INTERVIEW: TAMUZ AVIVI ’17, RESEARCH ASSISTANT, WASHINGTON INSTITUTE FOR NEAR EAST POLICY

The graphic image of Lady Justice, blindfolded and holding the weights of justice.

Tamuz Avivi was born in the New York and grew up in Israel. After attending high school in Tel Aviv, she spent two years as a National Service Volunteer at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, where she interviewed asylum seekers about their asylum claims and conducted research on their countries of origin.

At Johns Hopkins, Tamuz majored in Political Science. She spent her junior year in the UK and during her senior year served as Executive Editor of the Politik Focus, a political webshow. While in undergrad, Tamuz held internships at the Greater Homewood Community Corporation (now Strong City Baltimore), the Israeli Parliament, and the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia.

Tamuz graduated in 2017 and currently works as a Research Assistant at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. At the Washington Institute she edits articles featured in Fikra Forum, an online publication that provides a platform for journalists, academics, and political figures from across the Middle East and North Africa to share their analysis with US policy makers.

Describe a day in the life of a research assistant at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

My day is generally a mixture between working on pieces accepted for publication by the Fikra Forum (a process that can include anything from line editing to fleshing out and making suggestions concerning an article’s main arguments), attending events held at the institute, and completing administrative tasks.

To be honest though, while it may sound a little cliché, no two days are the same at the Washington Institute: Last month, I got to co-produce a pilot episode for a Fikra web series that is currently in the works, and, just yesterday, I was asked to contribute to an article focusing on how the media in the Middle East is covering President Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria.

What made you choose this particular position and has it met your expectations?

When thinking about what I wanted to do after college, I realized that I wanted a position that would allow me to further improve my research and writing skills while engaging with topics that are important to me. Accordingly, the prospect of working as a research assistant at a think tank focusing on the Middle East was highly appealing. Six months into the job, I can say with confidence that my experience at the Washington Institute has more than met my expectations. While I definitely feel that I’ve improved as a writer and an editor, the amazing community I have found at my workplace and the opportunity to discuss the Middle East with leading experts from the region have truly turned the Washington Institute into my second home.

Did you pursue anything else during your interim years before beginning law school? How did you go about researching each of these opportunities?

After graduation I returned to Israel to spend time with my family and study for standardized tests. My dad is a filmmaker so, while I was at home, I got to work on some of his projects –which was super fun! When I returned to the United States, I was hired as a researcher at a company that conducts due-diligence investigations, an experience that taught me quite a bit about business regulations.

What do you think you have gained from the experiences and from taking time off before law school? Given the choice, would you do it again?

As aforementioned, by taking time off, I was able to hone skills that are necessary for succeeding in law school, learn more about the region that I come from, and forge strong professional and personal relationships. I believe that the time I have taken off has made me a stronger applicant for law school, will enable me to be a better JD candidate than I would have been otherwise, and helped me grow personally — I would absolutely take the time off again!

What types of undergraduate opportunities did you pursue that led to your decision to apply to law school? Were there any other experiences that you felt were particularly helpful in strengthening your application to law school?

My decision to apply to law school was largely shaped by my time at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and my year-long internship with the Greater Homewood Community Corporation, which I had learned about at the Johns Hopkins Center for Social Concern. Both of these experiences have solidified my desire to pursue a career that would enable me to support vulnerable individuals and contribute to my community. Because I hope to become a public interest lawyer, I believe that my professional background has helped strengthened my law school application, in that my work and internship experience demonstrates that I am committed to public service

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