Kristiana Kuqi ’18 prepares for a press conference.
Kristiana Kuqi ’18 interns with former president of Kosovo
Some college students spend their summers working or traveling. Kristiana Kuqi ’18, however, used the time to complete an internship with the former president of Kosovo, Atifete Jahjaga, whose term ended in April.
Thanks in part to a family connection, Kuqi was chosen for the position, which provided numerous experiences working directly with the Kosovo government. She corresponded with other government workers at the parliament building in Kosovo’s capital city of Pristina, as well as foreign embassies on the president’s behalf.
“Kristiana was able to communicate professionally with my staff members and other parties outside the office,” Jahjaga said. “She observed quietly, and learned quickly. She wrote several press reviews, which my media advisor usually does, and she also assisted my political advisor in several other issues.”
On her first day, Kuqi was shocked, yet inspired, to see that both the president’s head political advisor and executive assistant positions were filled by women. Jahjaga herself was the first female president of the young Eastern European nation and has inspired Kuqi with the social change she brought during her term, which lasted from 2011 to 2016.
(right) Kuqi with former Kosovo President Atifete Jahjaga
“When I lived there, what women looked forward to was getting married,” Kuqi said. “Now there are women here who have been studying abroad, who have their master’s degrees, and who are doing great things all because people like Atifete have really opened the borders, pushed people to go school, and changed the culture.”
Kuqi said one of her biggest takeaways from the experience was an even greater respect for the president, as well as her staff. The feeling was mutual, and Kuqi’s demeanor did not go unnoticed by her colleagues.
“Kristiana is a very smart and enthusiastic girl,” said Besa Gjonbalaj, executive assistant to Jahjaga. “She always asked in what way she could be of any help. She was eager to learn new things from the start of the internship, and what I liked most about her was her social skills and the way she respected every employee.”
Kuqi said she also learned the importance of clear communication and gained a better understanding of the inner workings of federal government.
“After the first day, I walked out and thought, ‘That was amazing,’” Kuqi said. “From then on, every day I would walk out feeling like I learned something. And I always assumed the president of a country just knew things, but there are so many other people involved, and everything is way more tedious than I ever imagined.”