20 April 2023

Following a thorough selection process led by IOM, several Westminster students have been selected as long-term interns with IOM offices in exciting locations such as Switzerland, Kenya, Mozambique and Laos.

IOM is part of the United Nations System and serves as the leading inter-governmental organisation promoting safe and orderly migration.

This is the second round of this internship programme, with the first cohort of Westminster interns successfully completing their internships before the end of 2022. This year’s internships that range from 4 to 9 months received enthusiastic applications from students from across the University.

To ensure all students can access this initiative, the interns receive financial support from the University through resources dedicated to outward mobility, as well as generous funding from the Quintin Hogg Trust and the Westminster alumnus and donor Mr Trevor Yang.

These unique internship opportunities are a result of an institutional agreement between Westminster and the IOM signed in January 2022, where Westminster students are given the chance to apply to exclusive internship opportunities at IOM offices across the world. The selected interns receive financial support from the University through funding dedicated to outward mobility to ensure all student can access this initiative.

This partnership has been mobilised by Dr Sahar Taghdisi Rad, Course Leader for the International Relations BA Honours course and Development and Employability Director for the School of Social Sciences, who has been leading a number of international and UN-related collaborations.

Dr Taghdisi Rad said: “The internships mark an incredible start to students’ career journeys as they offer high level professional development opportunities, elevate and internationalise their student experience by engaging them with the United Nations, and provide equal access to opportunities to students from all socio-economic backgrounds, inspiring both current and prospective students.”

Politics and International Relations BA Honours student Alexandra Bukhareva, who will be interning with the Programme Support Unit for IOM Somalia based in Kenya, said: “I believe that this is an incredible opportunity and the best start to my professional career. Working in an international organisation like the UN has always been my dream. I am very excited to begin my internship, experience a new working environment and receive valuable experience that will open further career opportunities for me.”

Since her selection Alexandra has already been given the chance to be involved in weekly meetings to help prepare her for her position in May 2023.

Not only will students be able to gain invaluable career skills but also experience living and working in another country and in a diverse environment.

Politics BA Honours student Kian Richardson, who will undertake an internship in the Migration Policy Unit for IOM Laos, shared how thrilled he was to have been selected for the position in Laos as “it is such a unique country with a rich and varied history. To be part of an organisation that is playing such a vital role in Laos’ development is an incredibly exciting prospect and a real challenge.”

Speaking of the opportunity, Dr Taghdisi Rad added: “Beyond its numerous benefits to our students, the initiative makes major contributions to the University of Westminster’s strategic priorities in terms of employability and EDI, our internationalisation strategy and also our commitment to the SDGs by partnering with the United Nations and have our student interns be our ambassadors at the UN.”

For more information regarding the partnership between the University of Westminster and IOM,  please contact Dr Sahar Taghdisi Rad.

Cover image clockwise from top left: Veronica Gianelli (BA International Relations); Alexandra Bukhareva (BA Politics and International Relations); Lena Kocken (MSc International Development Management); Ahmad Aziz (BA International Relations and Development); Mona Roudbarani (MSc Data Science and Analytics); Kazumi Hirai (BA International Relations); Kian Richardson (BA Politics); Souad Kessili (MA International Relations and Democratic Politics). Selected headshots © James Cole (BA International Relations and Development)