Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q) students are putting their classroom education and media training into practice as they complete summer projects and competitive internships in media and other organisations around the world, such as beIN Media Group, CNN Arabic, Memac Ogilvy, and ExxonMobil.
“Our students possess knowledge, advanced soft skills and a wide range of interests that stand out in the work they do both in and out of the classroom,” said NU-Q chief executive Marwan M Kraidy. “Their involvement with positions in organisations with international relevance reflects the value of their immense talent as well as their contribution to knowledge production in the region.”
Antonella Sansalone, Komil Vokhidov and Sara al-Mana are among the students working professionally over their summer break.
They are working on a production of a new TV series documenting Qatar’s footballing history with beIN Media Group, conducting research and interviews, editing documentary and film segments, and supporting in post-production and distribution work.
An avid football enthusiast from Italy, Sansalone decided to study journalism in Qatar to report from the ground on the first World Cup to be hosted in the region.
She says that the internship has allowed her “to combine my passion for sports and field of study … and to put the reporting skills I learned in the classroom to show that Qatar and the Middle East actually have a long history of football as opposed to what is being told in the [mainstream] media”.
For third-year journalism major Vokhidov, producing historical segments for the project has led him to explore how sports and diplomacy in the region are inextricably linked.
“Being part of this project allowed me to see first-hand how countries are using football, not only for media and soft power gains and to create a favourable international image but also as a tool for nation-building,” said Vokhidov. “As a student in Qatar, especially at the time when such major nation-building processes are happening, you can actually witness it and have an impact on it yourself, having this opportunity and level of accessibility is pretty fascinating.”
Aspiring public relations practitioner al-Mana wanted to expand her knowledge about elements of her country’s history that she hadn’t previously explored.
“Football is an integral part of Qatar’s development,” she said. “Before my internship, I wasn’t really interested in football, but as I got to work on documenting Qatar’s football history, my interest in the subject has increased and I now see my work as a contribution to my country’s development."
Another student completing a summer internship this year is journalism senior Noura AlShanti.
Working with CNN Arabic’s digital team, she profiled and published stories about influential women across the Arab world for the channel’s new women-focused digital magazine, *Her Story'.
“As a Palestinian storyteller, I have always been keen to raise awareness about the Palestinian struggle through my work,” said AlShanti. “Interning at CNN Arabic has inspired me to tell the Palestinian story from the perspective of inspiring Palestinian women like Adla Abou Seta and Rana al-Hashishi.”
Meanwhile, Ayah Shouhdy, another aspiring strategic communication professional from Qatar, is spending her summer designing community engagement strategies and campaigns to raise awareness about sustainability for ExxonMobil as part of her internship at their government and public affairs department.
“As someone who is interested in the environment, working in the energy industry helped me put into practice new ideas to help combat climate change and grow my communication skills before graduation,” said Shouhdy.
The student internships are one of several academic and experiential learning programs designed to help NU-Q students sharpen their communication skills and provide them with a unique opportunity to experience work in professional environments.
Other programmes include the Global Media Experience programme, where a group of students visits media hubs around the world to explore the inner workings of regional and global media organisations and connect with industry experts from across the region.