You’ll find answers to all of these questions and many more by reading comments from Faculty of Social Sciences interns on this blog. Students posted all around the world will share their experience, challenges and success stories with readers. Please visit this blog regularly to find out about their adventures!
Please visit the French version of this web page to read the French postings published by our Students.
Julia, Honours Bachelor of Social Sciences in Conflict Studies and Human Rights with a Minor in Law, Alternatives, Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights (FTDES)
Until participating in the Faculty of Social Science’s international internship program, I had never worked for an NGO. Over the past few years, I instead gained professional experience in the public sector, including as a Junior Desk Officer for the Maghreb region at Global Affairs Canada. Since I had only ever pursued opportunities to learn about international human rights and development priorities from a federal government perspective, this semester, I became eager to understand these matters from a new lens. How does the day-to-day work of an NGO improve human rights situations in practice? Are the priorities of NGOs in the Maghreb generally aligned with those of the Canadian federal government and/or their own governments? To begin to answer these questions, I decided to complete a virtual internship with the Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights (FTDES).
In the first six weeks of my internship, I have learned about the Tunis-based organization’s work in four key areas: the rights of women, labourers, migrants, and the environment. Among my most rewarding experiences, the FTDES provided me with an opportunity to prepare a comprehensive report and recommendations on a human rights topic of my choice, with the aim of advancing the organization’s advocacy initiatives. I have chosen to explore the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on marginalized women in Tunisia, including textile manufacturing workers, women from rural areas, migrants, and refugees. This project not only furthers my understanding of current human rights challenges in the country, but is also directly related to my interests in women’s rights and gender equality. From an academic perspective, concepts that I studied in a traditional classroom setting, such as qualitative research methods, also continue to support me as I draft the report.
Despite the online nature of this internship, my work with the FTDES has therefore been enriching thus far. While I initially feared that virtual work would cause me to feel disconnected from my host organization, I feel involved in the FTDES’ initiatives and, as a result, hopeful that I will be able to (at least partially) answer the questions that prompted me to work with an NGO in the first place. Most of all, I look forward to making a contribution that will shed light on the current situation of vulnerable groups of women in Tunisia.
Emilie, Conflict Studies and Human Rights, Forum of Federations, MENA Region
Now that we are two thirds of the way into this internship, I think it is fair to say we all have a pretty decent understanding of the projects we are involved in, and of the work our host NGOs continue to push forward. As I continue my work with the Forum of Federation’s Middle East North Africa Project team, I find myself reflecting on all the things I have learned, and all the activities I have been able to have a hand in working on. I can confidently say that the work done by the Forum contributes positively to the betterment of governance, women’s rights, inclusion, and so many other human rights issues in the MENA region, and the activities that the Forum’s country teams work to implement day in and day out target grassroots change, and positively impact the lives of so many people.
When I first started with the Forum, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, especially since this was to be a virtual experience. I was delightfully surprised to have so much hands on experience with so many different, amazing, teams and working on so many different projects. While I’m so glad to have had this experience, I hope I can continue to help work on projects of this nature once the internship is over. The Forum has opened my eyes to activities happening on the ground and in a field that I know I want to continue working in, and I am incredibly grateful for this experience.
My first month with the Forum of Federations
Emilie, Conflict Studies and Human Rights, Forum of Federations, MENA Region
So far, my time with the Forum has been a very exciting and educational experience. I am fortunate enough to be spending time working with Headquarters in Ottawa, as well as with each individual program country of interest, those being Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia. The MENA program focuses on empowering women in leadership roles in the Middle East North Africa region, and aims to increase the capacity of women and girls to become involved in governance processes and influence policies. I’ve just started with our Jordan team so I am still getting settled in, but my time with HQ was mainly spent helping to prepare our reporting documents for the program funder. This included formatting associated documents, conducting additional research and preparing briefing notes, and helping with English-French translation.
The COVID-19 pandemic has of course presented a number of challenges for me just like it has for everyone else, but it has also allowed for some pretty incredible opportunities. Typically, from what I gather, interns do not usually have the opportunity to work with the Ottawa team because they spend the internship properly in the MENA region. Being able to work virtually allowed me to spend my first few weeks with HQ learning more about the regional aspects of the program, which was very interesting and gave me a better idea of what each country was doing before actually starting to work with them. It also provided me the opportunity to meet many people, and also allowed me to learn more about some of the Forum’s other programs and initiatives.
The Forum’s work focus’ primarily on gender equality, decentralization, and federalism, and as such I have learned a great deal about these topics in only a few weeks. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Forum so far, and while I am a little nervous to change teams every few weeks, I am very excited to continue to work with them and learn however I can.
Deanna,International Development and Globalization, Forum of Federations, Tunisia, Morocco, Myanmar, Communications Intern
In the Winter 2021 semester at the University of Ottawa, I have had to opportunity to work as a communications intern with the Forum of Federations. My position grants me the unique opportunity to work on a wide array of projects within our NGO that focus on implementation in different countries and communities. Through this, I have worked with colleagues from many sectors of our organization, spread across many countries and time zones. These collaborations have helped me develop my online communication skills and time management techniques, attributes I believe will be an asset in the fields of political relations and international development in which I hope to continue working.
Much of my work with the Forum has revolved around promoting and attending Forum and partner events, as well as writing reports and documents to accompany these. I have also been tasked with collecting and analyzing statistics on social media engagement and event participation. These are projects I was well prepared for through my education at the University of Ottawa, writing voluminous papers, effecting research, and collecting and analyzing data. I have also been able to hone a skill in media editing through the practice of this internship.
I believe these experiences will help me to further my practical skills set, as well as my knowledge and understanding of my field of study and the communities touched by projects in the international development domain. Overall, these experiences will help me to become a better employee in future work opportunities.