• July 22, 2014

Two Washington-area students acquired a deeper appreciation\r\nof real-world economics through internships at Nathan Associates Inc., while\r\nNathan benefited from the pair?s talent and commitment.

Nathan Associates Summer Interns
Sara Asfaw and Colleen Zimmerman

Sara G. Asfaw, a business finance and business management student\r\nat the University of the District of Columbia, researched economic conditions\r\nin Egypt and Nepal for Nathan projects designed to advance growth and reduce\r\npoverty. She applied her training and previous experience to the nitty-gritty\r\nwork of a consulting firm: preparing work agreements and wire transfers,\r\nperforming bank reconciliations with the accounting department, and tracking\r\nthe budgets for Nathan projects.

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Colleen M. Zimmerman, who graduated in May from George Mason\r\nUniversity with a bachelor?s in economics, followed her interest in development\r\neconomics by working on project proposals, examining strategies for human and\r\ninstitutional capacity development, and writing a grant proposal for improving\r\nliteracy among girls and women in Yemen. Ms. Zimmerman worked in other\r\ndepartments, including litigation consulting, as well.

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Ms. Asfaw and Ms. Zimmerman received their eight-week\r\ninternships, which began May 27, through the Robert R. Nathan Foundation. The\r\nprogram was established so that talented young men and women can learn, in a\r\nfor-profit setting, how economics is applied as a tool for social betterment. Ms. Zimmerman said she discovered how\r\ndifficult it is find practical solutions.

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A problem for every\r\nsolution

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?There are multiple problems underlying every issue in a\r\ndeveloping country, and that was one of the most surprising things I\r\nencountered,? Ms. Zimmerman said. Another surprise for her was the ?amount of\r\ntime and attention to detail the litigation department deals with every day?collecting\r\ndata is amazingly time consuming and I was only focusing on a small section of\r\nthe work they deal with.?

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?Each person I have met here appears to be passionate and\r\nexcited about their work, which is wonderful to see as a recent grad hoping to\r\njump into an interesting career field,? she said.

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Ms. Asfaw said she acquired a fuller understanding of the relationship\r\nbetween finance and economics, which may affect her career direction.

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?I see how economics\r\nhave an advantage for a country to develop financially,? she said. ?It?s a\r\nbigger picture than finance. The more I?m here, the more my interest comes to\r\neconomics.?

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A long journey

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Ms. Asfaw plans to complete her undergraduate studies in\r\nDecember, then pursue an MBA. The Nathan Foundation is pleased to help Ms.\r\nAsfaw, who has worked extremely hard to get where she is.

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A native of Ethiopia, Ms. Asfaw came to the United States\r\neight years ago, admitted by lottery through the Diversity Immigrant Visa\r\nProgram. She worked as a cook at the Army?s Fort Myer Bowling Center in\r\nArlington, Virginia, then trained as a phlebotomist and worked in medical\r\npractices, and held as many as three jobs at once.

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She has an associate degree in Ethiopia, where she had\r\nworked for Ethiopian Airlines. She obtained a second associate degree at\r\nNorthern Virginia Community College before enrolling at the University of the\r\nDistrict of Columbia. After completing the internship, she will return to her\r\nfull-time job at the officers? club at the Fort Myer while finishing her\r\nundergraduate degree.

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?I wanted to do\r\nsomething related to my education,? she said, explaining why the internship was\r\nsuch an opportunity. ?Every day I?m thankful.?

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Ms. Zimmerman, from Havertown, Pennsylvania, and Roanoke,\r\nVirginia, hopes to continue working in international development. In addition,\r\nshe will undoubtedly pursue her interests in the performing arts. A music minor,\r\nshe sang the role of Lucinda in the Mason\r\nPlayers? production of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine?s Into the Woods, and performed with Noteworthy, her university?s a\r\ncappella group. Blending her business skills with the theatrical, she served as\r\ntreasurer for Noteworthy and the George Mason University Arts Society.

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