My name is Stephanie Miller. I am a senior undergraduate student in the Diplomacy and International Relations program with a secondary major in Religious Studies and a minor in Arabic. I completed a research internship at the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect in Manhattan, New York.
The Global Centre is a research and advocacy organization that specializes in war crimes, genocide, ethnic crimes, and crimes against humanity. It works with governments, regional bodies, and other NGOs to operationalize the principles of the Responsibility to Protect doctrine into policy frameworks. It also monitors over 20 country situations either at risk or currently committing mass atrocities. As independent institutions, non-profits like the Global Centre are instrumental in ensuring accountability and encouraging inter-governmental action to prevent mass atrocity, and I had a wonderful time working with them.
My decision to pursue this internship was based in curiosity. Mass atrocities are crimes that make international headlines every day, but the corresponding prevention agenda is not something that people usually recognize, even in the classroom. The Global Centre works to bridge the gap between policy and responsible action, calling for the international community to commit to the principles outlined by the Geneva Convention and honor their agreements to protect civilians across the globe. I learned that while this work is not glamorous, it is entirely necessary.
Interning at the Global Centre taught me the difference between humanitarian work and human rights advocacy, cultivating a newfound interest in both. Prior to this internship, I thought that the two terms were mutually interchangeable, and I found that this a common misconception often overlooked. This experience taught me new and transferable skills that are applicable to both fields, honing practical expertise in report writing and analysis, oral communication, conflict mediation, and public engagement. I don’t think I could have found a more supportive and encouraging environment as I developed these new skills, and I look forward to carrying them into my career.
One of the challenges I faced in the beginning of my internship was separating myself from my work. The subject material I was dealing in daily was sometimes difficult to process, and in order to succeed in the position, I had to learn how to leave work in the office rather than take it home with me. I began setting healthy boundaries for myself before I could devote my time and energy to a mission that I quickly grew to care about. This internship taught me more than just practical skills – it taught me a life lesson that many don’t learn until much later, and for this I will always be grateful.
My advice to students looking for internships is to not limit yourself to searching only in the field you are interested in. Diversifying your interests enables you to take advantage of opportunities that you may not have had otherwise. My career goals were vastly different going into this internship than they are now. Working at the Global Centre made me re-evaluate my priorities and consider what I really want to do with my degree after I graduate, which is something I do not think I would have been forced to reckon with if I had worked anywhere else. Internships do not always change your outlook on life, but mine did. I gained new skills, new interests, and a new perspective on the field I want to go into.