A Summer of Firsts

I am writing this sitting in the lobby of the law school. It was on my agenda for my last day of work on Thursday, 21 August. However, the overachiever that I am, I took on a few new assignments in my last week that I was scrambling to complete before I had to surrender my security badge and access card and be locked out of the ICTY forever (Although, I guess the point of this end-of-internship blog is that I hope it isn't forever!!). Then it was a whirlwind of packing and cleaning and traveling across the Atlantic Ocean, driving, unpacking, etc. etc.

A professor stopped to talk to me a few minutes ago and for the very first time, I put into words the concrete goal I developed from my ICTY internship: to be a UN prosecutor someday. So though this summer was one of firsts -- I do not plan on it also being one of lasts.

Professionally, this summer was life-changing. I became (in the words of one of my supervisors) "a cite-checking goddess." Fingers crossed this bodes well for journal this year! I learned that when you start off a job volunteering for every task or assignment that comes along, you will get lots of grunt work but also some incredible opportunities that you didn't recognize before. And coming off that revelation, you can learn something even from the grunt work. My organizational skills proved handy once again when I was named "Folder Queen" in charge of all case file management. That gave me yet another opportunity to learn about the ICTY because I got to see EVERYTHING and figure out where to put it. Even the quickest and shortest research projects improved my analytical skills and opened exciting new doors of thought. Perhaps most significantly, I realized that even seasoned attorneys have questions and doubts -- and that's okay!! In a cooperative working environment, no one looks at you poorly for wanting to bounce ideas off of other people and reaching out for help, as long as you have put in your own decent effort as well.  This was a fifteen week internship that confirmed my professional aspirations and made them even more concrete.  Even if they change at some point in time, it will be something I always remember.

Personally, this summer was more amazing than I ever anticipated. Most people don't apply to work at the ICTY for the summer perks of the North Sea-adjacent Netherlands weather - though it turned out to be beautiful weather for most of the summer. Neither do most apply for the socialization with close to 100 other summer interns. However, those other interns became not only my office mates but lifelong friends. With them, I had so many firsts: kayaked around "Kings Landing" (Dubrovnik, Croatia), surfed (in the North Sea) for the first time, jumped into an Amsterdam canal (to save my phone - amazingly it still works perfectly), learned the joys (and terrors) of biking in a city full of other bikers and tram tracks just waiting to trip you up. The 3+ month ICTY commitment that each of us had was more than professional comraderie. It was a way to connect with people who have similar goals and aspirations who you can learn from and will reconnect with all over the world for years to come.

This ended up being more sentimental than I intended, but I think that is actually appropriate for such a life-changing summer experience. All of the things I discovered, learned, and experienced simply gave me more inspiration and motivation to work hard so I can have the career I want and make the difference I see as necessary.