Onsite Internship Story: ElSayed ElSehamy (SOCL '20)

Name of intern: ElSayed ElSehamy 

CEU department and program: Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology, Two-Year MA

Year of graduation: 2020 

Name of internship host organization: UMAM for Documentation and Research  

Name of unit you interned at organization: MENA Prison Forum 

Role: Researcher 


What did you do during your internship? Can you describe a typical day in the office?  

During my internship, I researched audio productions covering the prison question in the MENA region, focusing on Egypt. I collected songs, TV programs, videos, and film scenes that represented the prison in different ways. The database I produced will be uploaded to the Forum’s website soon. I also worked on producing research papers related to the Forum’s academic interests focusing on the mandatory military service in Egypt, the military education courses in Egyptian universities, and the emergent exile communities following the 2013 military coup. Additionally, I experimented with producing podcasts to contribute to the Prison Radio, which aims to produce podcasts on the topic of prison in general. This includes interviews with former prisoners, the relatives and families of prisoners, and researchers and artists who work on the prison topic. I recorded five of Yassin al-Haj Saleh’s letters to his wife Samira who disappeared in Syria. Finally, I attended a workshop on prison culture and practices in the MENA region, where I was introduced to a variety of researchers who work on the topic. 

How will this internship help you in your career? 

I might be hired as a non-residential researcher with the MENA Prison Forum for one year, starting from January 2020. It will depend on next year’s budget of the project. In case I get to work there, this will be a great opportunity for my future career as a researcher and an academic. Moreover, during a workshop organized by the Forum, I met a political exile who lives in Berlin. My MA thesis topic at CEU is about political exiles in Berlin. Meeting him gave me access to do my fieldwork. This saved me a lot of efforts as I gained the trust of the exile community in Berlin relatively easily after meeting this person. The internship provided a great opportunity to network with researchers from different disciplines. In addition, the small podcasting experience with the Forum prepared me to apply for future grants on podcasting. After my MA at CEU, I plan to continue working on recording Yassin al-Haj Saleh’s letters to his disappeared wife. Finally, I expect that the internship experience will qualify me for different range of jobs in the future and most importantly it will be an important asset for my PhD application. 

How did you find this internship?  

I was interested in the work of the Forum as I believe it is timely and valuable at the current moment in   the region’s history. I approached them and asked about the possibility of interning with the Forum. After receiving an initial confirmation from the unit coordinator, I applied for the Internship Support Program (ISP) Fund. 

Do you have advice for current students regarding internships? 

I would say that any student interested in doing an internship should aim to do something related to their academic interests. Coordinating with a supervisor beforehand reduces a lot of discomfort that might occur during the internship. Having a strong interest in the overall work of the selected organization would be good in case the intern is hoping to further work with the organization or even extend the internship period. Finally, the internship is an entry point to learn more about the host country and its society.