We're upstairs at Café Lumiere, the old Monterey fishermen are arguing in Sicilian downstairs, a group of Fulbright scholars from West Africa are hunched over laptops, and a man from Copenhagen is ordering a panini. Like a highly caffeinated United Nations, it is a perfect setting for a conversation with former UN intern, Anita Joshi (IPS '11).
1) Anita, you just got back from an internship at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. What did you do?
2) How did you get this awesome internship?
I met my former boss at a conference at the Naval Postgraduate School. Dr. Laurance introduced me, and I asked him if he wanted to talk about internships at the United Nations over a cup of coffee. My goal was to try and get him to ask me for my résumé, so I told him about my background, how I've been studying Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration, and how I wanted to get into the field.
3) Had he heard of the Institute before?
Yes, he holds the Institute in high esteem. He knows and has worked with Dr. Laurance when he [Dr. Laurence] was a special advisor to the United Nations on small arms. Also, he had worked with other interns from MIIS.
4) Did the Internship happen right away? Did he make you an offer at the conference?
No, I kept emphasizing my interests and "bugging" him. It didn’t happen right away. After six months of networking and interviewing different staff at the United Nations, he asked for my résumé and my schedule. It wasn’t easy; I had to work for it.
5) What exactly did you do?
Okay, I worked for the Secretariat of the Interagency Working Group on Small Arms, and, by “working for the secretariat," I mean that I was one half of the Secretariat. It was just my boss and I and that’s it. We were in charge of training departments within the United Nations on procedures and best practices related to Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration. I helped design training modules on risk assessment and gender mainstreaming, which involves bringing women into the Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration process.
6) Five years ago, did you ever think that you would be working at the United Nations Headquarters?
You know, I’ll be honest, when I was looking at MIIS, it was their association with the United Nations that really attracted me. It was on my radar and I knew it was something I wanted to do, but I didn’t have a concrete plan. So, when the opportunity came up at the conference, I knew it was now or never and I wasn’t going to take no for an answer. That was my strategy [laughs].
7) What is the one thing that you learned in the classroom that was vital to your internship?
I completed the Development Project Management Institute prior to my internship because I wanted to make this my DPMI Plus internship. The tools and frameworks that we learned there were vital. We applied them every day to the real world. I was seeing 100 percent of the terms applied to actual programs - it was exciting!
8) How did your internship contribute to your future career plans?
My internship was really my foot in the door into the field. What I learned at the United Nations is that there are so many players involved in the Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration process. I realized just how many avenues there are where I could do this work. If I didn’t have this overview, I think I would sort of be lost if I jumped right in after grad school without any field experience.
9) What’s next for Anita Joshi?
That’s a good question [laughs]. I have two more semesters to finish up, then afterward I would like to work in development program evaluation and management, specifically programs dealing with Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration.
10) Last question: did you MIIS us?
[laughs] I did! I missed the running trail, but at least I had the real East Village [laughs].