11 Mar 2013

A MILE Ahead: Alumni Profile

PhD candidate, Maria Anna Corvaglia, shares her thoughts on how completing the MILE Programme helped her further her academic career.

Which year(s) did you participate in the MILE Programme?
MILE 9: 2008-2009

What drew you to the Programme?
My relationship with the WTI started while I was working as a research assistant on Public International Law at the LUISS University of Rome. The university was looking to open a trade law department and sent me to attend the five-week Summer Academy so I could gather information and knowledge that could help to set up the programme. It is through this initial experience that I got to know the WTI and I decided to do my best to come back. And so I did in 2009 when I started the MILE Programme. And I liked it so much that I decided to pursue my PhD here as well.

What is your fondest memory of your time at the WTI? What stands out as having been a particularly positive experience?
In the context of the MILE Programme, I felt like I was part of a small community. This group of smart students met up every day and worked together to get through a rigorous programme. It is interesting, because the same, strong sense of community remains well after the end of the programme. For example, when I go to conferences and meet other people from the MILE community, there is an immediate connection, because we all share the same, intense experience.
What would your advice be to potential MILE students?
The MILE Programme is tough, so you have to be prepared for that. On the other hand, it provides you with amazing skills that impact what you learn in academia and beyond. In the end, you forget how difficult it really is. The structure - combining law, economics and political science - is the strongest asset of the Programme, together with an impressive faculty of well-known international professors visiting the WTI, all of which are leaders in their fields. This global experience helps you to be flexible and it opens your mind to different scientific perspectives, thanks to the interdisciplinary character of the Programme.
What position(s) did you obtain after having completed the MILE Programme? What do you do in your current role? What makes it interesting?
Right after the MILE Programme, I interned at the Institute for Training and Technical Cooperation at the World Trade Organization. This was a great experience for me, finally working for the organisation I studied for so long. I have to thank our Director of Studies, Pierre Sauvé, for his support. He helped all of my classmates to find a great working environment after the programme, best suited to our individual attitudes and aspirations.

While my time at the WTO was a wonderful experience, I realised that I wanted to return to academia to pursue further studies and for this reason I came back to the WTI. Now I divide my time between Berne and Zurich, where I work with Professor Christine Kaufmann, my PhD supervisor, at the Law Faculty of the University of Zurich. It is interesting to note that quite a few of my colleagues from the MILE Programme went on to pursue a PhD.

How did the MILE Programme prepare you for this position?
It gave me the mental ‘tools’ to conduct a proper analysis and the basic knowledge to carry out my research focusing on the legal and economic implications of the inclusion of social policies in public procurement practices. The MILE Programme gives students the analytical tools and the flexible mind needed to prepare for all kinds of jobs where analytical skills are key – in academia or in international organizations.
Where in the world are you located now? Is it where you grew up?
Currently, I am located in Berne and in Zurich, Switzerland, but I grew up in Lecce, in the South of Italy.
Is there anything else that you would like to say?
The MILE Programme is a perfect setting in which to meet many interesting people, to make good friends for life and to have the chance to enjoy the beautiful things that Switzerland has to offer.

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