11 Weeks Later

Two and a half months after setting foot on the University of Massachusetts campus for the first time, I’m back at Brandeis for my senior year. From everything, I believe that I have gained an immense amount of knowledge about how a small non-profit runs. Going into this internship, I had little idea about the amount of work that each staff member puts into the organization every day. And although I did not conduct much research, from staff meetings, talking with other interns, and all the work I was coming in contact with, I learned a lot more about the field. I learned about new wars, masculinities, peacekeeping operations, and micro-finance, among many other interesting topics relevant to my studies at Brandeis.

The experience I had this summer was also the first time that I had the chance to work in the non-profit sector, and it has solidified my belief that working in a non-profit sector is something that I would like to pursue after graduation. Working at this internship for the summer was also the first time I had the responsibility of maintaining a full-time position. I executed my tasks to the best of my ability and believe from that I gained time management skills and a greater sense of responsibility.

From working with the Consortium, I had the chance to fine-tune my organizational skills. I was on the Cloud Organization team, which I happily signed up for after hearing about the project at the beginning of the summer. More importantly, I have become more detail oriented after working on many of the projects that required me to do so. For example, I was on the Website Accuracy team, which performed checks on website nodes that are part of the Research Hub on the Consortium’s website.

One last lunch with the interns


One part of the internship that I really enjoyed was when we took the time out of a staff meeting to discuss application processes, which were relevant to many, if not all of the interns. Fellow interns and the staff shared advice on applying to various positions, whether it’s a job or an internship. Entering my senior year, and seeking employment after graduation, I’m grateful to have picked up resume and interview tips that will be helpful very soon.

After having had this experience with the Consortium, I’m interested in working with another nonprofit. I would like to gather even more new experiences and see how work is being done in different organizations within the nonprofit sector. If there is anyone interested in gender and security issues or working closely with a small nonprofit organization, I would highly recommend that they apply to intern with the Consortium. Particularly for international relations students, the Consortium presents issues that are very relevant to their field, but rarely discussed.

From participating in this internship, I know that the nonprofit sector is in my future. I saw the passion and the drive that the staff at the Consortium had that they applied to their work and hope to one day also be part of the change for greater social justice.

View overlooking the water outside UMB

Thank you WOW for such a great summer!

Iris Lee ’15

Already halfway done at the Consortium!

Taking a break from my internship, I sit in the campus center on the UMB campus. In front of me is an expansive array of flags overlooking the atrium. And also across from me, a fellow intern is hard at work, reading through articles related to her research project. After settling in with the organization, I split my time working in and outside of the office. Outside of UMB, you can usually find me at the Boston Public Library or various coffee shops around the area.

UMB Campus Center Atrium

Just yesterday, I had my probationary interview with the staff at the Consortium. Since our first meetings after orientation, I have not had the chance to talk to the staff one-on-one. I looked forward to meeting with them again after spending the last few weeks getting to know each other. Talking with my supervisors this time around, I felt much more comfortable sitting in the office and discussing my work with the Consortium. In addition to the probationary meeting, I submit weekly updates to check in with the staff and create a plan of action for each new project that I take on. To keep a record of all the work I do with the organization, I also keep an individual plan of action for my time with the Consortium.

Since starting my internship, I have decided to take on projects that are less researched based, which was my initial focus when applying to the Consortium this summer. After completing an independent study project abroad, I had spent plenty of time researching and decided that I wanted a break from this type of work. The flexibility of the Consortium’s internship program allowed me to continue honing my research skills, while mainly focusing on non-research based projects. From completing budgeting documents to organizing the cloud storage space, I spend the majority of my time with administrative tasks for the organization. The nature of the internship requires however that every intern take on a research project and shortly after beginning my internship, I received my research topic, Gendered International Political Economies of War and Post-Conflict! My research topic relates well with my study of anthropology and economics at Brandeis and has shown me a new side of issues related to gender and armed conflict.

Intern bonding at the Franklin Park Zoo! – Photo courtesy of Madochee Bozier

Aside from my main projects at the Consortium, I’m really proud of the way that the interns and staff have been bonding these past few weeks. My fellow Networking Director and I make sure to create plenty of opportunities for everyone to interact. We have planned lunches, trips to the zoo, and even yoga! My favorite type of event that we’ve had is definitely the intern and staff lunches outside. Overlooking the harbor, both intern and staff sit outside under the trees and picnic by the water. Already over a month into the internship, I cannot believe that in a few weeks I will be leaving the Consortium! Although a short period of time, that’ll be more than enough to have a few more lunches outside with my fellow interns and the staff.

View of the waterfront from UMB!

Iris ’15

First Week at the Consortium!

Returning from abroad, I find myself in Boston this summer working with the Consortium on Gender, Security and Human Rights. Located on the University of Massachusetts Boston campus, the Consortium is a non-profit organization working towards a just and gender equitable world. Under the leadership of director Carol Cohn, the organization dedicates itself to researching gender and security issues, bridging the gap between researchers and policymakers, and promoting education and activism on these issues. As part of their mission to end conflict and establish peace, the Consortium hosts lectures, discussions, and workshops, most notably their Speaker Series. For the Speaker Series, the Consortium hosts a variety of speakers, such as prominent scholars, policy practitioners, and women leaders from conflict-affected areas to participate and engage in dialogue about their work.

Phoebe Randel is the current Associate Director
Phoebe Randel is the current Associate Director

Unable to attend any of the internship fairs or campus recruitment events, I spent my internship search online. Having an interest in gender and human rights issues, I was eager to find out more about the Consortium once I stumbled upon their site. After researching the organization and their internship program, I sent an application to Carol Cohn, the director. Shortly after applying, I received a request for letters of reference and confirmed my interest in working with the organization. A few weeks following, I received an internship offer and began my application for the World of Work Fellowship!

At the Consortium this summer, I will be assisting the organization with a variety of projects. For the most part, I will be working on projects related to their website.  A week after orientation, all the interns have been actively working on the same website project. We are gathering resources and creating citations for the Consortium’s Research Hub. The Research Hub is a database complied of scholarly resources related to gender, armed conflict, peacebuilding, security, and more just post-conflict societies. After a few days spent looking up articles and pulling resources, I have already been exposed to an variety of gender and security related issues that I have never come across before.

Following this internship, I expect to have a much stronger grasp of the field. Although I have never worked with a nonprofit or gender issues before, through orientation and training, I feel ready to take on the tasks that have been assigned. Initially all the information that we received from orientation seemed a bit overwhelming, but after starting to complete the intern assignments, I see the need for all the training. Additionally, the staff have been so helpful with any questions that I have had. With only three staff members and twenty-five interns, our supervisors have more than enough questions to answer, but they graciously take the time to help us when we need it. And even with such a large staff to intern ratio, I have had the chance to talk with the directors and the special projects manager individually to discuss my interests and just to get to know one another better.

Aside from research and website work, I will be working on budgeting at the Consortium and am one of the networking directors for the Consortium community.  As a networking director, I will help interns connect with each other, as well as with the staff and the directors of the Consortium. So far, I have met many other interns with similar aspirations and interests. I look forward to getting to know everyone at the organization better and to meet everyone that’s part of the Consortium community! I am also so glad and excited to be working with two other Brandeis students for the summer. It was a pleasant surprise to see them the first day at orientation!

Fellow WOW recipients!
Fellow WOW recipients at the office!

Only a week in and I feel that I have already learned plenty, but also that get the sense that I’ll be learning so much more as the weeks pass. I hope to spend more time interacting with our Consortium family, not just within the office and also to explore more of my future academic and career goals as I take on this journey for the next two months.

Until next time!

Iris Lee, ’15