My name is Sarah Lynn, and I am an intern with the Communications Department of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness (NJOHSP). I am currently a fourth-year undergraduate student here at Seton Hall University majoring in Diplomacy and International Relations, as well as Modern Languages and minoring in Microeconomics and Russian Eastern European Studies.
I chose the NJOHSP internship program for a multitude of reasons. I decided to pick this internship over another offer I received primarily because I wanted to do something completely out of my comfort zone. I never had a job anywhere like the NJOHSP and the content that it deals with. Homeland Security is something that is mentioned nowhere on my resume. What is interesting about this organization, compared to many organizations of its kind, is that it is heavily involved with the public and works tirelessly to achieve transparency with the public and have open lines of communication established.
I never saw myself involved in the security sector, simply because it was not something I was truly interested in or had the opportunity to experience. I always thought I would be involved in the international business sector, but after this internship, I would like to have a career in the security sector.
My internship relates to the field of diplomacy and international relations because it has to do with the domestic results of international decisions. For example, the communications department was crucial after threats from international organizations were issued towards domestic actors. Unfortunately, because of the nature of my internship, I am not allowed to say more. My coursework prepared me for this simply because it gave me broad knowledge that is applicable to almost every part of my internship, from the research I am doing to the publications being distributed by the organization.
The skills that I am developing the most are my interpersonal skills as well as my research abilities. I am developing my interpersonal skills because I do have to communicate among all the departments of the NJOHSP and interact with the diverse community of employees of the NJOHSP. What is so great about this office is that it has people from many different walks of life. The man in the cubical next to me just graduated from Montclair University and the one in two cubicles down is a retired police officer. This is amazing because I am able to get advice or hear about experiences from all these different people.
I think one of the biggest challenges I faced at this internship is how competitive the projects are. The internship process itself was very competitive and selective, and the program itself is very similar. My supervisors look for the interns to take the initiative and step to the plate for projects or events.
I would thoroughly recommend this internship program to others. All the people in the office have been warm and inviting and are always willing and ready to offer help, advice or just friendship. It has given me an experience that I would not have at any other internship. NJOHSP prides itself on being entirely unique and on the cutting edge of homeland security as can be seen with the NJCICC and other factions of the organization.
My biggest takeaway from working at the Office of Homeland Security was learning how to interact with people of different cultures and how to analyze and react to federal announcements and information in a government office. Every time an international event happened, for example, the attacks in London, the office immediately released a statement and resource for the public about what happened, and any resources that the office might have that are related to public safety in the wake of the attack.
All and all, this has been an amazing experience.