A degree in International Studies provides the knowledge and skills employers in a variety of fields are looking for in those they hire. In the International Studies Department at USF we are always working to improve our curriculum to better serve our students to this end. Professor Dana Zartner, Chair of the International Studies Department, recently worked with members of four other International Studies programs around the country to brainstorm some best practices for creating success for our students. The results of their work were recently published in International Studies Perspectives, which is linked below. We’d love to hear from you – what other best practices can you think of?
Currently, I am working at the International Institute in St. Louis, Missouri. It’s a refugee resettlement agency that also offers many free services to immigrants and asylees in the county. I am an Employment Specialist and focus on helping immigrants and refugees locate employment. Additionally, I am working on expanding a new program called Career Pathways, which is an additional service that guides any foreign-born individual towards achieving their professional career and educational goals. This program helps people that were professionals in their home country to practice in their field in the U.S.
On another note, I am involved with 1951 Coffee Company. On the weekends, I am working as a barista at a local cafe to gain experience. In the future, I hope to help the current team secure funding for a second location and open a branch in St. Louis.
Since graduating, I haven’t had a linear career path. My only goal has been to travel and experience as much as I can of the world.
In my last semester at USF, I took Professor Juluri’s Davies Seminar on the book publishing industry, and this inspired me to move to New York City to take up an internship as the Publicity Assistant at powerHouse Books, a fine art and photography book publisher. I did that for 8 months before I found out about available teaching positions in China.
Through Marshall University, I was placed in an international school in Shanghai as a 4th grade Language Arts, Science, Geography, and Art teacher. On my weekends and holidays, I traveled Asia extensively, and by the end of the year, I had seen Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Burma, The Philippines, Korea, and Malaysia. Between school years I spent a month living in Istanbul. Afterward, I took a job as a Language Arts/ESL tutor in Taipei. My time in Taipei allowed me to add Singapore, Hong Kong, and Macau to my travels.
I moved back home to Honolulu last August to help my parents move their business. I’ve been working in retail for the last year, and with Hawaii’s strong Asian tourist economy, my travels have allowed me to connect with many different clients.
In addition gaining a place in Queen Mary University of London’s postgraduate International Relations program, taught at the University of London Institute in Paris (big thanks to Professor McBride and Professor Corvaisier for their recommendations!), I also received a Rotary Foundation Global Grant Scholarship to fund my studies. Over the next year, I plan on focusing on security/peace studies and working with NGOs in Paris to help refugees and immigrants assimilate to their new communities.
As our current MAIS students are working on their summer internship placements, we’re flashing back to last summer’s internships with today’s blog post.
Where did you intern this summer?
I had the opportunity to fulfill my internship with ProMexico, the Trade and Investment Commission within the General Consulate of Mexico in San Francisco. ProMexico is in charged of maintaining and strengthening the relationship between Mexico and the United States. A goal that personally resonates with my vision in life; strength and growth in any community lays in a good neighboring relationship, accentuating differences as positive assets.
The ProMexico office in San Francisco focuses primarily in businesses, either here in the Bay Area or California with Mexico, creating business partnerships and portraying all the good traits Mexico and the Bay Area have to offer. The Commission believes that neighboring countries should see their proximity as an advantage and should build a closer relationship through the exchange of the best each country has to offer.
How did the MAIS program prepare you for your internship?
Tools I acquired thorough out my courses at the MAIS program such as research, diligence in every task, attention to detail, and overall a more thorough understanding of different cultures have been key elements I put into practice throughout my internship. The ability to use and express oneself in two languages in a professional manner is a quality that the MAIS program reinforced and was a characteristic that was highly noted by co-workers and employers, within my internship experience.
During my internship I had the opportunity to work close to multiple businesses that have relationships and investments in Mexico. Every task demanded a lot from the ProMexico team. Organizing my time, managing several tasks at a time and completing them at a prompt time length, are skills I needed to have mastered in order to succeed. Thankfully I learned all of these during the MAIS program.
What were some highlights of interning at this organization?
My internship has provided excellent opportunities for networking. I have had the opportunity to meet the Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs Claudia Ruiz Massieu, the General Consul of Mexico in San Francisco José Gemi Gonzalez, and the Mexican ambassador for UNESCO, as well as representatives from Google, LinkedIn, Sales Force, among others, all sharing a deep interest in Mexico’s development as a country and society and the importance between a strong relationship between both countries.
Working under Deputy Chief of the Commission Azul Ogazon, I was part of a team that was responsible for the administrative organization of ProMexico. Aiding in any way possible from creating an agenda for potential businesses partners that wanted to visit the Bay Area and arranging meetings with specific business sectors to organizing high-profile events around the city.
Recently the regional offices of ProMexico in Washington D.C. have contacted me to be part of a research program in the Silicon Valley area. Investigating the underrepresentation of Mexican and Latino individuals in the tech-industry. Working side by side with the regional offices is a great opportunity to discover how Mexicans are portrayed in the United States, but most importantly how two great countries work together in similar industries.
What did you gain from your experience?
Working for ProMexico has been a great experience since day one. I have met incredible people and love working with a team, which is filled with hard-working, driven individuals. People that I now know wholeheartedly and admire their achievement. They have encouraged me and guided me throughout my summer stay in ProMexico.
Every opportunity life gives you comes for a reason and as well as every decision you make in life takes you somewhere differently, at the end it is where you were meant to be.
I am and always have been driven by human relationships and the power we have to create bridges between people, societies and countries. Working for ProMexico showed me the willingness of people to approach different cultures and the love that exists between nations.
1. Where did you conduct your internship and why did you choose this opportunity?
I was a resettlement intern at the International Rescue Committee (IRC). I chose to go there per the suggestion of one of my professors. I knew that I wanted to write my thesis on migration and diasporic communities. Seeing as the IRC helped refugees resettle in the Bay Area, among other areas throughout the US, it seemed like a good fit. Every family has a different migration story and interning at the IRC was a good way to learn and here these unique and different journeys.
2. What were your work responsibilities?
The IRC helps refugees in finding housing, attending health and social benefits appointment, finding work, and helping refugees who need long-term assistance in becoming self-sufficient individuals. My responsibilities as a resettlement intern were crucial to the initial arrival of the refugee family. The caseworkers that I worked with only handled family and individual cases for the first 90 days after their arrival, after which they are transferred to the Intensive Case Management branch of the IRC for additional assistance. My responsibilities included making periodic home visits to insure that the family felt safe and supported, taking individuals to social benefits appointments, scheduling initial healthcare checks and setting up primary physician preferences, assist in school enrollment for kids, setting up their new home and etc.
3. Are there accomplishments that you are particularly proud of?
I am glad to know that I was able to make a positive change in the lives of individuals and families in need. Interning at the IRC give a new meaning to USF’s motto of “Change the world from here” as it truly does give all of their interns the chance to make a difference in the lives of those in less than ideal situations.
4. How were you able to apply your MAIS coursework to your hands on experience?
During the spring semester, I took a class on refugees and forced migration. The IRC was able to help me better understand the life of a refugee and the struggles that they face on their journey to another country. The class also helped me learn the terminology that is used on a regular basis at the IRC. It was great to learn and apply what I’ve learned simultaneously in the semester. The International Law class was helpful in informing on what claims and threats these refugees must make in order to be granted refugee status. Overall, those two classes provided me with a great framework and understanding of migration and the rights afforded to refugees.
5. What did you gain from your internship?
From this internship I’ve gained a better perspective of what refugees must go through. It also gives me a better perspective on the US immigration system. Prior to coming attending USF and getting my internship at the IRC, I had worked at a law firm where I was tasked with filling out and sending immigration forms for business purposes. The IRC is the complete opposite of business immigration, and I am glad to have gained the experience and perspective of both sides of the immigration world.
This week, we’re chatting with MAIS student, Briawna Gillespie, about how she completed her internship requirement this summer.
Q: Where were you interning this summer?
This summer, I had the pleasure of having two internships. The first was with the Women’s Institute for Freedom of the Press (WIFP), a women’s organization that works so women in media have the freedom to express their opinions on issues they care about. The other was with Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation, an organization that helps to promote awareness and provide education to the public about female genital mutilation.
Q: What sort of work were you responsible for at each internship?
At WIFP, I took on a multitude of tasks. I was responsible for updating directories, helping organize events, and a few other interns and I worked together to design whole new logos and creative flyers to re-label the brand. I also attended a series of events all around the city for WIPF.
For Global P.E.A.C.E., I was primarily in charge of finding grants and brainstorming ideas for events. I was given an amazing opportunity to design a social media campaign for the organization to raise awareness about female genital mutilation. I had to come up with a budget, slogan, branding, and a litany of other details in order to bring this campaign to life.
Q: Are there accomplishments that you are particularly proud of?
Definitely. At WIFP, the most important thing I accomplished was a presentation I gave in front of a large group of students, authors, and government representatives who were just as excited to learn about issues that women face in media.
The social media campaign I mentioned for Global P.E.A.C.E was ultimately very rewarding as well. As a result of my efforts and dedication, the president of the organization loved my ideas. Currently, the president is in the process of pitching that campaign to the board of directors so it can be launched and active by 2017.
Q: After working at these organizations, what have you gained from those experiences?
These two internships have allowed me to complete things that I never thought I would do, and ultimately allowed me to grow professionally. With enthusiasm and determined effort, I was able to bring my visions as an intern to life. Plus, the friendships and connections that I’ve made this summer were absolutely amazing, and those are definitely experiences that I will carry with me for the rest of my life and future career.
I attended the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women’s (CSW) annual meeting at the United Nations headquarters in New York City, earlier this spring. It was held, fittingly, during Women’s History Month in March.
It was the 60th session of the commission, which included dozens of presentations and breakout sessions over a two week period. This year’s themes were women’s empowerment and its link to sustainable development and the elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls.
The commission discussed the need for empowering women in leadership and decision-making positions, assuring all possible measures be taken to address sexual and gender-based violence, recognizing the integral relationship between a healthy environment and human rights, and ensuring protections for human rights defenders.
I attended the event as one of a handful of delegates for the San Francisco-based NGO called the Women’s Intercultural Network (WIN). My official role was to attend sessions and help WIN develop recommendations to share with local government officials and NGOs.
WIN’s recommendations to CSW included making multinational corporations more responsible for upholding the principles of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which seeks to ‘make the global local’ by creating a framework for the improvement of the status of women and girls in villages, towns, and cities. One recommendation included creating a social media hastag, and eventually a broader campaign that promotes “Companies for CEDAW.” While international law does not apply to corporations generally, encouraging companies to adopt the rights guidelines outlined in the treaty on their own is a strong step towards improving women’s lives throughout the world and strengthening corporate social responsibility.
Keeping with the goal of this year’s CSW to promote better use of technology to improve the welfare of women and girls, WIN co-sponsored a panel with local Bay Area organization FemResources about the possibility of creating apps that help refugee girls stay connected with friends and family and provide them with information about available support services
A pipeline to jobs and internships for International Studies students
(want to become one? Check us out at: https://www.usfca.edu/arts-sciences/undergraduate-programs/international-studies)
In addition to representing WIN, I attended CSW to cultivate relationships that will benefit our students here at USF. As chair of the International Studies Department one of my primary goals is to build an extensive network of contacts for our students, which can help them with internships and careers after graduation. For example, I spent time speaking with one of the U.S. delegates representing the U.S. Department of Justice and her intern about the internship program through the DOJ and how the intern was finding her experience as well as representatives of the government of New Zealand on opportunities they may offer. I also met representatives of organizations such as MamaHope, the Alliance for Girls, The 50 Women Project, and the U.S. Department of Labor — all of which may be potential internship sites for students.
Many students in our undergraduate International Studies and interdisciplinary Master’s in International Studies programs are interested in working with NGOs in the fields of human rights, women’s rights, sustainable development, and education. We also have students who hope to go on to careers in the foreign service or work for intergovernmental organizations like the UN. I was able to connect with individuals from organizations around the world and build networks that could be beneficial for my research on the development and use of international law to provide better human rights and environmental protections within states in which USF students are involved.
Leading in San Francisco
A primary focus of my work with WIN is to connect USFers to San Francisco and the Cities for CEDAW campaign. San Francisco was the first city in the U.S. to adopt the principles of CEDAW and is a leader in the campaign. Ultimately, I hope to incorporate elements of the campaign into my classes, having students work on advocacy plans to encourage other cities and the nation to adopt CEDAW. This is particularly important as the U.S. is the only industrialized country, and one of only six countries worldwide, that have not yet ratified CEDAW (the other five being Iran, Palau, Somalia, Sudan, Tonga).
During my time in New York, I spoke with other professors who, as part of their classes, bring students to CSW every year. My goal is to develop and fund a program so that USF students are able to experience CSW for themselves and actively engage with leaders from around the world on issues that are important to them.
It is one of the cornerstones of a USF education to engage with diverse communities from around the world to make change for the better. While an imperfect organization, the UN is one of the primary fora we have for true global discussion of issues that matter — both at home and abroad. Every time I attend, I am struck by the number of people there are in the world striving everyday to achieve justice and a better life for all. I hope to impart that to my students during their time at USF in the same way my colleagues and friends at CSW impart it to me.
Finding the right summer internship for you.
Summer internships are a meaningful and substantial way to gain experience, exposure, and knowledge in your field. Yet, the process can often feel overwhelming. Here are a few tips to get you on track, keep you motivated, and help you secure an amazing internship.
Define + Refine Your Search.
Spending time mindlessly combing through websites and job postings is likely going to leave you feeling discouraged. Instead, start by thinking critically about the opportunities and experiences you want. For starters, reflect on some of the following:
- What skills are you hoping to develop?
- What are your research interests?
- Is the mission of the company/organization important to you? What about the size?
- What are your non-negotiable items?
- Does location matter?
- What resources do you have available?
Defining the goals and objectives for your internship, as well as other contributing factors, will give you the opportunity to focus your time and energy toward finding a rewarding experience.
Make A Schedule.
Searching for an internship while still upholding your class and other commitments can be a challenge. Creating a schedule is one of the best ways to stay focused. For example, you could consider dedicating one hour on Mondays to researching, one hour on Tuesdays to networking, and one hours on Wednesday to submitting applications. Giving yourself structure and defined tasks will prevent you from feeling overwhelmed and keep you motivated.
Let the Internet Work for You.
With a plan in place, it is time to turn to internship and job databases to help you identify possible opportunities. In particular, be sure to check out these websites:
Be creative with your filters to help you identify the best opportunities for you based on your goals and objectives.
Utilize Your Network.
Think you need to know hundreds of people to get an internship? Not exactly. You simply need to know how to strategically network, both in person and online. LinkedIn.com is one of the greatest networking tools at your disposal. If you’re interested in an opportunity at a specific company or in a particular region, utilize LinkedIn’s search filters to find people you may know, either directly or by way of another connection, who meet your criteria. Then reach out to them! Send them a message and ask if they would be willing to spend 10 minutes talking to you about their experience. Not only will this help you better understand the industry (which will give you a leg up in interviews) but it may increase the chances that your resume makes it out of the stack and into someone’s hands.
by Dana Zartner, Chair, International Studies Department
“[L]iberal arts training – with its emphasis on creativity and critical thinking – is vital to … success ….” –Elizabeth Segran, Fast Company
A degree in international studies, whether through our Bachelor of Arts in International Studies (BAIS) major for undergraduates or our Master of Arts in International Studies (MAIS) program for graduate students, provides engaged world citizens with a new way of approaching global issues. Rather than through the lens of a single discipline like politics, sociology, anthropology, history, or economics, our interdisciplinary International Studies programs encourage students to explore their interests through the lenses of all these fields. Students learn to consider a variety of different theories, methodologies, and ideas that break down traditional disciplinary barriers. The interdisciplinary nature of our programs, coupled with the grounding in a liberal arts education, provides our students with critical thinking and analysis skills as well as extensive intercultural communication experience. Combined, these factors provide a bigger “toolbox” for students when it comes to life after graduation and is desirable for employers ranging from NGOs and advocacy groups, to government agencies and private corporations.
There has been a great deal of discussion in the past few years about the benefit of a liberal arts education like that you can receive in the Bachelor’s and Master’s programs in International Studies at USF. Consistently, however, employers across a wide range of fields have come out in favor of the knowledge and skills students develop through the kind of critical, global, interdisciplinary programs we offer through our department. Even in fields like high tech, which is prevalent in the San Francisco Bay Area, CEOs consistently support liberal arts education (in fact one-third of Fortune 500 CEOs have liberal arts degrees!). A 2013 survey of over 300 employers by the American Association of Colleges and University found the following:
- 93% of all employers surveyed cited a demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems with both short- and long- term approaches as the most important abilities they look for in new hires.
- 95% of employers surveyed say that it is important that their new hires possess ethical judgment and integrity, intercultural skills, and the capacity for continued new learning.
- Collaborative problem-solving skills, internships, and community engagement were also strongly preferred by employers surveyed.
Each one of these skills and opportunities mentioned is something that we support and fully integrate into our Bachelor’s and Master’s programs. For our Master’s students, an internship requirement and a mixed-methods research class provide experience and tools that employers value. In the undergraduate program, study abroad programs (over 100 of which have internships included), our problem-centered research methods class, and opportunities such as serving as a Peer Advisor or working on the International Affairs Review offer opportunities to hone skills and integrate them with academic knowledge. The Department also offers numerous opportunities for all of our students to develop the breadth of their knowledge and the depth of their marketable skills, including workshops on resumes, applying to graduate school, vicarious trauma, developing expertise, and (coming soon!) grant writing and advocacy development.
Upon graduation, our students are desirable in a wide variety of fields. We currently have undergraduate and graduate alumni working in a diverse array of locations, including: Amnesty International, Apple, U.S. Department of State, Twitter, UNICEF, Youtube, United Nations Mine Action Service, NASA, International Rescue Committee, Special Olympics, Mama Hope, Spanish Ministry of Education, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Fair Trade USA, Bulgarian Fulbright Commission, Morgan Stanley, and the World Affairs Council of Northern California. We also have alumni all over the world, creating a network of ISatUSF alumni who remain committed to our programs and our students. Get started on your future with us!