Internship Spotlight: Program Assistant at United Nations Association

Internship Spotlight: Program Assistant at United Nations Association

The global community is a complicated place, shaped and influenced by a confluence of factors that can have a profound ripple effect on people and places.

It’s the dynamic push-pull of these systems that led Alexis Wright to double major in political science and international studies with a concentration in Latin American and Caribbean studies.

“I am heavily interested in international economic research, public policy and international governance,” says the senior from Greenville, South Carolina. “I like these subjects because they force you to be present and immersed within the world and to study global systems that impact the everyday lives of people.”

With the support of the College’s Career Center Internship Award program, which provides professional development training to help students plan, apply and gain summer internships, Wright was poised to take advantage of her dream internship through the Fund for American Studies, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that supports programs aimed at building the next generation of leaders, when she learned about it at the Career Center’s fall 2018 Career Fair.

As a program assistant with the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area, an internship supported through the Fund for American Studies, Wright spent the last eight weeks learning firsthand the ins and outs of government and the wide-reaching impacts of global policy.

The College Today caught up with Wright to find out how this internship has shaped her understanding of public policy and government and what impact the experience will have on her future career goals.

Why was an internship through the Fund for American Studies of interest to you?

An internship experience through the Fund for American Studies was very appealing to me because this program not only helps you to find an internship within your field of interest in Washington, D.C., but it also allows you to explore the world of politics and international relations through exclusive events and networking opportunities. I am currently on the international affairs track and I have been able to attend many briefings that were held by the United States Institute of Peace, the Australian Embassy, USAID, as well as closed White House staff briefings. The Fund for American Studies also guided me to an internship at the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area, which focuses on educating the public about the goals and initiatives of the U.N. and further strengthening the U.S. and U.N. partnership through advocacy work on Capitol Hill.

Alexis Wright at the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area.

Alexis Wright at the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area.

What are the duties of your internship with the U.N.?

As a program assistant for the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area (UNA-NCA) I am responsible for administrative and field work. I attend senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings on Capitol Hill in order to write op-eds on how U.S. policy is impacting the lives of many civilians across the seas. The op-eds that I write are published by UNA-NCA and are created with a purpose of educating the public and members of Congress on why legislation should be drafted in order to support the goals of the UN. My op-eds are also created with the purpose of educating the public on U.S. international relations topics that are not extensively covered by the media.

As a program assistant, I am also in charge of developing local events in order to increase public knowledge about transnational issues that are occurring around the world and the methods in which the U.N. organizations are working to combat these issues. Some of the events that I have helped with include an international refugee event where members of the community gathered to hear about the stories of the Lost Boys of Sudan as well as other asylum seekers who have escaped their native lands within South Asia. I am also responsible for developing an event that is bringing a young Iranian and Palestinian together in order to examine the years of conflict between the two cultures. I am also responsible for running an international peacekeeping event that unites college students from all around the world to discuss ways in which we can increase peace within our nations in accordance with the goals of the U.N.

How are you putting what you’ve learned in the classroom to use in your internship?

A core concept that is taught within many of the international relations courses at CofC is the idea of the world-systems theory in which developed nations receive exploited goods and services from peripheral developing nations. While writing op-eds and creating social media material for UNA-NCA, I often keep this idea in mind in order to demonstrate to observers that the U.S. is a major player within the world-systems theory, and that our everyday decisions, such as a political support and consumption patterns, ultimately alter our position and impact on the world stage.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned so far through this internship?

The most surprising thing that I have learned so far through my internship experience is that the U.S. legislative system has many global facets that impact more than just American citizens. By attending world refugee events and Capitol Hill hearings, I quickly learned that U.S. legislation impacts the standard of living and well-being of many civilians of other nations through indirect conflicts of war.

How will this experience shape your future goals and interests?

I aspire to become an international legal analyst as well as a human rights attorney for the International Court of Justice or an environmental consultant for international governing agencies. Therefore, this internship experience has given me a good introduction and foundation for this career path due to the exposure and fieldwork within the international aid and political spheres.