Teresa Chan: How I spent my summer vacation — working for the UN

Not every student has the opportunity to meet United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, but University of Oregon junior Teresa Chan can cross that off her list.

As one of five students from across the country selected to intern this summer at the United Nations Information Center (UNIC) in Washington, D.C, Chan experienced international relations firsthand. She applied for the internship because the UN is the epicenter of foreign policy and global relations – topics of interest to Chan.

She was chosen from over 100 applicants for the highly competitive internship because of her knowledge of – and interest in – the United Nations, along with her international experience, professional demeanor and can-do attitude.

During her internship, Chan was given the opportunity to respond to public inquiries about the UN and represent UNIC at Washington D.C., events. Chan was surprised that interns were given important tasks such as scheduling visits for senior-level UN officials.

The meaningful responsibilities enhanced her research, writing and speaking skills. In addition, the internship gave her exposure to internationally-recognized think tanks – organizations where she may one day want to work.

“The most rewarding thing, in addition to meeting all these high-level UN officials was really understanding the environment (where) I want to work in the future, in Washington, D.C.,” Chan said. “Whether it’s on Capitol Hill, whether it’s doing research for a think tank, I really got to explore my options and find out what I was really interested in.”

As a high-achieving student with majors in planning, public policy and management and biology, Chan started her internship with an interest in international relations – especially regarding international peace and security. She was able to attend events, hosted by graduate schools, where she was given the opportunity to explore graduate schools.

After attending events on a range of topics, her interest in security was piqued by a lecture at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University. 

“In terms of international relations, I’m really interested in the realm of security, particularly ‘Biosecurity,’” Chan said.

She enjoyed the fast-paced learning environment at UNIC and the opportunity to interact with people from around the world. Chan also appreciated being able to work on different public policies and attending events to speak to other people who are passionate about the issues.

She thoroughly enjoyed her summer, both as a first-timer in D.C. and as an intern exploring the field of international relations.

-- Rachel Starr, UO media relations intern