Conflict Analysis and Resolution Students Apply Theories in Summer Internships

Posted: August 19, 2011 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: August 19, 2011 at 1:02 pm

By Lea Lubag

All college students rely on internships to gain experience in the career fields they plan to work in after graduation. But for skills-oriented majors, such as conflict analysis and resolution, real-world experience is especially critical.

“The practical application of the theories and techniques learned in the classroom is integral to our students’ education,” says Brydin Banning, director of undergraduate student services for the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution (S-CAR).

To achieve this, the S-CAR staff regularly promotes internship opportunities and hosts resume and interviewing workshops for their students. S-CAR is also offering a new seminar course this fall to further assist students in acquiring career-related knowledge and skills, says Banning.

These efforts paid off this year, with 15 students landing summer internships.

It’s All Political

Nicole Miles. Photo courtesy of Nicole Miles

Senior Nicole Miles decided to pursue her interest in politics and government at a congressional office this summer.

Miles is currently interning at Rep. Francisco Canesco’s office in Washington, D.C. Her main responsibilities include talking with constituents, leading tours of the U.S. Capitol, writing letters and researching legislative issues.

“I am the first person that our constituents talk to, and I direct their phone call to the appropriate legislative staff member. I listen to their concerns and try to give them as much information as possible,” she says.

Miles notes that the 50-hour work week and long daily commute has been challenging, but running into members of Congress in person helps make up for it. While Americans’ rating of the legislators may be at an all-time low, “Here, they are like celebrities!” says Miles.

The internship also has helped Miles discover the fields she’s most interested in and learn “more about the workplace and how each career path has its own culture.”

“The most significant piece of information I’ve learned so far is that politics comes before policy,” she says. “I think this is why the American people are so displeased with Congress, and it’s a topic to look at for changing the way our legislative branch currently works.”

Making a Safe Haven

Samira Milanizadeh. Photo by Lea Lubag

Senior Samira Milanizadeh chose to intern at Fairfax County Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court because she says she’s always been interested in the “courthouse scene.”

Milanizadeh was hired as a fall 2011 intern for Safe Haven, a developing special cases program. She has been training this summer to work in a supervised visitation and exchange program called Stronger Together. The program involves divorce, domestic violence and abuse cases, in which both parents are not permitted to be in the same room together. The programs allow custodial parents to drop their children off at the courthouse so that the children can spend court-supervised time with the noncustodial parents.

“These are families that have had really serious problems. We’re there to supervise their conversation and monitor their interactions,” says Milanizadeh. “We have to be on the lookout for anything suspicious or inappropriate and report that to our supervisors.”

The Stronger Together program tries to create an atmosphere where noncustodial parents and their children can feel comfortable spending time. Milanizadeh describes the center as a “big game room” complete with board games, basketball and Wii. Five to six families are allowed inside the room at a time, and each is allotted an hour and a half together.

“Some of these parents don’t even know how to interact with their kids, so we’re also there to help break the ice,” says Milanizadeh, who begins her internship with Safe Haven later this month.

“The more serious and intense cases that need more attention are going to come to us,” Milanizadeh says. “We’re only going to have two to three families in a room so that we can focus on what’s going on in an intimate setting.”

The following S-CAR students also had internships this summer:

  • Brandon Atwater,  U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • Tatiana Boswell,  Fairfax County Office for Women and Domestic and Sexual Violence Services
  • Jason Campbell, Inter-American Development Bank
  • Andrew Colenda, U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs
  • Cynthia Garrison, Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education, University English Language Program, S-CAR
  • Thomas Gregan, New Jersey State Police
  • Elizabeth Goodwyn,  Bread and Water for Africa
  • William T. Hammill, Grassroots Reconciliation Group
  • Aimee Hvizdos, Washington County Courthouse, Pennsylvania
  • Amol Nadkami, Joan B. Croc Institute for Peace and Justice
  • Michael Reid, Naval Criminal Investigative Service
  • Valerie Rider, The Leigh Agency
  • Danielle Wallace,  MY GYM Children’s Fitness Center

For more information on internships for the S-CAR field experience or integration requirement, contact Lisa Shaw, director of field experience for S-CAR, at


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