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AUS student achieves her dream of US Congress internship
American University of Sharjah (AUS) student Haneen Shihab Abbadi knew that she would be both challenged and rewarded working as an intern with the United States (US) Congress this summer. Being selected for the internship realized a long-held dream for the Sudanese-American student, who is a finance major with a minor in data science at the university’s School of Business Administration (SBA).
Following a rigorous selection process, Abbadi spent 10 weeks working on high-level legislative tasks in the office of Congresswoman Frederica Wilson of the 24th district of Florida.
“Stepping out of my comfort zone was the prime objective I had set for myself when I was looking for an internship. Working on Capitol Hill always seemed like an unattainable dream, but it is not if you work hard and go after what you want. During the COVID-19 pandemic, I kept up to date on topics being discussed in Congress. I tried to keep up with the language and jargon used in the Senate and House hearings. Getting this internship truly expanded my horizons, showed me what it meant to join the working world and allowed me to put into practice what I have been learning here at AUS,” said Abbadi.
In her search for an internship that would fulfil her university graduation requirements, the fourth-year student applied to the Congressional Leadership Development Program (CLDP). Supported by the Muslim Public Affairs Council based in Washington, DC, the program gives its fellows the opportunity to apply to a coveted Capitol Hill internship position. Once accepted as a CLDP fellow, Abbadi dedicated her time to securing an internship in Congress.
“I had to really work hard to put my best self forward. I applied to more than 20 different offices and committees I was interested in, which was very time consuming. I wrote and re-wrote my resume and cover letter countless times to suit the positions I was applying for. I had numerous consultations with the CLDP program managers where I discussed the policy issues I was interested in. I had to hone my interview skills as much as possible. I mapped out the different strategies for the offices that I applied for to make sure I was meeting deadlines and was ready for interviews,” said Abbadi.
Her tasks included working on daily news, carrying out constituent outreach work, contributing to internal communications and taking part in stakeholder meetings to understand stakeholders’ priorities and their legislative demands. Throughout her internship, she was introduced to the workings of the House of Representatives and advocacy work.
“I was able to see where business and politics intertwined in each assignment given to me. I used skills gained from my business classes at AUS, particularly business information systems and business law, to complete many of my daily tasks. The office was working on very important legislation that impacted thousands of people and businesses, and what the internship allowed me to do is put into practice what we studied in class at AUS,” she said.
Abbadi came out of the internship with a better understanding of the inner workings of US politics, particularly the House Financial Services Committee. As a finance major, her discussion with committee staffers strengthened her passion to work there one day.
“I met many inspirational people and created a strong network. One incident that stayed with me was when I met Congresswoman Cori Bush in front of the steps of the US House of Representatives. She told me: ‘Take this opportunity that you have been given and do amazing things with it, don’t quit! Even if you don’t know anything else but this, don’t quit! And keep going so that I get to see who you become one day.’”
Many AUS degree programs require students to complete an internship as part of their graduation requirements. Internships offer students the opportunity to apply acquired theoretical knowledge, improve communication skills, gain work experience and develop networks, strengthen their self-confidence and build professionalism.
Dr. Narjess Boubakri, Dean of the AUS School of Business Administration, spoke about the role of the school in preparing its students to address the most pressing world issues.
“The purpose of our Internship Program is to offer our students the opportunity to explore various career pathways; and policy making has proved to be a fine career option for business graduates. The depth and breadth of our curriculum along with the career guidance and leadership activities, help prepare our students for the most demanding and unconventional roles. With her successful internship and her participation in the Congressional Leadership Development Program (CLDP), Haneen showed us not only how to dream big but also how to work diligently in order to achieve one's dreams. We cannot be prouder of Haneen's many accomplishments! She is setting a wonderful example for her peers."
QS World University Subject Rankings (2021) has named AUS number one in the UAE and among the top 200 universities globally for accounting and finance, and among the top four universities in the Middle East for business and management studies.
For more information on the AUS School of Business Administration and its highly respected degree programs, visit www.aus.edu/sba.