Carter Center internships
offer 'real world' experience

Miguel Cornejo recently graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in history. Like many of his peers, he soon discovered the classic Catch 22 awaiting many young people upon completing college: to get a job you need experience, but to get experience you need a job. To better prepare himself for the real world, Cornejo applied for and received an internship with The Carter Center's Latin American and Caribbean Program.

"My basic reason for applying was to gain some practical experience," explained Cornejo. "I plan on continuing my education, but have found that even many graduate schools prefer students who have some work history. My internship started in June and it's been fantastic. It has helped me develop skills that universities don't teach, and to define my career objectives."

Cornejo is one of approximately 100 students who work at The Carter Center each year to gain practical experience in global health, democracy and development, and urban revitalization, among other areas. During his internship, Cornejo helped observe the Oct. 20 elections in Nicaragua. "Upon arriving, I hit the ground running and quickly assumed the position of 'jack of all trades,'" Cornejo said. "I assisted Carter Center staff with preparation for the observers' deployment. My biggest challenge, however, was to wear the shirt of an official Carter Center observer and head out to the Nicaraguan hinterland to help assess the voting process."

Interns commit a minimum of 15 hours per week for at least one semester. Many receive academic credit for their work, and some, like Cornejo, are allowed to extend their internships. About half the students who receive internships at The Carter Center attend Emory. Supervisors in each program work with students to establish weekly projects and long-term assignments. Interns are typically given a broad range of duties focusing on issues addressed by their programs. To augment the work experience, a number of educational and social opportunities are provided as well.

"While pure learning will always have its place at universities and other educational institutions," said Carter Center Executive Director John Hardman, "we have come to understand that we learn the most by doing. . . When The Carter Center recently sought a peaceful resolution to the horrendous problems in the Great Lakes region of Africa, . . . Emory students were an integral part of our team, researching particular issues, writing weekly reports and updates and participating in strategic planning meetings. Together, Emory and The Carter Center are impacting the lives of real people in the real world."

Carter Center internships are offered throughout the year to juniors, seniors and graduate and professional school students. To obtain an application, contact Erik Oliver at 420-5151, or download an application from The Carter Center web site at CARTER_CENTER. Although interns are not paid, The Carter Center offers a limited number of stipends through a summer graduate assistantship program, which is open only to graduate and professional school students. The application deadline for both the assistantship program and summer internships is March 15.

"Through internships, students learn a lot of things that may help them with future employment or entry into graduate school," Cornejo said. "And The Carter Center gets help with all the tasks that go along with its many programs. It's definitely a win-win situation."

Ann Carney is communications associate at The Carter Center.

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