Alumni | Community | Faculty & Staff | Parents
With 160 amazingly diverse student clubs and organizations, you won't have a free minute unless you want to!
Posted by Alyssa Mustafa on December 14, 2017
Natalie Vanderlaan-Meyering, a graduate student in the accelerated MPA program, is currently abroad interning for the U.S. Delegation to to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland. We caught up with Natalie to learn more about her experiences.
Undergrad Major: Political Science
Current Degree Program: Master of Public Administration
Career Aspirations: International affairs, human rights, policy creation/implementation, peacekeeping
Hometown: Oneonta, N.Y.
Can you describe the program and its requirements?
“The State Department internship program offers internships both in D.C. and at embassies/missions all over the world. The requirements differ depending on your post, but typically interns will be selected after filling out an application on U.S.A. Jobs, and a phone interview. After that, students must attain a security clearance, and, if interning abroad, a visa."
What does the internship entail? What are your tasks?
“The internship entails a lot of multilateral work, as opposed to an embassy, where the work would be bilateral. My tasks differ depending on what’s happening at the UN, but they’ve included everything from taking notes at the HRC 36* and UPR 28 sessions,** to representing the U.S. at side events. My favorite assignment has been having one-on-one meetings between myself and NGOs [non-governmental organizations]. Typically, my notes from these meetings will be sent to D.C., so I know my voice and perspective is being heard. It’s awesome to think that I’m making an impact in U.S. foreign policy, although it may be small.”
*HRC 36: 36th Session of the Human Rights Council
**UPR 28: 28th Session of the The Universal Periodic Review: process which involves a review of the human rights records of all UN Member States.
What is a typical day like?
7:00 a.m. — Wake up, eat breakfast.
8:00 a.m. — Leave the intern chalet and head to the US Mission via bus
8:30 a.m. — Go through security, get into the office, check emails; gather any statements from D.C. that our human rights delegation may give that day
10:30 a.m. — Head down to the UN (or “Palias”) to represent the U.S. at a meeting or event.
12:30 p.m. — Meet other interns at the cafeteria for lunch
2:00 p.m. — Type up the day’s notes at the mission and send them to the necessary diplomats and/or to D.C.
4:00 p.m. — Review the next day’s schedule, research any NGOs being met with and/or the topics being covered in the next day’s plenary session
5:00 p.m. — Head to France for groceries or back to the marine compound (where I live)
6:00 p.m. — Make dinner
7:30 p.m. — Watch a movie or Netflix with the other interns
11:00 p.m. — Go to bed
What is life like in Geneva, Switzerland? What do you like about being abroad?
"In particular, living in Geneva has given me a new perspective of what it means to be a global citizen. There actually aren’t a lot of Swiss citizens here, but rather the area is filled with diplomats and others from all over the world. Switzerland isn’t in the EU, so the economy is extremely stable and successful. But that means it’s a very expensive place to live. Switzerland is also interesting because of the diversity and the four different national languages [German, French, Italian and Romansh]. In Geneva, everyone will be speaking French, but after an hour train ride to Bern, everyone is speaking German. I like being abroad because I enjoy experiencing new things and being pushed out of my comfort zone."
Can you tell us about the accelerated MPA program you’re in?
"The accelerated MPA program allows students to take graduate-level classes and have them count towards both an undergrad and master's degree. It is also known as a “3-2 program,” because undergraduate classes are taken for three years and graduate classes for two. In the end, the accelerated MPA program has not just saved me time and money, but has helped me understand how I will apply knowledge in a career as a public servant."
How did you come upon the internship and how did Binghamton University help?
“Knowing that I wanted to intern abroad and to focus on foreign policy, I signed up for employment announcements from the State Department (DOS). Several months later, the Fleishman Center had an event where a Binghamton alum/DOS employee shared his experience with students. Afterwards, a recruiter from DOS spoke to us about her experience as a Foreign Service Officer and the interns she had in the past. I wouldn’t have known the right questions to ask during my interview, let alone even applied to the program, if it wasn’t for the two speakers."
How do you feel your studies at Binghamton University have prepared you for this experience? And how do you feel your experiences at the UN Human Rights Council will benefit you going forward, both academically and in your career?
"Undergrad glasses at Binghamton helped me prepare for this internship by providing me with an understanding of U.S. foreign policy and the international system. My graduate classes have helped me understand how governmental organizations function; how policy is created; and provided me with various workplace skills, like effective communication and memo writing.
Academically, this internship has helped me gain an understanding of how my classwork will be applied in the workplace. In terms of my future career, this internship has helped me narrow down my interests and given me an idea of what type of organization I would like to work for."
Natalie’s advice for fellow students hoping to pursue politics, diplomacy and related careers is to “stay up to date on current events, take the relevant classes and speak with confidence. Don’t be afraid to make changes if you’re not happy—[she] changed majors and schools!”
Interested in a the U.S. Department of State Student Internship Program? Learn more here.
Think you have a busy life as a student? Know somebody who does? Send in nominations for a "A Day in the Life" blog by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alyssa Mustafa is a junior in the School of Management, studying marketing. She spends her free time running around in circles and jumping in the sand as a member of the women's track and field team.
Have questions, comments or concerns about the blog? E-mail us at email@example.com.
There's always something new and interesting going on at Binghamton University, and this blog is our way of sharing in that excitement with you. Stay up to date on the latest happenings, learn something new, have a laugh (or two), and join us as we celebrate this energetic and outstanding community! This is your story, Binghamton.
Friday, July 6, 2018
Maggie Chan Jones ‘96: Founder and CEO of Tenshey, Inc.
Friday, June 22, 2018
13 Tips to Rock Your Way Through Binghamton University Orientation
Thursday, June 7, 2018
Steven Canals ‘05, MA ‘08: Screenwriter and Executive Producer
Friday, June 1, 2018
16 Fun Things to Do This Summer in Greater Binghamton
Wednesday, May 30, 2018
A Day in the Life of Kevin Brouillard: Grad Student, Philanthropist and Friend to Goats Everywhere
Tuesday, May 29, 2018
Jessica Stanis ‘15: Director of the Binghamton Rescue Mission
Tuesday, May 15, 2018
A Day in the Life of Senior Computer Science Major Nik Vanderhoof
Page 1 of 26 pages 1 2 3 > Last ›
Back to Top ↑