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DGP Program Alumnae Profile - Rachel Key

Rachel participated in the Duke Global Policy Program in Geneva during Summer 2016. As a part of the program, she interned for the the World Health Organization (WHO) Health Systems and Innovation Department, which assists Member States in creating resilient health systems and moving towards universal health coverage. She was invited back to Geneva a year after her internship to work at the WHO.

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  • DGP Program Participant Bio

    Name: Rachel Key


    Brown University

    B.S. Neuroscience


    Columbia University

    Master of Public Health

    Master of Public Administration

    Current Position:

    Essential Medicines and Health Products Department (EMP) Consultant

    Track selected for the Geneva Program:

    Global Health

    Internship Organization:

    The World Health Organization

    Internship Position:

    Health Systems and Innovation Intern -- R&D Blueprint

“My Experience”

"My most meaningful professional experience during my internship in Geneva came in the form of my working relationship with my direct supervisor. We established open lines of communication early on in my time at WHO. Specifically, we discussed what her goals and objectives for my work were, and what I was hoping to accomplish and learn over the summer. These frank conversations proved invaluable over the course of my internship and are ultimately what brought me back here as a consultant. I was not afraid to ask questions when I did not understand something, but was also confident that my previous experiences in the field and during my graduate studies had sufficiently prepared me  to offer my own opinions and rely on my judgement. Being able to produce work and incorporate constructive feedback is essential, and that is the direct result of clear communication with your boss and your team."

How did your internship in Geneva contribute to your overall career goals and influence where you are today?

"Returning to WHO as a consultant has been a dream come true. I find the work extremely interesting and the more I invest in my time here, the more I learn and grow in return. If it weren't for the relationships I cultivated while in Geneva, I most likely wouldn't be here today. More specifically, being here as an intern provided an invaluable opportunity to observe the culture of the organization. Observing the way ideas are presented, negotiated and finally agreed upon has served me well and I believe "reading the room" is a skill I will be able to use in all my global health work moving forward. This internship provided innumerable learning experiences, and I would advise future interns to absorb everything- even the seemingly trivial details, like how to book a conference room or who to contact for IT questions- because being able to help out in all types of situations makes you a contributing, valuable member of the team."

Advice for incoming participants? What do you know now that you wish you knew then?

"I have lots of advice for incoming interns! First, break out of the "intern bubble"! You'll have plenty of time to hang out with fellow interns, but be sure to make the effort to meet with consultants, staff and people outside your respective organizations. This really helped me adapt quickly when I returned to Geneva, as I had friends and colleagues waiting to welcome me back. Second, be sure to set up a mid-term and final review session with your supervisor. Be proactive about seeking feedback and be sure to have some kind of recommendation letter or performance evaluation in your hands or on record before you leave Geneva. If you do plan on coming back one day as either a consultant or staff, that will be the first document HR looks for when processing your application. And finally, always, always be mature. In every interaction you have, with every person you meet, maintain a level of professionalism and maturity. These organizations are smaller than they seem, and first impressions mean a lot. Showing that you are mature, responsible and ready to work goes a long way and those are the first people most advisers think of when seeking assistance on future projects."

Recommendations for future students?

"For me, the "wine and cheese" market behind Cornavin station on Thursday evenings is a MUST!! Geneva is an amazing city! In the summer, you'll become well acquainted with Lac Lehman (the principal lake in Geneva) and will have many picnics, open air cinema nights and excellent outdoor concerts. Be sure to take advantage of the beautiful surroundings and visit the vineyards of Lavaux, the jazz festival in Montreux, and perhaps the hiking in Chamonix. It's impossible to run out of things to do here!"