Interns gain hands-on experience in the world of international affairs

Pictured are interns at the annual certificate ceremony held in New York City to congratulate students who participated in  the SUNY Global Engagement Program.

Pictured are interns at the annual certificate ceremony held in New York City to congratulate students who participated in the SUNY Global Engagement Program.

Internships matter. Just ask SUNY New Paltz student Jen Vanriper ’14, majoring in international relations. Thanks to her internship with New York City-based The Humpty Dumpty Institute, a non-profit serving people in the developing world through the implementation of large-scale humanitarian projects and through its work with the United Nations, she now “understand[s] how organizations operate and cooperate in order to achieve their goals and make the world a better place to live.” This is just one of the many life lessons learned thanks to this internship, she says, in addition to perfecting her time management skills, building public relations experience and sharpening her resume.

Vanriper is just one of many SUNY New Paltz students gaining hands-on internship experience at leading New York City-based globally engaged organizations in global affairs, politics, education, the arts, sciences and business fields thanks to the SUNY Global Engagement Program (GEP). The semester-long program, designed to provide students with field experience along with a rigorous academic program, is housed at the SUNY Global Center in New York City and coordinated by the SUNY New Paltz Center for International Programs and the Department of Political Science and International Relations. In addition to interning 20-25 per hours a week, students participate in a weekly seminar about international affairs—integrating academic works related to international governmental and non-governmental organizations, as well as international relations between states and regional dynamics.

“Students are required to reflect, research and analyze their experience and the issues on which they are working,” said İlgü Özler, director of GEP and associate professor of political science and international relations at SUNY New Paltz. “Between an amazing internship experience, an opportunity to critically reflect on that work with fellow students similarly positioned and carrying out an original research project on issues with which they are intimately engaged, the students fully immerse themselves in the incredible opportunities that New York City offers.”

Nadine Ahrabi-Nejad ’14 (Marketing), a marketing intern at Doctors Without Borders, agreed. She said the combination of field work, location and focus on global initiatives has made her participation in the program “the greatest learning experience of my college career.” She went on to say, “The SUNY GEP taught me how to remain in tune with the world and understand international affairs from multiple perspectives. I feel inspired by what I have learned.”

Since its inception in fall 2013, the program has gained popularity with students, said Özler. She noted the application pool is already larger than last year’s for the upcoming fall semester, and that she expects to see more applications from other SUNY schools in the upcoming year as word-of-mouth about the program spreads.

SUNY Global is headquartered at the SUNY Global Center in New York City and conducts strategic planning, policy development and coordination of the State University of New York’s system-wide global initiatives. Students who participate in the program must have a minimum GPA of 3.0 and are responsible for securing their own internship.