American University Journalism MA student Mirchaye Sahlu is interning at the United Nations Information Center in downtown Washington D.C. this summer, and it has been an eye-opening experience. UNIC interns usually have a broad range of responsibilities that include everything from representing the office at Washington events to fielding public inquires. SOC asked Mirchaye Sahlu about her experience.
Why did you decide to earn your Master's in International Journalism & Public Affairs?
Initially I wanted to be an international correspondent/reporter working for Al Jazeera or CNN. However, this program helped me discover my passion for documentary filmmaking and how I want to use that skill to make videos for international organizations, such as the UN, the World Bank or the ILO. I hope that these videos can change perceptions and create awareness on issues such as gender equality and access to education for females, which are two causes I care about.
What did you hope to gain from your internship at the United Nations Information Center?
I have gained a lot from my experience at UNIC so far. One important is the exposure to the entire UN system. The UN system is vast and I learn something new every day, and I hope that by the end of my internship I will master it all. As one of my many tasks, I organize weekly intern seminars - I find a speaker at UN offices in DC and invite all the interns, to come and learn something new. I love organizing events, so it's been an awesome experience. I am also gaining exposure to the Hill and different think tank institutions in DC. I am sent out to cover hearings and discussions and report back to my office, so in a way I am still doing journalism.
It has also reinforced that what I really want to do is fight for causes the UN fights for, like gender equality/access to education for females.
How have your studies and previous internships prepared you for the work at the UNIC?
My program at AU has provided me with experience going to the Hill and covering events. In my Reporting for Public Affairs course, we would be sent out to hearings and submit our reports the same day and that discipline made it easy to do my work at UNIC. In addition, my video skills have served me well here too. I get to produce videos for the UN Washington YouTube channel whenever we have special events to cover, visitors to share or other things to promote. I recently produced a video about our internship program and next week I will be filming our volunteering events for Mandela Day.
Other experiences, such as my internship at Discovery Communications as the Digital/Social Media intern taught me a lot of about posting social media content for Twitter, Instagram, FB and Snapchat and that skill is helping me here at UNIC. I regularly produce content for our social media.
5) What advice would you give to other students seeking to get the most out of their internships?
Be eager, ask questions, google stuff - never just say you don't know how to do something. The truth is, you can look up how to do anything online! And most of all- get to know the people you work with. Those connections will help you land a job!