In our  “Where Are They Now?” series, we introduce you to previous CAIR Oklahoma interns. You will get a better sense of what they did, where they are now, and what they gained from interning with CAIR Oklahoma.

Date of Internship: I was an intern at CAIR Oklahoma (CAIR-OK) during my winter break, from December 2016 to January 2017. I had previously worked with CAIR-OK to set up the Oklahoma Muslim Gamechanger’s program, along with being a frequent attendee of their events, which is what led me to apply for the internship as I wanted to have a more direct hand in dealing with civil rights issues.

Graduation Date and Major/Minor: I am an International Studies major with a focus in conflict resolution. I will be graduating in May 2021 having completed an accelerated Bachelors/Masters Program through The Johns Hopkins University (JHU) and Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies. My primary career goal is to become a diplomat- to have the opportunity to work on creating policies focused on long-term stability in foreign affairs.

Current Employer: Being a full-time student at JHU takes up the majority of my time, as well as my part time job at The Tutorial Project. In the Fall of 2017 however, I was an intern at the Pakistani-American Political Action Committee (PAKPAC), a valuable experience that has allowed me to begin building my connections up in Washington D.C. In addition, I will be spending the upcoming 2018 Summer interning at Capitol Hill in D.C. through the Congressional Leadership Development Program. Interning at CAIR-OK gave me the organizational basis to succeed in being accepted to and working with these organizations.

Tell us about your internship at CAIR Oklahoma. How long did you intern with us? What were some of the projects you worked on? For the month and a half I interned at CAIR-OK, I was primarily responsible for contacting various Oklahoma legislative officials in order to set up meetings between them and CAIR-OK staff. It was such a fulfilling experience to know I was able to do real work in helping CAIR-OK reach out to our local government more. In addition, I attended local events such as the Women’s March that year, and submitted posts about them to the CAIR-OK blog. I also helped plan for events such as Muslim Day at the Capitol, the annual CAIR-OK Banquet, and the Muslim Youth Leadership Symposium (MYLS).

What was your favorite part about your internship? My favorite part of the internship was being able to do real work, and having a new task every day. It’s well known that most internships for young adults comprise of dull tasks day in and day out, not allowing for growth through the internship experience. It was also gratifying to not be a mere coffee intern in the office, by being given the ability to work on pressing issues for CAIR-OK and the Muslim community in general. Adam, Anna, and Veronica gave me great advice not only for my academic career but also for my professional one. They were truly invested in helping me make the best out of the internship, and I truly appreciate them for it.

What was the most challenging part of your internship? I would say calling people on the phone. This was an action I wasn’t used to carrying out with anyone beyond my immediate family. It was even more nerve-wracking to call the offices of the Oklahoma legislature and coordinate with their assistants to set up meetings. Yet this valuable experience bolstered me enough to make hundreds of phone calls in my subsequent internship at PAKPAC. CAIR-OK also taught me the importance of keeping your head up and staying hopeful even when faced with discrimination and bigotry on daily basis at the office.

What are you doing now? Currently I’m just trying to get by with finishing up my sophomore year with good grades! I am also on the Executive Board for the JHU Muslim Student Association, and as I write this we are preparing for our annual Spring Banquet where the internationally renowned Dalia Mogahed will be speaking! I am also involved with a few other student groups on campus, along with exploring the city of Baltimore in my free time.

How did your internship with CAIR Oklahoma help you grow professionally? Interning at CAIR-OK gave me a phenomenal network of individuals both in the state and around the country whom I have been able to go to for advice on my career path and aid in applying to various programs and opportunities. Because of CAIR-OK, I feel better equipped to deal with islamophobic comments, with the stubbornness of a bipartisan government at odds with each other, and in helping my community reach its full potential. CAIR-OK opened doors for me to grow as a person and grow my career, and helped me meet a vast network of individuals working to make this country a more loving and just place.

What would you say to other students that are considering an internship with CAIR Oklahoma? My advice would be to apply. To have such a fun internship, with such hardworking individuals, is an experience that is very rare to come by. Being a CAIR-OK intern helps you make sense of the convoluted ways our government works by seeing it in person. Being a CAIR-OK intern will make you a better citizen who will be able to exercise their constitutional rights in the ways necessary to make your home a better place. CAIR-OK staff’s dedication to protecting the civil rights of all Oklahomans along with educating the general public on Islam is a noble cause, and is something that the world needs more of today. Apply and stay a while, and you’ll find yourself become a better person for it.