My name is Emanuel Hernandez. I am a second-year graduate student pursuing an M.B.A. in Supply Chain Management/M.A. in International Relations dual-degree program at Seton Hall University. In the summer, I was selected as the School of Diplomacy’s Sergio Vieira de Mello Fellow, a fellowship program created in honor of a Brazilian UN diplomat who was killed in a bombing while working as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Iraq.
De Mello fellows are placed as research assistants in project-based work at the DCAF – Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance for a duration of eight weeks. DCAF, an international foundation under Swiss law, is dedicated to improving the security of states and their populations within a framework of democratic governance, the rule of law, and respect for human rights. DCAF helps its partner states and international actors to improve the governance of their security sectors through inclusive and participatory reforms based on international standards and practices. The foundation currently has 63 member states and operations in more than 74 countries.
I interned for the Latin America & Caribbean (LAC) Unit within the Operations Department. As one of the newest units at DCAF, we had a small team, with only a head of division, two project coordinators, one financial officer, and two interns (including myself). Working in such a small team comes with both challenges and perks.
One of the main advantages of working in a small team was the one-on-one feedback and mentoring from my peers. We worked in a dynamic environment that required everyone in the team to be able to perform multiple tasks. During my time there, I prepared multiple research reports and concept notes to be used in funding proposals, translated and edited publications and legal documents for international cooperation projects, and prepared daily briefs on security sector news in DCAF’s focus countries in LAC. I also had the opportunity to improve my professional writing skills in Spanish.
However, being responsible for multiple tasks in a small team came with its own challenges. Sometimes, the workload exceeded the time available in a given day, so I needed to learn how to prioritize tasks effectively to make sure that I got everything accomplished at the right time.
Participating in the internship reassured me of my choice to pursue a dual-degree program. My background in international relations was essential for processing data, understanding complex issues, and delivering information concisely in research reports. My education in business administration, on the other hand, was particularly useful in understanding financial statements and legal documents needed to implement and monitor international projects. I would certainly recommend this internship to anyone that is interested in international project-based work.
Geneva is a vibrant city during the Summer, and DCAF is located at the heart of international Geneva. While my objective had always been to work in the New York/Washington area, this experience opened my eyes to the professional opportunities in Geneva, which serves as a hub for hundreds of international organizations, multinational companies, and non-governmental organizations. Based on my experience with DCAF, I will be keeping an eye on jobs in Geneva when I begin applying for full-time positions.