Nicole (Nikki) Frieman is a third year International Affairs and Modern Languages major (IAML), with a concentration in Spanish. In summer 2014, she participated in the EU Brussels study abroad program, which sparked an interest in international trade, security, and diplomacy. This past spring, she had the privilege of working with the US State Department at the United States Mission to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. With this experience, Nikki hopes to serve in the Peace Corps then pursue a degree in international law, with a specialization in gender equality and women’s empowerment after she graduates. We asked her a few questions about how her time at Tech has helped her succeed in this internship and shaped her career goals.
What do you enjoy most about your internship and what do you find most challenging?
I absolutely loved the interaction I was able to have with both Foreign Service Officers from the US and the equivalent in countries represented in the UN. During the internship, I would attend meetings at the Palais (the UN headquarters in Geneva), largely focused on humanitarian action, and be able to witness diplomatic negotiations firsthand. I was in Geneva during the breakout of the Boko Haram attacks in Nigeria and went to countless meetings where UN member states and outside organizations, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, discussed at length both security measures and humanitarian response.
At the US Mission, interns were treated as employees meaning that we were entrusted with day-to-day tasks such as writing briefs and memos for our corresponding bureaus in DC. While it was wonderful to be able to contribute and attend meetings, it was very difficult to quickly grasp the various jargon that would be discussed during meetings, including countless acronyms and backstories that made it hard to get the full story. However, this meant my research and interpreting abilities skyrocketed while in Geneva, as it was integral that I report back with as accurate information as possible.
Tell us about an experience that made an impression on you during your internship.
While I was in Geneva, the US Ambassador of the Mission launched her Future She Deserves campaign–an initiative to bring the Geneva community together to allow women and girls to reach their full potential. Since I am very passionate about women’s empowerment, I was so excited to be able to play a small part in the Launch. I saw the planning and organization, from beginning to execution, while being able to attend meetings, and help write media posts as well talking points. At the Launch, as a typical intern duty, I worked coat check for part of the night, BUT I had the amazing privilege to help present a sector of the campaign focused on increasing women in leadership roles. Throughout the course of the night, I talked with representatives from branches of the UN, locally-based organizations, and academic institutions about what they thought was the best course of action to increase women in leadership, and how their organization could contribute. Even though I was just an intern, I was able to discuss substance with meaningful members of the Geneva community who were genuinely interested in creating positive change.
In what ways did your time at Tech prepare you for the internship?
Tech teaches you more than how to handle yourself in a classroom, but also how to carry yourself in the best way possible in all facets of life–a skill I found invaluable during my internship. I didn’t speak a word of French, yet I accepted in internship in a French-speaking country. I had also never properly figured out public transportation, but moved to a city where it was necessary. The Palais is practically impossible to navigate; yet I was never late to a meeting because I knew the importance of punctuality. Tech has taught me to prepare to the best of my abilities for things to come, but also has also taught me to quickly think on my feet when things don’t go as planned (which they often don’t). In my internship, I was often faced with new situations that I had no idea how to handle; however, Tech engrains in their students the ability to welcome any challenge and opportunity as a learning experience that helps us grow, professionally and personally.