“Small tasks may seem irrelevant to what you are interning for but those tasks can help to build your skills for the rest of your career.”

Alaa Hammoudeh attends American University with an expected graduation date of May 2021. She is majoring in Justice and Law with a concentration in Criminal Justice at the School of Public Affairs, and is also pursuing a minor in Education Studies. Alaa has been placed twice with ABPA with her fall 2018 placement at the Jerusalem Fund and spring 2019 at KARAMAH. 

With her varied internship experience, Alaa agreed to share her experiences and truly reflect on her newly developed skills and value of internships. 

Where did you intern this fall and what were some of your favorite projects? What impact did the experience have on your professional development? 

I interned at the Jerusalem Fund for Education and Development in Washington, D.C. I really appreciated how the organization focused on giving updates on the Palestinian issue – whether that was through counting settler violence attacks or holding events for speakers to share their experiences. It had definitely exposed me to things I could explore in relation to my interests. From the internship, I also found myself wanting to pursue an independent study, which I have completed this last fall. With the exposure I was fortunate to have at the Jerusalem Fund, I found the necessary steps to pursue what I found great interest in.

Alaa Hammoudeh enjoyed her ABPA sponsored internship experience at the Jerusalem Fund.

How has your educational background benefited you throughout your internship? If it hasn’t, what are some skills you learned in your internship which you can apply to the rest of your academic journey? 

Something I felt I was not exposed to enough was initiating research. The internship that I had encouraged me to delve into this field and gain skills in attaining valuable information for research. This included the approach of finding information, especially by reaching out to professors in the field, and through this, I was able to make great connections and eventually find what I truly wanted!

What was the most impactful experience or encounter during your time in Washington, D.C.?

The most impactful encounter I had was with the professors that I had met through delving into the field of international education. Meeting and speaking with them exposed me to areas of the field that I found myself finding passion in. My interests lie between law and education, which is a cloudy route to pursue. Upon meeting this professor, I was exposed to the kind of work they were doing in the education field on an international level, making this path a clearer one to pursue. 

What are some skills you learned in your internship that you can apply to your future career?  

Working independently, managing tasks effectively, communication with needs and inquiry, video editing, and social media management.

What are some tips and recommendations you have for other students interested in an internship in D.C. or within the agency/company you interned for? 

I would say to come in with an open mind, which applies to all internships, but this is one I can speak on. While one can expect that they will immediately become immersed in the work on a professional level, it simply is not always attainable that way. Small tasks may seem irrelevant to what you are interning for but those tasks can help to build your skills for the rest of your career. A work environment with just a few people will expose you to tasks and assignments not necessarily within your field. Try to appreciate everything that they offer!