Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey


Daria Ushakova (IPS '10), UN Intern and Future Nonproliferation Expert

Daria Ushakova

1) Ok, first question: You interned for the United Nations, which means you want to save the world, right? So who is your favorite superhero or heroine?

I don’t know. (Laughing.) I usually like the bad guys. I know of Superman and Spiderman, but they’re not my favorites.

2) Just kidding! Now for the real first question: What was your position and department at the UN?

We were all interns. I was in the Office of Disarmament (ODA) in the Weapons of Mass Destruction Branch.

3) How did you learn about this internship opportunity?

I learned about it from the Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) website and from other students.

4) Did the UN choose you or did you choose them? Tell us about the application process, please.

There was an official application process through CNS, which offers several internship opportunities in Vienna and New York. We chose which location we preferred and completed a written assignment and oral interview. After that, the committee considers about two people for each internship, I think. If you’re an international student, however, you can only apply in the spring with the International Professional Service Semester (IPSS) program.

5) What were the most valuable experiences you had?

All the work was valuable. During fall semester, General Assembly holds its sessions, and all interns attend these meetings. That was interesting because we saw real life politics. And we learned to summarize speeches and write policy memos.

And we met many interesting people. One time, all interns were invited to a meeting with Iranian President Ahmadinajad. And we witnessed firsthand his personality, which is much different from how he’s portrayed in the media. He answered our questions and compared his position with the US perspective.

6) Now that we know a little more about your experience, what type of work were you assigned?

We wrote reports, attended meetings, and collaborated with our supervisors. And it’s important not to be afraid to make mistakes - your supervisors expects this of you and will help you learn how to complete your assignments properly.

Daria Ushakova

7) So, honestly, how much time did you spend behind a desk?

It’s quite a long time, but you don’t only sit in your cubicle. You attend meetings, go to lunch, and network.

8) How has this internship benefited your academic and/or professional career, or how do you believe it will in the future?

I think it’s a good practical opportunity, especially since we focus on academic study in Monterey. At the UN, you can talk to individuals who have worked there for thirty years or have field experience in Iraq. It’s a completely different from the classroom. And your supervisors expect you to apply your knowledge in the real world.

9) Did you enjoy living in New York City?

It’s a different world from Monterey. It’s crowded, and the subway can be confusing. If you’re searching for a place to live, it’s quite expensive. But I’m originally from Moscow, so it wasn’t a big transition for me.

10) Did you have opportunities to network with professionals in your field?

Absolutely. You’ll form a lasting relationship with your supervisor. The professionals you meet always hand out business cards, so you'll gain new contacts. And if you attend meetings or social events, you’ll start conversations with a wide range of people.