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Political Science Majors Continue to Earn Top Internship with The United Nations

U.N._LogoWhen Bakhat Nazir ’17 recently transferred to Saint Peter’s from Kinnaird College for Women University in her native land of Pakistan, the political science major soon received an opportunity of a lifetime: being able to work with the United Nations (UN).

“Being born in a small town in one of the rural areas of Pakistan, I have aimed to achieve big things in my life and working at the UN with some of the world’s top officials is considered to be something more than just ordinary back at my hometown,” explained Bakhat. “It’s hard to be a woman over there and even harder to be a working independent one, so through my work, I want to promote the idea of being an independent and a successful woman.”

Nazir’s drive to join the UN was born through her global inequality class, which is a joint initiative between Saint Peter’s and United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR). The only one of its kind between a UN agency and undergraduate university, it was during this unique training program that Nazir learned how to be a public advocate for UNISDR’s Making Cities Resilient campaign. Not much later, she soon found herself interning at the United Nations with the Permanent Mission of Pakistan.

“I have always been fascinated by productive political organizations and the UN is one of the very few that is working towards the betterment of human kind on a global scale,” said Bakhat. “Being a political science major, it is very essential to have such global exposure.”

With its strict hiring regulations, undergraduates who intern with the United Nations are few and far between. However, Bakhat’s achievement is a part of the political science department’s consistent string of successes with placing its top undergraduate students in competitive internships with this leading international organization for the past three years.

“We have a very deep commitment to academic rigor, critical thinking, ethics and how power works domestically and internationally,” said Assistant Professor Alexander Mirescu, Ph.D., assistant professor. “We have strong expectations and we want to produce excellent students.”

The students who attain these internships —about two students per year — become deeply embedded in the United Nations system during their time there, which could last anywhere from three to six months. While there, they gain invaluable experience shadowing senior diplomats, writing reports and sitting in on cutting edge aspects of the United Nation’s work. In addition, the rich diversity of the University enables interns to be placed in permanent missions of their home countries.  Such is true for Nazir who began working with the Permanent Mission of Pakistan in June.

Thus far, Nazir has been able to meet officials from other countries, cover Security Council meetings and other UN sessions, craft reports, act as a consultant and assist the Pakistan Mission’s head official with the assigned UN sessions.  In addition, she is also working as a liaison between one of Pakistan’s cities and UNISDR to make Peshawar a signatory of UNISDR.

“You learn a little bit of every issue in every conflict every day. The knowledge learned here is vast and comprehensive,” she said. “Through this experience, I have learned of many more opportunities that will definitely enable me to make better choices for my master’s degree or other programs that I plan to apply for in the future.”

Helping students like Nazir secure internships is just a piece of the political science department’s drive to fully prepare students for their futures beyond Saint Peter’s.  To this end, Mirescu said they implement a doable and feasible roadmap that is put into place well before commencement day.  Early on, a kind of mindset is established where students no longer wonder if they will do an internship, but rather they start deciding when and what kind to which they will be applying. In addition, Mirescu explained that the department’s environment fosters the creation of collective and collaborative work as well as strong student-professor alliances.

All of these factors have enabled the department to consistently see its top political science students go on to secure permanent jobs, enroll in top graduate programs and attain competitive grants and scholarships to top graduate schools. This past year, Mirescu said was particularly strong with the department’s 100 percent placement record at the time of graduation. Just recently, it celebrated the success of William Ryan ’15 who was recently offered an internship opportunity with the Office of the Mayor of Hoboken.

“It’s a comprehensive and collective effort in the process of getting students ready before they graduate,” added Mirescu.