Category Archives: NYU Students

Three Steps to Getting an Internship in Non-profit / Government

Deniz Duru Aydin is a senior at CAS, majoring in Politics and European & Mediterranean Studies. Originally from Istanbul, Turkey, she interned at various arts-related nonprofits and government organizations including the Lincoln Center and New York State Council on the Arts. She is currently working as a Policy Fellow with Access (www.accessnow.org), an international non-profit organization that focuses on issues at the intersection of technology and human rights. She is also involved in various projects on internet-related policymaking such as the Youth Coalition on Internet Governance and Freedom Online Coalition.

Three Steps to Getting an Internship in Non-profit / Government

by Deniz Duru Aydin (Peer in Career)

Whether you are a politics major who is dedicated to becoming the next President of the United States, or an environmentalist looking to gain experience while working for the advancement of a cause you are passionate about, an internship experience at a nonprofit or governmental organization is a great for your pre-professional development. Here are a few steps – all tested and verified – that will help you if your career search in the non-private sector:

1- Use NYU CareerNet with the right keywords and timing

You should know the best tags to filter from the hundreds of opportunities listed on NYU CareerNet. If you are interested in the non-profit sector and/or government organizations, using specific keywords including, but not limited to, “policy” “human rights” and “advocacy” will make your life easier.

Are you passionate about a specific cause? As the NYU CareerNet job search looks through job descriptions by default, you should also try searching for positions using specific policy issues. As an example, using “climate change” as a keyword will let you find internships posted by organizations working on environmental issues, including specialized governmental agencies. Alternatively, try to run your search using a geographical focus – ie. “Middle East” or “Latin America” – which will help you navigate the best opportunities that fit your academic experience or personal background. If you are an international student, remember to leverage your language skills by looking for opportunities in international organizations that require or prefer foreign language fluency.

Is there an election coming up? Use NYU CareerNet to look for opportunities to volunteer at an election campaign. Timing is definitely important when it comes to finding an interesting experience. As an example, I volunteered during the 2013 New York City mayoral elections to get a chance to observe first-hand how electoral politics work in the United States. Keep an open eye to what is happening around you and unleash your curiosity!

2- Take your job search to external platforms

Apart from NYU CareerNet, keep an eye on the websites of the organizations you are passionate about. Most nonprofits have year-round volunteering opportunities, as well as paid internship/assistantship options that they publish on their websites, mostly under “Careers” sections.

Another great resource for finding the right opportunity is Twitter! Most organizations publish their job advertisements on Twitter, as they think that it is an effective way to reach people who are most passionate about their work. Create a Twitter list that includes organizations that you would like to work/intern for. This way, you will not only have a great resource to check new opportunities in 140 characters, but also a personally curated list that will help you follow the updates on causes you care about!

If you are looking for a more aggregated job search platform, Idealist.org is very useful for finding nonprofit internships and volunteer opportunities, as its mission is “to close the gap between intention and action by connecting people, organizations, ideas, and resources.” In addition, most job search platforms such as indeed.com and LinkedIn job search have opportunities in the non-profit and government sector. Finally, remember to use more specialized resources such as usajobs.gov to find federal and state-level opportunities.

3- Develop new interests, network & network some more!

In today’s world and while you are in New York City, the opportunities for networking are limitless for all sectors, including nonprofit and government. Attending lectures outside your school at NYU would be a great idea to meet with influential thought leaders in the policy area you are interested in, as well as developing new interests. Use the NYU Events listing and keep an eye on the events calendars of interesting university-wide NYU institutions including but not limited to Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, Institute for Public Knowledge or The Governance Lab.

Events outside NYU are also helpful in finding your dream job or internship at a nonprofit. As an example, Dylan James Welch, a senior at NYU studying International Relations, found his current job through attending a TEDx Conference in his hometown Boston. After hearing about the organization, he got involved in its NYU Chapter, which led to an internship opportunity at the organization’s main office in New York City.

If you’d like to put your networking skills to the test, attend this popular Wasserman event featuring a number of non-profit organizations:

Dining for Success (For Juniors, Seniors and Graduate Students)

Thursday, April 2, 5:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. LOCATION: TBA (check CareerNet for the latest information) IN-PERSON REGISTRATION AND REFUNDABLE CASH DEPOSIT REQUIRED! Registration is first-come, first-served! Mastering interviewing skills is hard enough, but what about when your interview is over a meal? Don’t let your dining etiquette stand in the way of getting the job! Join NYU Recruiters from ESPN, Teach for America, Ernst & Young, PwC, The Walt Disney Company and more to practice these skills over a three-course meal! More information about in-person registration HERE.

Five Things You Need to Do Before You Apply for that Spring Internship

By: Janel Abrahami

Janel AbrahamiJanel Abrahami is a May 2014 graduate of NYU Steinhardt’s Applied Psychology program. She currently serves the NBCUniversal intern population as a Campus 2 Career Assistant and a catalyst for early career development.You can find her talking about all things work on Twitter and LinkedIn

So you found the perfect spring internship and you’re ready to apply! Or are you? Read on to make sure you’ve done these five things before you hit “Submit.”

Know your stuff

A hiring manager can tell immediately if an applicant is familiar with their company or not- and this can make or break their hiring decision. Do your extensive research on the company’s background, its clients, its leaders, its revenue sources- everything that makes a company tick. Not only will you be making a more informed decision about applying to this company (are you actually that passionate about their mission statement?), you will also be able to more effectively express the value you could add to the company in your cover letter or an interview.

Optimize your resume

If you are applying for a position at a large company, chances are high that they use an Applicant Tracking System to accumulate the hundreds of resumes that they receive. These are often referred to as “black holes,” and for good reason- it can be very easy for your resume to fall through the cracks and never see the light of day (or a recruiter’s eyes). But there is hope, and it comes in the form of keyword searches. Recruiters can search through pages of resumes to find those with certain keywords (e.g. “javascript” or “affiliate marketing”). Optimize your resume by including a few keywords from the online job description that are relevant to your experience.

Polish and shine

Once the content of your resume is ATS-friendly, make sure the format is recruiter-friendly. This means one-page of relevant experience, clearly defined sections for education and skills, and appropriate contact information (no email addresses from middle school or embarrassing voice mail recordings!).

Connect the dots

I don’t need to tell you that #networking is one of the best ways to get your foot in the door, but it is something that internship applicants often fumble with. First, use LinkedIn to see if you know anyone connected to the company you’re applying to. Once you’ve found them, either message them through LinkedIn or email them personally (whichever you think would be more appropriate). Briefly tell them that you are applying for X position at Y company, and ask them if they could recommend someone for you to send your resume to. Do not ask them to forward your resume themselves- if they are willing to do this, they will offer in their reply. Once you have a contact at the company, you’re ready to…

Make it personal

….reach out to them with a brief but personalized message expressing your interest in the position. Attach your resume and cover letter, and mention your referee’s name in the first line of your email. Then, relax with the assurance that you’ve already out yourself ahead of other applicants.

Do you have your own application checklist? Is there something else you’d include here? Share with us in the comments.

About On-Campus Recruitment  

On-Campus Recruitment (OCR) is one of the many ways for NYU juniors, seniors, and graduate students to discover job and internship opportunities. Through OCR, employers come to the Wasserman Center to interview students. 

To obtain access to OCR, you must attend both a mandatory OCR Orientation and an Acing the Interview seminar (find upcoming dates and times on NYU CareerNet).

Important Spring Deadlines for On-Campus Recruitment (OCR):
  • The first resume drops for Spring OCR positions begin November 17th
  • First deadline to apply is December 2nd
  • Interviews begin January 20th(the week before classes begin)
Learn more about On-Campus Recruitment by clicking here!

Student Recap: Using Your HR Degree to Enhance Your Career – Human Resources Panel

Written by:  Brenda D. Sackerman, Master’s candidate, HRMD Program, 2014

On Friday, September 19, the NYU Wasserman Center at the School of Professional Studies and the NYU SHRM Chapter hosted a panel of NYU alumni who discussed how they used their MS in Human Resource Management & Development to enhance their careers.  The panel consisted of NYU HRMD alumni and students currently working in the HR industry:

Kristen Leising – Managing Director of Talent and Engagement Solutions at Teach for America

Darlene Meier – Director of Human Resources at L’Oreal

Alejandra Olivella – Senior Manager of HR at adMarketplace

Jonathan Serbin – HR Generalist at NYU College of Dentistry

The diverse background and experience of the panelists allowed them to provide excellent insight on how to best leverage your NYU Master’s degree as well as tips for success in the HR field.  Here’s a quick re-cap on the valuable advice they dispensed:

Network, network, network:

Networking is a major key to success.  There are valuable opportunities to build your network constantly around you; don’t overlook the connections you’re making with your classmates.  Additionally, attend as many events as possible and follow through in making connections.  Build genuine relationships and remember to protect your brand and reputation.  Be able to discuss current event, show that you understand business, and get yourself invited into someone else’s world.

Know the basics:

Strengthen your skills in the basic core and administrative aspects of HR, especially if you are near the beginning of your career.  The strategic role that HR plays is extremely important.  However, in order to reach the senior level where strategy alignment is a driving force, most of us will have to move through generalist roles first.  Being well versed in the basics, specifically compensation, benefits and employment law is just as valuable as understanding business strategy.  It is also critical to leverage the skills developed in classes like financial management to discuss figures like ROI and understand valuable metrics and spreadsheets.

Know the business:

HR is the driver of the company culture.  To be successful, you must learn the business, know the industry and establish trust.  Business cannot run without people, but we must be mindful to not be too business or too people focused.  We must build close working relationships through trust and credibility.  A way to build credibility is to apply cost implications for every initiative.  For example, the VP of finance doesn’t want to hear “people are unhappy and unproductive” but would be interested in your ideas to increase revenue.  Another way to learn the business is through rotation programs.  This can increase your marketability and your understanding of the industry.

Diversity is valuable:

Be able to balance who you are, your background and your knowledge.  Be able to leverage your background and find companies who value it as well as recruiters that understand what you can bring to the table.  It is also recommended to take advantage of the Wasserman Center’s assistance in “Perfecting Your Global Brand.”  Diversity is becoming increasingly important as globalization also increases.  Being able to manage inclusion and cultural diversity is a skill that will continue to increase in value.

How to get ahead:

Every day you earn your job but to get a promotion you must go beyond that.  Show that you’ve earned it and that you don’t just expect to be given opportunities.  In addition to networking and looking for opportunities, taking on a new project should help to get you noticed.  Be sure to set a goal and have a business case.  Have an internal mentor as well as an external mentor who will keep you true to your vision.  Have a champion in house that will provide you with support.  Remember, managers execute a plan but directors design the plan.

DON’T MISS OUT ON EVENTS LIKE THIS! SIGN UP FOR THE WASSERMAN STUDENT E-NEWSLETTER BY CLICKING HERE!

 

Profile of a Wasserman Center Internship Grant Recipient

Aidai Tursunbekova is a Wagner School of Public Services student interning in the United Nations Office of High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS). As a past recipient of the Wasserman Center Internship Grant, she shares some insight into the value of applying for the Grant, and offers some tips to further your candidacy.

Best part of winning the WCIG: The Wasserman Center Internship Grant helped me to be more focused on my internship and feel less stressed about paying my bills.

Most challenging or rewarding part of your internship: UN-OHRLLS works to promote the interests of lesser developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing states. I was on the team for landlocked developing countries, and our goal was to promote trade facilitation and infrastructure development for these countries. My main area of interest is economic development, and this internship in the UN-OHRLLS gave me an opportunity to work in that field, because trade is crucial for economic development. 

Good advice for others applying for the WCIG: I would suggest that they show their interest and passion about what they do. Additionally, they should try to build good relationships with all colleagues. It is important not only for a good internship experience, but also for networking. 

Non-paying internship survival 101 tip: Think of your internship not as a work, but  as a good opportunity to learn more about your area of interest and what you want to do after graduation. Maybe you will find what you want to do for the rest of your life, or understand that it’s simply not for you. In any case, it’s an important experience!

Are you interning this semester? Whether or not you are getting paid, take Aidai’s advice on using your internship as an opportunity to learn more about your career interests. If your internship is non-paying, and at a not-for-profit organization or within an industry that does not typically pay interns (arts, entertainment, media, education), apply now for the Wasserman Center Internship Grant. Apply by Sep 30th at 11:59pm: NYU CareerNet Job ID #927342.

Student Perspectives: The 5 “Do’s” at the NYU Career Fair

Aziza Sultan is a current NYU student in a joint CAS/GSAS program. She is studying politics for her Bachelor’s degree and concentrating on political economy for her Master’s.

Do Dress the Part

When you go to a career fair, it is the beginning of a conversation that you are going to be having with a potential internship or employment opportunity. This first impression is important and it’s crucial that you put forward that you are professional. It’s imperative to take care of your appearance because you can easily prepare to look professional, to ensure that you aren’t judged on that, but rather on the rest of your package. Don’t let something you can easily control be a reason a firm you want to work for doubts you.

Do Have Copies of Your Resume Available (and a 30/60 Second Run Through Prepared)

Always have double the resumes you think you’ll need on hand. Have them out, and readily available to give to recruiters.

The nature of the career fair is that certain tables will have more of a line than others. It’s important to be able to distinguish which are the more competitive tables to navigate and which are easier to access. Ones that are easier to access will give you more ability to engage in more detailed conversation, so for those tables you can speak to the recruiter or people at that table for a longer period of time. Other tables will have more interested students. Thus, it’s important to have two types of “walk-throughs” of your resume and overall package. For shorter conversations, a 30 second presentment of yourself will do, while longer conversations can be up to around 60 seconds before a back and forth short question and answer.

Seek to Speak to Employers of Interest First

The nature of the career fair is that time is limited, so make sure that you go to tables you know you are interested in first, and save companies you want to explore for later.

Part of this strategy is going to be having done prior research on firms that will be present at the fair. A useful application to download is “NYU Career Fair Plus” on your Android or iPhone. It will have a list of all employers who are going to be at the fair. If you want to be prepared and hit the ground running, download the application and learn in depth about every single firm you’re interested in that will be present.

Do Be Yourself

Don’t try to fit into a bubble of what you expect the recruiter will like. Recruiters are people, not robots who just sort between good fits and bad fits for positions. Be confident and know that it is part of the recruiter’s goal to find smart, competent and easy to work with people to work for their firm (given that they are otherwise good fits for the position).  I’ve seen people be incredibly aggressive with recruiters to prove that they are go-getters. That’s not a good way to be, because no one wants to work with people who are abrasive as a means of showing their competence or ability to do well.

Do Only Go After Positions That are Genuinely of Interest to You

I say this because I really think people waste time and energy going after internships and employment they don’t really care to have. This is not only a waste of your own resources but of many people’s. It’s obvious to a potential employer when you are going after something only because you think it will be glamorous, pays well, or is what your friends are doing. At the end of the day, you’ll have to step into and out of an office every single day for the duration of your internship or employment. Where you work, whether you want to work there, and whether or not it’s a good fit for you will impact every part of your life – so make an educated choice. Know the firm and the work you will be doing, know yourself and seek to add the most value to both.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO ATTEND THE FALL JOB & INTERNSHIP FAIR. RSVP THROUGH NYU CAREERNET BY CLICKING HERE!

Meet the Global Peers: Prague

Before I start being formal and all, here is some general information about me. My name is Emily Sujka.  But, if you ever meet me face-to-face on campus, you might hear people greet me by another name: Maggie.  I have just completed a semester of studying away in Prague, Czech Republic.  My experience there definitely helped in elucidating many parts of life lurking in the shadows.  I won’t say it has been life altering, after all, going abroad hasn’t changed the course of my life.  But, all the small experiences in Prague, living in a completely different culture, with a different language, diet, set of social standards, have certainly further molded me. Recently, I spoke with NYU’s Wasserman Center about my experiences.

What is your major/class/school?

Currently, (and I say currently because it’s always changing) I am an Economics major in the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) and a part of the Class of 2016.

Why did you want to study away at your particular site?

In actuality, I had no intention of going abroad.  Back in high school, I went to Spain for a month during the summer.  It was dreadful.  I longed for America the whole time.  But, my ideas about going to study in another country shifted with my freshman year RA who had gone abroad with NYU twice and whole-heartedly endorsed the opportunity for any student.  That’s when my research began…

I wanted to study away in the Czech Republic for several reasons.  And no, it wasn’t because it was cheaper or because of its convenient Central European location.  My reasons had to do with the culture.  I love Slavic Cultures, specifically that of Poland.  So, the Czech Republic isn’t Poland…but it was just a step towards a bigger goal.  My motto in life is to keep moving by any means to get to where you want to be. For a semester to be surrounded by food, language, and symbols, associated with Slavic life was just such an elating idea and I knew I couldn’t let the opportunity pass me by.

What classes did you take?

In Prague, I completed Building a State: Czech and Slovak Republics, Modern Dissent, Elementary Polish II, and Architecture.

What was the most meaningful/impactful experience you had abroad?

The most meaningful/impactful experience…well geez, that’s a lot of pressure. I’ve met famous Czech politicians, volunteered a weekend at Benediktus, a volunteer community in a more rural part of the Czech Republic, hiked up Sniezka, the most prominent point of the Silesian Ridge in the Krkonoše mountains, walked along the paths of priests as St. Vitus Cathedral, and even eaten Falafel in St. Wenceslas Square where the Velvet Revolution took place- where the Czechoslovak youth expelled the Communists from their lands, denouncing fear once and for all.  And that’s only the Czech Republic.  I also traveled to 6 other separate European countries during my time here strolling down the Chain Bridge in Budapest, riding bikes in Amsterdam, following the Mural of Princes in Dresden, munching on macaroons in Paris, meeting famous actress and politician Mrs. Vasaryova in Bratislava, and visiting Sukiennice, for my second time, in Krakow.  Being in Europe, seeing as much as I can, taking it all in, has just been a real pleasure.  Borders between countries are just man’s invention.  Yes, some are reasonable, political borders drawn along rivers and mountains, but others are just imaginary lines.  However, you see what you perceive as commonalities.  “We do that too.”  “That is NOT a pancake.”  Humanity ties us together no matter where you are.  People help, speak, wonder, and eat no matter where you are.  It’s humbling to see the world in its grandiosity and still feel connected to the world.

What have you learned from your experience that will impact your career endeavors?

I managed three internships this semester.  I know, sounds crazy, but there were too many things presented to take advantage of that I just couldn’t pass up.  Closely working with Wasserman, I learned how to organize an event for any occasion, including how to advertise an event and make material accessible for students.  Seriously, I learned that cookies work wonders on attendance.  In general, I acquired skills in working with people I never thought I’d have.

Furthermore, I also assisted in English teaching in a local elementary school. This was building on previous experience I already had, nonetheless it still allowed me to further understand people.  In childhood lies the rawest state of our being.  Children can teach us more than any seminar and so, even though I don’t wish to pursue education or another career path having to do with kids, I have greatly valued this experience that has allowed me to do something outside of my comfort zone while allowing me to cement this sentiment.

Another good bit of advice: Even though it’s optimal to figure out what you want, crossing stuff off this list isn’t such a bad thing either.  I also helped create a survey for the Bohemia Jazz Festival, a free music festival held in the Czech Republic annually.  Something that sounds so big not only took time in its creation, but it also took many edits and rewrites, tracking down the right people and being persistent.  Sometimes it is not only the skills and new techniques we obtain from an internship or job experience, but also small achievements along the way.

Pernod Richard Challenge Winner

Mayank Trivedi, a Masters student in Integrated Marketing in the School of Continuing and Professional Studies, shares his experience with a corporate competition.

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A few weeks ago, Pernod Ricard, a conglomerate that produces distilled beverages, came to the Wasserman Center with a student challenge. You may be more familiar with some of the brands such as: Becherovka, Chivas Regal, The Glenlivet, Jameson, Ballantine’s, Kahlua, Malibu, etc.

Pernod Ricard’s challenge was called “How to Reduce Drunk Driving” and while they were giving their presentation at the Wasserman Center and telling us the details of the challenge, my brain was already producing ideas.  What could be a better idea than a Mobile app which can provide answers to your questions when you need a ride home after a night out?

Their selection criteria was awesome: the first step was to submit a draft of your idea. They received several ideas from different schools in United States before the top three ideas were selected and able to give a final presentation.

GUESS what? I was selected in the top 3 and I was motivated enough to make my selection a victory. My idea was simple, yet innovative and engaging. I worked for almost a week on my presentation to make it clear, precise and informative. I designed a blueprint of my idea and divided it into different sections in my presentation to give a clear perspective of what features every section of the App possesses.

Finally, the day came and I presented my idea in front of company executives. They appeared to appreciate my idea and I thought things went well. I was then asked to wait for further communication.

A couple of days after, I received an email from the company inviting me to the French American Entrepreneurship Award ceremony where they were going to announce the top two winners. I was so excited, happy and confident about the fact that my ideas were deemed worthwhile.

On the day of the decision, I went to the award ceremony with one of my friends and we enjoyed some lively wines and delicious food. The executives who viewed my presentation came to meet me and shared some praise about my presentation. They also introduced me to some other members of the company and guests. I was feeling proud when people took pictures with me and praised my idea.

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Later, the award ceremony started and the VP of Communications was going to announce the top two names of the student challenge. He started “We received some great ideas, but I had high expectations from these two schools and they proved it – the top two winners of 2014 Pernod Ricard Student Challenge are New York University and Columbia University”.  The smile on my face was BIG enough to be seen by everyone. We were then called on stage and were honored with a certificate.

It was a great experience and I’ll advise all my fellow students to keep looking for these kinds of business challenges and competitions. You will get to learn a lot and it will add a great value to your resume.

Meet the Global Peers: Madrid

Carrie Pichan is currently working on her M.A. degree in Teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language (TESOL). She’s currently studying away at NYU Madrid and we recently caught up with her to see how things are going.

You’re pursuing a Master’s degree in Madrid – had you lived in Spain before or was this your first time in the country?

I spent my junior year of undergrad in Madrid through my university (University of Michigan – Go Blue!)  The search for graduate programs became a lot easier (well, stopped) once I found out that NYU offered a program at the Madrid site.  Not only is being in Spain very relevant to my field, but it’s also a great opportunity to spend more time abroad, and in a city I already knew and felt very connected to.

How did you decide on Madrid the first time around?

Knowing I wanted to spend a year in Spain, my options were between Sevilla and Madrid.  In the end, I chose Madrid because being from a small town in Michigan, I’m very drawn to and fascinated by big city life and everything that comes along with it – public transportation, diversity, great food (although that’s very rarely a problem here even in small towns). Plus, Madrid has the huge benefit of being right in the center of the country, so traveling around is quite easy, whether it’s to Galicia in the very northwest or south to Andalucía.

How have you assimilated to Spanish life?

It’s been a process!  I think it’s a common expectation that studying away, whether it be for a summer or an entire year, guarantees a great level of integration into the host country’s culture, language, and other realms of life.  While this isn’t untrue, there is a degree of disappointment that can be felt when students see that they still go out with mostly the same friends, speak English on a regular basis, and aren’t quite as connected to the country and its people as they had hoped.  That being said, I’ve found it immensely valuable to take part in language exchanges (in groups or one-on-one), frequent cafés and other businesses that make an effort to connect with customers (to feel like a regular!), and simply spend as much time in contact with the country as possible, whether that’s going for walks around the city, participating in local events, or being extra observant at the grocery store.

How do you think your time in Madrid will impact your career endeavors?

It’s easy to see the direct connection between my own career goals (teaching foreign languages) and the NYU Madrid experience since the Spanish language is central to both, but the benefits extend far beyond that. As I’ve witnessed with my peers and experienced myself, the time spent outside of one’s own country or immediate comfort zone will have a positive impact on that individual’s independence, maturity, and ability to adapt to new circumstances.  These skills are highly applicable to any and every career, regardless of the field or nature of the job, and they are qualities that employers value immensely.  Communicative competence is also tested and grows significantly during this time, not just in terms of using a foreign language but in cross- and intercultural situations as well.  In our increasingly global world, these skills are at a premium, and I strongly encourage any study away student to hone these as much as possible while the tools are at their fingertips!

What’s in store for you after your year in Madrid?

I’ll be heading to Washington Square, actually!  The joint M.A. program is a two-year program, first here in Madrid and then in NYC.  One of the funnier things about being an NYU student here in Madrid is that most people assume I have very strong ties to NYC, but that’s not the case.  It’ll be great to finally get to know the Washington Square campus (including Wasserman!) and to be a part of the larger NYU community.

Awaiting the 2020 Olympic Games decision in Madrid

Teaching Spanish/TESOL class visit to the Reina Sofia Museum, Madrid

Study Away Recollections

Senior Global Public Health student Fanta NGom had an incredibly transformational experience while studying away at NYU Accra in Spring 2013. Learn about her semester away, the influence of the city’s one and only mental health school, and how she used the experience as a catalyst to start her own non-profit organization, P.R.O.M.O.

Fanta NGom (Center)

Global Public Health ‘14

When I decided to attend NYU back in 2010, I never imagined my NYU experience being as great and rewarding as it has been. For one, the clubs I have joined, such as the Academic Achievement Program (AAP), Black Students Union (BSU), and the African Students Union (ASU) have contributed to both my personal and academic growth. These clubs were instrumental in turning me into the leader that I am today, a leader dedicated to creating an experience full of academic and social success for all students at NYU. Throughout my years here, I took amazing classes such as Complementary and Alternative Medicine that solidified my love and passion for mental health. I hope to not only educate society about mental health, but also raise awareness, and find more effective treatments for all disorders.

 The experience that greatly affected my career path and contributed to my growth was my decision to study abroad in Accra, Ghana, my junior year. That year I took a risk; that risk was leaving behind everything and everybody and studying abroad for a whole year. I studied abroad in London during the fall and then left for Accra in the spring. At first, I didn’t really know why I made the decision to go to Accra. Yes, as an African I wanted to visit Africa, as this would be my first time on the continent. Yes, I wanted to experience a place way out of my comfort zone. And yes, I wanted to attend a study abroad site applicable to my minor and my overall interests. However, when I left Accra, I realized that I went there for a purpose; to develop a non-profit that would change the lives of many women across Ghana and hopefully across Africa.

While studying in Accra, I had the wonderful opportunity of interning at the only mental health school in all of Accra. This school, The New Horizon Special School, has both a school for children between the ages of 5 and 18 with a variety of disabilities including learning disabilities and a vocational school for adults. I worked with the youngest students at the school and it was in fact a life changing experience. I noticed how much of an impact dance and music has on one’s life and how it must be incorporated into the treatment of mental health. I realized that at the end of the day, despite their disabilities, these students were happy, loving people who should be treated no differently than the little girl or boy who goes to the school right down the road. Going to my internship was the highlight of my days in Accra. Being here really strengthened my desire to go into the field of mental health and today I am doing just that.

As a senior, it is completely normal to have anxiety about graduation and be stressed out about our career plans. However, being in Accra, made my senior year less stressful. Currently, I am developing a non-profit along with one other NYU Accra Alumna and my past mentee. This non-profit is called P.R.O.M.O.: Protecting the Rights Of the Marginalized and Oppressed. P.R.O.M.O. seeks to address cultural and societal perceptions on mental and reproductive health within Ghana in hopes of developing new ways to promote self-sustainability. By providing access to essential medical resources, health education, and a safe space for women of reproductive age and older with mental disabilities and HIV/AIDS, we hope to create a sense of belonging through a new community. Our purpose is to provide our sisters, the women in our space, with the means to self-sufficiency, which will act as an access point to establishing and maintaining happier, healthier, and more fulfilling lives. We seek to provide a safe space where women can be educated on mental and reproductive health issues and be provided with the resources and skills needed for self-sufficiency. Our safe space will act as a shelter for those who wish to regain their self-sufficiency and health. Our space will also serve as a temporary refuge for our non-residential sisters, where they can attend our awareness and educational programs.

Going to Accra inspired me to do this. Going to Accra made me realized how much of a passion I have for mental health. Going to Accra affected my career choices. Without this experience, I wouldn’t be able to say that I am working towards the betterment of the lives of many women in Ghana. Today, we are semi-finalist for the NYU Reynolds Changemaker Challenge! We are also in the stages of applying to various grants to fund this initiative. This spring break, we are hoping to travel to Ghana to further research our venture, meet with the Ministry of Health, see the space where we will launch our non-profit, and travel to Tamale to meet with Dr. Abdulai (5th recipient of the Martin Luther King Jr. Award for Peace and Social Justice in 2012) who has a clinic in Tamale and has agreed to collaborate with us, as well as other individuals who are key to the success of our venture. Our market research done in Ghana will allow us to determine all potential start-up challenges, have a better understanding of our target market, determine our competitive analysis, and other important elements essential for a successful start-up of our non-profit.

I encourage everyone to study away and if not for a semester, go for 3 weeks, or a summer! It will honestly impact you in ways unimaginable!

Learn more about and support Fanta’s efforts in bringing P.R.O.M.O. to Ghana by visiting the group’s Gofundme page.

Starting the Semester with a Bang: A How To

By Terri Burns, CAS Class of 2016 and NYU Wasserman Peer in Career Member

Alas… the beginning of a new semester!  You’ve already packed your bags, said farewell to Mom’s cooking, ta-ta to your hometowns, and Californians have grudgingly fled the warmth. Now’s the time we remember that deep in our laptops, buried beneath those Facebook, Buzzfeed, and Twitter tabs that consumed us all break, there’s a resume ready to be touched up.  Whether or not you’ve spent your winter break scouring the Internet for summer internships or whether you’ve used it to search for summer vacation spots, this is how you can start the semester with a bang:

  • Look over your resume

Even if you did not look at your resume once this break, now’s a great time to let a set of fresh eyes glance over it.  Have a roommate, old professor, or friend look over it for feedback, and be sure to add any volunteer experience you completed over break.

  • Reflect

Think about your past experiences and use this reflection to plan the kind of internships you’d like to have this summer. What worked well for you in the past? What didn’t?  What are you looking to get out of an internship? Where do you want to spend your summer? How can you best complement your skills, experience, and interests?

  • Make a Timeline

Application deadlines will creep up before you know it! Compile a list of potential internships and organize it according to deadlines so that you can be sure not to miss any opportunities.

  • Reach Out

Before the semester gets too hectic, be sure to connect with people who can write recommendations for you.  Use this time to grab a lunch, say hello, or express gratitude to those who have helped or will help you.

  • Keep Your Options Open

Remember that internships are a great time to learn, gain experience, meet interesting people, and contribute to a field in which you’re interested.  They are also a time to gain knowledge about something, so be sure to keep your options open!

  • Apply

Submit applications, of course! There’s still time to squeeze in an internship application or two as you find yourself prepping for midterms, but things get busy.  Why not take advantage of the time now?

  • Call or Skype with a Wasserman Counselor

And of course… Log into Career Net to explore the wide range of career advice! You can also book an in-person appointment with a counselor for a 30-minute session!

Use these tips to stay organized and prepare for the weeks ahead.  Before you know it, the snow will be replaced with sunshine, and hopefully you’ll have a bright, productive summer to look forward to. Good luck with spring semester!