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Master's student lands dream practicum at United Nations

Posted April 7, 2017
By Desirae Gostlin


Former Governor Nikki Haley isn’t the only South Carolina addition to the 61st Session of the United Nations.  Maryam Agalarova, who is completing her master's degree in mass communication at USC, landed her dream practicum there.

A member of the Department of Public Information News and Media Division, Agalarova spends her days collaborating with organizations across the globe to spread awareness of the U.N.'s work.

So just how did Agalarova land this coveted position?

“The unit needed someone with a multicultural background to support the expansion into regions that have not yet been tapped,” says Agalarova.

Agalarova definitely met that requirement. Fluent in five languages, she also had professional experience at multinational corporation LG Electronics prior to enrolling in USC's master's program. 

But the U.N. practicum experience is adding to her multicultural education in a variety of ways.

“Working across multiple time zones provides some fun and interesting challenges when it comes to how I plan my day. I start as early as possible when I am collaborating with somebody internationally,” says Agalarova.

Those organizations include international media outlets and universities, foundations, non-governmental organizations and private sector businesses. The U.N. has a vast database of rare photos and videos dating back to the 1930’s, which Agalarova helps make available to the public. This information is especially helpful to organizations that cannot afford to send their own journalists or are reporting on time-sensitive matters, says Agalarova.

Agalarova also acts as a liaison with the legal department when organizations are dissatisfied with specific elements of their licensing agreements. A Russian native, Agalarova had little knowledge of U.S. copyright and licensing laws prior to her enrollment in Dr. Collins' media law class at USC. She credits that class and Dr. Augie Grant’s media management class as pivotal to her success at the U.N.

“In our organization analysis assignment, we learned how media organizations are managed and operate — how profit is made. [Dr. Grant] taught us about technical aspects of satellite and cable TV, which is also helpful in deciding compatible file formats to make available to our partners,” says Agalarova.

In addition to the vast array of technical knowledge she's acquiring, Agalarova is adding to her professional repertoire and résumé by virtue of the many U.N. events she has had the opportunity to attend.

The Observance of International Women’s Day has been one of Agalarova’s most exciting experiences. Secretary-General António Guterres and other panelists shared their vision of equality as part of the U.N.'s "Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality" campaign. The initiative set goals for empowering women in all regions of the world, particularly those with the worst human rights abuses and gender equality disparities.

All of the practicum experiences she's had with the U.N. media team have emboldened Agalarova’s aspirations to serve disadvantaged areas where living conditions can be very poor.

“I’ve always been a humanitarian at heart. I think it is a humbling privilege to be able to impact lives at both the local and international levels,” says Agalarova, who hopes to get a permanent job at the United Nations after she graduates in May.


Desirae Gostlin

Desirae Gostlin

Desirae Gostlin is a first-year Master of Mass Communication student. Her reporting has been featured in The Waterfront and Lexington Life Magazine among others.