My name is Mark Temnycky. I am a Ukrainian-American pursuing a Master of Public Administration and a Master of Arts in International Relations. I am also seeking a Certificate of Advanced Study in the European Union and Contemporary Europe, and a Certificate of Advanced Study in National Security Studies.
This summer I was fortunate to intern at the Committee of Foreign Affairs of the Verkhovna Rada [parliament] of Ukraine, where the duration of the internship lasted 9 weeks. During this period I wrote various reports for the committee on world events and how they affected Ukraine. For example, I provided analyses on what ‘Brexit’ might mean for Ukraine’s EU membership bid; how the developments of the NATO Warsaw Summit might shape the future of national security in Eastern Europe; and the EU’s current strategies on Russian sanctions. In addition, I translated government documents from Ukrainian into English, and translated international documents, such as news reports, from English into Ukrainian.
During my days off, I was able to explore Kyiv and other regions of Ukraine, such as Lviv, to learn more about the history, culture, and traditions of Ukraine. For example, I visited the grand churches of Kyiv; the old memorials to the Soviet soldiers who had fallen during World War II; the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv, which recently started its own Master of Public Administration Program; and visited longtime friends from the Plast Ukrainian Scouting Organization. Moreover, given my particular interest in Eastern European affairs, I was fortunate to have traveled to various Eastern European countries during my time abroad. Through these trips I was able to build a stronger appreciation for Eastern European history and culture; further strengthened my Ukrainian and German language skills; developed rudimentary Russian language ability; and learned what it meant to be a citizen of Ukraine and Eastern Europe.
Overall I am very blessed and thankful for this experience. I learned more about the various administrative processes of the Verkhovna Rada and its parliamentary system, the various issues that Ukraine faces during the twenty first century, and the strength that the Ukrainian people have in order to overcome these issues. The experience was simply surreal. Thank you Ukraine!
Camila Urbina is a joint MPA/MAIR student who secured her internship at WFP by writing directly to country offices and looking outside well known locations. For her Fall 2016 Semester, she plans to study at Sciences Po in Paris through one of SU’s World Partner Programs.
Amongst the amazing opportunities the Maxwell School has provided me during my joint degree, this summer was certainly the most life-changing. I could have never imagined the incredible professional and personal experiences and growth that awaited me while working for the World Food Programme (WFP) in Timor-Leste.
Timor-Leste is one of the newest countries in the world, the proud and resilient Timorese gained their independence from Indonesia after a terrifying war only 16 years ago. With one million inhabitants and a young government, Timor is navigating post-conflict, much like my native Colombia, with the help of the UN.
The country has the world’s worst stunting in the world and some of the worst malnutrition numbers in Asia; this is why the World Food Programme is supporting the Timorese Ministry of Heath to conduct a mother and child nutrition programme. The programme provides nutrition screenings, education and supplementary foods for pregnant and lactating mothers and malnourished children under two years old in 6 of the most critically malnourish municipalities in the island nation. WFP is also providing technical assistance and capacity building to the Timorese so that they may eventually take full control of the program.
My three months were divided into working in the main office in the capital Dili, supporting the monitoring and evaluation department, and working in the field, providing food and nutrition education for the country’s most remote and malnourished communities in the mountains of enclave province of Oecusse.
The WFP country office in Timor is aiming at creating a social accountability mechanism to include in their nutrition program. During my time in Dili, I was tasked with creating a benchmark of the mechanisms and strategies used by those other UN agencies and NGOs in Timor to get feedback from communities and help put together a proposal to create the country office’s own social accountability system. Furthermore I was in charge of creating a gender action plan for the office, based on the guidelines provided by WFP headquarters in Rome, in order to help materialize WFP’s commitment to women empowerment and gender balance in all aspect of their work. I also supported various communication needs, writing stories, interviews and particularly covering the work in the field during international Breastfeeding week.
It was a profoundly enriching experience to be a part of the country’s learning process in matters of nutrition and social resilience and to experience not only the challenge of working with government in a different culture but more importantly the joy of serving in the remote and beautiful villages. This summer was an incredible experience, serving the resilient and loving Timorese and living amongst the wild and the unbridled beauty of their island-home has provided me with new perspectives on humanitarian work and given me the opportunity to practice all the theory provided by the Maxwell School to the benefit of the most vulnerable.
Deborah Baldwin is a recent graduate of the Public Diplomacy program. She earned a joint Master of Arts in International Relations and a Master of Science in Public Relations from the prestigious Maxwell and Newhouse schools.
From introducing me to new tools and software, giving me opportunities to perform and learn more about research, and allowing me to gain hands-on experience in engaging with their target audience, The Brookings Institution’s communications department provided me with an unforgettable internship experience. I interned this past spring semester with the organization’s social media team, which was a great experience for me being a Public Diplomacy student with an interest in research. I got to not only read much of the great research published by the institution, but I also had the opportunity to learn how to best market it to their online public audiences through tweets, Facebook posts and Medium. I would then gauge how the audience interacted to it. In addition to learning how to market others’ research, I got to perform some of my own, writing reports to help determine the direction of the department’s iTunes U channel and giving recommendations on whether and how they should engage with their public over Snapchat.
The communications department was also open to letting interns get involved in other areas and meet people working outside of their own teams. When the events intern took a new job and left, I filled in for him, checking in guests at the events, helping facilitate discussions with panelists (one of whom was Deputy Secretary of State Anthony Blinken), and learning to use attendance tracking tools to add to my resume. I also made some really great friends with whom to try out the local restaurants.
Brookings has some awesome perks, including a great cafeteria with a specialty coffee machine, a library that not only allows interns to check out an unlimited number of books for up to four weeks, but is also staffed with the sweetest librarians you’ll ever meet and a bookshelf of giveaway books, and events that are free and open to the public. I frequented all of these things, especially the coffee machine. Not only did I see Anthony Blinken at a Brookings event, but I also got to see Gayle Smith, executive director of USAID, along with Justice Stephen Breyer, Turkish President Erdogan, and Sen. John McCain. I even got to see what may have been the largest protest in the history of The Brookings Institution, conducted by Amnesty International when President Erdogan came. From a public relations perspective, it was a good experience to see how an audience might react to a decision made by your organization with which they might not agree, so I got to take advantage of a learning opportunity by going outside and talking to protestors.
This internship allowed me to gain experience in digital communications and relationship building with organizational public audiences while also giving me insight into writing research and helping me to make new contacts in the policy sector. I especially enjoyed getting to know the faces behind the Brookings social media accounts, the YouTube channels and the Brookings Cafeteria Podcast, as well as some of the researchers of the number one research institution in the world.
Alex Jorgensen was a Public Diplomacy (PD) Student who completed a joint MAIR/MSPR. He finished his degree in the spring of 2016. PD students combine an MA in International Relations from the Maxwell School with a MS in Public Relations from the Newhouse School.
This semester I had the privilege of working as an Account Executive at JM Strategic Communications Group in Manhattan. JMSC’s mission is to supply a high-level strategic consultancy to public and private companies in their investor relations and public relations practices. Our mission is to combine business objectives with strategy to communicate effectively to shareholders and stakeholders a company’s story and performance.
My daily activities consist of:
Drafting press/earnings releases
Media monitoring clients and peers
Developing investor presentations for clients
Fully develop & launched our company’s new website (jmscgroup.com, launched in February 2016)
Listen to and analyze quarterly earnings calls
Assist in running earnings conference call
Learn the fundamentals surrounding investor communication and initial public offerings
Gain knowledge of capital markets, the buy and sell side of wall street, and communicating a company’s story effectively both qualitatively and quantitatively
As I developed the basic skills to establish myself in the firm I felt that the Public Diplomacy program puts practitioners in a unique position to differentiate themselves. Students from the Public Diplomacy program have the skills to differentiate themselves through traditional public relations experience from practical PR curriculum, digital marketing, social media strategy, and an understanding of working with government officials while being a non-state actor. Through developing public relations strategies for particular clients, developing a network of Search Engine Optimization colleagues who bolster my digital media knowledge, and delivering on social media operations for in-house accounts and client accounts; I saw firsthand how lessons from the PD program applied directly to my daily routine.
Some key lessons from my practicum were that I learned the foundations of building marketing strategies for communicating the value of a start-up to new business and the general public, through the research and development of our company’s website. Possibly the most impactful lesson was in the balance between quality and timeliness. To become an expert in any field one must learn how to prioritize which tasks need to be treated with extensive detail, and which need to be turned at a speed that combines quality with timeliness. I do not think I have mastered this skill, but think that I am further than I imagined I could be in one semester’s time.
Another key application from Maxwell was knowledge about how the government functions, specifically with non-state actors. The government plays an important role in our operations. The sweeping regulations that came with Sarbanes-Oaxley, and the 2009 financial crisis have produced an environment in which public companies need to constantly be vigilant of the information they disclose in ensuring an equal playing field for all investors. Whether or not that playing field has been established is not up to the practitioners themselves, but taking accountability of their own day-to-day operations should produce a synergistic effect that ensures that playing field is intact. This experience was an incredible way to apply lessons from Maxwell and Newhouse to the beginning of my professional career in investor relations.
Suhyeon Lee (MAIR candidate) interviewed Director of the Transnational NGO Initiative in the Moynihan Institute, Tosca Bruno-van Vijfeijken. Tosca continually brings a wealth of international resources to the PAIA Department and has assisted innumerable students.
Nice to meet you, Ms. Tosca Bruno-van Vijfeijken. Could you introduce yourself?
I am the director of the Transnational NGO (TNGO) Initiative. I engage both in academic work and do a lot of works with NGO practitioners. I have worked on international development and civil society issues for over 25 years. Some people call people like me a ‘pracademic’ and I call myself sometimes jokingly an ‘accidental pracademic’, which means a practitioner who accidently ended up in academia. I didn’t plan to end up in academia, but it happened by chance, and I started enjoying playing a bridge building role between the theory and research around transnational NGOs and the practice of the NGO practitioners who lead and manage these organizations.
Could you explain what you teach at Maxwell School?
I teach Global Governance and Civil Society and in addition to that, I advise a couple of MPA Workshop projects each year. Sometimes, I am an advisor for independent study projects. We also offer opportunities for students to volunteer in our research and practitioner work through the TNGO Initiative.
Can you tell me more about the Global Governance and Civil Society course?
Global Governance and Civil Society is a survey course on the role of civil society in how the world is governed. It is neither a theoretical course nor a management course; it is somewhere in between. We focus on what civil society organizations do and what civil society as a concept stands for. And then we unpack a couple of different sectors: human rights, environment, and conflict resolution, and look at the functions NGOs play. We also look at a number of challenges facing organizations (governance, effectiveness, leadership, coordination, accountability, evaluation and assessment, capacity building issues, etc.).
How did you start your career?
These things, as I sometimes say to students here, are often a mixture of planning, pure coincidence, luck, and unplanned events. I started out working for a year in a small management consulting company in the Netherlands. It was internationally-oriented and focused on small business promotion in developing countries. I was not happy with it, so I moved to a think-tank called the European Center for Development Policies Management (ECDPM). I worked there for four years as a program officer. We focused on governance issues in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean. And then I wanted to get more field experience which is typically what most young international development practitioners need. I found an opportunity as a UN Volunteer for the UN peacekeeping operations under United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC). I was in charge of the preparation for and holding of free and fair elections in one remote district. I also worked for the headquarters of the World Bank for two and a half years, and for four years I was at the World Bank in Hanoi, Vietnam. Those were my sixteen years of international development experience.
As you said, field experience is what most international development young practitioners really need. I also want to have field experience before graduating from Maxwell. Did you have memorable experiences while working in the field in Cambodia?
I think the most memorable experience was that during the year of preparing for the elections, both the Khmer Rouge and bandits engaged in attacks on some foreigners who were in Cambodia as part of the peace keeping operation. Within our large contingent of district electoral supervisors, one person was murdered and four were kidnapped in the last couple of months before elections when political tensions were high. A significant number of Cambodians also died during this tense period. During the elections, when I changed my role from preparation for elections in my district to independent monitoring of polling stations, I found myself for the first time needing a bodyguard because of these political tensions and violence. This was a very new experience for me and it will stay with me since I came from a country (The Netherlands) where governance is not a matter of the power of the gun.
What is the role of NGOs in the development sector in the 21st century?
There will likely always remain a role for TNGOs in humanitarian relief, although government, the private sector and national NGOs are stepping up their roles. And there will continue to be a contingent of small TNGOs that have a classical charity model. Generally speaking, most mid to large size TNGOs still play some roles in direct delivery of services, though this is generally declining, and nowadays often complemented by advocacy and capacity building. Some are evolving their role to that of being a broker and convener between government, the private sector and national NGOs; sometimes, their role evolves to that of knowledge provider. Western TNGOs increasingly work on strengthening their domestic legitimacy as well as playing a stronger role in domestic policy advocacy as well as service delivery work in the countries where they were founded. Because many NGOs by now have been set up by citizens in the countries where formerly primarily western NGOs used to work, these NGOs in the ‘Global South are now able to play the roles that Western or ‘Northern NGOs’ used to, with considerably lower cost models. There is thus more and more pressure on the northern NGOs to get out of the business of delivering services except for humanitarian relief which as I said will always be needed. Therefore, most analysts are foreseeing a big role change in the 21st century.
I’ve seen that you are on the board of InterAction. What is this organization?
InterAction is a membership organization of US international development and relief NGOs and thus plays the role of national platform here in the US. We, as the TNGO initiative, are an associate member, and I am on the board of InterAction as an independent ‘person of stature’. The board position gives me a bird’s eye view of the sector, which is interesting from a research as well as a networking perspective.
What advice you want to give Maxwell students?
I think it is increasingly difficult to find a job in the international NGO sector. In terms of ‘Northern’ NGOs, it’s increasingly hard for American and other western students to find a job because there are more people with a high level of education in the international development sector than there are NGO jobs. In addition, donor levels in certain countries in the ‘North’ are decreasing while there is an increasing supply of students from ‘Global South and East’ countries who also come from good universities. To some extent it is therefore an increasingly crowded and very competitive market for finding a job. You should therefore definitely not put all your eggs in one or two baskets in terms of finding a job. Also, some students tend to come to Maxwell thinking that they want a job at the World Bank, where I used to work, or the UN, and I actually try to make them less single minded about that. Big organizations are not only extremely competitive to get into but also very bureaucratic. If you enter as a junior person, you may find the organization to be very internally oriented – a lot of navel gazing. You also may experience a lot of ‘paper pushing’. It’s not necessarily that interesting to work in such a large, bureaucratic organization at a junior level. If you can work in a small or medium sized organization like an NGO, think rank, social enterprise or impact investor company, I would argue that this will offer you a better job experience with more hands-on work. Later on, you can then be considered for a mid-level job at one of these large organizations. Also, having field experience at the country level continues to be indispensable –without it you will not compete very well in the job market — but at the same time it is increasingly hard to come by.
Overall, something that I want to encourage you to do is to intern in development organizations or complete field work or volunteer experience. And then, do research about a sector you want to work in, look at what organizations and why you want to work for them, and then reach out to them for informational interviews. This will show that you really understand that organization well.
One more thing, keep your eyes on job opportunities in other cities other than Washington, DC and New York because the competition is harsh in these cities and not as many people would apply to jobs in other cities. Power is so distributed in the world that NYC and DC should not be the only choice. Also, don’t just look at NGOs, government, and think tanks. Look at social enterprises, which are corporations that are set up to make profits but invest that profit into social goods, impact investments, and digitally operating campaigns. There are various types of agencies in international development. Look at them in terms of looking for internships and looking for a job.
A previous version of this article stated that Tosca was a “Professor of Practice”, which is inaccurate. This was an oversight on the part of the Editor.
Kimberly Hatcher is a graduate of the Public Diplomacy (PD) program, where students earn a joint Master of Arts in International Relations and a Master of Science in Public relations from Syracuse Universities two most prestigious schools, the Newhouse School and the Maxwell School. All PD students are required to spend their final Spring Semester in Washington, DC.
My Global Programs Award funded three D.C.-centric endeavors: a research consultancy with the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), a fellowship in the State Department, and an unintentional internship at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). At the conclusion of the Public Diplomacy degree program (M.A. International Relations, Maxwell School/M.S. Public Relations, Newhouse School of Public Communications), being able to study and work in D.C. for the final semester was not only a key factor in my SU enrollment decision, but additionally a vital maneuver in my career development.
Security clearances take (too much!) time, therefore much of my semester was spent attending South Asia events and networking with like-minded individuals at various think tanks and government institutions. Through these interactions, I began my research consultancy with the South Asia department of CIPE, for which I am (still) slowly building an entrepreneurial ecosystem for the youth of Pakistan, currently comprising over 60% of their 200 million populace. However, as the conclusion of the semester loomed, and my internship requirement was yet to be fulfilled, I utilized the Maxwell-CSIS partnership to procure a part-time research position with the Wadhwani Chair in U.S.-India Policy Studies.
Just prior to the conclusion of my masters course of study, my clearance was approved and I began my fellowship at the Department of State. Originally a member of the India Desk, because of staffing shortages and my years of communications experience, I was transferred to the Press Office for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs. Currently I am the point for Central Asian press guidance, in addition to contributing to the Bureau’s social media, Indo-Pak, and Indian economic directions. I am also press lead for this year’s U.S.-Pakistan Business Opportunities Conference, and am very fortunate to be able to say that I am doing exactly what I had hoped for upon entering Maxwell two years ago. Without the support of Maxwell’s Global Program Award, it would have been very difficult for me to pursue my career aspirations, and I am very grateful for every afforded opportunity.
While we mostly cover the exploits of MAIR students on this blog, many MPA students do international projects and go on to work in the global sphere. The MPA Workshop is the culminating course for MPA candidates, where students work on a team of their classmates as consultants for real world clients.
Every year a number of international projects are offered. This year MPA project teams are currently working with the following clients on projects affecting the international community.
While there is no guarantee students will be placed on the exact project team that they would like, over 85% of students received their first or second project choices in the last two years. There are always a number of projects with an international focus for MPA students who want to use their public administration skills to address issues crossing borders.
Projects in Peru make an impact
The Amazon Conservation Association’s own Valerie Peterson said, “The students were extraordinary, and their work will have lasting impacts for years to come. We would look forward to working with your students again next year.” The project team delivered a final report to ACA outlining mechanisms to measure the performance of its ecotourism lodges in Peru. The project team consisted of Elena Borzenkova, Vivian Carandang-Smith, Anna Nicol, and Emily Simonson.
Utilizing remote conferencing, now MPA alumni Maria Laura Veramendi Garcia, Gonzalo Talavera Forlin, James Jarvis, and Gustavo Zanabria collaborated with the Public‑Private Partnership Unit of Peru’s Ministry of Education to create a report concerning recommendations to reduce the infrastructure gap in primary and secondary schools throughout the country. The final report first analyzes educational PPPs in Australia, Brazil, Canada, and the UK, then makes 13 key recommendations catered specifically to the Peruvian situation. According to faculty advisor Dr. David Van Slyke, “The quality of the work is very high. The sponsor is very happy. What’s especially exciting is that Syracuse as a location is not a barrier. We were skyped in with all the ministerial officials in Lima. The capstone’s group is going to have impact. And, the sponsor got this project for free”.
Suhyeon Lee is a MAIR student who does a great deal to maintain this blog. She decided to try her hand at drafting an article about the course, UN Organizations-Managing for Change taught by Professor Catherine Bertini. This is an intensive one-week course taught in New York City with multiple visits to United Nations Headquarters.
This UN course was an opportunity for my classmates and I to obtain valuable learning by seeing much and studying much. This course was not just a normal class, but a special one in that it consisted of a variety of activities including lectures, speeches, a UN trip, and networking, all of which is not easily combined. If there is anyone who is looking for courses during the Winter Session, I would definitely recommend this one for you.
As we walked into the classroom on the first day, we were delighted to see that it was a big class setting where we each could work on our own personal computer. As Prof. Bertini began to go over class procedures, we were excited to learn about United Nations’ organizations in upcoming classes, which made the room filled with passion and excitement.
For five days, we learned the operations and processes for change in several United Nations’ organizations mainly focusing on the Security Council, UN Secretariat, and World Food Programme. This course began with a brief summary of each organization, including their purposes, funding systems, and governance structures, intertwined with speeches of guest speakers who have vast experience in their field. In addition, we had an opportunity to learn culture and representational issues of the United Nations organizations where efforts at future improvement must be made.
One of the great advantages of taking the UN course was listening to the speeches of guest speakers. On the second day of the UN course, my classmates and I had the honor to have the Former Executive Director of UNICEF, Carol Bellamy, as a speaker. She talked about leadership strategy–one important skill that MAIR students have to be equipped with–and her achievements at UNICEF. It was a thrilling and memorable moment, and we felt so blessed to learn a lot from her.
For the last two days, we went on a trip to the UN to get an idea of how the UN works and met prominent people who were working to make the world a better place. On the first day of the UN trip, we headed to the Public Chamber under the supervision of a security guard to learn operations and the processes of the Security Council. When we arrived at the public chamber, the representatives of Congo were on the screen and the members of the Security Council, ambassadors, and a few people were seated. The president of the Security Council was in the center, and the discussion started with his remarks. Looking at this scene made being at the UN even more real.
During the afternoon, the Director of the Secretary General visited the conference room where we stayed. We learned the operations and processes of the Security Council in more detail and representational issues of the Security Council such as the number of permanent members and non-permanent members.
The most impressive part of the second UN visit was meeting with Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Jan Eliasson. He put emphasis on a few ideas while speaking. First, he valued human rights. He said that we should not forget human rights and that human rights violations are a sign of danger. When he said these words, we strongly agreed with his ideas, and we were pleased with the fact that the world has Jan Eliasson as the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations. Second, he talked about diversity. He said that the world together is the most important thing. There are a lot of criticism in regards to migrants and refugees, especially now days when terrorism by ISIS threatens the world. However, we had a lesson from him that we should not forget that each country is one part of the world.
This course helped students prepare for working at international organizations by attending a lecture of operations and processes of the United Nations organization. This was a positive experience where we gained valuable information and skills. I am grateful for taking this course and all I learned from it. I will definitely be able to implement the information and skills I learned in this class in the future.
Prof. Bertini and the UN course
The UN course was taught by Prof. Catherine Bertini. She is currently a Professor of Public Administration and International Affairs at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs of Syracuse University, and was the Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Program from 1992 to 2002. All courses she teaches are drawn by the vast experience she gained during a career spanning public service at international, national, state, and local levels, and private sector and foundation experience. The UN course is one of a number of courses that she teaches. This course originally was held at Syracuse University, but with the help of a few people including Prof. Bertini and Syracuse University, the location was moved from Syracuse to New York City two years ago.
Hyeseul Hwang wrote about her summer experience in Geneva last August. She has now graduated with an MAIR degree from the Maxwell School and a wealth of professional experience.
I arrived in Geneva at the end of the May to conduct my internship in International Organization for Migration (IOM) and to participate in the Geneva Summer Practicum. Since the start of my internship at IOM on June 1st, it is hard to believe that today is my last day of the internship! Time really flies.
During this summer, I have worked in the department of International Cooperation and Partnerships in IOM for two and a half months. I worked at supporting my supervisor, a migration policy officer. I was mainly in charge of supporting and following up with an interagency research project about a crisis related migration stocktaking exercise which targets eighteen agencies over thirty‑nine countries from all over the region. Also, I conducted my own research and wrote papers about the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD), Global Migration Group (GMG)), and UN HABITAT III.
The other interesting activities that I have done during my internship in IOM are participating in various events and sessions that are going on inside and outside of IOM. Day by day, there are many learning sessions and events within IOM regarding the current migration crisis, such as the Mediterranean and Syrian crises. Also, I have participated in many IOM intern events with professional talks from the field of emergency affairs, shelter assistance, and many other topics. In addition to that, participating in the ECOSOC Humanitarian Affairs Segment was an amazing opportunity for me to actually see how many UN organizations and other humanitarian affairs agencies such as ICRC are working for humanitarian affairs in more collaborative ways.
In addition to my internship, the Geneva Summer Practicum course provided valuable opportunities for me to gain more understanding about work within other international actors in Geneva via guest speakers from UNHCR, Permanent Mission, Center for Human Dialogue and others. Dr. Werner Schleiffer’s profound knowledge about the UN system and class debates truly nurtured my knowledge and sense of working in the field of humanitarian affairs. Moreover, class field trips to Bern, Luzern, Zermatt, Basel, and Zurich gave me a greater understanding about living in Switzerland. I am very happy that I have spent my amazing summer in Geneva through my internship, course with the Dr. Schleiffer and awesome classmates.
Ms. Jane Yoona Chung is a dual MPA/MAIR student in the Department of Public Administration and International Affairs. She will be completing her dual degree program in Summer 2016.
During Summer 2015, I completed my internship at the US Korean Institute (USKI) at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) as Johns Hopkins University. As a program and research intern for USKI, I was responsible for several tasks, one being attending events on behalf of the research institute. This gave me the opportunity to be exposed to and meet experts from the larger East Asia foreign policy community in Washington D.C. Examples of institutes included the The Asan Institute for Policy Studies, Korea Economic Institute (KEI), Sejong Society of Washington D.C., the Brookings Institution, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
Once or twice a week, I attended workshops and/or talks all over the D.C. area. One workshop that stood out to me was a simulation on post-reunification of the Korean Peninsula. Attendees were divided into groups comprised of experts, students, and visiting North Korean scholars. This workshop was an especially humbling experience as I was able to hear from the North Korean perspective on reunification first hand. Moreover, meeting the North Korean students was a fascinating encounter, one that I will never forget. Other talks and conferences I attended discussed the Russian role in East Asia, the tense relations between South Korea and Japan, and the North Korean nuclear program. Learning and hearing from experts, political officials, and academics was very rewarding as it refined and expanded my knowledge and curiosity in East Asian foreign policy.
In addition to the talks and conferences, USKI hosted its first student exchange program with Ajou University in South Korea. This exchange program brought 30 college students, from a variety of majors, to spend a month in Washington D.C. to learn about American politics, history, and culture. I was both a discussion leader that led class in the afternoon and a “guide” for afternoon site visits around Washington D.C. This gave me the opportunity to visit organizations all over the city and to attend a Washington Nationals baseball game for free!
As part of my internship, I was also responsible for conducting independent research on a current topic related to the Korean Peninsula. I presented my research to the Staff on the implications of a land bridge that would connect the Russian Far East and North Korea. With this project, I communicated with experts and had access to a plethora of resources from USKI and Johns Hopkins University (a perk of working with a university). To be able to complete this research project on top of the other responsibilities taught me how to juggle multiple responsibilities with finesse.
At the same time of my internship, I also took courses through the Maxwell-in-Washington program at CSIS. While it was a bit tiring to take courses in the evening right after a full day at my internship, I would still recommend taking a course. These courses are taught my experts in the field and are conducted as a seminar rather than a lecture.
Being in Washington D.C. was an eye-opening experience as it challenged me personally and professionally. During my internship and stay, I learned about the culture of think tanks, the hustle and bustle of the nation’s capital, and the immense beauty of the nation’s history. Although I worked full-time, Washington D.C. makes it easy to still have a social life after hours and on weekends. Friday evenings were spent enjoying a glass of sangria at Jazz at the Garden or getting a nice warm bowl of duck noodles in Chinatown. Weekends were spent traveling throughout the city on the $1 DC Circulator, free museums, free movie screenings, or hiking through Rock Creek Park. Balancing between professional and personal aspects of my experience was a challenge, but all in all, I would describe my internship experience in Washington D.C. to be humbling and rewarding.