“If you have any doubts about applying to the MPP, I encourage you to give this amazing experience a shot.”

Laeticia Kamel (MPP 2021) looks back at her MPP summer project experience.

Estimated reading time: 3 Minutes
Laeticia Kamal

This time last year, I was still a student embarking on one of the most rewarding experiences: my Summer Project placement at the Office of Energy and Climate Change (OECC)in the New South Wales Treasury.

As I write this from Dubai - a year since graduation, the worlds of Oxford and Sydney seem like a distant memory. Yet, I know these two places have much to do with where I am today.

What I loved most about the Master of Public Policy at Oxford was that I was able to design my own learning path by picking courses that were tailored to me, such as the advanced economics course covering immigration economics and matching markets or the amazing Climate Negotiations course covering COP.

Even with all the fascinating courses being offered, my favorite aspect of the program was the summer project. The school entrusts you to take everything you learned throughout the year and implement it in a work environment of your choice. You are completely free to choose the topic or organisation that inspires you most, whether that be in the field of sustainable development, economics, education, or climate policy.

For my summer project, I was fortunate enough to spend it in one of the most beautiful cities in the world: Sydney. This whole experience had been made possible by Tim McMinn, a BSG alumnus from the class of 2013. Tim, now a Director at the OECC, was then the Manager of Hydrogen Programs. Having had a wonderful experience on his own summer project in Nairobi in 2014, he reached out to BSG to offer one of the students in my year a chance to partake in a fulfilling project as well.

I realised the opportunity was too good to pass up: I could gain a mentor who had gone through the same experience and was making real impact in a topic I cared about, explore a new city and continent that I never thought I would have the chance to visit, and be introduced to an emerging topic to base my project on, green hydrogen.

When Tim and I met, he shared his own MPP experience with me. His summer project was in Kenya, a country he had also never visited before. He was extremely grateful to immerse himself in a new culture and environment. Hearing him reflect on his journey with such fulfillment convinced me I shouldn’t opt for something familiar or comfortable just for the sake of it. I wanted to be challenged. After a round of interviews and tests, Tim informed me I would be officially partaking in the summer project journey with the NSW government. Having had the support of my scholarship, the Blavatnik School of Government – the Mahmoud and Leila Shakarchi Scholarship, throughout the year, my dream summer project became a reality.

My experience with the Hydrogen Strategy team was very enriching. The team consisted of experts and driven individuals who really cared about the issues they were solving. I was mentored by wonderful people who made the whole experience enjoyable, with a steep and exciting learning curve. Above all, they made me understand how an effective team can help enact sound government policy for the benefit of the people they serve. It left me feeling hopeful; so much that I had learned could be applied in my own home country of Lebanon, a country that is still going through political turmoil and instability, but with so much potential.

As for my personal experience, Tim and his family made sure I felt at home. I met his lovely partner and their two adorable kids. We even had a small MPP reunion with another Sydney-based MPP alumna, Emma Martinho-Truswell.

Almost a year later, I’m currently in a fulfilling career with McKinsey & Company in Dubai. McKinsey & Company actually reminds me of my time at Oxford – my colleagues are remarkable individuals from diverse backgrounds, all passionate about the issues they’re tackling and making lasting impact in the many areas we work on. I constantly get the chance to use the learnings I’ve acquired throughout the MPP as I work on projects spanning a range of topics that are close to my heart, such as gender empowerment, economic development and sustainability.

If you have any doubts about applying to the MPP, I encourage you to give this amazing experience a shot. If you’ve already completed the MPP, I would love to hear from you and discuss our experiences together. I’m always looking for more ways to connect with the school’s huge network and I hope we continue creating more opportunities to do so.

For further information about hosting a summer project, please get in touch and email summerproject@bsg.ox.ac.uk.