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Reflections on my time at NIAC

Source: National Iranian American Council (NIAC)

Washington DC - The following piece is authored by a student at American University who interned at NIAC during the summer of 2008.

Being from California,  I was not completely confident about spending an entire summer working in Washington DC, but when NIAC offered me an internship, I could not turn it down. The chance to work at an up and coming non-profit and to do advocacy work for my community was not an opportunity I wanted to miss.

Coming into the internship, I was not sure what to expect. I was somewhat familiar with the organization's work but I had never done anything like it so it was like walking into a dark room.

Having done a number of internships before, I knew that the first day on a job is usually very rigid - full of information and training sessions. But my first day at NIAC was completely different. At once I felt like I was part of the family, because everyone in the office was very warm and welcoming, but also very professional. I was put to work immediately, receiving assignments principally from NIAC's Director of Community Outreach, Babak Talebi.

I worked on a variety of projects under Babak's supervision. I participated in business meetings with organizations like Americans for Informed Democracy, got a chance to communicate first-hand with members of the Iranian-American community, and helped to organize a Capitol Hill briefing for Members of Congress and their staff.  One of my favorite projects was planning a series of seminars for members of the community on how to expand their individual and collective influence on government (i.e. voting, calling or visiting their elected representatives, writing letters to the editors of their local papers, etc.). I also attended seminars at a variety of think tanks such as the Stanley Foundation, and wrote articles for the website and for the NIAC blog,

Another perk of working at NIAC was its prime location on K Street.  For those that are unfamiliar with the geography of the nation's capital, K Street is home to many of Washington's most powerful lobby groups. Through my work at NIAC I was exposed to both the political culture of Capitol Hill and that of K Street.

When I left the office on the last day of work, I couldn't help but reflect on everything I had learned and experienced over the summer, and feel a sense of accomplishment in my work. But what has really stuck with me in the months since I've been gone are the relationships I created there. One of the other interns and I became very close friends during my time there, and we remain in close contact.  I also forged many useful professional relationships, and have stayed in touch with members of staff.

I've interned at many different organizations, but nothing quite compares to my time at NIAC. It was honestly one of the best professional experiences of my life, and I would strongly encourage other young people with an interest in Iran to consider applying.

Want to intern at NIAC in the Fall of 2008? Email your resume and cover letter to Pam Maeda.

... Payvand News - 10/06/08 ... --

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