Victoria Gorelik, M.A. Communication Studies, Shares About Her Internship in the Outreach Division of the Department of Public Information with the United Nations
For me, studying at Cal State Fullerton was more than earning a Master of Arts in Communication Studies; it was a two-year introductory course to learning how to navigate unfamiliar cultural environments. I don’t mean to dismiss the value of the degree, but rather to emphasize the importance of the role it played in allowing me to apply for an internship with the United Nations.
Thinking back to my first semester, I remember that I would consider it an accomplishment if I managed to complete and make sense of all the reading assignments for a single class. Often, this was only to sit in a seminar wondering if maybe I had prepared the wrong readings because I couldn’t understand what my peers were talking about. Communication is the most challenging, yet essential aspect of fitting into a different culture; that is why I chose to learn, research and practice it at the advanced level.
Academically, Master of Arts in Communication Studies introduces students to the different perspectives in social research methods: quantitative, qualitative, and critical. Those courses are fundamental and they also help demonstrate the benefits of analyzing the same subject matter from different angles. Each course provides enough background that allows one to acquire a new framework, shift the point of view and, consequently, arrive at different, insightful conclusions. Not only does it help enrich one’s understanding of some aspect of communication with new findings, but also teaches to be flexible and genuinely curious when approaching a problem. No doubt that it helps outside academia as well.
Good communication skills are, of course, a requirement that is featured in almost any vacancy announcement and job description. The description for the internship position in the Outreach Division of the Department of Public Information at the United Nations was no exception. I suspect, however, that the job will involve more than what is usually understood by “communication skills.” The mission of the office I am at is to promote and maintain the dialogue between the UN and non-profit organizations (NGOs) on various, specific issues that these organizations focus on. Some deal with the rights of women, some – with combatting depression through sports, some – with the problems of substance abuse among young people. More information can be found here: https://outreach.un.org/ngorelations/.
I will have a chance to help in the organization of these meetings where the interested parties can communicate, exchange ideas and concerns, and make sure their voices are heard. Despite the fact that I will not necessarily be an active participant or contributor in those discussions, I will once again find myself in the situation where I have very little understanding of what people are talking about. This is a challenge and also an opportunity to practice one’s flexibility and curiosity; thanks to my experience as a graduate student at Cal State Fullerton, I am well prepared for that.