My Internship at the United Nations

Augustana graduate Larissa Miotta Simoncello ’16 spent the fall semester as an intern for the UN.

Larissa Miotta Simoncello ’16, a government/international affairs and French major, spent the fall semester as an intern for the UN.

Q. Tell us about your internship.

A. I am interning at the United Nations Office for Partnership at the United Nations headquarters in New York City.

Q. How did you hear about this internship opportunity? And, what was the interview process like?

A. Last February, I contacted the United Nations headquarters in Geneva with the intent to inform myself about the internship programs around the world. In August I received an email from the United Nations headquarters in New York City informing me that based on my application, I was selected for an interview. The interview was made up of questions about my life, my background, my achievements, and my character. The following day, I received an email stating that I was selected for the position. Sometimes in life you just can’t wait for things to happen, you must make them happen, or at least try.

Q. What are your chief responsibilities?

A. My responsibilities are to attend UN conferences and meetings; assist in project evaluation; conduct research on issues related to partnership, advocacy, and the Sustainable Development Goals agenda; prepare documents and reports; and assist in preparation and execution of high-level partnership events. The learning objectives of my internship are to interact with various stakeholders, including government officials, UN entities, and civil society leaders. I am also tasked with conducting project evaluation and communicating in a cross-cultural environment.

Q. What have you most looked forward to learning about as an intern?

A. I’ve looked forward to the experience I’m gaining by watching, learning and participating in the work environment. I’m looking for the difficulties, problems, and challenges I will face, which will help me grow as a person and as a professional. But above all, I’ve been excited to see the final result that will be my growth as an individual.

Q. How does this internship relate to your career goals?

A. I have learned that long-term goals are best achieved when I break them into shorter goals. My short-term goal for this internship was to [better understand] the functions of the international system — the forces, factors and interests, as well as the customs, rules, norms, institutions and organizations from which the theory and history of its development are formed. This will lead me to find a position that will put me in a forward-moving company/job with solid performance and future projections.

Q. You just graduated. What’s your dream job?

A. Following an internship at the U.S. Senate, this internship at the United Nations involves everything I look for in my dream job, which is an extensive amount of work related to the international relations arena. I have many offers for after my United Nations internship and many plans for the following years, such as graduate school. For now, I am taking one step at a time and hopefully later on I will be sharing more good news.

Q. Most influential professor at Augustana, and why?

A. Every single professor that I had during my time at Augustana influenced me somehow. I am grateful to each one of them. Someone who significantly impacted my life was Dr. Joe Dondelinger (government/political science & international affairs). As a professor, he had very high standards, but communicated them clearly and made me feel like I could live up to them. As an adviser, he presented me numerous paths throughout these past four years, with the certainty that I could succeed. As an individual, he cared about me as person. He taught me how important it is to strive for excellence. He was the one who taught me how to strive for my dreams, how to push through when it’s hard, how to succeed and how to fail and how to dream.

Q. You’re a native of Brazil. How did you choose Augustana?

A. When I was a Rotarian exchange student in 2009 in Watertown, South Dakota, I had the opportunity to learn about Augustana. I made sure to use my time while I was there to evaluate Augustana as a future possibility for me to get my Bachelor’s degree. My decision to come back to the United States and attend Augustana was driven by the fact that I am very career and life oriented. It is crucial for me to focus on a goal and determine a solid path to follow. Augustana provided me all the tools needed to be used to achieve my goals. My professors took an approach to learning that empowered me individually and prepared me to deal with complexity, diversity, and change. They weren’t concerned with making me a doctor, a lawyer, or an accountant, but they wanted to make me a learner. Augustana succeeded in preparing me as a successful person and I devote this internship to this institution that I am grateful to be part of and call home of the Vikings.