Shivani Tanil Somaiya graduated from the MA International Relations Program in 2020 and is from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. She majored in International Relations in her undergraduate studies at University of London before coming to NYU.
Where are you currently and what do you do there?
Currently, I am Interning at the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA). IANSA is a Civil Society Organisation that does work on Small Arms and Light Weapons processes. We are a UN Liaison Office and work inside the UN First Committee. My roles and responsibilities have ranged from overseeing campaign communications with our partner organizations in Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East and North Africa region to draft concept notes and develop my own initiatives. Most recently, I have been involved with understanding the intricate relationship between climate change and armed violence, whereby I was a panelist at a youth round table discussion on Disarmament, a UN First Committee side event, and a UNODA side event on Disarmament and Development. In addition to this, I am also in my penultimate semester in the NYU MA International Relations program.
How did the IR Program prepare you for what you're doing now?
The IR program gave me access to a wider network in New York City that allowed me to secure my internship. I was able to connect with other experts and scholars in my field. Also, the variety of classes gave me a broader outlook and encouraged me to explore all my interests. This eventually lead me to finding my passion in the realm of International Security, Disarmament, and Middle Eastern politics.
What advice do you have for current students who may be looking for a career in your field?
My advice would be to have an open mind and be open to exploring any and all possibilities within the field you are interested in. Talk to people in the field and be receptive of any advice they have, and ultimately be open to learning. NYU is also an exceptional school and specifically, the IR program is extremely supportive of their students, so I would also advise current students to capitalise and make the most of what NYU and the IR program has to offer. The faculty within the IR department all extremely well versed in their field and from my experience, they are always willing to support the goals of students!
Why did you choose the IR program at NYU?
I chose the IR program at NYU because of the diversity within the program. I was especially drawn to the program because of the vast and intriguing courses offered. I was certain that the IR program at NYU would give me the creative capacity to explore my interests within the field to truly find my passion. I was amazed by the faculty and wanted to learn from experts in the field. Also, the location is perfect. Being a graduate student in New York City has opened a lot of doors for me!
Which was the class you most enjoyed? And the one in which you learnt the most?
The class that I enjoyed the most was Professor Joseph Helman's US Foreign Policy and Middle East class. I enjoyed this class not only because of the content covered but because I enjoy Professor Helman's teaching style. He is very knowledgeable on the topic and has a clear passion of supporting the desires of his students. I would definitely recommend any one of Professor Helman's classes. He is an exceptional professor!
What advice would you give to future students of the program?
Be open minded, and proactive! NYU and New York City have a lot to offer. From being able to speak with experts in the field to attending seminars and workshops and networking events, the possibilities within this school and city are endless! Make the most of it and don't be afraid to fail - you never know where you will end up!
What was your favorite place on campus? What did you like best about student life at NYU?
Washington Square Park! It lies at the core of diversity; you can meet all kinds of people here from students to professionals to artists - when I needed a break from studying or a moment to clear my thoughts, Washington Square Park was always my go to! I love that NYU has a number of different societies and groups where you can meet people with similar interests - there is something for everyone!
What was the best thing about living in NYC?
Being able to explore all my interests. There is always something happening and the possibilities of exploring who you are and what you like in this city are endless. There is something for everyone, and it is all about putting yourself out there. It is quite literally the city where dreams are made. I have definitely grown a lot more independent and confident in myself in the past two years of having lived here!
Last Updated December 4th, 2019