“In just the past year I have published a book with the housing commission of the Mexican Senate and presented at international urbanism conferences,” says MIT alumna Jody Pollock. “I am not sure I would have been able to have such an impact if I had stayed in the US.” Pollock, who received her Master’s in City Planning in 2013, traveled to Mexico two years ago for a three-month internship and stayed for a career.
As a graduate student at MIT, Pollock interned with Mexico's federal police through the MIT-Mexico Program, one of the 20 country programs that comprises the MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives (MISTI). In Mexico City, Pollock researched forced internal displacement and, she says, “proposed public policy recommendations in order to address the problem.”
After her internship, Pollock connected with another MIT program that set her up with a position at a housing organization. Pollock is now the senior program manager at Fundación IDEA, a Mexican public policy think tank. “The opportunities for professional development in Mexico are huge,” Pollock says, “and it seems like a very dynamic place to be right now.” She doesn’t attribute her move to Mexico City solely to work, however: “I decided to stay in Mexico because I loved it. I have found a great community of friends here,” Pollock shares.
Launched in 2004, the MIT-Mexico Program has matched 338 MIT undergrads and graduate students with teaching and internship opportunities in Mexico. MIT civil and environmental engineering alum Isaac Lozada '11 researched wastewater recycling at the National Institute of Ecology in 2010 and, like Pollock, pursued his career in Mexico after graduation. “I was soon in love with the city and enamored by the Mexican people and their passion for creating a better and more equitable place to live,” he says. “In the last 10 years, Mexico has undergone a renaissance with new public investments in transportation, pedestrian streets, public space, culture and the arts, security, and human rights.”
Passionate about staying in Mexico, Lozada was able to leverage his MIT-Mexico internship into another internship and then full-time position at Compañía Inversora Corporativa (CIC) before he was offered a job at Urban Travel Logistics (UTL). “With UTL,” Lozada explains, “I had the opportunity to coordinate feasibility studies for large urban development projects, including the Cuatro Caminos Modal Transfer station, a transport hub for over 400 daily users, other transit hubs throughout Mexico and Latin America, and an airport.” In May 2015, Lozada left UTL to work at Greystar, an American real estate firm in Mexico City. There, Lozada says, he is “working between the investment/development area and the operations area to create new dense, well-designed, for-rent multifamily housing projects throughout Mexico and Latin America.”
In 2006 Pollock and Lozada’s peer, Fernando Funakoshi '09, also interned in Mexico City at the United States-Mexico Foundation for Science (FUMEC). Born in Mexico but raised in the U.S., Funakoshi explains, “Initially I wanted to intern in Mexico to get a better feel for my native country, and it turned out that I fell in love with the city and the country.” At FUMEC, Funakoshi researched opportunities for automotive collaboration in the United States, Mexico, and Canada. Nearly four years later, he returned to Mexico to intern at the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) where Funakoshi says, “I did a feasibility project for biogas as an electricity-generating option for various places in Mexico.”
While Funakoshi also interned in China, Israel, and Japan as an MIT student, he saw his future in Mexico after graduation. “MIT-Mexico is one of the best things I get out of my MIT education,” he says. “I keep saying that I can move to a different country whenever, but I’ve been saying that for five years at this point.”
For MIT students like Pollock, Lozada and Funakoshi, the MIT-Mexico Program offers a chance to study a different culture, explore a new country and expand upon their MIT hands-on education. “If a student speaks Spanish and has the drive to work in Mexico,” says MIT-Mexico Managing Director Griselda Gomez, “I will do anything and everything to match that student with a tailored internship.” Students can learn more about MIT-Mexico’s requirements, activities, and deadlines on the program's website.
MIT-Mexico is one of the many student and faculty programs that make up MISTI, MIT's flagship international education program. MISTI is a part of the MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences.