International Intern Finds His Passion

Yuri Merezhko ’13 used his language fluency and international relations background to thrive in an internship with the Human Rights Watch where he worked on a wide variety of projects.

yuriYuri Merezhko ’13 considers himself lucky to have landed his internship. But his persistence is what really played a big part. At the suggestion of his sister, he sent his résumé to Human Rights Watch, one of the world’s leading independent organizations dedicated to defending and protecting human rights, though there weren’t any listings for internships. 

With some help from the staff at the Center for Career Development, who reviewed his résumé and prepared him for the interview, Merezhko must have impressed someone in the Europe and Central Asia division — his area of interest — as he received a call for an interview. In fact, his internship director commented on his determination in pursuing the position with the New York City-based organization.

Fluent in Russian, the Yonkers, N.Y. senior primarily helped with Russian to English translation during his internship. At the time, the division was writing a press release on an anti-rally bill in Russia, which massively increases the size of fines for unapproved rallies in that country, and he basically helped translate the actual parts of the bill for the press release. 

“I also made phone calls to embassies to get information,” Merezhko says. “I did a release and information-gathering on China’s aid in Central Asia. So I did a lot of research, too.” 

Everything I have learned in class actually applied to my everyday work.

An important focus of his division, he spent a lot of time devoted to the rally bill translation, in addition to working on the issue in Central Asia, and even had the chance to delve into a project that his group was just starting — the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. 

“Everything I have learned in class actually applied to my everyday work,” says Merezhko, who also minors in Spanish and music. “Foreign policy classes, classes I took on the Middle East and Central Asia, everything applied.” 

Equipped with an enthusiasm and facility for languages, as well as a great internship experience, he wants to do translation work after graduation and would definitely like to return to Human Rights Watch. If not there, then he’d still like to work within some kind of international organization, such as the United Nations or UNICEF. “I’m interested in translation, and I got to do a lot of that,” he says. “It was firsthand experience in the workplace. I was basically doing a lot of what some of the associates do there. It was really fulfilling.”