American University of Beirut

An interactive learning experience: engaging with students for inclusive policies

​​​​​​​This year, as part of our commitment to education and AUB students, the Center for Inclusive Business and Leadership (CIBL) for Women has launched its first edition of the “Student Internship Program”, which provides students with the opportunity to engage in research, managerial work, as well as design independent impactful projects. During these enduring times, it is CIBL’s duty to help encourage students to graduate; given the lack of opportunities they will encounter amid this pandemic, on one hand, and the Lebanese sociopolitical and economic situation, on the other.

The CIBL internship engages students on a five-week interactive learning experience, allowing students to contribute in eleven Arab Middle East and North Africa (MENA) countries, whose purpose is aligned with CIBL’s main goal: to advance inclusive workplaces and dignified work opportunities for women across the region. 

The internship introduces students to experience inclusivity, equity, and dignity in the workplace, as a way to encourage them to adopt CIBL for Women values, whenever they step into a work environment. 

According to a student questionnaire conducted post-training, all of them were confident that they gained a better understanding of women’s career-opportunities and barriers/facilitators in the Arab MENA. At the end of the internships, one of the students commented: “My favorite part of the internship was reading about the experiences of other women, and coding these interviews. I felt that measuring recruitment, retention, and promotion was the first step towards a real change in the work environment, and this made me feel that my work was meaningful.”

Although students come from similar backgrounds and majors, each has a unique outcome and deliverable. In addition to creating an industry market report, students later develop their plans and final presentations; each topic is assigned to a student: 

  • Analyze data for key statistics and develop related infographics: comparing Lebanon to the region using RRP (Recruitment, Retention, Promotion).
  • Explore women’s perception of remittances: develop a short survey to determine how remittances are tracked.
  • Showcase the potential of “gender lens”: investing in bridging the gap between men- and women-owned businesses.
  • Develop a targeted communication element to attract HR managers to CIBL, for a social media mini-campaign.
  • Develop a regional student-focused Knowledge Is Power (KIP) Hiwar webinar on RRP in the Arab MENA.

To be able to develop their plans, students are appointed a key mentor from the CIBL team. Mentors are in direct contact with the interns on a daily basis, to guide them through the work process. Each student worked on real-time projects that were handled by different CIBL for Women team members. 

Half way through their internship, Beirut was devastated by the explosion of August 4th, which shook the entire city, affecting OSB’s offices and classrooms. Despite this, CIBL for Women mentors continued coaching and supporting their students through to the end. 
CIBL highly values its interns’ feedback, and highlights a selection of those quotes: 

  • "Thank you for giving me an amazing internship experience in CIBL. You managed to keep it interesting and relevant, even though it was virtual. I am glad I was amongst the first of undoubtedly many interns in the future. This internship taught me a lot of skills, technical and otherwise, that I will surely use and need in my future careers. I got introduced to the world of gender activism and its importance, thanks to CIBL, and to that I will always be grateful. Please thank the whole team for me, and again thank you for an amazing experience." Anas Sidani, Business Administration  

  • "It was certainly a priceless experience for me, and I am rejoiced for being a part of a noble premise. I leave CIBL as a person who is more conscious of their rights, of matters of gender inequality, and the limitations they place on women, and, more importantly, as a person who refuses to succumb to these limitations." Diana Farhat, Business Administration  

  • "This internship has increased my interest in gender studies, knowing that I am looking forward to registering in a course related to feminism in my fall semester. Moreover, it helped me in knowing what research is because I am considering doing a PhD. The whole team was extremely welcoming and helpful, and offered me terrific advice. Everyone was available when I had any concerns or questions. I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve as an intern at CIBL for Women. By selecting me for this internship, you showed confidence in my abilities, and I appreciate the opportunity. Again, thank you for this amazing opportunity!​"  Sara Okaily, Business Administration ​

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