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  • Sian McGee 6:55 pm on April 30, 2011 Permalink  

    Human Rights Next 

    It wasn’t until I began cleaning out my desk that I realized my stint as an intern was actually going to come to an end. After all, finishing and moving on is part of the job description and US immigration might have something to say about it. Having already reflected last week on the experience gained and lessons learned at Human Rights First this semester, I took the time this week to think more in future terms.  (More …)

  • Sian McGee 5:19 am on April 16, 2011 Permalink  

    Intern Report Cards 

    Interns tend to be at the bottom of the food chain in any work environment. Being an intern in a busy  and large organization can mean the fruits of your labor are received with thanks, then passed along the production line, and some time later you find yourself wondering what was the outcome of your work? Was it helpful? Was it appreciated? Or was it useless? Do they now wonder why they hired you?!  (More …)

    • miranda78 5:51 pm on April 18, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      That is great you were able to receive such positive feedback from your co-workers.

  • Sian McGee 8:18 pm on April 8, 2011 Permalink  

    Taking stock in Spring 

    The final countdown has begun. Only three short weeks left at Human Rights First and soon after I must begrudgingly farewell the District of Columbia. Today a dear friend, who is also studying abroad for a year, asked me what is on my must-do list before the time is up. Feeling much like Cinderella at the ball having a delightful time frolicking about DC, I have been blissfully unaware that soon enough my chariot/airplane will turn into a pumpkin and I’ll be back in Australia wondering whether it was all just a dream. This week at HRF has given me hope though, that I might just be able to make the kinds of things I’ve enjoyed here repeat features in my future reality.

    (More …)

    • miranda78 5:27 pm on April 11, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      I am sure you will find even more opportunities to succeed– whether it be by coming back to the States or staying in your home country– since the experience you gained and the skills you learned at your internship seemed to be very useful!

    • Sian McGee 7:04 pm on April 11, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      The world certainly starts to feel like ‘my oyster’ having had a semester here full of hype and activity! Every intention to continue the momentum 🙂

  • Sian McGee 8:15 pm on April 2, 2011 Permalink  

    The short life cycle of an internship 

    So all of a sudden I find myself with just four weeks remaining in my Spring internship at Human Rights First.  I’m familiar and competent with the concepts of time and calendars, so why am I surprised and saddened by this realization!?! I suspect I am in denial about my dream year abroad coming to an end. This week was spent feeling rather scattered and playing catching up: finishing asylum intake interview write-up, writing a memo for a conference I attended, starting a research project on some important people the organization potentially wants to work with, and the mind-numbing mechanical task of preparing materials for a conference we’re hosting on LGBT refugee issues. Such a diversity of issues and such a short time left to sink my teeth into it all!

    (More …)

    • miranda78 1:35 pm on April 6, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      I agree– time has flied! But it seems like every moment of your internship has been filled with exciting tasks from the start which is great!

  • Sian McGee 1:08 am on March 29, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: , , ,   

    Getting out from behind the desk! 

    Last week at Human Rights First I was fortunate to experience two more important dimensions to intern life here in Washington DC : networking and education. One of the main attractions of HRF as an organization from an intern perspective, was the promise of tasks that were in line with my own academic and potential career interests. This week I was fortunate enough to be offered the tasks of attending a conference on Emerging Challenges in International Humanitarian Law organized by the Washington College of Law, and another on Non-Violent Resistance in Iran, facilitated by the Carnegie Endowment for Peace – two topics of direct relevance to my studies and interests.  (More …)

    • Sian McGee 1:11 am on March 29, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Apologies for the self-indulgent length of this post, I understand if (and encourage) you to skip to the bottom!

    • miranda78 1:33 pm on March 30, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      It is great that your internship really values your time and input. I think other students should definitely look into Human Rights First!

    • Sian McGee 6:42 pm on March 30, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Might I add, interns should become highly trained soldiers for peacekeeping missions only!

  • Sian McGee 5:38 am on March 18, 2011 Permalink  

    Humbling the humble intern 

    I spent my Spring break on the cheap: 17 hour train ride instead of quick flight to Montreal, where I stayed with a friend, restricted myself to one latte per day and somewhat lamented to myself about not being able to afford a week long all-inclusive cruise around the Bahamas like some of the other exchanges students as I saw their photos appear on Facebook. I returned to my internship at Human Rights First this week somewhat begrudgingly – working for no pay when the weather is as glorious as this seems like quite a sacrifice – but have now finished the week feeling rather absurd for my Spring break lamenting and entirely humbled by my tasks and encounters on the job. In a good way.  (More …)

    • miranda78 6:26 pm on March 21, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Wow that sounds like an incredible experience you got to be a part of at your internship.

    • Florita Gunasekara 2:06 am on March 26, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      I have this pollyannaish idea called “good dream,” which is when I close my eyes and glimpse of film cuts run in my mind about life the way I want it to be. Then, I open my eyes only to realize that life ain’t that fair at all.
      Very nice post Sian!

  • Sian McGee 6:56 am on March 6, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , lobbyists, ,   

    Witnessing Secretary Clinton in action at close range 

    Spring break marks eight weeks spent interning at Human Rights First, the half way point of my classroom and practical experience experiment here in D.C. Ever conscious of the time passing too quickly, I’m especially eager to make the most of the weeks that I have left to maximise learning, observations and experience in the field of human rights advocacy. One task in particular this week was definitely a highlight in intern life thus far – I attended Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the topic of the State Department and USAID’s 2012 budget! (More …)

  • Sian McGee 12:21 am on February 22, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: , , NGOs, recruitment, , ,   

    NGO recruitment tips from the inside 

    Intern recruitment in DC is a booming market – demand is high and supply probably slightly higher, which makes for great competition! From my own observations and what locals tell me, there are plenty of jobs to go around and the diversity of job types is limitless, though getting your dream internship may take a couple of attempts. This week during my internship at Human Rights First I assisted HR in the assessment of intern applications for our numerous programs (which are still open – you can read more and apply here!)  and as the application deadline for many DC summer internships draws near I thought I’d share a few insider tips on how to get ahead in the market. (More …)

  • Sian McGee 1:31 am on February 15, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: , idealism, , ,   

    An idealist learning to be a realist 

    The warmth and nurturing of the classroom make it easy to think that great ideas and good intentions will ultimately triumph against any challenge the real world might mount against your cause. Unfortunately we’ve been had – real progress in fact requires a lot more than just thought and intent. Perseverance,  a thick skin and rejoice in small successes are essentials for anyone hoping to work in an NGO and have some kind of tangible impact on the world, as I have been learning the past few weeks at Human Rights First . (More …)

    • Francine Blume 7:14 pm on February 15, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      This is so important! You really have to balance idealism with pragmatics if you want to make any kind of change. You have to take care of yourself, too, so you don’t burn out!

    • miranda78 8:03 pm on February 21, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Great advice! I agree with it. I think your internship and working on refugee issues is very interesting; I am taking an SIS class on refugee and immigrant groups in the U.S. and the barriers to health access, so I know where you are coming from.

    • Sian McGee 4:06 pm on February 22, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      It’s quite sad to realize that hardships faced by refugees don’t disappear upon acceptance into US territory. While I understand access to health care is of concern to the US population more widely, I think refugees and immigrants are a more marginalized, at risk group – the class sounds very interesting!

  • Sian McGee 4:11 pm on January 30, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: , international law, , law reform, NGO,   

    Spring semester at Human Rights First 

    While sitting in my university’s Study Abroad office in Brisbane, Australia, looking at a map of the world considering my study abroad options, I didn’t know what to expect from a semester somewhere in the United States but I’d heard some nice things about Americans so wasn’t too worried! DC wasn’t my original choice but it’s a choice I’m very happy with now for many reasons, one being that I was fortunate enough to land an internship with a great NGO dedicated to human rights education and reform both internationally and in the U.S., Human Rights First.   (More …)

    • Carl Huang 1:42 am on February 1, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Senate Cafeteria sounds really awesome, good for you! Maybe posting some photos next time? 😛

    • Sian McGee 8:17 pm on February 1, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      It is a great perk, and it’s open to the public! Here’s a photo, the view from our intern ‘suite’ window: http://twitpic.com/3vjsd1

    • miranda78 2:57 pm on February 7, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      That is awesome you are internship while studying abroad. Next semester I am studying in Chile and hope to intern during that time, too! Human Rights First seems like a great fit for you, and it doesn’t hurt that the view from your intern suite great.

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