Alum of the Month

Niki Psarias

Niki Psarias

November 2014

New York Program

March 2010 Intake

What and where did you study before your Mountbatten internship?
French and German at Warwick University

What made you apply for the Mountbatten programme?
A friend had recently completed the programme and told me in no uncertain terms that it had been 'the best year of (her) life' – how could I not apply?!

Describe your sponsor company and your role within it.
I worked for a corporate real estate firm in Times Square (opposite M&Ms World!) as a Project Coordinator. This was a varied role that ranged from conducting research for new multi million dollar developments, to working on the organisation's corporate responsibility projects.

What was the highlight/most memorable moment of your working experience during this year?
My work as part of the Lower East Side Girls Club project, which was opened by New Yorker and actress, Rosario Dawson.

What was the social highlight/most memorable moment during this year?
All the travelling I did around the country throughout the year. I went on so many trips that co-workers would often remark that I had seen more of the US in one year than they had in a lifetime.

Please share a little wisdom/philosophy that you acquired during your internship
Just say yes. Even if something seems scary, or out of your comfort zone, the joy and pride you will experience when you try, and eventually achieve it, is immeasurable. One of my proudest moments during my year in New York was being selected as the only UK representative at a foreign affairs conference at the US Naval Academy, Maryland. The opportunity came via an email from Mountbatten and the organisation, One to World, and that week at the Academy is something I will always remember and cherish – not least because I got to see and listen to the superb Sheryl Sandberg in person.

If you could change anything about your internship, what would it be?
Ideally I would have loved to have been offered a role in a field similar to one I had come from (international news) or where I have ended up now (NGO sector), but that wasn’t to be. I still have fond memories of my time in real estate – and what better place than New York is there to have an experience within the corporate sector!

What happened after completing the year - what did you do next?
I began pursuing a long-time goal of working with international NGOs.

Where are you now in your working life and what do you do?
I now run campaigns for INGOs, particularly those linked to food, which is one of my passions. Previous campaigns I have worked on include the brilliantly-named 'Plumpy'Nut Challenge' for Merlin (Medical Relief International), 'Live Below the Line' and 'World Hunger Day' for The Hunger Project UK, and the recent 'Conflict Kitchen London' project with peacebuilding charity, International Alert. Food is my great love, but for me it goes beyond taste and flavour. Food has a power to do so much more, and it is this power that fascinates me, particularly within the realm of development and international affairs.

Do you have any future plans that you would like to realise & what are they (career & social)?
To pursue the above passion further, including perhaps within programmatic work for an INGO, or with a business within the food industry that shares that same passion and ideals.