Dari may never have expected to land an internship at the United Nations headquarters, but when you look at the path that led her to New York City, it seems only natural.
Dari grew up in Russia and attended high school in Siberia, close to the Mongolian border. When she was a teenager, her mom brought home a “beautiful article about the Ritz-Carlton,” and she got inspired by hotel management, which is what she studied in New Zealand before moving to Switzerland and earning a bachelor’s degree in hospitality and luxury management.
Her career took her to Abu Dhabi, where she focused on front-of-house operations at the Ritz-Carlton, and Dubai, where she worked the back-of-house operations and sales.
Pursuing an MBA was always one of her goals and Adelphi University became her first choice due to its location in the center of Manhattan. “The Garden City campus is beautiful,” she says, referring to Adelphi’s campus on Long Island. “But nothing compares to all Manhattan has to offer. There’s no better place to be.”
As it would turn out, Manhattan was the best place for Dari to be, with an easy commute to the United Nations Headquarters along the East River in Midtown Manhattan.
Landing an Internship at the United Nations Headquarters
As part of the Adelphi University International Career Accelerator Program (CAP), students are alerted to internship opportunities available to international students. As Dari explained, the team is extremely helpful because they take into account visa limitations and complications. “We can rely on what they have to offer; if they advertise it to us, we are eligible to do it,” she says, pointing out there is no worse feeling than really wanting an internship and only learning later you are not eligible.
Initially, Dari had no intention of applying to the UN internship. “I didn’t react right away,” she explains. “I didn’t think it would be the right thing to do.”
However, members of the CAP team, knowing Dari’s aspirations and ambitions, encouraged her to apply.
“Of course, there is that feeling of imposter syndrome,” recalls Dari. But she faced her fears with support from the Adelphi International team, who helped prioritize paperwork and improve her cover letter and resume. “Interview practice was also helpful,” she adds. “While I’m studying, I’m not interviewing for jobs, so it’s good to sharpen those skills.”
Within days, the UN reached out. The entire United Nations team was also very supportive, she says. As part of the interview process, she was asked to work on several marketing projects that took her two days to complete. “It was very overwhelming,” she remembers. “But once I started, I knew I could do it. Nothing is impossible.”
The final step was an interview. Dari had the choice of interviewing in person at the UN headquarters or online. “I said, ‘I’m coming in!’” she laughs, noting she was not sure if it would be her only chance to see the inside of the building. “They were the most wonderful, nicest people. I have done so many interviews and no one has treated me with so much respect.”
Since the UN team knew about Dari and had seen her work, the interview was a chance for Dari to learn about the UN.
She took the role.
Joining the United Nations Academic Impact Team
The United Nations Academic Impact team helps more than 1,400 higher education institutions around the world actively support UN goals. The team shares information on the latest UN initiatives, offering member institutions insight into how they can contribute toward these initiatives on their campuses and in their classrooms.
As part of the team, Dari was tasked with doing research, writing articles, and communicating with numerous partners. She covered events in the city, as well as the academic impact of institutions around the world. Member institutions are committed to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, which aim to “end extreme poverty, reduce inequality, and protect the planet by 2030.”
“My job was to cover [the SDGs] and make sure we broadcasted it,” said Dari, noting that communities and, ultimately, the planet can benefit from the knowledge.
She also emphasizes the trust that the UN team placed in the interns. “I was truly looking forward to whatever they were going to throw at me,” she says. She was pleasantly surprised when “they said from the beginning, ‘Dari, if there is anything you’re interested in, use this platform and this opportunity.’ They allocated time and encouraged that.”
It was only a couple of months into her internship when everyone began working remotely due to COVID-19. Dari was slightly worried, not knowing how things would move forward. “But it was very busy!” she says. She began her remote work by covering various parts of academia around the world — professors, students, mental health professionals — and how the pandemic was impacting them.
This year also marked the United Nation’s 75th anniversary. Departments celebrated in different ways, and the Academic Impact initiative hosted a series of online dialogues.
One of the dialogues was held in Russian. Because Dari is a native Russian speaker, she was tasked with advertising the event in Russian, and with reaching out to influential people in Russian-speaking countries and inviting them to speak. She was also given the opportunity to moderate the event. “There was so much responsibility,” she recalls. “The speakers and participants were so welcoming, though.”
Dari was entrusted with writing articles around sustainable fashion, and also with interviewing students who applied for the Millennium Campus Network program. Students apply for the program by explaining a project they want to pursue and how it will benefit their community.
“There are so many amazing young people who are doing things for their communities,” says Dari. One particular student stood out from the rest: a young man who completed his education despite becoming an orphan early in his life and growing up in a refugee camp. Now he’s establishing a school for kids like him — picking up kids who have no home and bringing them to school — making the school their home.
“And this is just one example,” she emphasizes. “The [Millennium Campus Network students] are fearless.”
Life After a UN Internship
Now that Dari has completed her internship at the UN and is finishing her MBA, she is looking ahead to the coming year: She hopes to stay in Manhattan and complete a second master’s degree program.
“The more I work, the more I realize that my technical skill is lacking,” she explains. She applied to Adelphi’s Master of Science in Supply Chain Management to fill this skill gap. The STEM-designated curriculum incorporates data analytics and modeling, preparing students to navigate a range of logistics, sourcing, production, and customer service challenges.
“Supply chain [knowledge] opens so many doors to a variety of career paths,” continues Dari.
“It’s funny,” she reflects, “I was more confident in what I wanted to do at 13 versus 28. There are so many things I am interested in and want to do! What I am realizing is that I want to choose a company based on its mission. I do not care what they want me to do, as long as I can contribute to their goal.”
She mentions her love of sustainable fashion, but remains open to opportunities in any industry as long as they align with her values. “Whenever the time comes for me to apply for jobs, it is going to be a very broad task!”
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