By Kristen Mitchell
A summer talking to and writing about students who traveled abroad for school helped George Washington University senior Aisha Azimi cultivate a passion for telling stories. That enthusiasm led Ms. Azimi to join an organization focused on the stories of Afghan women.
The summer before her junior year, Ms. Azimi worked as a higher education communications intern for Partners of the Americas, a nonprofit that encourages American universities to develop programs that encourage bilateral exchanges with students in Latin America and the Caribbean. Part of her job was writing articles about students who traveled abroad and their experiences. She found this internship using WayUp, a job and internship website for college students and recent graduates, and did extensive research on the organization’s mission before applying.
She made it a point during her internship to meet with people in different departments of the organization to talk about what they do, what they look for in a new employee and what she could do to position herself for success in the future.
Through these informational interviews she was connected her with her now-mentor, founder of Free Women Writers, a collective of 12 Afghan and Afghan-American writers and activists. The writers share their experiences about what it is like to live in the United States and Afghanistan. The group recently published its first book about signs of domestic violence.
Ms. Azimi, who is majoring in speech and hearing science, grew up in Bethesda, Maryland. Her parents emigrated from Afghanistan before she was born. She long remembered feeling a disconnect with her heritage, she said, until coming to GW and meeting people from around the world.
“I am proud of where my parents are from and wanted to connect to that,” she said. “Curiosity is really what drove me to this kind of work.”
Also that summer, Ms. Azimi interned with Plan International’s Global Women in Management Program, which brought together 27 women from 18 different countries for workshops on leadership skills. Ms. Azimi helped facilitate the workshops. She found this position through one of the GW Career Services newsletters, which features internship and job opportunities.
Ms. Azimi did both of these internships part time, an experience that taught her a lot about time management. These skills have translated into her work in the classroom and helped her focus on pursuing future opportunities, she said.
Now she is looking forward to the next challenge—landing a job after graduation. Ms. Azimi has tried to be a “sponge” this semester, soaking up career advice and attending informational sessions with the United Nations 360 Cohort organized by the Center for Career Services to learn about the kinds of jobs available in the nonprofit, media and advocacy world.
She also has met with a career exploration and assessment coach and industry coaches in the Center for Career Services who have helped her narrow down career aspirations.
“Wherever I end up, I would like to be doing impactful work where I get to see the result,” she said. “That is really what drew me to communications, because you are telling the stories of people who benefit. It connects you more to issues even if you can’t be there.”
As a speech and hearing science major, Ms. Azimi said she never imagined herself doing the kinds of communication and storytelling work she is passionate about today. She encouraged underclassmen to try new things and explore their interests through electives and internships.
“Just be open to absolutely anything. You can find something you love, and if you have passion in it, that will drive new opportunities and what kind of opportunities come to you,” she said. “There’s a million ways to get involved at GW and through that you can figure out what kind of career that fits you.”
Looking for an internship or full-time job? Reach out to Career Services to develop or refine your strategy and connect with employers.