Woods senior interns with president of Kosovo

October 25th, 2012 | SMWC

SMWC senior Leonora Dalipi and the president of Kosovo, Atifete Jahjaga.

A 24-hour trip around the world is a lot of time for reflection. After spending the summer as an intern for the president of Kosovo, Leonora “Nora” Dalipi, a human resource management senior at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC), had a lot to reflect on.

“It was very interesting to not only work for the President of my country, but also for a female leader,” said Dalipi, who is originally from Kosovo. “That itself was so inspiring, making the internship a wonderful experience.”

Donning suits, interviewing top government officials and writing binding legal documents, Dalipi interned in the human resource department for Atifete Jahjaga, the first female non-partisan president of the Republic of Kosovo. Currently, she is one of only 11 sitting female presidents in the world, according to the Council of Women World Leaders.

“I was always impressed by her,” Dalipi said. “She made us, especially the interns, feel very comfortable, which in turn made us feel proud to work for her and for the government.”

Dalipi’s journey began when she decided to return home to Kosovo for her summer break. However far she was from The Woods, she wanted to keep learning new skills. “I got the internship through a mixture of researching on LinkedIn, emailing and interviewing,” she said. “I have a great education and curiosity to guide me when it comes to problem solving.”

The next thing Dalipi knew, she was walking into Kosovo’s parliamentary building. “I was so nervous,” Dalipi said. “I have volunteered and interned before, but never at any place like the president’s office.”

Indeed, Dalipi is a veteran of prestigious volunteer and intern experiences. From St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital in Boston, Mass., to Greenpeace in Washington, D.C., she has worked with lawmakers, activists and children in need of compassion. She takes a learn it, see it, do it approach to her education. “Internships are very important,” she explained. “They’ve helped me understand that I am capable to thrive when challenges are presented to me.”

Dalipi knew that an internship in the president’s office would test her in different ways, bringing new and diverse challenges. She was entrusted with two major tasks: conducting an internal HR audit with a report, including recommendations, and developing an institution-wide confidentiality agreement. With the main HR officer on leave, that left only Dalipi to tackle these tasks.

“At first I was a bit intimidated by these big assignments,” Dalipi said, “They put a lot of trust in me and believed I could do it. It was a challenge, but a good challenge.” To complete her tasks, Dalipi used her liberal arts foundation – critical thinking, analyzing information and problem-solving – combined with the confidence she’s learned as a leader on SMWC’s campus, such as serving as an ambassador in the President Corps.

“I conducted interviews with the highest officers in the country, learned laws and wrote a report that helped the institution improve its human resources department,” she recalled, excitement and awe still radiating from her voice. “I did all of that on my own, without a team or even a direct human resource manager to guide me.”

With all the time Dalipi spends making a difference around the United States, she was excited to make an impact in own her country. “It was a great feeling; it was a great reminder that I can contribute to my country’s development,” she said. “That makes me feel accomplished; it makes me feel that even as a young adult, I can help make the world a better place.”

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