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Professional Internship Program

BAFF News Blog

Learn more about the organization and past events.


Leadership Academy guests of honor in DC

On Thursday August 3, the Leadership Academy participants were the guests of honor by formal invitation to the Lithuanian Embassy in DC. The group was warmly received by several members of the Embassy, including Gintare Gedrimaite, Executive Assistant to the Ambassador, Kęstutis Vaskelevicius, Counselor, and Ambassador Rolandas Kriščiūnas. Ambassador Krisciunas has served as the Lithuanian Ambassador to the US since August of 2105. In addition to these featured speakers, the Embassy welcomed members of the Estonian Embassy, Kristjan Kuurme, and the Latvian Embassy, Egils Leimanis, as well as members of The Joint Baltic American National Committee, headed by Karl Altau. The guest speakers spoke to the students about the crucial role of the Embassies in matters of commerce, security, and governance, and stressed the importance of solid relations and collaboration between the Baltic States and the United States. Karl Altau and his team, including Anna Udre, BAFF PIP intern from Latvia, discussed the role of JBANC in representing Baltic affairs with regard to the political discussion in DC. JBANC represents three Baltic-American organizations, the Estonian American National Council, the American Latvian Association, and the Lithuanian American Council. We were also very pleased that, in addition to meeting these esteemed members of the DC community, our newest BAFF Director, Ambassador Jackie Wolcott, also attended the event. The students were given the chance to ask questions to the members of the Embassies, as well as meet them in person.

Ambassador Rolandas Kriščiūnas addresses the Leadership Academy 2017
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Left to Right: Ambassador Rolandas Kriščiūnas, Egils Leimanis, Kristjan Kuurme, Karl Altau       Courtesy of JBANC

After this visit, the Leadership Academy moved on to attend their second invitation of the day, which was from the Victims of Communism Foundation at its Memorial, dedicated in 2007. We were privileged to hear the story of the Memorial's erection by the very gentleman who spearheaded the process, VOC Chairman, Dr. Lee Edwards. Members of staff of the Victims of Communism Foundation, including David Talbot, Director of Development, and Ashley Moody, College Programs Manager, discussed the Foundation's mission and programs, the atrocities of Communist rule, and expressed their gratitude to the students for visiting the Memorial. Also attending the event was BAFF Board Member, Robert C. Odle Jr. 

A truly impactful day for these BAFF students. Thank you to all organizations for your dedication to this very special group of young entrepreneurs.


Dr. Lee Edwards welcomes the Leadership Academy to the VOC Memorial



2017 Leadership Academy on the road!

Last night seranade
In New York! Tour guide Steve Saunders: a brain full of New York-knowledge
Atop the Empire State building


Marta Paula Vinerte celebrates her 18th birthday in the Big Apple...with a candle-lit icecream


Alina Anete Birnika posing before Lady Liberty
Leadership Ladies countering the bull on Wall Street
Roberts Kustavus, Indrikis Rusovs, and Egils Arvids Skruzmanis on Wall Street
Right on always! Time Square
Leadership Academy in the United Nations General Assembly Hall
Sizzling on George Washington's front lawn


The Latvians are finally home!

US Ambassador to Lithuania Visits CIEE

An honorary event was scheduled at 300 Fore St. Portland, with a special visit from Ambassador Anne Hall, US Ambassador to Lithuania.  As the Ambassador is a native to Maine, we were ecstatic to welcome her to CIEE to meet our 2017 Leadership Academy participants  (and what better opportunity than this to flaunt CIEE's newly-renovated reception hall). Confirmed in 2016 by the US Senate, Ambassador is a career member of the senior Foreign Service, who has served as Director of the Office of Central European Affairs, as well as the Principal Officer and Consul General of the American Consulate General in Krakow. She has managed relations between numerous countries, including Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Lichtenstein, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Switzerland.

After an opening welcome from CIEE's C.O.O., Tim Propp, four students of CIEE's Global Entrepreneurship program in Portland, recited a warm, intercultural greeting to the audience in their four respective languages. The students then provided a dynamic and impactful presentation about the new experiences and emotions they have endured throughout their three-week Entrepreneurship course, administered by CIEE and located at Southern Maine Community Colleague. Following the presentations, we were then privileged to hear Ambassador Hall discuss her prolific career as a diplomat, her early interest in Chinese studies (in addition to Mandarin, the Ambassador speaks Polish, Spanish, Lithuanian, and Portuguese), and offered students insightful words for their prosperous futures.  After a Q&A session, the students seized the opportunity to shake hands with the esteemed Ambassador, as well as BAFF Board Member, Danguole Altman, and the Exchange Foundations and HSSA teams. 

Thank you Ambassador Hall for your very memorable visit!

Left to right: Tim Propp (CIEE Chief Operating Officer), Maggie Ivanova (Operations Manager, Exchange Foundations), Ambassador Anne Hall, Kelly Francis (Exchange Foundations Program Specialist), Laura Lyons (Director of Exchange Foundations) Denise Desrochers (Exchange Foundations Coordinator)
Students present to Ambassador
Director of Exchange Foundations, Laura Lyons, introduces the Ambassador
Ambassador Anne Hall addresses the audience at CIEE


Lithuanian Leadership Academy students; with BAFF Board Member, Danguole Altman (far left) and Ambassador Anne Hall (center)


Leadership Academy: In the words of Akvile Valentukonyte

Market research in streets of Portland

I can‘t count all the times I have walked past a person on the streets wearing a branded t-shirt in neon colors and holding a clipboard. I would look for warning signs like a readjusted smile or an eye contact that would signal that they are going to approach. If I spotted anything that threatened my peaceful introverted stroll through the city, I would turn on the flight response like increase my pace and point my eyes down. If by some chance the person approached me, I would murmur an excuse and speed away hoping to never see them again. I believe everyone has at least once done the same. Blessed be the anonymous mothers theresas among us that have never avoided a surveyor on the streets. Market 1

The experience that changed the way I see these mundane interactions was being forced to step into a surveyor’s shoes. Recently we were presented with a challenge by Portland Sea Dogs baseball team to find new ways to make the stadium more attractive to millennials. In order not to make ASSUMPTIONS we had to get to know our market. CIEE team really means a hands on experience when they say it. On Wednesday afternoon we put on our bright blue CIEE t-shirts and took a clipboard with a survey we had designed earlier. We went down to downtown Portland and after a doughnut from a local business headed to the streets in pairs.

Gathering data was definitely intimidating, especially in our second language. Trust me, nobody likes to bother a person going down the street full speed with earbuds on, even surveyors. After a little conversation “You go first – No, you go first” the first guy we approached was a fellow surveyor who was collecting signatures for local government representative. That day we encountered a lot of people some were rude, some were helpful, some were confused. One good word or sincere answer would make us empowered after a series of turn downs. We heard countless excuses and rejections, but learned not to lose hope and persevere. At the end of two hours together with my team mate we had 31 responses. Akvile2

Maybe some other more experienced surveyor would have managed to get more, but we not only traversed Portland streets. We walked from intimidation and confusion to boldness and resilience. Speaking for myself, I will look to the surveyors I encounter with empathy, because of their fearlessness to look for an opportunity of change right here on the streets. And maybe start counting the times I stopped to help them.


Leadership Academy 2017: In the words of Marta Paula Vinerte

On July 9th we - thirty emerging leaders from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania - started our long awaited journey to the United States of America. After a long trip form our home countries to Boston, Massachusetts we were greeted by our resident staff and taken to our final destination – “Southern Maine Community College” in South Portland, Maine.

On day 1 we were already engaging in our first tasks and activities, one of them being a trip to the local minor baseball team's 'Portland Sea Dogs' stadium, where we were taken on a tour, divided into three groups and given our first big team task - to do a market research and find out, what would attract millennials to attend a baseball game.

Marta 1
On day 2, after being given insight about how a primary market research works, we started to work on our projects and did a good job creating a survey that we could carry out in order to do our primary market research. In the end of the day, we did some more "research" on baseball by learning the rules and playing it on our own it's the help of our resident staff Sarah Kate, Sam and Seamus.

Day 3 was a big day for us as we went to Downtown Portland to interview some of its millennials. Before 'getting to business' we visited the "Holy Donuts", listened to its owner's story of success and of course had a taste  of her deliiiicious donuts! After that we went into the streets of Portland and interviewed some of its millennials - locals as well as tourists. This activity gave as a chance not only to understand how primary market research actually works, but it also allowed us to get to know the American people and culture a bit better. I can say that it was pleasantly surprising to see how responsive and polite Portland citizens are. The majority of them are happy to engage in conversations, and even if they didn't have time to respond to our questions, they let us know about it in a nice way. The program participant Edita says that "it was nice to see how responsive the Portland people are and how much they actually care about the local businesses." She adds that "it was a pleasant experience and that she was really happy to do the survey."
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The following day was filled with hard work for everyone. Our main task on day 4 was to analyze the data, which was gathered from both primary and secondary research, make a presentation as well as our speeches and practice them in front of our teachers and resident staff. All three teams showed great dedication and worked on their projects until the last minute, trying to make everything as perfect as possible.
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Friday was the big day for us. Sea Dogs representatives arrived at SMCC to listen to our presentations. The feedback we got was very satisfying and we were all happy about the fact, that they seriously considered our ideas and suggestions. Sea Dogs staff, our teachers, resident staff and the students themselves all made sure that everyone had made a lot of effort. However, only one team could win and that was team nr. 1, who were given Sea Dogs foam fingers as gifts.
Marta 3
After the presentations all of us felt relieved, happy and excited for the adventures that were in store for us in the weekend. :)




Intern learns all the tricks of growth hack marketing

Estonian intern, Sander Sillavee, has fulfilled his internship at WeTravel Inc in San Francisco. WeTravel was pleased to harness Sander's talents for executing their online growth marketing strategies. Sander was provided frequent access to the latest trends in growth hack marketing, in addition to various networking and learning events, as well as other resources that would bolster his skill set.  Sander ultimately learned how to set up online marketing campaigns on his own, and implement new skills such as analytics, retention and conversion strategies through a varieties of tools and methods. Sander had the privilege of working under WeTravel's CEO and Co-Founder Johannes Koeppel, who has specialized in online entrepreneurship and marketing. Sander had the opportunity to attend cultural events in the Bay area, including Silicon Valley startup events, as well as company retreats at numerous Californian landmarks.  "I am definitely very satisfied with my year here," says Sander. "I had a lot of responsibility and that helped me to grow professionally." With his return to Estonia, Sander has plans to apply for a Communications Management Masters program at the University of Tartu, and then look for further career opportunities.

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Sander at WeTravel. In the background, photos of the staff at WeTravel.




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)