Internship Blog Series: Council on American Islamic Relations

Internship Blog Series: Council on American Islamic Relations

My name is Mohamed Elshekh, and I am a senior at Seton Hall University studying International Relations and Diplomacy as well as Religious Studies. I interned at the Council on American Islamic Relations, New Jersey Chapter (CAIR-NJ), as the Government Affairs Coordinator. My primary concern while searching for internships was finding a position that combined my passions for diplomacy and religion. CAIR-NJ serves as the largest Muslim civil rights organization in America, with chapters all across the country. This was the ideal position because their goal is to enhance Americans’ understanding of Islam, promote tolerance and justice, and empower American Muslims across the United States.  

With CAIR-NJ, I was tasked with communicating the needs of CAIR to various political campaigns and government officials. My biggest responsibility was planning for the Muslim Day of Advocacy (MDA), an annual event held in Trenton, NJ where various Muslim delegates meet with elected officials to advocate on behalf of the Muslim community and educate on concerns. I was tasked with drafting talking points for MDA, preparing a fact sheet of the bills we will be supporting, and recruiting delegates who will be present the day of the event. In addition, I scheduled meetings with government officials so that we would have time to properly prepare our delegates before the meetings and so they would be able to speak about the bills in the NJ legislator and explain why the Muslim community either supports or rejects the proposed bill.

The work I completed with CAIR has transformed my outlook on civil rights work and domestic policy. I believed that as a Diplomacy student, my interests would only align at an internship that focused on issues relating to the international community. With CAIR, I learned that these small steps taken to change domestic policy can have far-reaching effects that alter international policy.

Seton Hall’s School of Diplomacy provided me with the necessary skills to excel in the position. My background in International Relations and U.S foreign policy was essential for communicating with government officials and their staff, as well as creating fact-sheets and writing on behalf of the goals of CAIR. I recommend this internship to students who have a passion for civil rights and advocacy. This position served as a vital tool to my personal and career development. The professional skills and knowledge that I gained from CAIR will continue to help me after I graduate college and enter the job market.

Internship Blog Series: International Rescue Committee

Internship Blog Series: International Rescue Committee

My name is Zofia Gallegos, and I am a senior Diplomacy & International Relations and Spanish double major. In Spring 2018, I was the Economic Empowerment Intern at the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Elizabeth, NJ. Coming from a family of immigrants, I was always interested in immigration issues and laws governing immigration to the United States. I knew I would be a good fit for an organization like the IRC, which is dedicated to helping people that have just moved to the country to establish themselves and build their lives in the U.S.

While interning at the IRC, I met many different people from diverse backgrounds. Our clients ranged from middle-aged parents looking to provide a better life for their families, to teenagers and small children who moved to the U.S. and look for guidance towards understanding and becoming accustomed to American culture.

Day to day, my work varied greatly, but I always completed case notes regarding our clients and their developments into ETO software. My fellow interns and I also assisted with career development services or job searches on behalf of our clients. Career development might include learning about a client’s education, skills, and past work experience to determine what type of job he or she would be a good match for. Oftentimes, we helped clients obtain more information about a particular career path that they were pursuing, or we informed them of available job opportunities in the area. We utilized job search engines to look for jobs that would fit their salary needs and qualifications. In addition, I participated in team meetings to discuss the current issues, advancements, and concerns in our department. At these meetings, we discussed what we had accomplished over the week, what our challenges were, and something that we had successfully achieved.

My biggest challenges interning at the IRC were language and cultural barriers. Language barriers are self-explanatory; many times, our clients had recently arrived to the U.S. and had only begun the process of learning the English language. Other clients who came from the Middle East or the Caribbean region also required more attention since I only understand English, Spanish and Polish. Interpreters were typically available to translate, but I would make the attempt as well. Ultimately, I was able to turn my challenges into strengths by engaging with IRC clients in an open and friendly manner and having the patience to understand and communicate. I am happy to have had the opportunity to work with the IRC, and their goals to aid those entering America as immigrants are very much aligned with my long-term goals to help those in similar circumstances. I would recommend an internship with the IRC as you meet a host of incredible people, and the role allows you to learn essential skills in communication.

Internship Blog Series: The Nicholson Foundation

Internship Blog Series: The Nicholson Foundation

My name is Madison McHugh, and I am a graduate student in the dual degree program at Seton Hall University. I am obtaining a Master of Business Administration as well as a Master of Arts in Diplomacy & International Relations. I interned as the Communications Associate at The Nicholson Foundation, a non-profit organization in Newark, NJ focused on funding projects in health and early childhood across the state.

As a Communications Associate, I worked directly under the Communications Manager and assisted in assignments related to the official branding of all materials for The Nicholson Foundation. These assignments included managing website content, posting for the organization’s official social media, and writing and editing press releases, op-eds, and speeches.

My coursework in the dual MBA/MADIR program prepared me for success in my internship as I utilized skills such as research, writing, and public speaking. Not only do I feel that I honed my writing into specialized capacities, such as those embodied in health and early childhood education, but I am confident that I can fulfill the responsibilities of a communications position in my post-grad prospects.

My internship with The Nicholson Foundation was a unique experience because it offered me vast flexibility in assignments and responsibilities. Moreover, my individual input was highly valued within the organization, and many of my ideas were implemented during my time. I was even able to pitch a unique idea to the Executive Director: I wanted to create and manage his official, professional Twitter page. To this end, I created a PowerPoint and pitched the idea after setting a personal meeting. He was very receptive, and with more discussion on details and management in the weeks to follow, he agreed that I should move forward with my idea.

The freedom that I was given at The Nicholson Foundation was both exhilarating and intimidating. On the one hand, I was able to capitalize many times on my ideas and implement positive changes towards increased efficiency and impact within and without the organization. On the other hand, the Communications Manager offered me a great amount of responsibility during his paternal leave, and I managed the Communications Department in his stead throughout April and May. At the time, while I had been acclimated to the chain of command, it was a new and exciting challenge to manage to both positions as well as the needs of the department as they overlapped with others in the organization.

I would highly recommend this internship to students who want the opportunity to put their innovation, originality, and professional drive to the test. The Nicholson Foundation is a wonderful organization that embraces new ideas and values contributions from youth that perpetuate the organization’s legacy as a health and early childhood funder in New Jersey.

Internship Blog Series: CressCap Investment Research

Internship Blog Series: CressCap Investment Research

My name is Tela Wittig, and I am a junior Diplomacy and International Relations student. I have taken a convoluted path to my current internship and career field, changing my focus from international criminal law and law enforcement to international business. It was through this journey that I came to intern at CressCap Investment Research.

CressCap is a small, innovative company that has essentially automated many of the functions of a financial analyst through fractal analyses of stocks’ fundamentals. Although investment research is considered far removed from the international relations education I received, my assignments have been shockingly compatible with my skillset. I recall coming into the office for my second interview as well as my first opportunity to meet with the whole team. They asked me several questions about how I had found out about the internship and why I had decided to follow through with the application. Through these questions, it was clear that they were beating around the point that I had no finance, sales, or programming experience – the skills most natural to FinTech startups.

My final interview was with the COO who asked me outright why I wanted to work at CressCap and what I wanted out of this experience. I answered without hesitation that I had made a commitment to moving into the private sector and I intended to learn. Then we went through the CressCap website, and I explained the grammar and style changes I thought would improve their external image. I suppose it’s just lucky that I walked into a group of people who are invested enough in their business that they appreciate that kind of criticism from an interviewee, but the chance I took paid off. Since then, I have found the office to be a great place for expressing myself and feeling heard.

Today, I am three months into my first experience in finance. My passion for the finance industry has grown, and my new knowledge has helped me identify and express what I want to do in my professional career. I am working hard to learn all that I can about running a business, including sitting in on meetings, asking questions, and working within our systems. Moreover, while learning new skills, I have also come to realize that there are many aspects of my international relations education that I can maintain as I move farther into my finance career.

In the finance sector, it turns out that reading, writing, and language skills are key. This has worked to my advantage in many ways. My education in Diplomacy and International Relations helped me improve my writing and analytical skills. In addition, I worked as an English writing and grammar tutor on the Seton Hall campus. These experiences helped me realize my love for the English language and further advance and improve my Chinese language education. I know now that I can pursue each of these subjects in conjunction with finance and make myself indispensable by possessing coveted language skills and expertise. As a result, I was chosen to work with CressCap’s CEO to write weekly contributor articles for with top and bottom international stock picks using our platform’s analysis. In this way, CressCap has been an exceptional experience because it has allowed me to tailor my unique skillset to the tasks at hand. This has brought all of my passions together to create something I really love to do, which is an exceptional opportunity at 20 years old. I highly recommend the internship for students who want to learn about finance from the ground-up and increase their marketability in the private sector.

Internship Blog Series: NJ Transit Police Department

Internship Blog Series: NJ Transit Police Department

My name is Allegra, and I am an undergraduate student in the 5-year B.S/M.A. program with concentrations in Security and Global Health. I worked as an Intelligence Intern at the New Jersey Transit Police Department in Newark, NJ. In the department, I didn’t make coffee or paper copies – I assisted with the same projects as my supervisor and the department director. Together, we compiled reports and footage and coordinated with police departments and prosecutors’ offices. In addition, I facilitated directly with detectives and prosecutors in paperwork processes.

One of my favorite tasks was creating BOLO’s (Be On the Look Out). I enjoyed making these as I reviewed incident footage, read over case reports, and compiled the information into a poster format for distribution to additional police departments.

I was able to utilize knowledge from my Public International Law class as well as my security courses. In addition, fast and critical reading skills were crucial to reading large amounts of data in a timely and efficient manner. As for new skills that I learned, I enjoyed using hands-on experience and department coordination. I experienced interactions at different levels, and I believe I gained crucial skills in navigating bureaucracy to ensure accountability and visibility.

I learned valuable skills and made some wonderful connections, and my experience helped me realize that intelligence work is not for me. I believe I want to do something broader in scope at the international level. In addition, I’ve found that I prefer reports to footage and matters that extend to the US and the world at large. Some challenges I faced at the internship included the sensitive matter surrounding footage and information that could be sobering, at times. However, the office worked together to make these processes and others more enjoyable as a result.

Overall, the internship was an incredible experience. However, one needs to be aware that it is not an easy job: students become involved in every aspect of the office, and coworkers depend on the work the interns are assigned. It is certainly a real introduction to the working world. I enjoyed my time at NJ Transit, from the work to the people to the difference we made. I highly recommend this internship for students interested in direct intelligence work!

Internship Blog Series: Consulate of Colombia

Internship Blog Series: Consulate of Colombia

My name is Daniela Uribe, and I am a senior student of Diplomacy and International Relations from Seton Hall University. I am from Colombia and moved to the United States four years ago to pursue my college education. As part of my learning experience at Seton Hall, I had the chance to intern at the Consulate of Colombia in New Jersey for seven months. The Consulate of Colombia is a government organization that represents and assists its nationals in international territories in order to provide legal assistance, notarize documents, and protect the interest of its citizens.

I decided I wanted to intern at the Colombian Consulate because the country was beginning a new development in its national security since the government’s negotiation and national referendum with the largest terrorist group in the territory, Las FARC. Since the Consulate represents the government of Colombia in the U.S., its role in this development was to organize, educate, and prepare nationals to participate in the referendum. Thanks to this call I was able to start interning at the consulate the week after I applied.

There was a lot of work to be done. As a Consular Intern, I assisted government officials in their consular assignments and assisted nationals with processes such as voting and serving as judges the day of the referendum. In addition, I contacted nationals and spoke effectively about the importance of participating in the referendum, including clarifying inaccurate information. One of the common questions was about viability to vote – whether one fulfulls the requirements set to vote. The National Registry provides ID numbers for nationals to vote in a specific place, and they needed to be informed of the location.

Another large role I played was educating people about the agreement. The agreement was 150 pages, and I needed to know it very well. If I had not studied Diplomacy and International Relations, I would have not been able to understand the type of language the document contained.

Dr. Tinker’s Public International Law course taught me about the importance of language in this type of document; how it could have different interpretations from different parties and how it becomes binding; how much responsibility each party has and the mechanisms of implementation. My class experience prepared me to raise questions and pose concerns during training times and participate in scholarly discussions during the preparation period.

After this experience, I was able to better understand the role and challenges of the consulates and government officials. They cannot advocate for a specific vote, but they must provide all the tools to inform the public to decide freely and support them throughout the process.

I enjoyed every second of the experience. I worked so hard, it felt like a full-time job, but I also learned so much about government and public diplomacy. We also faced challenges, too, during the vote: people showing propaganda, adding extra votes, or voting when they were not registered. It was very interesting being both central to the event and behind-the-scenes.

After the vote, I was selected to help tally the votes and upload the results for New Jersey. It was an honor and privilege to serve my country in this way.

I felt that this was my real job (even while unpaid!) in many ways, but the quality of learning I received from this experience made it so worthy.

Internship Blog Series: New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness

Internship Blog Series: New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness

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.


Internship Blog Series: Office of Senator Cory Booker

Internship Blog Series: Office of Senator Cory Booker

Most people would describe the city of Newark as a struggling neighborhood of crime and poverty. However, my experience working for the Office of Senator Cory Booker has opened my eyes to see Newark and many other cities as thriving hubs of opportunity and development.

Diplomacy student Clare Duda with Senator Cory Booker

Diplomacy student Clare Duda with Senator Cory Booker

Senator Booker splits his time between Washington D.C. and New Jersey for congressional duties, travels in support of the 2016 presidential elections, and is currently on a book tour for his new bestseller “United”. As the Senator reports to his busy schedule, his office staff is the engine that keeps the congressional machine running. The Senator’s office in Newark is full of youthfully charged energy ready to take on any constituent inquiry, state development, and congressional opportunity released to the Senator. As an intern for a federal office, the day begins with a review of daily newspapers to keep each of the three senate offices, located in Washington D.C., Camden, and Newark, up to date with current events and happenings involving the state of New Jersey and Senator Booker himself. As time in the office of the Senator has passed I have had the opportunity to work with constituent advocates, case workers, and special project teams to work on policy memos, research speech materials, and respond to constituent requests.

Constituents usually write to the Senator when they are in need of help and have nowhere else to turn. I have had the opportunity to work on cases regarding immigration, environmental concerns, military affairs, health, and education. Along with deciphering if a new case can be developed by a federal office, I have interacted with constituents one on one, gaging cases and assigning each one to the proper caseworker to take care of their issue. The Senator’s office is dedicated to assisting constituents with concerns. I have become a part of a team which has reached out on behalf of immigration visas, retrieved documents from the VA, and worked with Medicaid providers to deliver health care resources to constituents who could not afford them. As time has passed in the Newark office I have witnessed the level of dedication each staff member has to their job and the citizens of New Jersey. The senatorial staff has exemplified dedication, professionalism, and compassion within the workplace and I would encourage anyone to write to the office of Senator Booker if they were ever to have a congressional inquiry.

As an international relations and diplomacy major I focus my interest in the national security and intelligence sectors of the federal government. I use talents developed through the School of International Relations and Diplomacy to brief policy documents, critically analyze cases, and develop writing samples for community outreach. Working for Senator Booker has provided me with the foresight of how a federal office operates and has furthered my interest in a future of public service. From my internship I gained skills of time management, adoption of new ideas, and adaptation to new opportunities. Offering support to the congressional staff and the constituents of New Jersey has been both rewarding and fulfilling. Similar to the city of Newark, I realized the potential I hold in creating change, whether big or small; every action I take is growth. Working for the Office of the Senator has given me construction materials to expand my own personal development.

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