Category Archives: Internship Stories

Internship stories shared by students

Johnathan Medina Researches Fintech in Southeast Asia for the EU

This past summer I interned with the European Institute for Asian Studies in Brussels where I worked as a Junior Researcher. EIAS was formed in 1989 and aims to contribute to the dialogue and improve relations between the EU and Asia. EIAS is a small organization where interns are given a great deal of responsibility from conducting our own research projects for the institute’s website to assisting with the logistics of events we held for Asian representatives.

Johnathan Medina (3 from R) with fellow interns and EIAS employees.

Given my technology background and EIAS wanting to focus more on the area, my summer projects focused on Financial Technology in Southeast Asia and how the EU can play a role. I had the opportunity previously to travel throughout Southeast Asia and work as an English teacher in Beijing.  This firsthand experience made researching the subject much more enjoyable and valuable experience. I appreciated the chance to work as a researcher and write papers that can be read by such a large audience. A big part of my internship was also networking with government and business officials who we hosted events for. It was eye-opening learning from their perspectives and experience and something that will be helpful throughout my career.

The most enjoyable aspect of my interest was getting to know my co-workers who were all incredibly talented. Each one of us came from a different country, which really helped to bring other perspectives into our conversations. I feel I learned the most just from our everyday conversations and it was something I really enjoyed. Overall my experience at EIAS was better than I could have imagined and will certainly help me as I transition long-term into my career.

Johnathan Medina is an MAIR student currently completing his degree in the Maxwell-in-Washington Program.

Maxwell MAIR students Federico Ohle (2 from L), Johnathan Medina (3 from L), Michaela Eagan (2 from R), and other SU students in Brussels with Program Director, George Terzis (far R).

MAIR Program at the Maxwell School

The European and Global Internship Program in Brussels

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Molly Martin, Strategic Communications at USAID

This summer I had the opportunity to put my public diplomacy classes to work at the United States Agency for International Development in Washington, D.C. As a Strategic Communications intern in the Bureau for Legislative and Public Affairs, I got help tell USAID’s story to the American people and the world.

LPA is responsible for managing and coordinating the Agency’s external affairs, making it the perfect spot for me as I work towards a dual degree in Public Relations and International Relations in the Public Diplomacy program at Syracuse. Although there was no “typical day” in LPA, my main responsibilities included everything from editing blog posts from USAID missions around the world (like this one from North Macedonia), to pitching and writing my own blogs, to building social media toolkits for Agency newsletters, to joining high-level meetings with senior leadership and external partners.

LPA serves as USAID’s central point of contact with Congress, the media, and the international development community, which gave me a lot of exposure to many different parts of the development space. The LPA team encourages their interns to take advantage of the countless think tank panels, Congressional hearings, and USAID events happening around town, which really helped me connect what I was learning in the classroom to the real world.

Some of the highlights include representing USAID at Congressional hearings on the Ebola outbreak in the DRC and protests in Somalia (see if you can spot me in Rep. Bass’s tweet), attending a talk by Nobel Laureate and human rights activist Nadia Murad, and helping USAID’s Democracy, Human Rights and Governance team launch the new US Government Strategy for Advancing Protection and Care for Children in Adversity at the White House.

Molly Martin working hard at the launch of the new USG Strategy for Advancing Protection and Care for Children in Adversity at
the White House.

Although I was nearly 400 miles away from campus, I still felt close to SU. One of the best parts of my DC experience was connecting with Syracuse alums and students based in the area. Their advice and insight into DC life has been so helpful throughout the summer and as I get ready to finish my degree in Washington this spring!

Molly Martin at USAID

MAIR/MSPR Program at the Maxwell and Newhouse Schools

Maxwell-in-Washington Program

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Michaela Eagan, Cultural Diplomacy in Brussels

Interning at the Cultural Diplomacy Platform this summer I had a front-row seat to the EU’s implementation of the EU Strategy for international cultural relations. As an instrument of the European Commission, the Platform was launched in 2014 to engage third countries and their citizens through the medium of culture.

Prior to my internship, the Platform had received two requests for literary exchanges in 2018 and two more for the fall of 2019. Since literary exchanges were a new development for the Platform, with more anticipated requests in the future, I was tasked with developing a policy recommendation report on how to evaluate exchange requests, choose appropriate literary actors and measure the outcomes and success of the exchange. As a new initiative, my goal was to set out a policy framework to conduct purposeful cultural diplomacy within the literary sector.

In tandem with this project, I worked with the European Union Prize for Literature (EUPL), Creative Europe and Literature Across Frontiers to bring award-winning authors to the New Delhi World Book Fair and the Guadalajara International Book Fair.

My internship provided me the opportunity to attend the annual European Development Days — a two-day event that brings together actors in the development sector from around the world to exchange ideas and innovations as well as debate the globe’s greatest development needs. Culture, gender, sustainability, inequality, healthcare, technology and politics were topics of discussion.

As a Public Diplomacy student, it was a rewarding experience to take theories out of the classroom and implement them in tangible ways through the day-to-day activities of cultural diplomacy.

Michaela Eagan is pursuing a joint MAIR/MSPR at the Maxwell and Newhouse Schools at Syracuse University.

MAIR/MSPR Program at the Maxwell and Newhouse Schools

The European and Global Internship Program in Brussels

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From left: Johnathan Medina, Michaela Eagan and Frederico Ohle in front of the St. Michael Statue Fountain at Sainte Catherines, Brussels

Linsey Armstrong Empowers Women in U.S. Foreign Policy

The Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues (S/GWI) at the U.S. Department of State seeks to promote the rights and empowerment of women and girls through U.S. foreign policy. S/GWI’s priority areas include: women, peace and security; adolescent girls; women’s economic empowerment; and gender-based violence. This spring, I had the opportunity to serve this office as one of two interns for the semester.

As an intern, I worked on numerous events and initiatives for the office including the 2019 International Women of Courage (IWOC) Award and the 63rd session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. For these events and initiatives, I drafted talking points and other communications, as well as assisted with event planning, scheduling and coordination. I was also able to represent the office at public outreach events like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s International Women’s Day Forum and attend sessions at the 2019 Spring Meeting of the World Bank/IMF. Additionally, this internship provided me with opportunities to learn about press relations when volunteering for IWOC and the 70th NATO Ministerial.

Linsey Armstrong

Throughout my internship, I followed a rotation system that allowed me to shadow members of our functional policy, programming and regional teams. This rotation system was incredibly helpful, as I was able to gain strong insight into how intraoffice teams collaborate and work together to advance the S/GWI’s priorities. Throughout these rotations, I was invited to attend meetings with other DOS bureaus and civil society organizations, as well as work on substantive projects for each team. These experiences provided me a comprehensive view of U.S. foreign policy making and programming efforts.

My experience working for S/GWI was incredibly rewarding and helped me grow in countless ways. I was able to refine and further my understanding of multilateral fora and international organizations, foreign policy, issues affecting women and girls, and governmental communications processes. I was also able to develop writing, research and organizational skills. Working in a diverse office with passionate and intelligent advocates who work to champion women globally was incredible. This internship also provided me with great insight into the work of the U.S Department of State and the U.S. government as a whole.

Linsey Armstrong attending the 2019 International Women of Courage Award ceremony and reception, featuring special guests Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and First Lady of the United States Melania Trump.

Linsey Armstrong graduated with a joint MA International Relations and MS Public Relations (MAIR/MSPR) degree in May 2019. During the spring, she interned at the Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues at the U.S. Department of State as part of the Washington Public Diplomacy Program.

MAIR/MSPR Program at the Maxwell and Newhouse Schools

Maxwell-in-Washington Program

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Linsey Armstrong Reaches Global Audiences

Yue Chen Has Front Row Seat on US-China Trade

Over the spring, I served as a communications intern at the US-China Business Council (USCBC) in Washington, DC. USCBC is a private, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization of approximately 200 American companies that do business with China. Its mission is to expand the US-China commercial relationship to the benefit of its membership and, more broadly, the US economy.

Based on my background in international relations and public relations, I helped the communications & publications team at USCBC with daily news updates and social media management. I also helped interview Chinese scholars and translate documents into English for the publication in USCBC’s digital magazine – the China Business Review. Since the U.S. levied its first round of punitive tariffs in 2018, tensions have emerged between the U.S. and China, becoming a major global concern. It was a valuable opportunity for me to intern at USCBC around this period of time as I was able to obtain the first-hand materials and pay close attention to US-China trade issues.

In addition, I was very fortunate to have joined and helped with USCBC’s events and gained precious insights on US-China relations. When Chinese Premier Liu He visited Washington, DC for trade talks with President Trump on January 31, USCBC held its premier conference – Forecast 2019 – on China’s business and political environment and discussed the prospects of trade negotiations. On the Forecast, experts from think tanks, the US Senate and the US House of Representatives talked about the most focused on issues about US-China relations such as cybersecurity, intellectual property, tariffs and subsidies, etc. USCBC also co-hosted the US-China Innovation Forum with CSIS, where American and Chinese representatives from industry, finance, government and think tanks discussed how to best foster, protect, and advance innovation.

Thanks to the Maxwell DC Program, I am here to pursue my public diplomacy practice at the heart of global policy in Washington, DC. Interning at USCBC was a great chance for me to explore US-China trade relations and lay the foundation for my future career.

USCBC Forcast 2019 conference

Yue Chen is a recent alum of the joint MAIR/MSPR degree where she studied at the prestigious Maxwell and Newhouse Schools at Syracuse University. She formerly interned at Temasek’s Stewardship Asia Centre through SU’s Summer Internships in Singapore program.

MAIR/MSPR Program at the Maxwell and Newhouse Schools

Maxwell-in-Washington Program

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Yue Chen, Living & Working Like a Local in Singapore

Arpan Dahal Supports Global Witness on Capitol Hill

When founded in 1993, Global Witness was a pioneer in seeing the link between natural resources, conflict, and corruption. Since then Global Witness has fearlessly worked for protecting human rights and the environment by confronting corruption and challenging the systems that enable it.

My interests include working on policy issues and field that involves interaction. My Fall internship at Global Witness has been rewarding for many reasons. I have been exposed to different levels of policy efforts and got to engage with people from diverse fields. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Global Witness where I assisted with publications and reports on anti-money laundering and corruption and their policy solutions. Conducting research to support advocacy with policy advisors and outreach to strategic constituencies helped me get exposure to policy areas. Furthermore, I learned about the cycles a bill goes through and the steps involved in between.

I was fortunate to support Global Witness’ presence on Capitol Hill as a thought-leader and issue expert on priorities. I was also involved in a coalition called FACT that Global Witness is part of. Here I learned more about how multiple organizations working towards the same goal cooperate and overcome the challenges to succeed. Attending Senate hearings regularly and getting involved in current affairs added to my existing knowledge and skills set. I believe the experience at Global Witness has made me a better thinker and a better problem solver. Working with law enforcement communities and other allies was a bonus which was an exciting experience.

Arpan Dahal working at Global Witness

Arpan Dahal is a recent graduate of the MAIR program. He also interned at the Institute of International Finance during Spring 2019.

MAIR Program at the Maxwell School

Maxwell-in-Washington Program

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Taylor Hart-McGonigle, African Affairs at DOD

During the course of the fall semester, I worked with the Office of the Secretary of Defense- Policy (OSD (P)) in the African Affairs

office. African Affairs office informs the Department of Defense’s (DoD) policy and positions for the countries included in the Africa Combatant Command’s (AFRICOM) Area of Responsibility (AOR). The office is led by an appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense and works with the interagency, the Joint Staff, and international partners, among others in executing DoD policy priorities in Africa. The office draws upon the National Security Strategy and the National Defense Strategy to inform its policy recommendations and priorities and applies these documents to the African context when executing policy and programs.

In my position as a policy intern, I worked with the regional directors, action officers, and leadership to fulfill the office’s mission set. While I assisted in each African region where needed, my primary focus was on the Magreb, Sahel, Lake Chad Basin, and the Horn of Africa because I have prior experience with northern Africa. On a weekly basis, I assisted in drafting policy briefs that communicate the office’s activities for leadership with a focus on our activities related to the National Defense Strategy. Additionally, I worked on a few meetings where I was responsible for contributing to my principal’s preparation and read materials and working level engagements prior to the meetings.

The DoD was completely foreign to me at the start of my internship, and I am now better aware of its mission and function. In particular, I learned how DoD collaborates and connects across the combatant commands, Joint Staff, Security Cooperation, Policy, and the interagency. While I learned about Africa, I also learned how to be adaptable and get the information you need when you are not an expert. Overall, I really wanted to better understand how Policy contributed to the national security enterprise, and I feel that my experience with OSD (P) has given me invaluable insight into how national security policy is created and executed.

Taylor Hart-McGonigle in front of a Qiam-1 SRBM missile at the Iranian Material Display in Washington, DC.

MPA/MAIR Program at the Maxwell School

Maxwell-in-Washington Program

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Zeyar Win, Advocacy and Policy at Amnesty International

I participated in the Maxwell-in-Washington Global Security and Development program during my Fall Semester and had the opportunity to do my internship at Amnesty International USA (AIUSA), the Nobel Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with over 7 million members and supporters worldwide. This internship provided me the opportunity to merge two things I’m strongly interested in: advocacy and policy briefing. I have been interested in advocacy work, so this was great opportunity for me to work there.

My off-campus experience working with AIUSA in Washington D.C. was terrific and fruitful. It was also related to my previous activism experience in Burma. I fulfilled three main tasks at AIUSA: 1) Tracked the United States Policies on human rights issues in the Asia-Pacific region including Myanmar, and wrote the bi-monthly Asia Policy Brief; 2) Assisted in petitions and campaigns of AIUSA, including logistical support for program activities and events; 3) Attended the congressional hearings and panel discussions on the Rohingya crisis as a fellow of AIUSA. I also enrolled in two classes: Statecraft and Smart Power, and Global Sustainability and Development, at Maxwell in D.C.

This internship gave me the opportunities to use the advocacy tools that I learned theoretically from classes. It also improved my communication and presentation skills and strengthened my professional ability to work in a multicultural environment. On November 10th, I attended the regional conference of Amnesty International at the University of Denver in Colorado as a panel speaker, where I discussed the Rohingya refugee crisis and possible options to find a sustainable solution. I gave an interview with Voice of America (VOA) about my personal experience of institutionalized segregation against the Rohingya community in Burma. In addition, I attended many panel discussions and congressional hearings on human rights violation issues. I was also invited to discuss Rohingya problems with the Chief Officer of the Burma desk at the State Department in Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C. is a vibrant professional environment for me to improve my knowledge about social work and to broaden my network. I usually joined Maxwell alumni gatherings in Washington, D.C. Those gathering were helpful for me because we shared knowledge and information with each other and, sometimes, discussed our plans, internship and job opportunities.

Zeyar Win (right) at the Amnesty International Regional Conference in Denver

Zeyar Win is a graduate of Maxwell’s MAIR program. He previously interned at VOA and now works at the International Republican Institute.

MAIR Program at the Maxwell School

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Zeyar Win Assists VOA with Rohingya Issues

Ivan Ponomarev Looks at Threats Inside Aviation

I spent this fall in Washington D.C. as part of the Maxwell-in-Washington program. After spending a wonderful summer here, I had decided to continue my studies here this past fall. It was important for me to get the most out of my final semester in the program, and so I took two classes and participated in an internship as well.

My internship was at the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), which is a research center at the University of Maryland. It focuses its studies on the causes and consequences of terrorism, as well as on national and international responses to terrorist groups and activities. START conducts extensive firsthand and secondhand research and works with vast quantities of data, as evidenced by its Global Terrorism Database (GTD) which it describes on its website as “the most comprehensive unclassified data base on terrorist events in the world.”

Ivan Ponomarev at START

More specifically, I have been part of the Unconventional Weapons and Technology (UWT) division. This division studies terrorist use or potential use of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons. The project that I have been working on is the Aviation Insider Threat project, which is working on the development of the Cargo Aviation Insider Threat Assessment Tool (CAITAT) to help detect vulnerabilities within the air cargo supply chain which may potentially be exploited by insiders looking to commit illicit or terrorist activities. My tasks have included, but have not been limited to, conducting research on air cargo supply chains and potential vulnerabilities within them, conducting red-teaming exercises with CAITAT to help refine it before it is finalized in December, and assisting with the preparation and editing of
CAITAT training materials.

I am eternally grateful for the wonderful opportunities that I had this fall, as it was certainly one to remember. This has been quite a unique experience for me, as my previous two internships were very different from this one, and I have learned a great deal about national security and counterterrorism. I will always look back at this fall as an important building block in the person that I will become and am beyond excited to find out what lies ahead in my future.

Ivan Ponomarev is a recent MAIR graduate. He also interned at Nonviolence International and the Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy in DC.

MAIR Program at the Maxwell School

Maxwell-in-Washington Program

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Ivan Ponomarev Wastes No Time with Two Internships in DC

Sören Reischert Takes a Year for Professional Experience

Being on the Atlantis program, a partnership between Syracuse University and the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, means that studying at Maxwell only formed the first half of my postgraduate studies. But instead of finishing my studies in Germany immediately after completing my coursework in Syracuse, I decided to take a year out in order to gain some more professional experience. The first of three planned placements took me to Dublin, Ireland where I worked as a research assistant in Teneo’s strategy team.

Sören Reischert at Teneo Networking Event

Teneo is an international advisory firm integrating the disciplines of strategic communications, investor relations, financial advisory, corporate governance advisory and political & policy risk advisory among others. As part of my role, I worked on a wide range of projects and my tasks included everything from stakeholder analysis over media monitoring to pitching press releases to Irish national newspapers. One of my favorite tasks was certainly participating in brainstorming sessions at the beginning of new projects. Teneo’s approach to making business ties in exceptionally well with my studies in Public Policy and International Relations. This is because Declan Kelly, the founder and CEO of Teneo, has always understood that being successful in today’s world means working across borders and connecting experts from all disciplines.

Former Irish Prime Minister John Bruton (right) discusses Brexit with British public servants, Irish business representatives and Teneo employees

Teneo also offered brilliant networking opportunities as the company has offices all around the world and works with the world’s biggest and most influential companies. I even had the opportunity to meet some leading Irish and European politicians as well as international sports personalities. Lastly, Dublin is a great city full of friendly people and interesting history.

I would encourage everyone who is thinking about a professional year to do so, as it brings invaluable experiences and enables you to approach the second year of your studies with a new perspective and clearer understanding of where your degree can take you. My next step will lead me to London where I have two more placements in communications firms lined up.

Quick chat with players of New Zealand’s Rugby team, the All Blacks, during a photocall

Soren Reischert is a MAIR/ATL student in the Atlantis Transatlantic Dual Degree program completing the MAIR degree from the Maxwell School in Syracuse and an MPP from the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin. He formerly interned at YCH Group in Singapore and is currently interning at Quiller Consultants in London.

Atlantis Transatlantic Dual Degree Program

The Maxwell School

The Hertie School of Governance

Sören Reischert, Hard Business Talks in Singapore