate. Here, we scoped out our two Elegran interns, Emilija Bruzgyte and Robert Reidla, in their very own workspaces. The CIEE team was given a tour of the two-floor company, and met several of our interns' supervisors and co-supervisors, including founder and CEO Michael Rossi, Marketing Director, Tigh Loughhead, and Director of Operations, Jessica Rymer. 

Emilija Bruzgyte, Finance Intern
Robert Reidla, Marketing Intern
Emilija Bruzgyte (Lithuania) and Robert Reidla (Estonia)

For all you fashion gurus, our next stop is sure to pique your interest! Brand Assembly is a fashion incubator which provides emerging designers a space to showcase their products in a co-working environment. Target clients come to the showroom by appointment to peruse the racks of their preferred visionaries. An added plus to this indoor boutique lineup is how visitors will be magnetized towards the shimmery apparel of the other brand stations, thereby multiplying the prospective client base for all participating designers. Here, the CIEE team reunited with intern Kaiu Koll, who heralded her inclusion in this fast-paced, fashion-driven community. We then enjoyed an informative chat with Co-Founder and CEO Hillary France, who expressed her gratitude for CIEE's internship program and for its stalwart talent. The desire to uphold and cling to this CIEE/Brand Assembly partnership was truly reciprocal! 

Intern Kiau Koll
Kiau Koll and Brand Assembly CEO Hillary France

That evening, all New York City-based BAFF and HAESF interns joined the EF team for a cocktail gathering at Salvation Taco. This provided a great opportunity to catch up with the interns, to get the inside scoop on their working relationships, their travels, and their apartment-hunting travail. We were honored to have a special appearance by local BAFF Chairman, Kim Davis, who made a point to chat with every member of the party. The evening concluded on a quintessential New York note, atop Salvation Taco's skyscraper-encompassed rooftop patiobar. 

Emilija Bruzgyte, Goda Gausaite, Liisi Org, Allar Nirk
Greeta Pork, Janis Freimanis, Robert Reidla

Kalev Karpuk, Bence Gecsa Cserna (HAESF)




Intern Mariliis Eensalu attends the JBANC conference: New Realities: The Baltic Region in a Changing World

"Joint Baltic American National Committee (JBANC) has had a significant role in strengthening the Baltic-American relations. JBANC’s 12th conference New Realities: The Baltic Region in a Changing World held in Washington, D.C. on May 19-20th, 2017 was an excellent opportunity to gain better insight to the vision and mission of the organization itself as well as its current partnerships in the U.S. As a Baltic-American Freedom Foundation (BAFF) Professional Internship Fellow, I was interested in the panel discussions. Highlights of the conference included encouraging remarks from Ambassador Kurt Volker, Ambassador Daniel Fried, as well as all the magnificent panelists.

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Mariliis Eensalu (Baltic-American Freedom Foundation Professional Intern), Laura Lyons (Director of Exchange Foundations at CIEE), panelists Tarmo Tammiste (Mayor, City of Narva) and Vjatseslav Konovalov (Vice Mayor, City of Narva) at JBANC conference in Washington, D.C.

It was pleasant to see quite a few younger participants at the conference as it is vital for the Baltic Countries to maintain a strong partnership with the U.S. One of the highlights at the conference was most definitely having an opportunity to pay a visit to the Illinois Senator Richard J. Durbin’s office. Having been an intern at Northern Illinois University (NIU) for almost a year now, I found it to be highly relevant to introduce my current work on climate change issues and getting valuable feedback from the meeting.

Informational meeting at Senator Richard. J. Durbin’s office. From left: Raits Eglitis (Executive Director at American Latvian Association), Henry Gaidis (JBANC Chairman), Ilze Anniņa (Representative for American Latvian Youth Association), Jessica Garber (Legislative Correspondent in the office of Senator Richard J. Durbin), Lina Sullivan (Intern at JBANC), Mariliis Eensalu, Saulius Kuprys (JBANC President), Jaak Treiman (Estonian Honorary Consul) and Karl Altau (JBANC Managing Director)

The feedback is particularly important because working as a BAFF intern has showed me that it is vital to have strong communication between scientists and policy makers. Working specifically on researching past climate changes under the auspices of a leading climate scientist Nathan Stansell enables me to better understand how the science fits into policies. My work emphasizes on Estonian and Northern Europe climate change as I have been interested in the topic for many years now. Having written my master thesis on Estonian lacustrine hydro-chemical properties and dynamics it was a good opportunity to continue working on a similar topic in the U.S. My current duties include presenting our studies and representing the university at conferences and seminars; keeping up with the latest scientific papers; working in a laboratory to prepare and analyze lake sediment cores from which we derive past climate proxy. My goal at the end of this internship would be to take the knowledge back to Estonia and keep working on the science as well as bettering the policies.

Mariliis Eensalu and Scott M. Rauland (State Department Senior Advisor at the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe)

Attending the JBANC conference I did find extremely valuable because it helped me better understand the extent and importance of our work at NIU. While climate change affects everyone, being a BAFF intern gives me an opportunity to better spread the knowledge about sustainable actions towards cleaner and healthier future."

- Written by Mariliis Eensalu


Johannes Reppo's cultural immersion in the US

What could be more of the ultimate experience than to live near Harvard University's campus in Cambridge and running the New York City marathon? Estonian intern, Johannes Reppo, has shared with us some highlights from his internship in the US. He has spent his past year in the Boston area interning with our longtime partnering company, Skanska. In his civil engineering internship, he has  assisted Skanksa's preconstruction team in creating construction sequences for large design-build and public-private partnerships, both in the Boston area and throughout the United States. He has gained skills in CAD 2D  and 3D modeling and sequencing. Moreover he has been part of major projects such as the Moynihan Railway Station in New York City, Waterfront Transportation Center and North Station Railway Bridge in Boston. Johannes had the privilege of being supervised by Skanska's BIM Management Team as they have years of experience in the Civil Engineering industry. Beyond the professional training Johannes attended the company's ski trip to Vermont and the BIM Summit.. 

 "I had the opportunity to visit Harvard Business School for multiple events: Real Estate Weekend, New Venture Competition for startups, campus tour and a class visit. During the class visit I got the inside look on how they debate case studies at HBS. Case for that class was Apple vs. FBI. Very interesting discussions and viewpoints."

1  Johannes Reppo

"In November I ran the New York City Marathon. It was the 40th NYCM and first for me. It is the largest marathon in United States with 51 394 finishers in 2016 and over a million spectators. With a time of 4:37:52 my name was also printed in The New York Times. In March I also ran the NYC Half Marathon."

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Having a conversation in New Orleans during the enrichment trip with fellow BAFF intern, Madis Kerner, and BAFF board member and also the CEO of Merko Ehitus group, Andres Trink.3  Johannes Reppo

Sailing on the Mississippi River during the enrichment trip with good friends from BAFF. 4  Johannes Reppo


Ugis Zilde and his Medical Engineering internship through BAFF

Ugis Zilde called his Medical Engineering internship at IngMar Medical in Pittsburgh, PA "very beneficial". Ugis spent a year interning at the Calibration and Service Department of this longtime partner to CIEE. The main objective of Ugis's role was to train him on how to adhere to a specific international standard for calibration. He was responsible for creating compliance documentation, IngMar Medical's quality management system, as well as creating a measurement uncertainty budget for various IngMar products. This internship enabled Ugis to transfer his academic medical engineering and physics knowledge into a practical setting; specifically incorporating how to accommodate budget, resource and time-constraints of process development. Ugis has been under the close supervision of IngMar Medical's Calibration and Service Manager, Anthony Rakow, who as worked with the company for over 12 years. The Owners and supervisors at IngMar were thrilled to involve Ugis in their preferred cultural activities, such as pumpkin carving gatherings, hiking and biking trips, and musical and sports events.  Ugis says,  "No doubt this experience has made a great impact not only to my professional skill-set but to my personal development as well. I feel grateful for the chance to join the great community of BAFF alumni."

Upon his return to Latvia, Ugis says that he first plans to see his friends and relatives to share his story of this amazing year he had in the US. He plans to encourage other young, enthusiastic people to take their leap of faith, and get out of their comfort zone, and apply for the BAFF exchange program. After that, he will be seeking job opportunities in which he will be able to apply his skills and experience gained while in the US.

Ugis doing performance tests on ASL5000 Breathing Simulator - the leading device for high fidelity respiratory simulation capable of delivering full spectrum of breathing simulation challenges from neonatal to adult patient scenarios.
Ugis's team at IngMar Medical.
Ugis trying out the surgical virtual reality imaging platform ImmersiveTouch. This device can mimic the feel and tactile feedback of different tissues in a VR setting.

Traditional Pumpkin Carving afternoon in Ingmar Medical. All employees plus kids and spouses invited.


Ursula Ilo accounts her role in genetics research

"I had the opportunity and privilege to work at Center for Genomic Medicine (CGM) in Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Dr. Susan Cotman’s laboratory. Our research focus was on a rare neurodegenerative, lysosomal storage disorder neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (NCL aka Batten disease). Although individually rare, this group of different NCL diseases has a severe impact on affected patients and families leading to loss of motor function, neurodegeneration and early death. Disease-causing specific gene mutations are mostly characterized but there are still a lot of questions about how the disease develops, progresses and which pathways and how they are affected. Also, several disease-related pathways are shared and overlap between different neurodegenerative diseases (for example NCL and Parkinson’s disease) so basic biomedical research into the disease development mechanisms helps us to understand and hopefully in the near future treat different neurodegenerative diseases.

My work this year focused on two main projects. Initially I was working on analyzing patient data from a project that tested the possibility to use exome sequencing as a diagnostic tool for NCL-like cases. Exome sequencing analyses all the protein coding genes in a patient genome and therefore gives more information than looking at disease-causing genes on at a time. Hopefully in time that would be the time and cost saving method to reach diagnosis in the near future. At this point there is still some shortcomings to this method as it fails to detect some specific genetic patterns and gives back some datasets that are difficult to interpret or turn out to be insignificant findings. I had the opportunity to present these initial results in a poster session at the 15th International Conference of NCL held in Boston in October 2016. My second project focused specifically on NCL2 disease studying cellular disease models and was in collaboration with pharmaceutical industry.

MGH and greater Boston area are an invaluable learning and professional development locations for anyone interested in biomedicine, biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry. In addition to high level research in CGM, the frequent seminars in our institute and different departments at MGH, as well as seminars, workshops, networking events hosted by the Broad Institute, Harvard Medical School and other research institutes in the area, gave me an opportunity to have insights into the current work of the best biomedical research centers and laboratories in not just the US but in the world. Undoubtedly, the year I spent in Boston gave me invaluable research experience as well as strengthened my vision to explore all the possibilities to apply my technical skill set and ideas in the future. In addition, I feel privileged to have the opportunity of meeting and working alongside extremely talented people from all over the world and sharing this adventure with them."

-Ursula Ilo, 

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Dr. Susan Cotman's  research team at MGH
Ursula Ilo


Minneapolis Enrichment Trip through the lens of Latvian intern Architect, Egils Markus

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Checking in with intern Agne Abramaviciute at Skanska in Oakland

"My first month was full of impressions and activities both at Skanska and out of the office.

I have been working on Microsoft Silicon Valley Campus project mostly doing Asset Management tasks in the office. I also visited the project site doing some workshops with a team as well as attended a meeting at WRNS Studio Architects office in San Francisco. I also went through some software training tasks which are very useful for BIM projects.

Moreover, I visited VTA Bart project located in Miltipas where I attended stretch and flex on site and site tour together with a team.

I am happy that Skanska offers me a lot of different activities, such as Self Defense Classes which I already attended and there is upcoming Greenbuilder Conference in July which will have relevant LEED related topics including Water Reuse, Tall Wood Buildings for High Performance and a lot more.

Life in Oakland is good. In comparison to San Francisco, Oakland is a little bit slower and cheaper to live I think. I got my bike, so it is easier to explore the city and commute to work (it takes about 7 minutes one way) despite the fact it is sometimes too hilly to bike. I stay in a nice place with American roommate which has two 7 and 22 years old cats. I like the variety of food and activities the Bay Area could offer so I am thinking to start something as yoga classes. 

My cultural activities started from Bay to Breakers event where I got my own Shark costume. This was a crazy event with a lot of locals enjoying every single minute in a different variety of costumes. 

My next trip was to Napa where I visited nice vineyards and tasted some local wine. It was one day trip where I felt like I am in little France or Italy.

Last, but not least- I visited Lake Tahoe area. This was an amazing three days trip of lake Tahoe visiting, snowboarding in Squaw Valley (yes, there is still a lot of snow left), local food tasting and a little bit of nightlife.

My co-workers from Skanska are great in involving me in cultural activities as well. We had a happy-hour Friday together, also we had a potluck with different cuisine food and now my co-worker tries to convince me for Oakland half-marathon. We will see.. :)"

-Agne Abramaviciute

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