Internship Blog Series: Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect

Internship Blog Series: Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect

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.

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: Guardian Life Insurance Company

Internship Blog Series: Guardian Life Insurance Company

My name is Austin O’Neill, and I am a senior double-majoring in International Relations and Economics with a minor in Arabic. I completed an internship at Guardian Life Insurance Company of America this semester in addition to my previous full-time internship last summer. My position is in Disability Insurance individual markets under the Product Strategy team.

I originally chose to intern at Guardian Life because they have a large presence in my hometown of Pittsfield, MA, offering a great opportunity very close to home over the summer. I continued to intern with Guardian Life when the Product Strategy team asked me to stay on during the school year to assist with a variety of projects, which indicated that I am considered a valued member of the team.

The department focuses on many different areas of disability insurance products, including research and development, competitive research, product training, filing, and support. I had the chance to assist across every responsibility, providing me with a broad spectrum of learning opportunities. My main responsibilities were preparing files for state insurance agencies, altering documents and content with the rebranding team, and creating PowerPoints and spreadsheets for presentations by the executive team.

One interesting project I completed was designing the PowerPoint for a new product pitch presented by the executive team. The product was considered revolutionary for the market, and I was tasked to express the characteristics of the product. This project was exciting as it had real implications for the highest-ranking officers of Disability, and it allowed me to showcase skills I have learned at the internship and through classes at Seton Hall.

I found a great balance in building skills between my internship and course studies. I became very familiar with Excel, which is a skill I have utilized at school with assignments such as my senior thesis, as well as data collection for the Product Strategy team. While working on product filing assignments for Guardian Life, I received exposure to Adobe Pro, which is important for many different business operations, but was also applicable as a document editing tool for my studies. Additionally, it was interesting to work on the front-end and back-end of rebranding for a large company. I edited and updated documents, and I tested webpages and programming software for consumer friendliness. The skills I learned from these duties are numerous and will help me in my future career.

My internship at Guardian Life helped me develop in both my professional and academic life. I networked across all business areas and may seek full-time opportunities at Guardian Life after graduation. Even as a Fortune 250 company, Guardian Life still seeks to receive input from all its employees, from interns to executive teams. For these reasons, I would suggest others to seek internships at Guardian Life for learning and development in the private sector.

Internship Blog Series: Fonkoze, Haiti

Internship Blog Series: Fonkoze, Haiti

My name is Kenneth Saint Preux, and I am a junior in the Diplomacy and International Relations program at Seton Hall. Over the summer, I interned in Mirebalais, Haiti for an organization called Fonkoze, an NGO that works to alleviate poverty in Haiti. I interned in their CLM (Chemen Lavi Miyò) program. Chemen Lavi Miyò means “Pathway to a Better Life”. This phrase embodies the program’s goals. CLM’s goal is provide services and empowerment to low-income women across the central plateau region of Haiti. My responsibilities included accompanying case managers to various sites to research and assist on project implementation while managing participants.

Working with an NGO in a developing state gave me access to knowledge that most people would not be able to obtain. Fonkoze gave me an opportunity to better understand the issues that are plaguing Haiti. By understanding these various issues, I am also learning more about the foreign policy of Haiti. Haiti lacks many resources and depends on aid from the U.S. and trade with the Dominican Republic. The Haitian Government’s reliance on aid and trade allows for the poverty issue in Haiti to be exacerbated to the point where it is almost impossible to find “the poorest of the poor” in Haiti.

My coursework has helped during this internship as many of the challenges I encountered came from the cultural differences between the staff and participants. My Cross-Cultural Negotiation and Conflict Management course helped significantly with my communication skills. As I have learned throughout my studies, interacting with those of other cultures is a key component to the art of diplomacy and becoming a practitioner in the field. Another class that helped me with my internship was my Institutions of Global Governance class, teaching me about the functionality of NGOs across various developed and developing nation-states. NGOs play a significant role in Haiti, as they provide services that the Government of Haiti cannot provide. Fonkoze is such an example. The last course I will mention that helped in this internship was my Sustainable Development class, which taught me how nation-states could grow and prosper while also stressing the intersectionality of poverty and economic development. Poverty is not an issue that just simply disappears over time or periods of growth; solutions require massive amounts of effort and research. This connects to my current work, as Fonkoze focuses its efforts on female-headed households, due to their usually being the most fragile of these families under “extreme poverty”.

I would recommend Fonkoze to students interested in gaining experience in the development field. Fonkoze is a great organization that will send you to a place that truly needs help. Fonkoze gives students the opportunity to see a successful NGO in a developing state.

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: Women’s Entrepreneurship Day Organization (WEDO)

Internship Blog Series: Women’s Entrepreneurship Day Organization (WEDO)

My name is Carlee Sutera, and I am a Senior Diplomacy and International Relations student at Seton Hall University. Over the summer, I interned at the Women’s Entrepreneurship Day Organization (WEDO) in New York City. WEDO is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to educate, empower, celebrate, and support women in business and inspire girls to be leaders in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) so they can create a positive impact in their communities worldwide. I was the International Relations Intern responsible for communicating and coordinating with WEDO global ambassadors for the official celebration of Women’s Entrepreneurship Day on November 19th. Since the event is celebrated in 144 countries, there is a lot to be done year-round, and I was given the opportunity to work intimately with ambassadors from the United States, Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

My Diplomacy classes prepared me to interact with people of all different cultures and enhanced my communications and negotiating skills, all of which were essential to my position. The skills gained at my internship have been crucial to my professional development as well, specifically my experience with new communications tools such as WordPress, Canva, and SendGrid. I also had the opportunity to improve my interpersonal skills and networking abilities. When working with many different people on many different, coordinated tasks, there are bound to be communication issues, but I learned to navigate the process and be productive even in high-stress situations.

Some of my favorite assignments included event planning for WEDO-sponsored events, such as our monthly breakfasts with women entrepreneurs discussing their experiences. This was some of the most rewarding work because I was able to see and experience the physical results. Early on, we featured Adi Eckhouse, the creator of the iPhone’s facial recognition technology (called RealFace), from Israel. At another breakfast, we featured Reshma Saujani and Fereshteh Forough, two women pioneers in the coding field with non-profit organizations that encourage closing the gender gap in technology spaces. Listening to women talk about their experiences as entrepreneurs was truly inspiring and further emphasized the importance of what WEDO as an organization is doing. While I have been extremely lucky and privileged with many opportunities in my life, many women around the world do not have the same access. WEDO gives women opportunities that they would not have otherwise, making a real impact on individual lives. Because of this experience, I hope to use my skills to further uplift and support women in my line of professional work. I would recommend this internship to anyone interested in gaining experience with a large and impactful non-profit that also has a significant impact on the lives of women all over the world.

Internship Blog Series: Sesame Workshop

Internship Blog Series: Sesame Workshop

My name is Kylie, and I am a senior Diplomacy and Modern Language major with a minor in Economics. I interned in Sesame Workshop’s Philanthropic Development Department. Sesame Workshop is the umbrella nonprofit educational organization that produces Sesame Street, which is far more than just the show. The organization works in 150 countries and has initiatives that range from dealing with grief for families of military personnel in the US to performing outreach for those affected by HIV in South Africa. I was drawn to this internship by Sesame’s creative approach to tackling difficult community issues worldwide, and I wanted to pursue my interest in education at a large organization.

My responsibilities included research, filing, inventory, team meetings, and mail management. Although the work wasn’t always glamorous, Sesame interacts with incredible people and entities, from Priscilla Chan to the Canadian government, which allowed me many opportunities to network. I also completed two major projects during my time at Sesame: the first was completing research for Sesame’s 50th anniversary next year, and the second was labeling production documents and plans from the Bangladeshi program’s ninth season production and education initiative. These projects allowed me to embrace the “insider’s view” and appreciate the kind of attention that goes into various initiatives.

Interning at Sesame showed me that nonprofits in education are an exceptional pathway to making a difference, even if it is not as flashy as counterterrorism or cybersecurity. In addition, I realized the intersection of elementary education and diplomacy as Sesame’s programs seek to simplify universal values and international issues to a level that children can internalize. Their goal is not to teach the statistics and policy, but to teach understanding and acceptance. They are instilling habits for children that lead to better lifestyles. It’s not just about learning the alphabet and numbers, but learning about the respect needed to heal divides in the ethnically and religiously diverse streets of Isreal (Rechov Sumsum) or to empower girls in Nigeria (Sesame Square). Many children in countries that Sesame Street airs in obtain their primary education through the show due to conflict, poverty, or the lack of a school system.

My time at Sesame was an amazing experience that taught me the dynamics of how large offices work and the responsibilities of various departments. As an intern, I completed informational interviews with department heads, and my last semester project included researching part of the department to make suggestions on improvements or initiatives. My project on the Yellow Feather Fund included marketing and development strategies to increase the reach of the fund, and this allowed me to explore business ideas outside of my field of interest.

Overall, I would recommend this internship or any other internship within Sesame, as the office is a welcoming environment and one dedicated not only to educating the public but enriching its interns with new experiences and ideas.

Internship Blog Series: Heritage Foundation, DC

Internship Blog Series: Heritage Foundation, DC

My name is Iulia Lupse, and I am studying Diplomacy and International Relations with a minor in Russian and Eastern European studies. I interned in the Media Relations department at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. I was initially interested because it is the leading conservative think-tank in the United States. I completed extensive research before applying, and when I learned about their Young Leaders Program, I was hooked. The program offered skill development briefings, policy briefings, and first principle lunches. In the skill development briefings, we learned valuable skills to navigating Washington D.C., such as public speaking, networking, and resume building. In the policy briefings, interns were informed on numerous subjects such as defense, foreign policy, healthcare, education, and more. The First Principles Lunches were my personal favorite as we participated in discussions about the founding principles, the conservative movement, and the philosophy behind conservatism.

While my interests lie in national security and defense, the skills I learned in the Media Department are useful for a wide-range of jobs. My main responsibilities included logging print hits, writing press pitches, keeping the Heritage Press and Heritage website up-to-date, and compiling media lists. On less busy days, I attended Heritage events and others around the city, allowing me many networking opportunities. Initially, I found that my greatest challenge was public speaking and networking, because I tended to be shy in conversation – however, I overcame this fear during my time at Heritage, and it certainly paid off.

The highlight of my internship was attending C-PAC. I had the pleasure of meeting President Kay Cole James, Ivanka Trump, Paul Teller, and Ben Shapiro among many others. I also completed projects with my mentor in the defense department at the Heritage Foundation, including research on the new defense bill and the importance of nuclear deterrence. These experiences were crucial during my time with the Heritage Foundation.

Although I plan to continue my pursuit in intelligence careers, the connections I made and the skills I gained will be valuable in any field I will choose in the future. The Heritage Foundation gave me the opportunity to apply and expand my knowledge and skills. I would highly recommend this internship to others because it provides a wonderful learning experience and networking opportunities. I am ever grateful for what I learned, and I am even more excited to continue learning based on my experiences in D.C.

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