This summer I was an intern at InterAction, a nonprofit organization that serves as a convener for the NGO community and as a space for collaboration and action. Focusing on policy, advocacy, development and humanitarian practice, InterAction contributes to advances in these fields internationally.
I was an intern in the public policy team. I focused on the budget and appropriations work where I followed the humanitarian assistance and development accounts of the Federal Budget. This experience has helped me understand the budget and appropriations process in more detail and the complexity behind it. Mostly I worked with InterAction’s foreign assistance budget expert, explored data visualizations, and gained a better understanding of nonprofit dynamics in the office.
This experience helped me to reaffirm my interest in international development and helped me discover a new passion for advocacy. There is value in educating and helping people communicate their own beliefs because it gives them the ability to act. In addition, I have gained an understanding about NGOs and how they work together to reach consensus and move forward. The opportunity to interact every day with many people with different backgrounds and expertise and learn from them is something that I will always be grateful for.
My days at InterAction made me understand the importance of giving your best effort. Waking up every day thinking that your work can save lives is a great reason to give your best. While I was in Washington, DC working in an office, my work impacted the life of someone on the other side of the world and this was the biggest lesson InterAction gave me: it does not matter how small the task, the task matters.
While I still have a long way to go in my career, InterAction surely marked my journey as I continue to discover my path.
Sybelle Rodriguez is a joint MPA/MAIR student. She went on to intern at InterAction in the fall of 2018 as well, and she is now in Washington, DC interning at Search for Common Ground.
Tucked away amid the hustle and bustle of Crystal City, Virginia is a small team of men and women who are working to completely transform the Department of Defense. Created in October of 2016, MD5 is a program office within the Office of the Secretary of Defense tasked with creating new communities of innovators to solve national security problems. We do this by partnering with those individuals who are typically not associated with the DoD. These include students, entrepreneurs, university professors, startup companies, venture capital communities, city governments, and private accelerators/incubators. We collaborate with our above partners to bring solutions to the national security problems of our customer, the DoD.MD5 is organized into three distinct yet integrated portfolios: Education, Collaboration and Acceleration. The Education portfolio is tasked with building a DoD workforce that has strong innovation skills and an improved problem framing capacity. The Collaboration portfolio helps to develop the novel solutions that are put forth by our partners in addition to creating new communities of innovators. Lastly, the Acceleration portfolio works to improve the viability of dual-use ventures and solutions for defense market entry.
As an Innovation Fellow with MD5 I have had the opportunity to work at the headquarters located in Crystal City. My tasks over the summer have ranged from writing policy recommendations for how the program conducts itself to meeting with various DoD entities to better understand the problems they face. I have been tasked with constantly seeking more innovative and streamlined ways in which MD5 can complete its mission. By enabling better communication processes, developing publications, consolidating and distributing workflows, and optimizing MD5’s vast troves of data, I am helping MD5 team members to better serve our customer.
Before coming to work for MD5 I had little understanding as to what innovation truly meant. Many times the word is used as a buzzword that few people efficiently know how to employ. MD5 actualizes this abstract concept by teaching hard skills relating to Human Centered Design (HCD), Lean Launch Pad (LLP), Mission Model Canvas (MMC), and Minimum Viable Product (MVP). With these skills the DoD will undoubtedly hold its competitive edge in the 21st century.
Jacob Wisenbaker is a recent graduate of the MAIR program.
This summer I had the opportunity to join the Doing Business department at the World Bank. Doing Business is an annual flagship report which measures business regulation in 190 economies. Each economy is ranked according to 11 sets of indicators. There are combined into an overall “ease of doing business” ranking.
I was part of the Registering Property indicator, where I worked with my team to measure the time, costs, and procedures needed to conduct a transfer of property between two local parties. We closely followed the Doing Business methodology, which you can read more about on http://www.doingbusiness.org/methodology.
Working in the Doing Business department was a truly rewarding experience. It did not only enhance my communication and analytical skills but also taught me about the strategies and components that go behind a ranking report. The working environment was also very international, which made me feel very welcome and taught me about other working cultures.
In Summer 2018, I had the opportunity to serve as Student Intern at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services in Los Angles, California. As a Student Intern, I worked on a variety of assignments and projects including the development of a new Leadership and Employee Development Training Program. My job functions included project management, event coordinating, and helping with the hiring process by scheduling interviews and arranging the interview panel. I had the opportunity to assist Immigration Service Officers as they interviewed applicants for citizenship or lawful permanent resident status and assessed documentations to either grant or deny applications.
The Leadership and Employee Development Training Program aims to serve as the master program that will incorporate existing trainings and add new trainings on leadership, technical and other skills. My role was to assist in the stages of program development and implementation by drafting a proposal explaining the purpose and goal of the new training program for every employee at USCIS in the District of Los Angeles, creating the business rules and training courses, and designing the program logo. I accomplished this with the guidance, and under the supervision, of the Los Angeles County Field Office Director.
A major highlight of my internship experience this summer was getting the chance to present the program proposal to the Los Angeles District Director, Deputy Director, Chief of Staff and five Field Office Directors.
In addition to being involved in various exciting projects another incredible experience I had was attending the oath ceremonies in July and August where honorable judges officially granted applicants citizenship. I enjoyed every moment of it especially the part where I got to issue certificates of citizenship. What rewarding moments those were. I take pride in what I did and all that I was able to accomplish during my time at USCIS.
The U.S. Department of Defense’s USINDOPACOM headquarters is located on Camp HM Smith, Oahu, Hawaii. It was recently renamed from USPACOM to reflect the importance of India in USINDOPACOM’s Area of Responsibility. USINDOPACOM is unique among the Global Combatant Commands (GCC) because it is the only GCC with its subordinate Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Special Operations Commands co-located in the same state and island. Additionally, the island of Oahu is home to Joint Interagency Task Force – West (JIATF-W), the Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance (CFE-DM), the Daniel K. Inouye Center for Asia-Pacific Security Studies (APCSS), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) research facility. An internship with USINDOPACOM offers an amazing opportunity to learn about all of these organizations.
My position was as a Visiting Fellow in the J372 office. The J372 is a sub-category of the J3 Operations directorate. The J372 office consists of Multinational Programs and Theater Security Cooperation Exercises. Multinational Programs, where I interned, consists of two programs: the Multinational Planning Augmentation Team (MPAT) and the Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI). While my internship was officially with GPOI, I was also able to work extensively with the MPAT. GPOI was created in 2004 as the U.S. contribution to the broader G8 Action Plan for Expanding Global Capability for Peace Support Operations because of the strategic importance of international peace operations to US national security. Increasing the capability of partner nations to conduct international peace operations was seen as a cost-effective way of increasing world stability and sharing the burden of conducting peace operations. To meet this objective, GPOI funds training, equipment, and facilities building capabilities worldwide for USINDOPACOM’s twelve regional partners. GPOI is unique in that it is a US State Department program that is executed by the US Department of Defense to build capacity of partners to train and sustain peacekeepers who deploy to United Nations missions around the world.
Like the GPOI team, the MPAT works to improve the capabilities of multinational partner forces. Unlike the GPOI team the MPAT is regionally focused and was an initiative developed by the regional Chiefs of Defense in 2000 with the goal to facilitate the rapid and effective establishment and/or augmentation of a multinational force headquarters (MNF HQ) and/or other multinational military and civil-military coordination mechanisms. In order to improve the ability of regional multinational response to natural disasters, humanitarian crises, and any other operation in USINDOPACOM’s area of responsibility that fall short of war, they have developed the Multinational Forces Standing Operating Procedures (MNF SOP) and conduct the TEMPEST EXPRESS exercise. The MNF SOP is a living document that collects best practices, compiles and defines new terminology, and standardizes methods for all of these operations. Yearly MNF SOP conferences are conducted to update the document as well as create relationships between military planners and civilian organization leaders active in the region. These relationships are seen as added benefits that decrease response time when different organizations arrive to deal with a real-world crisis. The TEMPEST EXPRESS and other theater security cooperation exercises are where the planners try to “break” the MNF SOP. It is a scenario-based exercise that allows the planners to work together using the MNF SOP to deal with a simulated crisis. Flaws exposed by the TE exercise and from real world use are then compiled into the MNF SOP at the next conference.
Getting to attend the MNF SOP 20 conference in Wellington, New Zealand was undoubtedly the highlight of my internship. The conference sought to update and complete sections on Defensive Cyberspace Operations, Protections of Civilians, Logistics, Inter-agency Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Response, and the Glossary. I was assigned to the Glossary section which compiles new terminology, acronyms, and definitions from the other working group. This allowed me a great opportunity to see what every section was working on as well as meet experts from foreign governments, USAID, the IFRC and other NGOs, and different directorates of the US military. I was also asked to research options for a regional case study to include in the Inter-agency Cooperation section. This greatly increased my familiarity with multinational operations in USINDOPACOMs area of responsibility.
My background as a Special Forces Communications Sergeant has given me exposure to planning on the tactical level and this internship expanded that planning knowledge to include the operational and strategic level. My main projects working for the GPOI team was to create a spreadsheet that compiled the GPOI partner nations’ military force pledges to United Nations peacekeeping and identified the priorities for training programs location and subject. Creating the pledge tracker required research into all of the different types of military units that are sent to support UN missions. These included infantry, engineering, force headquarters support, medical, military police, reconnaissance, riverine, special forces, transportation and logistics units. For the MPAT I was assigned the task of incorporating the changes to the MNF SOP from the conference in New Zealand.
Oahu is a great place for recreation as well as professional development. The close relationship with my office was increased with participation in the MPAT fencing club and attendance of the MNF SOP 20 workshop. There are numerous hikes, beaches, and coral reefs that are great to explore with other interns in the program. The food is also unique due to the many cultural influences from Hawaii’s diverse immigrant population. Hawaiian poke is a personal favorite. Getting to know all of the great people in the office: Tak, Dan, Bernie, Joe, Bob, Bobby Ray, Murray, John, and Scott was a lot of fun. Additionally, getting to know all of the other interns from Texas A&M, University of San Diego, University of Hawaii, Johns Hopkins University, Stanford University and other schools was great as well. I want to especially thank Steven “Tak” Takekoshi, Crysti Woods, Dr. John Wood, Professor Robert Murrett, the Global Programs Coordinator at Maxwell, and Gerald B., and Daphna Cramer for their support during this experience.
Chris Tonsmeire completed his MAIR degree in December 2018.
I received an internship offer from the Department of Political Affairs (DPA) at the UN Headquarters in New York City this summer. The DPA plays a central role in United Nations efforts to prevent and resolve deadly conflict around the world. The DPA monitors and assesses global political developments with an eye to detecting potential crises before they erupt and devising effective responses. The Department provides support to the Secretary-General (SG) and his envoys, as well as to UN political missions deployed around the world to help defuse crises or promote lasting solutions to conflict. The DPA is divided into two parts: Regional Divisions and Non-Regional Divisions. I was recruited by the Asia and the Pacific Division of the Regional Offices.
Effective policy responses begin with sound and timely information and analysis – having a pulse on events as they develop. Primarily through the work of its regional divisions, DPA monitors developments and provides the Secretary-General with analytical reports and briefing notes to inform his decisions and shape his continuous diplomacy with the UN Member States, regional and non-governmental organizations and other actors. Senior DPA officials are called on frequently to brief the UN Security Council on global political developments, the status of UN peacemaking efforts and the activities of UN political missions in the field.
My major duties were preparing background papers for summits in the Asia and the Pacific region, the General Assembly, SG’s visits to the region, and SG, Under SG and Assistant SG’s meeting with different nations’ UN missions’ permanent representatives. In addition, I contributed to writing regional issues reports, which advocate for regional and global solutions to international problems. I also carried out research regarding economic assistance from Asian nations to Pacific islands countries for infrastructure development. My research provided the teams with more information about how South-South cooperation builds sustainability and resilience in the Pacific region to reach the Sustainable Development Goals.
My graduate study’s focus is on East Asia and the Pacific. Therefore, the UN internship was a perfect opportunity for me to explore what issues are UN concerns in the region and how the UN works on them. My supervisor offered me opportunities to work on almost all the issues that I am interested in. Other staff in the Division also welcome me discussing my questions with them. Besides daily work, I can access all the open meetings at the UN Headquarters and listen to ambassadors discussing the current international issues.
The experience in DPA was genuinely eye-opening. I consolidated my knowledge in East Asia and the Pacific and obtained an overview of how the UN functions in global affairs.
I spent the summer as part of the Maxwell-in-Washington program. I’ve always wanted to live in DC and Maxwell’s strong reputation in the district is largely responsible for what drew me to Maxwell in the first place. In addition to taking a class with Professor O’Hanlon on Who Will Rule the 21st Century, I spent the summer interning as a transatlantic security analyst with The Streit Council for a Union of Democracies. The Streit Council is driven to create better-organized relations between the United States and Europe, along with liberal democracies across the globe. In order to do so, the council aims to foster greater public awareness on the importance of the transatlantic relationship and to provide expert analysis, perspectives, and identify practical solutions for key policymakers.
As part of the Transatlantic Security Program, our mission was to analyze prominent threats facing the US and Europe. Working closely with Mitch Yoshida, a Maxwell alumnus, we closely followed events related to Russia’s resurgence, terrorism, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and the European Union’s Common Security and Defense Policy. One of my main tasks included daily submissions of pertinent news summaries. I was able to research and analyze major international events on a daily basis, gaining a greater understanding of transatlantic relations on a day-to-day basis in what turned out to be an eventful summer. Apart from the daily responsibilities, I was able to work on longer briefs. One of the major pieces I worked on was analyzing how the potential of a unified European army might affect NATO. The brief analyzed the history of the EU, dissected current events, political statements, and military proposals to better predict what a future relationship might look like. My time in DC this summer solidified my career interest.
The Maxwell-in-Washington program exposes students to real world experiences on what they studied in Syracuse. My internship allowed me to apply the historical and analytical skills I learned while at Syracuse to current events. Although taking a class on top of a fulltime internship was challenging, it offered an opportunity to analyze situations from an academic perspective. My class was also a great place to network with classmates who have a lot of experience working in related fields.
Whether it was through classes, the internship, or networking, my time in DC allowed me to grow both professionally and personally.
Brendan Reaney was a Fast Track BA/MA international relations student student who graduated in December 2018. He also spent his last Fall Semester interning at the Atlantic Council in Washington, DC.
In June 2018, I arrived on Oahu to begin my internship as a Summer Fellow at the headquarters of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, or USINDOPACOM. One of six geographic combatant commands under the Department of Defense, USINDOPACOM had recently assumed a new name (formerly, U.S. Pacific Command) as well as a new Commander, Admiral Phil Davidson, less than two weeks before I arrived. USINDOPACOM’s area of responsibility covers nearly half the earth’s surface and stretches from the west coast of the U.S. to the west coast of India, bringing with it a set of challenges as diverse as the region itself and encompassing several of America’s most steadfast allies. The dynamism of the Indo-Pacific was highlighted when my first week coincided with President Trump’s meeting with Kim Jong Un in Singapore.
As part of the Strategy and Policy branch, which develops strategy and plans for the command’s area of responsibility in accordance with national guidance such as the National Defense Strategy, I grappled with a new language – Department of Defense acronyms – but received support and encouragement, and a crash course in the Napoleonic military staff structure, from those around me. As a joint command, USINDOPACOM’s staff includes personnel from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps, as well as Department of Defense civilians, contractors, and liaison officers from other federal agencies, each bringing different perspectives to the work of the command.
One of the highlights of the summer was observing the 2018 Rim of the Pacific or RIMPAC exercise, the world’s largest international naval exercise, which takes place every two years in Honolulu. In addition to improving interoperability between forces of different countries (such as Vietnam, participating this year for the first time), RIMPAC is an opportunity for building international trust and cultural exchange. This was on full display during open ship tours, as vessels from the U.S., Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, India, the Philippines and other countries welcomed visitors aboard (with the Peruvian sailors offering samples of RIMPAC pisco aboard their ship!).
Working at USINDOPACOM throughout an eventful summer gave me an unparalleled opportunity to apply my academic work at Maxwell in national security and Asia-Pacific affairs to thorny strategic questions in a rapidly evolving environment – with just enough time to enjoy the beauty of Hawai’i as well.
Libby Kokemoor is a joint MPA/MAIR student in her final semester. She is also a Robertson Fellow. During her second Fall Semester, she also interned at the U.S. Department of State.
I embarked on an adventure by spending my Fall Semester in Beijing, taking classes in the School of Public Policy and Management (SPPM), the #1 public policy school in China, at Tsinghua University, one of the most prestigious universities in the world. My class topics included Economics, Development, Governance and International Politics of China, and they were taught by Chinese policy makers and highly influential scholars. My peers in class were a mix of students from different backgrounds, countries and goals, which provided the perfect set up for a world class experience.
My first-hand knowledge in Latin America’s industrial sector complemented my learning about China’s industrial and trade policy, while my master’s study at Maxwell provided me with western economic practices, politics and relations. Therefore, my goal coming to Beijing was to complete a full circle in my academic and professional formation. There is a sea of difference between reading about China and experiencing it: experiencing the country, the culture, the people, the transportation, the day to day, and above all, the food.
Beijing is a mega city with more than 20 million people, and the city is connected to the rest of the country by an incredibly advanced and reliably fast train system. This system allows one to travel more than 1,000 miles in just a couple of hours to every corner of the Asian giant.
The structure of the semester in Tsinghua allowed me to experience not only the capital, but other incredible parts of the country. I was impressed by the very modern city of Shanghai and the hard-contrasting differences between it and Beijing. As an economist, I was amazed by the development policy of the country, where, for example, in a small rural town called Liyang, located 3 hours to the west of Shanghai. An entire city is being built – “growing like grass” – while thousands of 30+ floor towers are being built in every direction.
Language was definitely a challenge and a barrier to life in Beijing. However, the fast pace of internationalization of the city and of its people, makes it possible to find a piece of the world in any corner. You just need to look hard enough and pass though the massive pile of bikes parked all over the city.
Jorge Valdebenito is a joint MAIR/MAECN student in his final semester at the Maxwell School.
I had the opportunity to study at Yonsei University, which is one of the top universities in South Korea. Yonsei University is one of many World Partner Partner Programs that Syracuse has within Asia. In Seoul, Syracuse also partners with Korea University,
which is known for its great academic reputation and rivalry with Yonsei. At Yonsei University, I took classes at the Graduate School of International Studies where there are many career tracks such as International Cooperation, International Trade, Finance, and Management, and Korean Studies.
Studying at Yonsei University was a great opportunity that has complemented the knowledge I gained at the Maxwell School. My desire to work in Southeast Asia or East Asia in the future was what initially ignited my attraction to studying abroad during graduate school. As I was analyzing my options, Yonsei University captured my attention considering the large amount of courses that are offered, specifically in English. I was easily able to find courses that related to my current career track and were of great interest to me. My coursework at Yonsei included Immigration and Integration, Corporate Finance, and Environment, Sustainability, and
Cooperation. My professors were very thoughtful and provided up to date information regarding current international issues that are relevant to course subjects.
Seoul’s greatest charm is there is always something to do, whether this is educational or recreational. Considering the size of the city, there are many seminars or events that are taking place across multiple universities. This, coupled with the convenience of transportation in the city, made it simple to keep my schedule filled with different events with diverse subjects such as North Korean human rights or the future of the environment. The city also has numerous activities to do, almost anything that you can think of such as board game rooms, ping pong clubs, PC rooms, diverse restaurants, and many great hiking trails. In short, it’s never difficult to find something to do in Seoul.
Overall, I am satisfied with my experience in South Korea. If there are others who are interested in the country or the region, I would definitely recommend this program. There are many people to meet, whether they are Korean or internationals students, and Yonsei provides a comprehensive experience in and outside of the classroom. Adding to this, the traditions within the country and the rapid advancement of the economy make my semester in Seoul memorable.
Jessica Kesler is a recent graduate of the MAIR program. She also interned at InterAction and Women for Women International in Washington, DC during her Summer Semester.