My Internship in Ankara: Turkey’s Bureaucratic Center

by: Ayaz Asadov

I have had the intention of sharing my experiences gained during my internship for a long time. Thanks to the two-week holiday break, I have eventually managed to take some time to finalize this post.  I was taking notes and began to write this post while doing my internship (as not to forget the important nuances). Also I have not changed any language that was used so that you can get the real impressions from my internship.

Since our fellow first year students are most probably looking and applying for internship programs, I thought it would be the right time to share this, and maybe it will be beneficial to them.  Here it is:

 “I am writing this post from Ankara, the capital city of Turkey. With its population of 4.3 million, Ankara is the second biggest city of the country, after Istanbul. Since it does not have too many touristic spots to offer for visitors, the city lags behind Istanbul in terms of popularity as well.  Nevertheless, environmental cleanliness and well-planned infrastructure make Ankara more livable than any of the other big cities. Good universities and institutions also increase the attractiveness of Ankara, particularly for students and researchers. Due to the high number of public organizations and ministries based here, Ankara is often referred to as “the city of bureaucracies’’ or “the city of formalities”. Every morning I come across lots of smartly dressed, serious looking people entering ministries or government entities. All are in hurry and looking thoughtful – probably planning things for their jobs or other daily tasks.  For me – I was inspired to work without feeling tired or overloaded, and it left me wanting to do more.

I am here to do my internship in a non-governmental organization called “SETA VAKFI” (Foundation of Political, Economical and Social Research). I applied during my second semester at the Brandt School and received a positive response asking for an internship proposal. I wrote the proposal describing my research interests and the tasks in which I wanted to be involved. I sent it along with the recommendation letter provided by the school. Soon after, I got accepted – the timing of the internship was flexible and I could create the timeframe according to my schedule. I decided to do it in August and September, which would also give me a chance to visit my family after finishing the second semester. Now, I am here.

It has been a very productive and beneficial experience so far and I have learnt a lot. One of the good things about SETA is its research team – a very young and energetic group of people. I feel very welcomed among them and it’s a good environment for collaboration. I have my autonomy to do my own research, which constitutes the main part of my working hours. In addition to that, I am required to support the research assistants in our department (Social Studies) with data collection and some other tasks such as following daily media. Moreover, I am participating at the meetings, where I have a chance to partake in discussions and learn from experts. While in the regular meetings, each of us gives an update about our research activities, the irregular meetings (which are as frequent as regular ones) mainly focus on particular discussion topics. Two recent ones were about educational reforms and the book entitled “Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty”.

In regards to technical issues, I live in a male dormitory that provides meals two times a day. Considering the quality of the room, facilities and, of course, delicious Turkish food, the money I spend for accommodation is very reasonable. But an important thing about dormitories is that you can only be there during the summer holidays. When the semester starts, it is almost impossible to find a free room in the dorms because of the high number of students.

 The public transportation is very cheap (a one way ticket costs less than 1 euro) and it gives you access to the all parts of the city. Food is also cheaper, if you compare with the prices in Germany.  One last thing, the weather here is so nice: not too hot, less humidity and stable.   

To conclude, I am very satisfied with my internship choice. It gives me an opportunity to see the differences between two dissimilar parts of world, and I am realizing the importance of context for policy making.  I encourage my fellow students to consider the factors other than the fame or name of the organizations when making choices about where to do their internships.”