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Former ISHR Interns' Success Stories
Thursday, 07 August 2008 09:10

Harkamal Rai (Canada)

Harkamal Rai interned with the ISHR in Geneva during the summer of 2010. She was part of the UN monitoring team and was tasked with attending and reporting on the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee meetings. Her favourite aspects of the internship were the opportunity to see the inner workings of the Advisory Committee and the chance to interact with people from various other NGOs. After her internship, she began law school and recently obtained her Juris Doctor from the University of Victoria in British Columbia. She is currently interning with a law firm that specialises in labour, employment, and human rights issues. The skills and experiences she gained during her internship with ISHR have been an asset throughout law school and in her current role as a trainee lawyer.  

Ravina Bains (Canada)

Ravina Bains did the ISHR UN Human Rights Council Internship during the summer of 2008. When asked about her experience with ISHR, Ravina said her favourite part was getting to work with a great team on vital human rights issues and making great new friends. After completing the internship, she began an MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice at Oxford University. Since completing her Masters' Degree, she has returned to Canada where she now works as a Policy and Regional Affairs Advisor for the Government of Canada. She also serves as the Vice President of the Ottawa Oxford Alumni Society. The research, time management and engagement skills Ravina obtained while working at ISHR are skills that she now uses on a daily basis in her work as a Policy Advisor.

Jessika Croizat (US)

Jessika Croizat was placed on the UN Monitoring Team from January to May 2008 through the University of Michigan Law School Geneva externship program. When asked about her experience at ISHR, Jessika said: 'I loved learning first-hand about the working of the UN human rights system and I also loved the wonderful work atmosphere at ISHR.' After her internship, Jessika went on to spend a summer on a refugee law fellowship with the Jesuit Refugee Service in Lilongwe, Malawi working in Dzaleka Refugee Camp. She then returned to the United States to complete her Juris Doctor degree at the University of Michigan Law School. Following her graduation, she spent 6 months on a post-graduate fellowship with Asylum Access in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, providing legal aid to urban refugees and asylum seekers.In May 2011, Jessika moved to Harper, Liberia, where she is currently working for UNHCR as an Associate Protection Officer. Jessika has been able to use several aspects of the knowledge she acquired during her internship: 'I also learned a lot about participatory training techniques in the numerous trainings I participated in at ISHR and I use that knowledge a lot in designing and conducting trainings for refugees and asylum-seekers and government officials and in conducting trainings of trainers.'

Kathrina Szymborski (US)

Kathrina Szymborski did an internship with ISHR during the summer of 2008, as part of the UN Monitoring Team. Since then, she has graduated from the University of Michigan Law School and is now working at the Rwandan Foreign Ministry. In January 2012, she will be starting a new job at a law firm called Weil Gotshal &Manges in New York City. The knowledge she acquired at ISHR was particularly useful in the job at the Ministry, where she helped compile Rwanda's reports for the UPR and treaty bodies. When asked about what she enjoyed most about her time at ISHR, Kathrina said she loved the variety of assigned tasks, the many opportunities to be writing and the people she was working with. She says that an internship at ISHR is a great way to get to know the UN human rights system and that there are a lot of career resources for interns, such as the resume-writing workshop and job vacancy announcement listserv for former interns.

James Wilson (UK)

James Wilson interned with ISHR as part of the UN Monitoring Team from June to September 2010. His favourite part of the internship at ISHR was the opportunity to enjoy first-hand experience of UN meetings, including the Human Rights Council, and most of the Treaty Bodies. Since his time in Geneva, he has been finishing his undergraduate MA (Hons) in Politics and International Relations at the University of Aberdeen, and has been accepted onto the postgraduate MSc in Strategic Studies also at Aberdeen starting in September 2011. Moreover, he has taken part in a number of internships and other jobs, including open source intelligence analysis for a private security company and working for the Royal Air Force Reserve at the Air Cadet Organisation. He has also been able to use the reporting and publication writing skills acquired during the internship, especially through having his work published in the Human Rights Monitor Quarterly. To anyone considering an internship with ISHR, James would say that, although Geneva is an extremely expensive place, the first hand experience you can gain is fantastic.

Felice Drott (Austria)

Felice Drott interned with ISHR’s UN Monitoring Team from August to December 2009. Since completing her internship, Felice has worked for the Austrian Women’s Shelters Network. In June 2011, she is planning on contributing to a project of the European network, WAVE (Women Against Violence in Europe). In addition to this, she is taking part in a project with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) on gender-based violence in Central Asia. Felice often thinks about her six months spent in Geneva. She has been making good use of her ISHR experience as she is participating in a university external programme on foreign relations and was evaluating Austria’s first UPR at the beginning of 2011. She is also involved in coordinating the writing of an NGO CEDAW shadow report for Austria’s next examination by the CEDAW committee.

Peter Tubman (UK)

Since completing his internship in October 2009, Peter has been working as a consultant for UNDP in the Maldives, writing a handbook on human rights and conducting training sessions on international redress mechanisms for national NGOs. The experience he gained from ISHR helped him immensely - both in finding the job initially and in developing many skills necessary to pursue his career. He is considering several options for the future, including continuing to work in the Maldives as a journalist, working as an editor for a human rights journal in Egypt or going to Yemen with UNDP.

Mabel Kiggundu (Uganda)

Mabel is Program Assistant with Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA) in its secretariat office in Kampala,Uganda. SIHA is a network of civil society organisations from North and South Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia and Somaliland. Founded in 1995 by a collection of women's groups with the view of strengthening their capacity, SIHA has grown over the years and is comprised of 28 member organisations. SIHA is advocating for social change and gender equality for men and women in the Horn of Africa and working specifically on gender equality, eliminating violence against women and girls, promoting human rights, peace building and conflict transformation, enhancing women's leadership and political participation and dissemination of knowledge. Mabel mainly works on SIHA's documentation of knowledge programme as well as SIHA's research work on the advocacy strategies towards eliminating violence against women in the Horn of Africa.

Benjamin Lee (Australia)

Ben was an ISHR intern in 2004. Since this time, he’s served as Human Rights Advisor to the Chair of the Northern Ireland Bill of Rights Forum, as an Australian Youth Ambassador for Development with UNICEF in Timor-Leste, as Associate to a Judge, and is currently Project Manager with the Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions (APF). Ben’s also worked as a human rights consultant in Bangkok, Geneva, Kathmandu and Sydney with organisations that include ARC International, the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), the Human Rights Council of Australia, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Save the Children, and the South Asia Human Rights Documentation Centre (SAHRDC). Ben’s been fortunate to enjoy a continuing relationship with ISHR, having returned as a Fellow in 2005 and as a Human Rights Officer with the International Programme in 2007.

Yuri Saito (Japan)

After her internship, Yuri stayed on with ISHR for one year as a Fellow. During her Fellowship, she continued to monitor and report on the various UN human rights bodies, while also becoming involved in ISHR's training courses. She participated in train-the-trainer courses and helped train human rights defenders in English and French. While at ISHR, Yuri also had the opportunity to co-author an article for the Human Rights Law Review. She is now working at the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), where she manages various projects related to environmental protection.

Janet Mccaig (Scotland)

Since leaving ISHR Janet has been working in the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey. She is currently working at the campus in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, teaching various international law subjects including Public and Private International Law, Contemporary Legal Systems and EU law. She is continually trying to convince the university that they need to introduce a course on international human rights law, hoping it will happen soon. She has been working on a proposal for a PhD , focused on researching the failings of international law in the area of human trafficking, specifically in the Mexico - U.S. border region. Having volunteered in a refuge in San Luis which offers legal advice, food, limited medical care and shelter, whilst compiling data on the violation of human rights of undocumented people in Mexico and in the USA she has had first hand experience of human traffickers as they prey on the weak and vulnerable. She cherishes many fond memories of her time spent at ISHR and all the friends she made there. 

Surya Gopalan (Australia)

During his six months at ISHR, Surya worked in the UN Monitoring Team. His favorite aspect of the work was the genuinely international environment and the on-going learning process which he said was a constant benefit of life at ISHR. After finishing his internship in Geneva, Surya has worked as a researcher with the British Institute of International and Comparative Law (BIICL) in London, before becoming an intern at the Australian Permanent Mission in New York. During the 64th Session of the UN General Assembly he had the opportunity to participate in Australia's negotiations. In the past year, Surya has returned to Sydney Law School to study Law and currently works as a Research Assistant at the Law School Faculty with focus on International Law. Surya’s advice to those thinking about applying for an internship at ISHR is to make the most out of it, trying to get involved in a diverse range of tasks and taking the time to speak to the staff and the other interns, whom they can learn a great deal from. 

Antonina Telepina (Russia)

After her internship at ISHR Antonina became interested in the subjects of socially responsible investments and particularly in microfinance. In order to reinforce her interest in this field with practical steps, she did a 3-month internship at Symbiotics SA Information, Consulting & Services in Geneva in June 2009. Symbiotics is a company that provides professional services for microfinance investors and fund managers. She is planning on continuing her education and receiving a complementary Master in Microfinance by studying at the European Microfinance Programme (, which is organised in collaboration with Université Libre de Bruxelles (Solvay Business School), Université Paris Dauphine and Wageningen Universiteit in Netherlands.

Sarah Hollier (UK)

Since completing her internship at ISHR she has given lectures at Keele University on the International Framework for Human Rights as well as giving mini workshops to students on volunteering and internship opportunities. She is participating in the Better Reading Scheme at her daughter's school and has also introduced human rights education to the school through a series of assemblies. As she lives in a rural community in the UK she is keen on continuing working locally. She thinks that the internship with ISHR has provided her with excellent skills and experience that were truly useful to her following applications. She has applied to train with the Citizens Advice Bureau and is currently looking at various LLM and PhD programmes both in the UK and Europe for the future. 

Antonina Vikhest (USA)

She is working with Centro Las Libres, a women's rights organization in central Mexico and also conducting research on access to higher education for girls in marginalized communities in Guanajuato State. She will soon obtain her political science degree, and will be applying for graduate school. Thanks to her enlightening experience at ISHR, she is considering writing her honors thesis on CEDAW,   

Annika Aberg (Sweden)

After her internship at ISHR, Annika interned as research assistant at the Mediation Support Project - a joint mediation/facilitation project between the Center for Security Studies and Swisspeace- in Zurich and at the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) in Geneva in 2008. She is currently attaché at the human rights section of the Permanent Mission of Sweden to the UN in Geneva. Her areas of work relate to representing Sweden's interests and coordinating the EU in matters of racial discrimination, freedom of expression, HRC Special Procedures' country mandates, and HRC special sessions, something which is done primarily through multilateral negotiating forums, but also through bilateral contacts with states, OHCHR and civil society.

Rebecca Whelan (UK)

After finishing her internship with ISHR Rebecca went on to complete her Masters degree in Human Rights at University College London (UCL). Whilst studying in London she worked for Women for Refugee Women, where she helped organise events held in Parliament and interviewed current Asylum seekers on their experiences in UK Detention centres. These interviews are now published in a report 'Out of sight; Out of Mind' compiled by Bail for Immigration Detainees (BID). Rebecca is currently based in Nairobi, Kenya, where she is conducting research for her MA thesis on women and rights-based development projects.

Paul Chick (France)

After graduating in Law at the University of Kent in July 2009, Paul decided to take a break from his studies and spent 12 months in West Africa to gain field experience. He worked with the West African Human Ritghts Defenders Network and Amnesty International Togo. He is curently in Lome working with various NGOs and he is planning on doing a Masters degree in International Humanitarian Law, and then work with organisations related to humanitarian emergencies and human rights.

Alice Hughes (UK)

Upon completing her internship in Geneva, Alice went back to London where she worked as an intern at UnLtd- a charity which gives out grants to people/groups to set up social enterprises- on their RISE scheme (Refugee Initiative for Social Entrepreneurs). Through the internship she gained useful experience in a related field to the work she was doing at ISHR. She also worked as a parliamentary intern in the office of Barry Sheerman MP. She is planning on doing her Msc at UCl in Social Development Practice.

Patriani P Mulia (Indonesia)

Patriani P Mulia is an Indonesian lawyer. She graduated cum laude in 2008 and has also received several awards for her achievements, in both academic performance and organizational activities. Before joining ISHR, she has worked as a lawyer in addition to training law students in international law related materials, particularly in preparing the students for international moot court competitions. At the moment, Patriani is carrying out her internship at the Association for the Prevention of Torture, another Geneva-based NGO, focusing its works on the prevention of torture worldwide.

Rachel Clarke (USA)

Rachel finished her second year of Law School in May, during which she co-chaired the 2009 Harvard Black Law Students Associations Spring Conference and became primary editor of the Harvard Human Rights Journal. She spent the first half of her summer as a Summer Associate at a large international law firm in Atlanta, Georgia and the second half interning at the Securities and Exchange Commission in Washington, DC as part of the Summer Honors Program. She will be soon graduating from Law School. 

Christopher Brown (U SA)

Christopher is in the process of completing a Masters degree in International Studies at the University of Connecticut, U.S.A. He is focusing on conflict resolution, democracy building, and human rights enforcement and plans to pursue a career in the NGO sector upon completion of his studies. 

Tina Kristensen (Denmark)

Tina is now working in the Danish Immigration Service, which is a directorate under the Ministry of Refugee, Immigration and Integration Affairs. The Immigration Service administers the Danish Aliens Act, processing applications for asylum, family reunification, visas, residence and work permits, etc. More specifically she is working in the department of residence and work permit, where she processes applications and works as a consultant for both national and international business.  

Rosa Sanz (Spain)

Since completing her fellowship at ISHR in May 2008, Rosa has been working for Age Concern and Help the Aged in London, an NGO dedicated to improve the lives of older people. She is managing a human rights project aimed at empowering disadvantaged older people to use human rights principles and standards to influence the improvement of local public services through the delivery of awareness-raising sessions, information, training and support.

Philipp Thorquindt (Australia)

Upon leaving ISHR after a relatively short yet intensive and immensely enriching internship in 2008, Philipp also interned at a private law firm in Munich before returning to Sydney, where he continued to work as a research assistant at the Department of Linguistics at Macquarie University and completed a Masters in International Law and International Relations at the University of New South Wales in August 2009. After considering pursuing a PhD project on specific aspects of international law implementation and declining a scholarship for another Master, he finally accepted a promising job offer from a renowned and thriving Swiss multinational financial concern and now works as an international advisor and communications specialist in Zurich.Philipp values his time at ISHR as a precious experience and a priceless opportunity to gain insight into the world of NGOs and the UN in Geneva as well as to make contact with extremely interesting and truly inspiring personalities. He is very grateful to all staff members of ISHR who were supportive and eager to share their vast experience, and he feels particularly indebted to the amazingly passionate internship coordinator whose efforts go way beyond her regular duties. Her unequalled dedication makes ISHR internships more worthwhile than any other (paid) internship.

Matthew Gray

Matthew started at ISHR in 2002, and he spent much of his time reporting on the key themes of meetings held by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). After completing his internship at ISHR, Matthew has gone on to study International Relations in Canada. Over the past eight years, he has pursued a successful and varied career which took him to Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Kazakhstan where he worked for a number of highly-regarded organizations such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) among others. He is currently acting as Head of Mission at Solidarites International in Myanmar. Looking back at his time at ISHR, Matthew says he was really inspired and he realised he needed to pursue a proactive international career to try and address some of the things that I learned about.’


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Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 July 2015 15:19
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