IIC Project Associates bring passion and energy to the tough but rewarding work of implementing cutting-edge, high-impact solutions to important development challenges.


Over the course of a year, Project Associates apply their creative thinking and diverse skills to make the world a better place. They collaborate constantly, knowing they are each other’s best resource. They problem-solve tirelessly and persevere when facing daunting challenges. Through access to mentorship from top leaders in government, industry, and non-profits, Project Associates become global leaders-in-training.




IIC Project Associate are immersed in a high-paced, challenging atmosphere of rapid innovation on their projects. Teams function like social enterprise start-ups within partner institutions. On a day-to-day basis, Project Associates might visit successful job training facilities to gather insights on best practices or pitch a marketing campaign to attract businesses to a charter city to high-ranking government officials. Project Associates steer the direction of their project in response to the needs of the partner institution, and the work of each team varies based on project needs. Project Associates are placed on a team of up to five, typically three from top US universities and two from the host country. Project Associates collaborate with the government, other high-level stakeholders and the IIC throughout the process.



Project Associates spend a year tackling challenging projects that address government priorities in areas ranging from urban development to education. Each project is unique and offers Project Associates the opportunity to gain real-world experience in overcoming challenging obstacles to create social impact. Project Associates are constantly working towards a big goal: creating sizable impact through their projects. They know this may come together slowly, through hundreds of phone calls or many months of meetings. Project Associates define deliverables based on desired outcomes and develop metrics to rigorously track their progress. They learn how to overcome roadblocks and produce concrete results in challenging environments.




IIC Project Associates don't just come up with big ideas - they implement these ideas, turning them into solutions. In a typical project, Project Associates start by researching the problem and possible strategies to address it, in order to identify the best solution. The remainder of the year is spent implementing and scaling this solution. 



Project Associates complete an intensive training before the start of their projects. They learn about project management, design thinking, marketing, and more from experts from UChicago, industry and government. The IIC hosts professional development events throughout the year, designed to strengthen Project Associates' skills in areas including stakeholder management and client presentations. Project Associates participate in learning sessions with mentors and IIC partners. In addition, the IIC hosts a Leadership Speaker Series to bring together a select group of leadership from the IIC's partners across the public and private sectors for substantive discussions of development issues. Training also includes an introduction to host countries politics, economy, and history, to develop broad knowledge of the project context.

An interview with 2014-15 IIC Project Fellow Mrinalini Penumaka on why she chose the IIC and how it has shaped her professional development.



IIC Project Associates work closely with top leaders in the Indian government, the international business community, high profile foundations and development agencies, and prominent NGOs to execute their projects. They lead meetings with industry insiders and give major presentations to their partners. The IIC affords an unparallelled opportunity for young leaders to collaborate side-by-side with experienced, senior-level professionals.

The IIC provides Project Associates with support throughout the fellowship, including in-country management to help Project Associates navigate project and team challenges. Project Associates have access to world-class mentors, top leaders in government and the private sector, and exclusive networking opportunities. The IIC also provides post-fellowship job placement support to outgoing Project Associates.

To be embedded within a mission-driven project and oversee its close implementation at the state level is an unparalleled opportunity
— Ankit Tulsyan, IIC Project Associate 2015-2016