MAIS Internship Spotlight: Daniela Bermudez (’16)

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

MAIS Internship Spotlight: Andrew Chen (’16)

headshot1. 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.

MAIS Internship Spotlight: Briawna Gillespie (’16)

This week, we’re chatting with MAIS student, Briawna Gillespie, about how she completed her internship requirement this summer.

20160706_140948Q: 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.

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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.

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Internship Search 101

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.

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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.

Continue reading “Internship Search 101”

A Degree in International Studies from USF Provides the Skills Employers Want

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.

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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!