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Surya Gowda '23 outside the United Nations, where she's interning this summer..
Surya Gowda ’23 didn’t know what she was committing to when she accepted her internship at the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR). She had networked for the position, and when she asked what it would entail, she got a response along the lines of, “Oh, we kind of do everything.” But unlike some of her past internships, “everything” does not consist of filing and printing. In her words, it consists of “real world work.”

Gowda is currently editing the UNITAR midterm report, writing newsletters, and working on an e-learning platform based around UN sustainability missions. Though much of her work keeps her in the office, it does not keep her isolated. When a diplomat won’t respond to her emails, she tracks them down in the Secretariat. Or she may talk to diplomats on Zoom, on which she recently ran a training session on how to write a resolution. Gowda organized and moderated the event with another intern. Over two days, they hosted 200 people, including speakers from the General Assembly. 

Surya Gowda '23 at UN
Surya Gowda '23 sits in at a UN panel.

“The people at the UN who make these real changes have to learn their skills from somewhere. We have these training sessions so professionals can learn more about a specific topic or mission,” she said.

“These events really impact people because [those] who attend care about what they’re learning. You see the impact you’re making while you’re doing it. With a lot of jobs, you don’t get that point of view.”

At UNITAR, a small office comprised of mainly younger employees, Gowda has also found a collaborative environment in which learning is at its center. When the General Assembly was having elections for their Security Council, for example, she and other employees were allowed to sit in. Gowda, who has mostly focused her studies on American politics at Hamilton, values this learning aspect.

“I wanted to branch out, and this is a great opportunity to learn more about [international relations], which I’m not as well versed in,” she said. “I’m getting out of my comfort zone, and I’m doing something that I never expected to do.”

Surya Gowda '23

Majors: Government and Art
Hometown: New York, N.Y.
High School: Horace Mann School

Gowda will continue her internship until August 8. Though she is not set on a certain career, she thinks her time at UNITAR will prepare her for any government or office job she may have in the future.

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