Internship Stories

Andrew Lyman Examines Israeli Foreign Policy with Mitvim

As part of the Atlantis Transatlantic Degree Program, Andrew Lyman will graduate with dual degrees from two leading global institutions. He will complete a Master of Arts in International Relations (MAIR) degree at the Maxwell School in Syracuse University and a Master of Public Policy (MPP) degree at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin. Living in Israel this past summer, Andrew completed the Counterterrorism Studies Program, sponsored by Syracuse University’s Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism, as well as a graduate internship with Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies.

Andrew Lyman coming across sheep on a mountain while hiking in the Judaean Desert.

The Israeli-Arab conflict continues to affect Israel’s ability to enact effective foreign policies within both the Middle East and the broader international community. Israel and its foreign policies have been, and continue to be, rooted in military doctrine. This has left the country isolated within its region and under immense international scrutiny. Further, Israel is becoming increasingly conservative and nationalistic. To address these issues, Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies was founded to promote positive change in Israel’s foreign policies and to further the Israeli-Arab peace process. Mitvim seeks to improve Israel’s global standing by working with top innovative thinkers in Israel and abroad to promote progressive foreign policies. I was fortunate enough to spend this past summer living in Israel and working with Mitvim under the direction of Dr. Nimrod Goren, who is both the founder and head of Mitvim.

Dr. Goren tasked me with identifying ways in which the Israeli government could deal with foreign policies more effectively. To combat the issues of increasing conservatism and nationalism, Israel needs to examine strategies for bolstering the effectiveness of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This reinforcement must include tools for vetting problems through a diplomatic, policy-oriented lens – shifting away from Israel’s inward-looking culture is key to Israel’s diplomatic success. One such method for facilitating this change would be the creation of a non-partisan and non-compensatory foreign policy review board. This policy board would operate independent of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and would act in an advisory capacity for the Minister.

My research and the recommended board were partly modeled off of the United States’ Department of State Foreign Affairs Policy Board, which seeks to give the Secretary of State impartial foreign policy advice. A policy review board is just one opportunity out of many for Israel to increase the effectiveness of its Ministry of Foreign Affairs and further constructive diplomatic relations.

Dr. Goren, Mitvim, and the Knesset Lobby for Strengthening Israel’s Foreign Affairs System convened a special conference at the Israeli parliament on December 28th. Members of Knesset, diplomats, experts, and journalists attended the conference. It focused on mapping the key problems faced by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, offering solutions and recommendations, and debating the importance of a strong Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Israel’s foreign policy and national security. My research on the instatement of a policy board was presented at the conference, alongside a number of vital recommendations for improving the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I hope to have the opportunity to work with Mitvim and Dr. Goren in the future to promote Middle Eastern solidarity and the progression of Israel’s foreign policies.

For more information on Mitvim, please visit their website at: www.mitvim.org.il

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Andrew Lyman and his co-workers are having a constructive and pleasant conversation
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Andrew Lyman sailing on the Mediterranean

Kim Hyunjong, Strengthening Relationships Between ROK & USA at Korean Embassy

Hyunjong Kim was an MAIR student who graduated in December 2015. He wrote this post last fall while still interning. While completing his coursework in Syracuse, he also worked as a Research Assistant  in the Korean Peninsula Affairs Center (KPAC) of the Moynihan Institute of Global Affairs.

Kim Hyunjong, standing in Korean Ambassador's residence in Washington D.C.
Hyunjong Standing in the Korean Ambassador’s residence in Washington D.C.

Established in 1949 in Washington D.C., the heart of international politics, The Embassy of the Republic of Korea in the USA has engaged in and continued its efforts to strengthen the relationship between ROK and the U.S. and deepen the bilateral cooperation in addressing local, regional, and global challenges. Its missions are to (1) improve the rights and interests of Koreans in the U.S., (2) advance the bridge between ROK and the U.S., which helps expand the understanding of each country’s politics, economy, and cultures, and (3) display ROK’s responsibility and accountability as a member of the international community.

The political section, where I am currently interning, carefully follows diplomat relations, multilateral negotiations and announcements where the U.S. is engaged in. Also, the main duties of the research team in the political section are to (1) research on political/foreign policy issues, (2) analyze and report on think tank seminars and publications on international affairs, (3) analyze and report on relevant statements, briefings, and publications released by the U.S. government, and (4) translate various documents from English to Korean and vice versa in order to report to the headquarters, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in Seoul.

I have been very impressed by how hard and diligent all of the diplomats and researchers work in promoting the relationship between ROK and the U.S. I was also surprised by the dynamic daily assignments I have every day, which is far from my initial expectations based on my previous experience in a bureaucratic system. Working with passionate and energetic people who are equipped with sufficient knowledge and understanding about issues I am interested in, always motivates and encourages me to navigate what I should focus on. Also, I am able to learn what is needed to improve myself and what I am confident in. I’ve learned that it is important to understand that my work would contribute to making ROK a better place.

The positive point of an internship with the Korean embassy is the ability to expand my personal networks, which brings me to achieve much information that I wouldn’t have been able to gain if I didn’t work here. By working with colleagues, I am able to hear from what characteristics are needed to be foreign affair officers. In addition to that, I am able to learn how to see things thoroughly while keeping one’s own view when communicating with foreign counterparts. Also, when there are issues that capture many international actors’ attention such as the Iran nuclear agreement or ASEAN forum, I try to ask how diplomats view these incidents. By doing so, I have a better understanding of what perspective Korea should maintain.

Another advantage of working at the embassy is that I have a chance to attend various seminars where regional experts attend and comprehend what their views are. Also, learning personal attitudes to other people is also one benefit that I have learned.

Diplomats’ understanding of global issues and foreign affairs are very crucial, and I am honored to witness those personalities in person. Working at the embassy is one of the unforgettable experiences that I have done. I am also able to bring my academic knowledge when I ask questions of diplomats who have an active role in practical fields.

Learn more about the Maxwell-in-Washington program

After helping to organize the U.S. Gala Dinner at which Korean president's visited, Hyunjong and other interns are taking a picture to memorize this moment
After helping to organize the U.S. Gala Dinner at which the Korean President visited, Hyunjong (center) and other interns took a picture to remember this moment.
Kim Hyunjong ,other interns and researchers in Korean Ambassador's residence
Kim Hyunjong ,other interns, and researchers in Korean Ambassador’s residence
Hyunjong in front of Korean Ambassador's residence in Washington D.C.
Hyunjong in front of Korean Ambassador’s residence in Washington D.C.

Beth Gawne Tackles Security & Nonproliferation at the State Department in DC

Beth Gawne is enjoying her life in Washington D.C.
Beth Gawne is enjoying her life in Washington D.C.

Beth Gawne spent three years teaching English in rural Japan before coming to the Maxwell School. She is a joint MPA/MAIR student who will finish with two degrees. She interned at the United States Department of State in Washington, DC and is a regular contributor to the PAIA Insider blog.

“And they will beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation will not lift up sword against nation, neither will they learn war anymore.” –Isaiah 2:4

This is a quote I saw often in a hallway of the Harry S Truman building of the State Department while I spent my Fall Semester learning about nonproliferation efforts in the US. This quote was written as a mural on the wall of the floor I worked on, and across from it was an image of a mushroom cloud from the first successful nuclear test of the Manhattan Project. It gave me inspiration and motivation as I worked in the front office of the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation (ISN), sitting in on meetings with high-level diplomats and representatives from the government, taking notes, and organizing briefing documents for the Assistant Secretary.

My time in the State Department provided me a 30,000-ft view of what the US does to prevent nuclear, biological, and chemical materials from being used as weapons, and instead to focus those efforts on peaceful means. I learned that these efforts range from formal treaties and conventions, to interdiction and export control, to even helping scientists overseas to prevent accidents or theft of dangerous materials. Even more, I learned about the slow moving machine that is the bureaucracy meant to ensure that these efforts are consistent and properly coordinated. I realized that without this, our government would spend its time responding to the latest crisis and be unable to do anything else long-term.

My job itself had me working alongside other staff assistants to make sure the leadership of the bureau was prepared for meetings and events. I got to see what makes a strong leader within the government, and I had the opportunity to work with some of the most engaging, kind, and supportive people I have ever met. I even was given a chance to do a few projects in other offices, helping with detailed data collection that was going to be used to impact a real problem on the ground. Knowing I was involved in something that would make a difference was probably one of the best parts of the internship overall. I wasn’t making copies and running to Starbucks; I was helping to communicate an argument for NATO or inform bureau officers of a country’s stance on an issue.

I was most impressed with the quality of the leadership within the bureau, and for people who have such important and high-level jobs, everyone was down-to-earth and welcoming. I’m excited to see what my future holds, and hopefully my path will cross with ISN once again— even if I’m not directly working there.

Read Beth’s latest contribution to the PAIA Insider blog:
Life as a Returning 2nd Year Student, AKA: Should you do a dual degree?

Learn more about the Maxwell-in-Washington program

Beth Gawne with friends in Washington D.C.
Beth Gawne with friends in Washington D.C.
Beth Gawne standing in front of mural on the wall of the State Department
Beth Gawne standing in front of mural on the wall of the State Department

Chris Conrad, Interning with International Justice Mission–“Justice is Our Middle Name”

Chris Conrad recently completed his Master of Arts in International Relations (MAIR) degree. While completing coursework in Syracuse, he also worked on the Black Spots Project: Mapping Global Insecurity at the Maxwell School’s Moynihan Institute for Global Affairs.

Chris Conrad went sailing for the first time ever with his Contingency Ops team. Despite the cold and windy conditions, it was a day filled with fun and laughter

Several years ago, I read Gary Haugen’s The Locust Effect, which describes a plague of everyday violence against the poor. This violence keeps them in situations of poverty, while offenders – committing abuses such as human trafficking, forced labor, and violence against women and children – escape with impunity. To break the cycle of violence and poverty requires transforming dysfunctional justice systems, protecting vulnerable communities, and bringing criminals to justice for their crimes. This is the goal of International Justice Mission (IJM) through its operations around the world. IJM is partnering with governments, local communities and a network of supporters to “rescue thousands, protect millions, and prove that justice for the poor is possible”

Fast forward to my time at the Maxwell School, where I accepted an internship with IJM in Washington, D.C. for Fall 2015. The internship provided me an opportunity to combine my studies on security and transnational crime with advocacy for human rights and the justice movement. I worked closely with IJM’s Contingency Operations team, drafting safety and security policies, researching emerging global threats, compiling daily news briefings for senior leadership, and monitoring security events in IJM’s areas of operation.

My favorite part about working with IJM was the lively, encouraging atmosphere I encountered every day at work. The staff at IJM are some of the kindest and most encouraging people I’ve met, and they made the internship an affirming experience for all of us interns. Likewise, I grew close to the cohort of interns I worked with, who displayed a variety of knowledge and skills and a passion for justice.

Another highlight from the experience was attending IJM’s Advocacy Summit in support of the End Modern Slavery Initiative. Throughout the day, we met with U.S. Senators and Representatives from our home states, either thanking them for their support of the bill or asking them to be a co-sponsor.

The entire semester was an amazing time to learn and experience new things, and I feel confident as I take these next steps after graduation from the Maxwell School. Thank you for all of the support and encouragement along the way!

Attending a conference with Maxwell alum Kean Clifford, on the roof of D.C.s Newseum.
Attending a conference with Maxwell alum Kean Clifford, on the roof of DC’s Newseum.
Selfie with IJM’s CEO, Gary Haugen and other interns at IJM HQ. He delivered us delicious brownies made by his wife, Jan.
Selfie of IJM’s CEO, Gary Haugen, and other interns at IJM HQ. He delivered us delicious brownies made by his wife, Jan.
In front of the U.S. Capitol with other constituents from Michigan for IJM’s Advocacy Summit. We were on our way to meet with Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Gary Peters (D-MI) in support of the End Modern Slavery Initiative. (See http://news.ijm.org/early-christmas-gift-for-anti-slavery-efforts-as-congress-approves-25-million)
In front of the U.S. Capitol with other constituents from Michigan for IJM’s Advocacy Summit. We were on our way to meet with Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Gary Peters (D-MI) in support of the End Modern Slavery Initiative. (See http://news.ijm.org/early-christmas-gift-for-anti-slavery-efforts-as-congress-approves-25-million)

Learn more about the Maxwell-in-Washington program

Yibing Tang Obtains Valuable Experience at UNOCC

Yibing Tang, with other Maxwell interns at UN headquarters.
Yibing Tang (center), with other Maxwell interns at UN headquarters

Yibing Tang is a Public Diplomacy student who will earn two degrees, a Master of International Relations and Master of Science in Public Relations. She is currently taking part in the Maxwell-in-Washington program while simultaneously interning at the Broadcasting Board of Governors in the Public Affairs Department in Washington, DC. Yibing wrote the following in August 2015.

This summer, I received an internship opportunity at United Nations Headquarters in New York City. I worked for three months at the United Nations Operations and Crisis Centre (UNOCC).

UNOCC is known as the “nerve centre of the United Nations”. The UNOCC provides support to senior leaders across the UN system, enabling informed, timely and coordinated decision-making and strategic engagement on UN field operations and crisis-related issues. UNOCC was established at UN Headquarter in a joint effort by 10 stakeholders, which represent the three UN pillars of peace and security, human rights and development. The UNOCC has three basic functions: situational awareness, crisis response support, and executive communication.

Although I was recruited by the Information Management Unit (IMU) of UNOCC, I also worked with two other major units: the Research and Liaison Unit (RLU) and the Watch Room. My major duties were related to graphic design, but I helped with lots of other works as well. For example, I assisted in the preparation of presentations and speaking points for operational briefings and other meetings on a regular basis. I helped to categorize historical political, security and humanitarian incidents according to reports from peacekeeping missions in the field. I created maps to visualize peacekeeping information, and designed several layout options for UNOCC reports.

My supervisor was very concerned about my own interests. He offered me opportunities to work with other units and departments besides IMU, which enabled me to explore UNOCC as a whole and get a synthetic knowledge of the centre. Other staffs in the office were also very helpful. They taught me everything from scratch, always answered my questions in detail, and shared their career stories and working experiences generously.

I really appreciate this internship experience, from which I consolidated my graphic design skills and obtained an overview of United Nations peacekeeping operations.

Town Hall briefing at a conference room Yibing Tang helped with the visual aids and presentation of Town Hall briefing
Town Hall briefing. Yibing Tang helped with the visual aids and presentation for the Town Hall briefing.

 

Hyeseul Hwang Does Cross Sectoral Work at IOM

Hyeseul Hwang wrote about her summer experience in Geneva last August. She has now graduated with an MAIR degree from the Maxwell School and a wealth of professional experience.

I arrived in Geneva at the end of the May to conduct my internship in International Organization for Migration (IOM) and to participate in the Geneva Summer Practicum. Since the start of my internship at IOM on June 1st, it is hard to believe that today is my last day of the internship! Time really flies.

During this summer, I have worked in the department of International Cooperation and Partnerships in IOM for two and a half months. I worked at supporting my supervisor, a migration policy officer. I was mainly in charge of supporting and following up with an interagency research project about a crisis related migration stocktaking exercise which targets eighteen agencies over thirty‑nine countries from all over the region. Also, I conducted my own research and wrote papers about the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD), Global Migration Group (GMG)), and UN HABITAT III.

The other interesting activities that I have done during my internship in IOM are participating in various events and sessions that are going on inside and outside of IOM. Day by day, there are many learning sessions and events within IOM regarding the current migration crisis, such as the Mediterranean and Syrian crises. Also, I have participated in many IOM intern events with professional talks from the field of emergency affairs, shelter assistance, and many other topics. In addition to that, participating in the ECOSOC Humanitarian Affairs Segment was an amazing opportunity for me to actually see how many UN organizations and other humanitarian affairs agencies such as ICRC are working for humanitarian affairs in more collaborative ways.

In addition to my internship, the Geneva Summer Practicum course provided valuable opportunities for me to gain more understanding about work within other international actors in Geneva via guest speakers from UNHCR, Permanent Mission, Center for Human Dialogue and others. Dr. Werner Schleiffer’s profound knowledge about the UN system and class debates truly nurtured my knowledge and sense of working in the field of humanitarian affairs. Moreover, class field trips to Bern, Luzern, Zermatt, Basel, and Zurich gave me a greater understanding about living in Switzerland. I am very happy that I have spent my amazing summer in Geneva through my internship, course with the Dr. Schleiffer and awesome classmates.

Hyeseul Hwang in front of Lake Geneva
Hyeseul Hwang in front of Lake Geneva

Jane Chung, Working with East Asia Foreign Policy Community in Washington DC

Ms. Jane Yoona Chung is a dual MPA/MAIR student in the Department of Public Administration and International Affairs. She will be completing her dual degree program in Summer 2016.

During Summer 2015, I completed my internship at the US Korean Institute (USKI) at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) as Johns Hopkins University. As a program and research intern for USKI, I was responsible for several tasks, one being attending events on behalf of the research institute. This gave me the opportunity to be exposed to and meet experts from the larger East Asia foreign policy community in Washington D.C. Examples of institutes included the The Asan Institute for Policy Studies, Korea Economic Institute (KEI), Sejong Society of Washington D.C., the Brookings Institution, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

Once or twice a week, I attended workshops and/or talks all over the D.C. area. One workshop that stood out to me was a simulation on post-reunification of the Korean Peninsula. Attendees were divided into groups comprised of experts, students, and visiting North Korean scholars. This workshop was an especially humbling experience as I was able to hear from the North Korean perspective on reunification first hand. Moreover, meeting the North Korean students was a fascinating encounter, one that I will never forget. Other talks and conferences I attended discussed the Russian role in East Asia, the tense relations between South Korea and Japan, and the North Korean nuclear program. Learning and hearing from experts, political officials, and academics was very rewarding as it refined and expanded my knowledge and curiosity in East Asian foreign policy.

In addition to the talks and conferences, USKI hosted its first student exchange program with Ajou University in South Korea. This exchange program brought 30 college students, from a variety of majors, to spend a month in Washington D.C. to learn about American politics, history, and culture. I was both a discussion leader that led class in the afternoon and a “guide” for afternoon site visits around Washington D.C. This gave me the opportunity to visit organizations all over the city and to attend a Washington Nationals baseball game for free!

As part of my internship, I was also responsible for conducting independent research on a current topic related to the Korean Peninsula. I presented my research to the Staff on the implications of a land bridge that would connect the Russian Far East and North Korea. With this project, I communicated with experts and had access to a plethora of resources from USKI and Johns Hopkins University (a perk of working with a university). To be able to complete this research project on top of the other responsibilities taught me how to juggle multiple responsibilities with finesse.

USKI Stock Photo

At the same time of my internship, I also took courses through the Maxwell-in-Washington program at CSIS. While it was a bit tiring to take courses in the evening right after a full day at my internship, I would still recommend taking a course. These courses are taught my experts in the field and are conducted as a seminar rather than a lecture.

Being in Washington D.C. was an eye-opening experience as it challenged me personally and professionally. During my internship and stay, I learned about the culture of think tanks, the hustle and bustle of the nation’s capital, and the immense beauty of the nation’s history. Although I worked full-time, Washington D.C. makes it easy to still have a social life after hours and on weekends. Friday evenings were spent enjoying a glass of sangria at Jazz at the Garden or getting a nice warm bowl of duck noodles in Chinatown. Weekends were spent traveling throughout the city on the $1 DC Circulator, free museums, free movie screenings, or hiking through Rock Creek Park. Balancing between professional and personal aspects of my experience was a challenge, but all in all, I would describe my internship experience in Washington D.C. to be humbling and rewarding.

Jane Chung (far right) with colleagues at US Korean Institute
Jane Chung (far right) with colleagues at US Korean Institute

Learn more about the Maxwell-in-Washington program

From Geneva to Pretoria, Kara Coughlin Builds Experience at IOM

Kara Coughlin is a joint MPA/MAIR student who interned at the IOM in Geneva, Switzerland during her summer semester and in Pretoria, South Africa during her fall semester.

This summer I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to intern for the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in their headquarters office in Geneva, Switzerland. I worked within the IOM Development Fund (IDF) on project development, monitoring, and evaluation. The goal of IDF is to provide “seed” money to governments in developing countries for projects that build capacity to better manage migration in the future. These projects focus on developing policy frameworks, training government officials, building infrastructure, raising awareness, and developing guidelines and manuals to better protect migrants and enhance governments’ ability to manage migration in a humane and orderly manner.

Working with the IDF team was an incredible learning experience for me. IDF projects cover a wide variety of migration thematic areas and are implemented in IOM country offices all over the world. As a result, I was able to learn about key migration issues in each region of the world and be in constant contact with IOM staff members from all different country offices. My role was to assist country offices in developing project proposals, as well as edit and review interim reports, final reports, and extension requests. Through these tasks I was able to gain a deeper understanding of how projects are monitored and evaluated, and the importance of designing projects with well thought out indicators.

In addition to reviewing reports, I conducted a review of completed IDF projects that focused on the prevention of human trafficking. The goal of this review was to evaluate methods used for project development and implementation to better inform IDF on how counter-trafficking related projects can be more sustainable. Sustainability is a key factor for IDF and refers to how well governments and relevant stakeholders maintain project outcomes once the IDF funding period is completed. To assess sustainability, I developed a survey that was sent to each country office that implemented one of the 18 counter-trafficking projects being reviewed. I analyzed the data from the surveys and wrote an in-depth report outlining the project characteristics that led to the greatest level of outcome sustainability, as well as the main challenges that these projects faced in maintaining outcomes. Through this project I was able to develop a better understanding of project evaluation and obtain valuable insight into the strengths and weaknesses of methods used to prevent human trafficking.

Interning at the IOM in Geneva gave me the opportunity to use the skills I learned from my courses at Maxwell and gain indispensible knowledge regarding the phases of project development. Through this experience, I was able to seek out another internship opportunity with IOM for the fall semester and am currently in Pretoria, South Africa interning at the IOM Regional Office for Southern Africa. I am very grateful for Global Programs Award for supporting me in these endeavors. These experiences have been pivotal to my educational goals and have given me the practical skills needed to be successful when entering the workforce.

Kara Coughlin stands in front of the Nelson Mandela statue in South Africa
Kara Coughlin stands in front of the Nelson Mandela statue in South Africa
Kara Coughlin above Lake Geneva
Kara Coughlin above Lake Geneva

Na Ra Kim, Private Sector Engagement at UNICEF

Na Ra Kim is working on dual master’s degrees, an M.A. in International Relations and an M.S. in Public Relations, as a Public Diplomacy student at Syracuse University. She interned at UNICEF in Geneva, Switzerland last summer.

I have always believed protecting children’s rights is the most important task for civil society to be aware of and act on, and my interest in children and their rights was bolstered while studying in the Public Diplomacy program at the Maxwell School.

I interned at the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Geneva, Switzerland from May to August 2015. I worked under the Knowledge Management (KM) Specialist and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) team within the Private Sector Engagement Section in the UNICEF Private Fundraising and Partnership division.

As a Private Sector Engagement Officer, I provided ongoing technical support for knowledge management information on issues related to UNICEF’s private sector engagement. This included uploading content to their intranet site/Internet website, developing templates for collecting information, and drafting case studies and other related materials for newsletters. My role also included participating in conference calls, creating presentation materials and press releases, and supporting data collection and statistical evaluation. Additionally, I researched CSR in different industries (e.g., Food and Beverage, Garment, ICT, Extractives) and the way in which those sectors affect children’s rights and youth development. I also took notes at the Human Rights Council 29th session for the CSR team.

From this internship, I learned about development policy, advocacy, and communication strategy in general, but I mostly realized how important it is to share information and documents within the organization and how it affects the targeting of civil society and leads to its participation.

I would like to add it was a great chance to work with UNICEF staff members and other interns. I was fortunate to work with incredibly nice and sincere supervisors who truly wanted me to learn from my internship, as well as with interns who all encouraged each other to accomplish our goals. Also, it was an honor to meet incredible UN people, ambassadors, representatives and spokespeople during conferences and events. It was a turning point of my life and I really want to recommend this opportunity to everyone in Maxwell.

In addition to my internship, Professor Schleiffer’s lectures also inspired me a lot. He helped me understand the UN system and the history of international organizations in Geneva. Presentations from speakers who currently work at the UN, International Organizations and the Permanent Mission, were the part of his class that I definitely loved the most.

No doubts, Geneva is the most beautiful city to work, travel and dream in. You will find yourself enjoying cheese, chocolate and wine around the nearby lake after work. That’s Geneva.

Nara Kim, at the UN Headquarter, in Geneva
Nara Kim at UN Headquarter in Geneva

Vicki Tien, Public Information Intern at UNHCR in Washington DC

Lin Tien, Public Diplomacy student
Vicki Tien, UNHCR in Washington, DC, USA

Vicki Tien formerly interned at the World Food Programme in Geneva as part of the Geneva Summer Practicum. She is a MAIR student who will graduate in December.

This fall I had the opportunity to work at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Washington, DC. UNHCR is the UN refugee agency mandated to lead and coordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide. UNCHR’s Washington Office on the other hand is a regional office of UNHCR which specifically covers the United States as well as 27 countries and overseas territories in the Caribbean.

As a Public Information intern, I work closely with the Public Information officers and UNHCR Spokespersons for the US. I am responsible for several tasks, such as:

  • Monitoring news related to refugee issues and immigration policies in the US and the Caribbean, and preparing daily reports
  • Responding to requests from the US media and the public
  • Providing support for UNHCR campaigns and pitching to major media outlets
  • Disseminating press releases and other relevant documents on a timely basis
  • Attending congressional hearings and public policy forums pertaining to UNHCR and briefing staff.

In addition to my duties in the Public Information Unit, I also provide assistance to staff in other units as needed. For instance, I provided support to our External Relations officers during the High Commissioner’s visit to Washington. I also work directly with our Regional Representative for the Washington Office’s weekly reports.

There are several learning opportunities during the internship at UNHCR. In the beginning of the internship, units like the Resettlement Unit and the Protection Unit would provide intern training, which are open to every intern from every unit. From time to time, heads of different regional offices, such as UNHCR’s Jordan Representative and Americas Bureau Director, would visit the Washington Office to share the latest refugee situations in their regions with DC staff and interns. There is also a weekly UN in DC Brown Bag Series, featuring different speakers from various UN offices to introduce the mandates of different UN agencies and share their career advice with the interns.

Due to a surge in media attention for the Syrian refugee crisis around the globe, UNHCR’s Public Information Unit has been flooded with hundreds of media requests during the past few months. It is such a unique learning experience for me to join UNHCR under these circumstances as it has allowed me to gain first-hand insight into the work of UNHCR and see how it is handling and managing the current crisis. It has also expanded my knowledge on refugee issues and US resettlement processes as well as further building my experience and skills in the field of communications, particularly in media relations and social media. Interning with UNHCR has been an invaluable experience, and I am truly grateful for every experience I am able to have here.

High Commissioner António Guterres launches a new UNHCR report, Women on the Run, at the Wilson Center
High Commissioner António Guterres launches a new UNHCR report, Women on the Run, at the Wilson Center
Vicki Tien carries a giant backpack around DC to raise awareness for refugee children! This backpack is part of UNHCR’s “the Tour around the World in a Backpack” Campaign and has traveled in more than 10 countries collecting messages and gifts of support and solidarity for refugee children.
Vicki Tien carries a giant backpack around DC to raise awareness for refugee children! This backpack is part of UNHCR’s “the Tour around the World in a Backpack” Campaign and has traveled in more than 10 countries collecting messages and gifts of support and solidarity for refugee children.

Backpack promo pic