Internship Blog Series: Geneva Centre for Security Policy

Internship Blog Series: Geneva Centre for Security Policy

My name is Priscilla Haingo Plat and I am a second-year graduate student in the School of Diplomacy & International Relations at Seton Hall University. I am originally from Madagascar and France and nearly a year ago, after moving out of Paris, I started the M.A. program offered by the School of DiplomacyI knew such an academic endeavor would be a crucial step in the right direction to help narrow my career path, develop leadership skills, and uncover unique professional opportunities. 

Among these unique opportunities was a remote internship at the Geneva Center for Security Policy (GCSP). GCSP is an international foundation focused on building and maintaining global peace, security and stability. I joined the organization in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, assuming the role of Young Leader in Foreign and Security Policy, as part of their prestigious Global Fellowship Initiative (GFI). My graduate school specializations are global negotiation and conflict management, with a regional focus on Africa. Therefore, getting an insider’s view of a Geneva-based institution with 45 affiliated member states, which is recognized as one of the world’s leading centers for executive education, policy analysis and diplomatic dialogue, constitutes a dream internship experience for the political affairs specialist, policy analyst and diplomat that I aspire to be.  

With GCSP engaged in research, data collection, and leadership skills for activities surrounding climate changemigration, international security, foresight in Africa, conflict prevention, and the nexus between terrorism and organized crime in all its forms. Alternating between strategic anticipation and terrorism in relation to preventing violent extremism (PVE) essentially determines the work that I am doing with the Center. 

significant portion of the expertise I applied to the Center’s projects related to key security and peace policy issues that I acquired during my first year of graduate school. Courses such as Institutions of Post-Conflict Governance, Peacemaking and Peacekeeping, and the Art and Science of Negotiation, as well as various on-campus event organized by the School of Diplomacy, undoubtedly sharpened my knowledge and analytical thinking on foreign policy and international security. 

Given the circumstances, performing remotely and coordinating with my colleagues who are based in Geneva, has caused me to develop more effective reporting methods and rearrange my daily schedule, keeping in mind that time difference is a challenge that has to be overcome in order to meet deadlines and reach individual, collective, and global objectives. 

Not only does this fellowship program provide its participants with executive courses, conferences, seminars, workshops and the chance to participate in regional or issue-specific collaborative designs, but it also offers exclusive networking connections; notably, GCSP’s experts, executives-in-residence, associatesand doctoral and government fellows. I would highly recommend any student majoring in international relations apply and make the most of this fellowship program in the pursuit of a thriving career. 

Internship Blog Series: Voice of America

Internship Blog Series: Voice of America

My name is Eugenia Audrey Utoyo and I am a senior undergraduate student studying Diplomacy and International Relations. I recently completed an internship with the Voice of America (VoA) in their office in New York City.

The Voice of America is a governmentally funded multimedia agency that broadcasts news topics from all across the globe. They provide a comprehensive coverage of the news ranging from international affairs and U.S elections to pop culture and entertainment. Although Voice of America is primarily a U.S News agency, they also represent several major countries like Turkey, China, and Russia.

At VoA I worked as a Media Intern. My main responsibilities included cooperating with VoA’s Indonesia branch and coordinating tasks with my supervisor who was a renowned TV and film producer. One of the most exciting tasks I got to work on as an intern was the production of a new show titled Border Crossings. This show, hosted by one of my coworkers, broadcasts the latest in American music entertainment to audiences in Indonesia. A number of accomplished artists including, Jon Bon Jovi, O’Town, and Paul McDonald have appeared on the show. This aspect of the internship was particularly valuable because it was relevant to some of the lessons learned in my Diplomacy courses about transnational communication and globalization.

During one of the show’s segments, I was given the opportunity to learn how to host the show and work the camera equipment. Being a guest host requires that one consider the timing and delivery of their lines whilst being conscious of their facial expressions and movements on-camera. It was an experience that took me out of my comfort zone. Although I was incredibly nervous about being on camera, I recognized that this was an opportunity that would enhance my own professional development.

Being at Seton Hall University’s School of Diplomacy provided me with the necessary skills to excel in this position. My background in international relations made me accustomed to the ever-changing nature of the television production studio. At the School of Diplomacy, we learn to constantly inform ourselves on international news developments whether it be climate change, international conflict, or refugee crises. Working at a multimedia news agency is much the same. The time I have spent at Voice of America has been impactful for my own professional development, as well as my growth as a student. The skills that I have learned with Voice of America will certainly help me as I enter the job market and prepare for the next opportunity.

Internship Blog Series: State Department, Lome, Togo

Internship Blog Series: State Department, Lome, Togo

My name is Erick Agbleke. While in pursuit of my graduate studies in International Relations and Diplomacy, along with specializations in International Security and Global Negotiation and Conflict Management, I was given the opportunity to intern with the State Department at a US Embassy of my choice. Since I was born in Togo, West Africa, I opted to spend 10 weeks at the Lomé Embassy with the Political and Economic (Pol-Econ) section of the mission. I wanted to return to my country of birth after spending 16 years abroad, to witness and study what kind of effects that U.S. international policies would have on a political climate I am familiar with.

A highlight of my internship with the State Department was a project assigned to me by the Chief of Section (CoS) to strengthen my security background. I wrote and recommended a strategy outline to combat wildlife trafficking in Togo based on the Eliminate Neutralize and Disrupt (END) Wildlife Trafficking Act of 2016. My recommendations, if approved by the State Department’s Office of Economic Growth, Energy and Environment, would be implemented as a policy and included in an annual congressional report. I relied on past project management skills that I developed through my professional career as well as my data collection skills to complete the necessary analysis.

Located south of Burkina Faso and east of Benin, Togo has become a transit state for ivory traffickers smuggling illegal goods. The traffickers take advantage of the porous borders and enter Togo with ivory in its raw form and make their way to Lomé to transform the ivory into art relics transported and sold elsewhere. Lomé is a strategic city for the smugglers because it gives them multitude avenues of exit. It is equipped with an international airport and a seaport serving as the maritime hub for the region, and smugglers utilize these avenues of travel to take ivory into south-east Asia. After my initial analysis of the wildlife trafficking framework in Togo, I was able to address the shortfalls and recommend improvements on how to the government could benefit from a partnership with the U.S.

Interning with the State Department has intensified my desire to become a diplomat and work with other countries to overcome the same challenges we share across the world. In my coursework, I learn and process instances where all areas of international relations are intertwined, amplified by my hands-on experience abroad. I have gained a deeper understanding on how security, diplomacy, conflict resolution and economic development must reconcile with one another to advance towards a common solution. In reflecting on the experience, I would recommend this internship to my fellow colleagues, as it is a great way to gain insight into the wonderful work we do abroad as a country. It is also a great opportunity to apply and test the plethora of theories we learn and discuss in the classroom with our professors.

Internship Blog Series: United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)

Internship Blog Series: United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)

My name is Chiazam Onyenso, and in my final semester within the Master of Arts program in International Relations and Diplomacy, multiple experiences have driven my current desire to continue my academic pursuits as they pertain to international affairs. My interest in collaborative international agencies reflects the internship I’ve committed myself to at the United Nations Population Fund.

My first-year M.A. studies mainly observed the nature of conflict, theories on the correspondence of the international community, resolutions and the management of international institutions that all catalyzed my eagerness to work for the United Nations.  As a humanitarian information management intern for its Humanitarian and Fragile Contexts Branch (HFCB), working with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) provided me with relevant knowledge on the effects of crises and the various avenues utilized by UN agencies to provide relief to affected populations and to address critical international issues. I developed exceptional skills in internal correspondence, analyzing and visualizing data, and reporting on fast-paced crisis situations in real-time. My assignments required background knowledge on humanitarian crises along with nurturing a strong understanding of UNFPA’s gender-based violence and health services for youth and women in conflict.

My experience as a UNFPA intern made me increasingly interested in staying with agency, in order to continue learning more on how it functions to fulfill its mandate and begin my career. Since last July, I have assisted HFCB in creating fact sheets, developing situation reports and analyzing information that will gradually populate UNFPA’s newly launched data portal, and the upcoming Humanitarian Action Overview for 2018. At the UNFPA, my work has been greatly complemented by the skills and knowledge I’ve procured through my master studies. Specializing in International Organizations, Global Negotiation and Conflict Management, while also earning a certificate in Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Sustainability has contributed to my understanding of UNFPA’s role and overall humanitarian response.  Most of all, I’ve recognized the most crucial capacities of international assistance and aid rely on sound international law.

I hope to broaden my experience in international relations in line with international law. Adequate response to affected populations and vulnerable groups across the globe depends on human rights policy and effective rule of law; essentials that have been made incredibly clear to me at UNFPA.

Internship Blog Series: Middle East Policy Institute

Internship Blog Series: Middle East Policy Institute

My name is Gabrielle (Gabi) Hunt, and I’m a rising senior studying Diplomacy, Environmental Studies, and Arabic at Seton Hall. I wanted the organization I interned with this summer to involve work synthesizing all of my interests. Ultimately, I decided on Middle East Policy Council (MEPC) in Washington, D.C., and I could not imagine a better fit.

MEPC is a nonprofit think tank that focuses on education and advocacy work in Middle East issues. It publishes the leading Middle East affairs journal, Middle East Policy (MEP), hosts quarterly Capitol Hill conferences discussing current events, and has an educational outreach branch, TeachMideast, designed to make Middle East issues more accessible to K-12 teachers and students.

I was one of two interns at MEPC who dealt broadly with educational outreach, event coordination, and social media management, along with inputting edits and proofreading articles to be published in MEP. I also wrote a few of my own pieces on current events and completed a 10-week independent project with my fellow intern. For our project, we started a video series aimed at capturing the lives of Arab-Americans around the D.C. metropolitan area. The topics of their interviews typically encompassed how their professions, interests, and passions relate to their cultural identity.

In addition to the larger project, I conducted a series of small projects throughout the weeks – like writing TeachMideast focus pieces – which brought together my interdisciplinary interests. With focus pieces in particular, I was given the opportunity to write about anything I found interesting – from the Saudi Vision 2030 plans to reducing dependency on oil, to the origins of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement.

I loved my 10 weeks working at MEPC, especially because I was given so much opportunity to be creative through self-guided projects. Through independent work, I strengthened my professional development and time management skills. I also enjoyed my inclusion in the publication process of MEP, not only because of my interests in writing and editing, but because the responsibility of accurately inputting edits and proofreading fine-tuned my attention to detail and precision. My favorite part about MEPC is that I always felt like a valuable team member whose input was valued.

Overall, I could not be happier with the senior leadership internship experience I had, and the time I was able to spend working in D.C.

Internship Blog Series: Sergio Vieira de Mello Fellowship, Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF)

Internship Blog Series: Sergio Vieira de Mello Fellowship, Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF)

My name is Marisela Rivera, and I am a Master of Arts candidate at Seton Hall`s School of Diplomacy and International Relations. Over the summer I had the pleasure of serving as the Sergio Vieira de Mello Fellow for the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF) in Geneva, Switzerland, the international capital of the world. The fellowship honors a former United Nations Diplomat, Sergio Vieira de Mello, who was killed in the Canal Hotel bombing in Baghdad, Iraq in 2003. Mr. Vieira de Mello is remembered for his long and distinguished career with the UN as well as his efforts to promote peace, human rights and humanitarian aid.

Like Mr. Vieira de Mello, I am passionate about fulfilling peace and security for all. I specialized in two eminent concentrations to promote peace and security: International Law & Human Rights and International Security. My two specializations and my keen interest in Latin America have well prepared me for the fellowship. My host organization, DCAF, is an international foundation that is well-known for its support of security, development, and the rule of law.

Within the DCAF, I worked for the International Security Advisory Team (ISSAT). ISSAT was created to increase the capacity of the international community to support Security Sector Reform (SSR) processes, enhance the effectiveness and quality of SSR programming, and facilitate the coordination and coherence of international assistance for nationally-driven SSR processes. It focuses on four key services: advisory field support, training and capacity development, knowledge services, and advocacy and outreach.

Prior to my arrival, DCAF created a Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) department dedicated to Security Sector Reform. I worked with the director to set the foundation and sustainability flow for this particular department. Together, we created a strategy for LAC, as well as an overview of donors to the region. I utilized my social media and advertising skills to create a memorable LAC webpage, and I wrote country background notes, particularly in Latin American countries. In addition, I was tasked to develop a knowledge product for the Gender and Security section that applied a gender lens to explore the application of local ownership in SSR. The case study analyzed two countries and explore the lessons learned to increase the discussions on Women, Peace, and Security (WPS).

One of the most challenging and gratifying experiences was familiarizing myself with international security and human rights dialect in Spanish. Being of Colombian descent, Spanish is my first language. However, growing up in America and being part of the public education system, Spanish was not a priority. Through DCAF, I learned the importance of bilingualism and the various opportunities that it brings.

Overall, my time with DCAF was insightful and rewarding. I fulfilled many assignments in my area of study, and I was trusted with the duties of a Project Assistant as well as the work of an SSR Officer. My position at ISSAT offered first-hand experience in SSR, specifically in the international security aspect of my career. Given that this is the second year the Sergio Vieira de Mellow Fellowship was offered to a Seton Hall Graduate student, I would highly recommend my fellow peers to apply for this position in the future, and I know I will cherish the knowledge and experience gained with DCAF forever.

Internship Blog Series: The New York Times

Internship Blog Series: The New York Times

Francesca Regalado

After Deadline – My Summer at The New York Times

I started my internship at The New York Times on the day of the Orlando attacks, the worst mass shooting in United States history.

Or maybe this thrilling summer began in May, when I spent a week at Temple University with 12 other lucky souls in what was, basically, editing boot camp – seven days that began with a wakeup call at 6 a.m. and ended after falling asleep on my books well past 1 a.m.

Let’s go even further and say the adventure started in December, two weeks before finals, when I got a phone call from a kindly old man who told me out of the blue that he would see me in Philadelphia. Confused, I asked, “Excuse me, what is this for?” And Professor Edward Trayes said, “Oh, The New York Times is looking to pay you $1000 a week to be an editing intern – does that sound good?”*

But this story really kicked off when I spent the entire month of October reviewing for the Dow Jones News Fund copy editing test – a tear-inducing, confidence-busting exam that around 1000 applicants subject themselves to every year, just for a shot at the world’s greatest bastion of journalism.
I thought I’d flunked the test, which made the call from Dr. Trayes all the more surprising. At that point, I would have been happy to be assigned to any desk at the Times, but Dr. Trayes thought I would be a good fit for the Foreign/National desk – or, paradise for an international relations major observing her first U.S. election.

Foreign/National was inundated by so much bad news this summer (multiple bombings, multiple shootings, multiple email scandals from the Democrats, multiple gaffes from Donald Trump) that one of the staff editors, a former Dow Jones intern, said, “Francesca, this is the no-joke desk. You should be proud of yourself for surviving this summer.”

Honestly, I’m just relieved I survived the hours: I worked on Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., then on Sundays to Wednesdays from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.

A lot of things copy editors do are easier said than done – for example, writing a headline that is punchy and attention-grabbing and an accurate summary of the story while staying true to the lofty Timesian tone and fitting into the allotted layout perfectly is an art form.

The challenge for us interns was to make it on “After Deadline” – a weekly list on the Times’s internal blog that recognizes the past week’s best headlines. Only one out of nine ever made it (spoiler alert: it wasn’t me). Getting my first headline through to print had been hard enough, but it finally happened on a story about Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren. My proudest achievement, though, was on the first night on the Democratic convention: I wrote the headline for a story about Michelle Obama’s relationship with Hillary Clinton, and for a few hours that night, it was the first hit on Google if you searched “Michelle Obama.”

There are many things that people don’t realize about newspapers. The locations you see at the top of the article? Those are called datelines, and they indicate that the reporter was actually on the ground. But that doesn’t mean real journalism is putting on a helmet and running around a war zone with a GoPro. Some budding news websites like to put reporters in the center of the story, producing content such as “Here’s What Happened When I Had Dinner with a Taliban Leader,” or something like that. The New York Times is the only legacy newspaper that still maintains an extensive international staff in bureaus throughout the world, and reporters are assigned to a region for extended periods, not just for one-day trips.

The highlight of my internship with the New York Times was when I met Azam Ahmed, the bureau chief formerly in Kabul and now in Mexico City. I was excited not only because he was a foreign correspondent, but also because he had written the article on Taliban justice that inspired my thesis. Talking to him made me want to be a foreign correspondent all the more. You could read every academic paper about Afghanistan, but an ivory tower academic will never be able to tell you about Afghanistan the way a journalist on the ground can.
Of course, it’s going to be a while before I’m anywhere close to being worthy of Azam’s credentials.

But this summer at The New York Times was an important stepping stone, and I am grateful to have experienced how a world-renowned newsroom with the highest standards works. Now it falls on me to build my street cred as a journalist and, hopefully, work my way back to the august institution on Eighth Avenue.
*I kid you not – this was how the conversation actually went.

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