2011 PFIG Recipient Stephanie Fontana

Career Administrator

Stephanie Fontana
College of Arts & Scienes
Goverment & Foreign Affairs Major
2012 Graduation Year

Internship: Amnesty International

Notes on the first week

My first week at Amnesty International has been fantastic. I am the Women’s Advocacy intern at Amnesty’s Washington D.C. office. Amnesty International is a global movement of people fighting injustice and promoting human rights. It has more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in over than 150 countries. As the world’s largest grassroots human rights organization, Amnesty International investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and helps transform societies to create a safer, more just world.

When I arrived at Amnesty on my first day, I found a bright, friendly office. There were a lot of other interns, and everyone had very impressive introductions. During the half-day intern orientation, my first day nerves were scattered upon watching a video about Amnesty’s past and its current work. We were all extremely motivated and inspired by this video, and I could not wait to get to work. I was then sent my department to meet with my supervisor and find out more about my responsibilities.

As the Women’s Advocacy intern, I work on my ongoing campaigns related to women’s rights and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights. My work focuses on both domestic and international issues. For domestic issues, I mainly work with Congress to encourage the passage of important legislation. Right now, we are focusing on two pieces of maternal health legislation in the House. For international issues, I help draft blog posts for amnestyusa.org to highlight important events or draw attention to our work. I am happy with the work I have been doing so far and am grateful for the amount of independence and responsibility I have been given.

Beyond our daily work, there is always something great going on at Amnesty. Just the other day almost all of the interns in the office went to a rally in front of the Indonesian Embassy to urge the release of Filep Karma, who is serving 15 years in prison for raising a flag. On Thursday I plan to attend a march against torture. Having the opportunity to be constantly involved in these meaningful and moving demonstrations is priceless. As the summer continues, I hope to become more confident in my writing and become an expert on the issues that I will be working with. It is an amazing opportunity to be at an organization like Amnesty International, and I am very grateful to the Parent’s Committee for making this opportunity possible.

Midway

I am now halfway through my internship at Amnesty International, and I cannot believe how fast this summer is going by. It feels like just yesterday that I stepped into this inspiring office on my first day. I love the work I have been doing and always have new, exciting projects to work on since the human rights issues we face in the world are always evolving. Everyday at Amnesty is different. Some days I draft letters of support for legislation or blog posts highlighting important issues. Other days I attend hearings on the Hill and meet with Congressional offices. Today I am sitting in on a staff planning meeting to structure one of Amnesty’s major campaigns.

My supervisor has played a large part in making this internship meaningful, educational, and very interesting. She gives me a significant amount of independence and responsibility. While I was quite overwhelmed in my first week, I am now much more comfortable with the work. It is a great feeling to be in the midst of everything, instead of having just started the job and needing to get situated in order to dive into new work. Also, I now know a lot about the issues I am working on. I led an intern lobbying trip to Congress to drop off materials from constituents and urge Senators and Congressman to cosponsor a piece of legislation that Amnesty supports. Since I have been working with this bill for over a month now, I was able to lead the effort and answer any questions the other interns had. I even got to meet directly with the health care legislative assistants in some congressional offices to discuss the legislation. It was a great experience.

I have also gained a lot of experience interacting with other people in a professional setting. I am much more comfortable meeting and greeting others and have even had the chance to meet staff from other human rights organizations. During various human rights coalition meetings, I have been in the room with people from loads of organizations whose work I love. It is interesting to see just how small and interconnected the human rights community, and I am sure any professional community, really is.

I am so grateful for the opportunity to intern at a non-profit organization. Being in the heart of DC working on issues that I am passionate about has been the best summer experience I could ask for. The only drawback: record high temperatures in DC today!

Final Reflections

The last week of my internship seemed to arrive far too soon. I had a fantastic time at Amnesty International throughout the entire summer. My boss kept me nice and busy with fun, engaging work to do. The time flew by. As happy as I am to be back at school, I am sad to have to leave Amnesty for now.

My experience at Amnesty International confirmed my desire to work in the field of human rights. I loved working for an organization with an international focus that aims to help people by working to prevent human rights abuses. I learned about so many different ways I can get involved in this line of work, and I cannot wait to pursue opportunities in this field for next year.

After working at Amnesty, I recognize the importance of working in a positive, happy environment where everyone is motivated and excited by their work. The staff at Amnesty is incredible, and everyone worked tirelessly because they were truly passionate about Amnesty’s cause. Also, the office has a great support system. While my supervisor pushed me to take initiative and gave me a lot of responsibility, she was always there for support and guidance. Additionally, she is very happy to help mentor me as I figure out my future plans. I will miss the Amnesty team and can hopefully stay in touch or rejoin them soon.

This internship was more valuable and rewarding than I could ever have expected. Thank you to the Parents' Fund for giving me this fantastic opportunity!