“A Day in the Life” by Blake Sidon – Distance Learning Internship

Intern Spotlight

THE HOD “DAY IN THE LIFE” FEATURES STUDENTS WHO HAVE COMPLETED THE HOD INTERNSHIP AND THEN SHARE WORDS OF WISDOM TO ILLUMINATE THEIR EXPERIENCES. THIS WEEK HIGHLIGHTS THE STORY OF BLAKE SIDON, WHO COMPLETED A DISTANCE INTERNSHIP AT U.S. MISSION TO THE UNITED NATIONS, IN GENEVA, SWITZERLAND IN THE SUMMER OF 2015.

 

Who: Blake Sidon

Fall 2017

Internship Site: U.S. Mission to the United Nations – Geneva, Switzerland

 

Check out video clip’s of Blake’s HOD Capstone Internship experience:

The Intern Experience

Feel How Gender Shapes Migration

Minimata Convention on Mercury

 

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Site description:

The Mission’s formal title is the Permanent Mission of the United States of America to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva. The Mission as it’s known today became active in 1946 after the birth of the United Nations. The central goal of the Mission is to represent the interests of the U.S. at the UN Office of Geneva (UNOG) and other Geneva-based international organizations, such as the Conference on Disarmament (CD), Human Rights Council (HRC), World Health Organization (WHO), World Trade Organization (WTO), High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR), International Office of Migration (IOM), and International Labor Organization (ILO). As a bureau of the State Department, the Mission assists in representing U.S. foreign policy goals as well as playing a formal role in negotiating and constructing international law. Additionally, they assist with humanitarian aid coordination and support.

 

What was your role as an intern?

As an intern for the public diplomacy office, my role changed daily. One day I could be attending a meeting on the Syrian refugee crisis, another day I could be taking notes at an ambassador’s press conference. The work required a high learning curve and an ability to be flexible. Some of the “longer” projects I worked on was developing social media campaigns for the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Hyderabad, the US Patent and Trade Office’s Patents for Humanity program, and the 16 days of advocacy for Ending Gender-based Violence against Women.

 

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What was your capstone design project for your HOD internship?

For my capstone project, I wanted to focus on the difficulties of working in the foreign service. One common observation was the struggle working abroad and trying to balance work and lifestyle. As I looked deeper into this issue, I realized that the current office culture is not supportive of a culture where work-life balance can flourish. In order to shift the Mission’s office culture, I developed the Cultural Change Agent Network (CCAN). The CCAN identifies employees who healthily prioritize a work-life balance, termed Change Agents. Change Agents are tasked with leveraging their internal networks to facilitate culture change through office activities and events. The CCAN is a cost-effective program that relies on the buy-in of employees at the foundation of an organization rather than the typical “top-down” method of organizational change. This intervention is very beneficial for organizations performing in a high-stakes environment, lacking internal mechanisms for morale improvement, and struggling to retain employees.

 

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What was one of the highlights from your internship experience?

One of the highlights of my internship experience was helping organize an event with Ima Matul as a guest speaker. Ima Matul is a survivor of human trafficking and now advocates for the rights of immigrant laborers in the U.S. She also works with lawmakers to develop survivor-centered legislation at the local, national, and international level. The event included guests from Geneva-based organizations, including IOM, UNHCR, and ILB, as well as delegates from different countries. It was an amazing experience to see NGOs, governments, and civil service working together to address an important issue. Additionally, it’s easy to forget how your work affects other people, especially when you’re surrounded by people in suits and leather conference rooms. Listening to the story of someone with first-hand experience surviving the issues we are trying to halt is an influential reminder to the importance of the work being conducted at the U.S. Mission and United Nations.

 

BS 4

 

How have you grown as a result of your internship?

This internship has enabled me to grow personally and professionally. It has taught me to take risks and put myself in situations that make me slightly uncomfortable. I’ve also learned the importance of keeping an open mind. Before my internship, I was hesitant on working for the government. However, I have learned a great deal about how the U.S. Department of State works and how important it is for the promotion and protection of American interests abroad.

 

What are 3 pieces of advice for someone in the process of their internship search?

  1. Do your HOD internship abroad! The HOD internship program at Vanderbilt is unique in that it provides the opportunity to work abroad for a semester. Take advantage!
  2. Don’t be afraid to look at different internship opportunities. There are many opportunities out there and the HOD internship office may not know of all of them. Research your own opportunities in addition to using the HOD internship database.
  3. Try something new! The HOD internship allows you to try working in an industry you may not get to otherwise. Maybe you’ll find a new passion.

 

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“A Day in the Life” by Dana Alloy – Distance Learning Internship

Intern Spotlight

THE HOD “DAY IN THE LIFE” FEATURES STUDENTS WHO HAVE COMPLETED THE HOD INTERNSHIP AND THEN SHARE WORDS OF WISDOM TO ILLUMINATE THEIR EXPERIENCES. THIS WEEK HIGHLIGHTS THE STORY OF DANA ALLOY, WHO COMPLETED A DISTANCE INTERNSHIP AT HEART CAPITAL IN CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA IN THE SUMMER OF 2015.

Who: Dana Alloy

Summer 2015

Internship Site: Heart Capital – Cape Town, South Africa

 

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What was the highlight of your experience (i.e. projects you worked on, people you met, events you attended)?

The best part of my experience was being able to be immersed in the culture of Philippi, the township where I worked, without feeling like a tourist. My afternoons selling vegetables through the maze of streets with my coworkers, Monwabisi and Justice, eating “smilies” and amagwenya with the whole team, or learning about the lives of my team members were invaluable memories I will never forget.

 

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How does the HOD capstone internship compare to other internships you have had?

Working in the nonprofit space, there is always an aspect of complexity and chaos that is less present in a typical, for-profit business. My internship at Heart Capital was the most extreme case of that – on a daily basis, I faced corruption, gang issues, theft, internal conflicts, and more. The HOD curriculum provided me with frameworks to make sense of a complicated situation so that I could provide more value as an intern.

 

How do you think you have grown as a professional (i.e. skills, learning to receive feedback, professionalism tips)?

I think the most valuable lesson I learned is the importance of hard data in creating strategic initiatives in low-income areas. Secondly, I learned the importance of listening to and learning from those around me for weeks – if not months- before even beginning to take action when I am in a new environment.

 

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What are the top 3 pieces of advice you would recommend for the internship search process?

1) Go Abroad! My internship was colored by my international experience. It both gave me a greater understanding of the coursework as well as became the most influential time in my life thus far.

2) Seriously, go abroad!

3) Contact me if you want to go abroad! I now work for the organization that placed me at Heart Capital, and I would be happy to help you find an internship in Cape Town as well. You can reach me at dana@vacorps.com

 

Why did you choose your site for your internship?

I knew I wanted to work at the grassroots level in a township in order to gain more experience. My passion for social enterprise and youth employment initiatives led me to Heart Capital. I also was interested in learning more about food systems, so it seemed like a perfect fit (and it was!).

 

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How will this internship impact your future (i.e. change career, landed a job)?

My time at Heart Capital gave me a perspective that I believe is necessary for my career in the social sector. I also learned the quantitative and qualitative skills required to pursue lasting, data-driven change, and these tools will be necessary for me moving forward.

 

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