Tag Archives: Internship Stories

Giovanna de Miranda, Preventing Violence at FFP

For my summer semester, I participated in the Maxwell in DC program. While in DC, I interned for Fund For Peace (FFP), a non-profit organization that focuses on conflict reduction and violence prevention. FFP uses data analysis and risk assessment tools to provide information on violence, risks, and vulnerabilities around the world. The organization’s work focuses on conflict early warning responses, election violence prevention, capacity building, responsible business practices, and combating violent extremism.

While interning at Fund for Peace, I had the chance to be involved in different projects. For instance, I participated in a project on election violence prevention in Nigeria. During this project I conducted research on election violence using risk assessment tools and quantitative data. By analyzing the data from previous election years, the project attempted to understand trends of violence in order to predict strategies for the prevention of violence in the country’s next elections in 2019.

Giovanna (front, center) with fellow interns

I also worked on a conflict early warning capacity building training for the African Development Bank. I collaborated in putting together a case study that would be used in the training of AfDB economists on how to face vulnerabilities and prevent violence in the African continent. In addition, I was also engaged in research projects on ICTs and Blockchains in Sub-Saharan Africa and GBV in small-scale mining.

My work at Fund For Peace was a very enriching experience that taught me more about conflict early warning prevention outside of academia. I got to experience how organizations use conflict resolution and violence prevention strategies to affect change. More so, I also gained valuable skills in using different types of methodologies and assessment tools to conduct substantive research. Overall, my internship at Fund For Peace was a valuable and educational opportunity that will contribute to my future career goals.

MAIR Program at the Maxwell School

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Ian Gottesfeld Applies Statistics to International Energy Markets

I spent this summer interning at the Department of Energy’s US Energy Information Administration, commonly known as EIA. I had applied to a general internship with the DOE, and was ultimately placed at EIA. Before the internship began, I had a limited knowledge of energy and was unfamiliar with the work EIA did. After interning at this organization, I can say was very lucky to have this experience.

Ian Gottsfeld at the EIA

I had a hunch that I would like working in energy and I was right. EIA primarily produces statistics, analyses and forecasts for the US energy market. However, my specific office – the Office of International Energy Analysis – publishes international energy statistics and conducts analyses on energy markets in foreign countries. As an intern, I had the opportunity to both work in statistics and perform analysis. With the help of full-time “feds,” I transformed data from other sources and analyzed it against ours. I also conducted my own analysis on the energy scenario in various countries. I learned an incredible amount and found my work fascinating. Energy markets are an interesting mix of economics, politics and science, with many moving parts. I also felt that the work I did was important.

Ian Gottsfeld with U.S. Department of Energy Seal

Of all places in the energy sector, I feel fortunate to have landed at EIA. It is considered one of the premier sources of energy data in the world, and used by nearly everyone in the energy sector, including many people I have met in Washington. My coworkers are also exceptional people. EIA is an interesting mix of economists, scientists and international affairs specialists, many with PhDs. The depth of their knowledge of energy markets impresses me every day.

Finally, despite the fact that my coursework in energy had been limited prior to starting the internship, Maxwell and Syracuse prepared me well for the work I did. The three economics courses I took at Maxwell helped me to understand the dynamics of energy markets and prices, which I come across daily. Meanwhile, the Data Science course I took at the iSchool provided me with skills I utilized in some of my larger data projects. While energy is a new field for me, the skills I took from graduate school were highly applicable and practicing them on the job was a gratifying experience.

Ian Gottsfeld is a recent graduate of the MAIR program. He also interned at the U.S. Government Accountability Office during his final Fall Semester.

Ian Gottsfeld outside the U.S. Department of Energy

MAIR Program at the Maxwell School

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Linsey Armstrong Reaches Global Audiences

Women Political Leaders (WPL) Global Forum is a nonprofit and nonpartisan global network of female politicians, including Presidents, Prime Ministers, Parliamentarians and Mayors. This summer, I had the opportunity to serve this organization as a communications intern, working to further the organization’s mission of increasing the number and influence of women in political leadership roles across the globe.

As a member of the communications team, I worked on numerous initiatives, campaigns and events under the organization’s umbrella, including WPL Summit 2018, the #Girl2Leader campaign and the Women Leaders Global Forum event. For these events and campaigns, I coordinated and implemented multi-channel communications plans. My primary tasks included: branding and strategy implementation; social media content creation, management, reporting and analysis; graphic design; copyediting and proofreading; media and press relations; and campaign coordination with current and former women political leaders. I was also able to represent the organization at outreach events with partners and was given the opportunity to attend the global launch of the #SheIsEqual campaign.

Linsey Armstrong (right) Attending the launch of the #SheIsEqual campaign

A task near and dear to my heart was coordinating communications for the #Girl2Leader campaign, which aims to get girls involved with and interested in politics. I was provided the freedom to try new things and grow the brand’s social media presence in innovative ways. It was rewarding to be promoting a cause that can have such a vital impact on the world.

My experience working for WPL was incredibly rewarding and helped me grow in countless ways. I was able to refine and further my strategic communications and graphic design skills, as well as explore other opportunities like media outreach and press relations. Working in a diverse, multicultural office that communicates with global audiences was a valuable experience. This internship also provided me with great insight into the structure of international nonprofits and working with high-level political leaders from around the world.

I am excited to be continuing my work for WPL remotely while returning to school in Syracuse!

Linsey Armstrong is pursuing her joint MA International Relations and MS Public Relations (MAIR/MSPR) degree  in Spring 2019.

Linsey Armstrong outside the WPL office in Brussels, just down the street from the European Commission

MAIR/MSPR Program at the Maxwell and Newhouse Schools

Public Diplomacy Internships in Brussels Program

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Assil Alnaser Focuses on European Media in Brussels

The Brussels program gave me the opportunity to complete an internship with OPEN Media Hub. OMH is a project for networking, on-the-job training, and support to media professionals across the EU Neighborhood. The project is funded by the EU and implemented by a consortium led by Thomson Foundation (UK), including Action Global Communications Ltd (Cyprus), European Journalism Centre (Netherlands), France Medias Monde (France), Free Press Unlimited (Netherlands), Market & Opinion Research International Ltd (Ipsos MORI) (UK) and Particip GmbH (Germany). The project includes a series of capacity building, production and networking activities, including the organization of a number of different types of training and exchange events for journalists in each of the 17 countries in the Neighborhood area of the EU.

The main advantage of the Brussels internship is the various networking opportunities. The time of the program is full of events and conferences. By following these events, I had a fantastic opportunity to meet different people working on Middle Eastern and migration issues.  Another advantage of this internship is that it helped me to identify the particular area to write for my independent study. Working in the media sector helped me understand the media impact on migration policies in Europe. It gave me the courage to write on the topic. I met many figures in the field and did  semi-structured interviews with them for my independent study. It is also worth mentioning that having an internship in Brussels is so beneficial for your CV as it demonstrates experience in various countries.

European Commission

On the whole, the Brussels program was a useful experience. I have gained new knowledge, skills and met many new people from different fields. I achieved several of my learning goals. I got insight into professional practice. I learned the various sides of working within a European institution. It has also improved my skills in reporting for media and strengthened my professional ability to work in a multicultural environment.

The speakers’ sessions that were part of the course were linked directly to working with European institutions. This program was an excellent opportunity to test out the skills that I developed in Maxwell. For example, I transferred the academic writing skills that I learned in Maxwell to write a featured article that was published on the OMH website.

I am satisfied with my experience in Brussels as it perfectly matched my career plans to gain more expertise, as well as more exposure to different organizational systems in order to become a better professional.

Assil Alnasser is a recent graduate of the Maxwell School’s MAIR program.

Assil Alnaser in Brussels
2018 SU Brussels Program Participants

MAIR Program at the Maxwell School

Internships in Brussels Program

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Emma Buckhout, Internal Communications at USCIS

This summer, I participated in the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Summer Enrichment Program at headquarters in Washington, DC. As “student trainee,” or intern, with the Internal Communications (IC) division within the Office of Public Affairs, I supported internal workforce communication for 19,000 government employees and contractors. Among other tasks, I provided primary support on USCIS’ tri-weekly internal newsletter, editing and publishing articles for the agency intranet site.

Through my MPA/MAIR studies at Maxwell I am concentrating on immigration and refugee policy. I applied for this internship with hopes of learning first-hand what USCIS actually does and how it operates. USCIS is the component within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) tasked with, as its mission statement says, “adjudicating requests for immigration benefits.” I had previously worked on immigration and U.S.-Mexico border policy for two NGOs in Washington, DC, but had focused primarily on political debates, border enforcement issues, and migration through Mexico. I was eager to learn more about how the actual U.S. immigration services are carried out and more about the granular process of immigrating to the U.S. and gaining citizenship.

Emma Buckhout addresses fellow interns and a USCIS audience at the USCIS Summer Enrichment Program 2018 closing ceremony

While internal communications may seem removed from the actual immigration and refugee adjudications, and even farther from the big-picture policy work, it was the perfect window from which to learn how all of USCIS’ varied components fit together. My office cleared and sent out any policy directives and announcements from USCIS or DHS leadership to all USCIS employees. At the same time, we received articles and announcements from field offices across the country on special events, accomplishments, and trainings. To properly edit and publish them, I not only had to learn the agency style rules, but I also got to learn a little bit about what each agency component does.

The USCIS Summer Enrichment Program also provided invaluable learning and professional development opportunities for the cohort of over 60 interns. We visited a regional USCIS service center, where we heard from the officers who review the applications for specific immigration benefits, and the Virginia asylum office, where officers explained how they conduct in-person asylum interviews. We also attended a naturalization ceremony in which we got to witness dozens of people complete the rigorous process to become U.S. citizens. Furthermore, the internship program worked with several headquarters offices to host career panels and skills workshops, as well as a talk with USCIS Director Cissna. As a result of my participation, I was honored as one of three Summer Enrichment participants chosen to speak at Intern Closing Ceremony.

In the end, I succeeded in learning more completely about the structure and work of USCIS. I also built invaluable relationships with my talented Internal Communications team, and gained a renewed respect for the value of communication, clear writing, and editing in any professional field.

Emma Buckhout is a MPA/MAIR student and Robertson Fellow focusing on immigration and refugee policy.

Emma Buckhout with the USCIS-DHS seal

MPA/MAIR Program at the Maxwell School

Maxwell-in-Washington Program

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Ivan Ponomarev Wastes No Time with Two Internships in DC

I spent this summer in Washington D.C. as part of the Maxwell-in-Washington summer program. I have never been to our nation’s capital before, so this was definitely quite the experience. From visiting monuments and museums to attending concerts and interesting presentations, this summer had no shortage of things to keep me busy. Add a summer class and two internships to the mix and you barely even have time to sit down and relax, but not in a bad
way. Why would you want to when the summer is short and any second wasted will only be a future regret?

Ivan Ponomarev at the Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy holding the organization’s logo with their “tracks.”

Aside from the coursework and all of the fun activities, the professional experience that I gained at my two internships was invaluable. Sure, it was tough balancing the two when there are
only 40 hours in a workweek, but the different experiences that I had and the different skills that I acquired were well worth it. I spent part of my time interning at Nonviolence International, which is an organization that works to promote conflict resolution through nonviolence and to create a worldwide culture of peace. My responsibilities included the oversight and planning of an educational peace tour to Ukraine, as well as research and outreach to potential participants for this trip.

My second internship this summer was at the Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy, which works to promote a systems-based approach to peacebuilding and to facilitate the transformation of deeply-rooted social conflict. My responsibilities included conducting research on the conflict and peacebuilding sector and producing white papers, as well as analyzing conflict zones and identifying potential funders, partners and peer competitors.

I am eternally grateful for the wonderful opportunities that I had this summer, as it was certainly one to remember. I will always look back at this summer 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 MAIR student doing a second semester in the Maxwell-in-Washington program. He is currently interning at National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START).

MAIR Program at the Maxwell School

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Kirssy Gonzalez, OAS Database on Trafficking in Persons

My summer internship at the Organization of American States (OAS) was rewarding for many reasons. I am passionate about working in development and migration policies and projects in the Americas. The OAS has increased my expertise in those fields and has given me the opportunity to meet amazing people from different countries.

Kirssy Gonzalez at OAS

My internship was based in the Department of Public Security within the Secretariat for Multidimensional Security. I researched policies, programs, and publications on the prevention of violence and crime in the region. I updated the Inter-American Network for Prevention of Violence and Crime with daily articles and learned about the relation between public security and international development.

I reviewed forms submitted by the National Authorities in the area of trafficking in persons (TIP). These forms included the OAS Member States laws and best practices to combat the heinous crime of TIP. The forms also included information about TIP within their countries. I sorted through this information which will be used for the upcoming database on TIP in the region. This database will include the contact information of government officials and institutions, nongovernmental organizations, and activists that are working against TIP; hotlines for victims and witnesses of the crime; information on resources available for victims; and documents regarding TIP.

The internship has allowed me to meet United States Foreign Service Officers, international civil servants, employees of the Organization of American States, and people from all over the world who work in development, humanitarian assistance, and diplomacy.

This opportunity has been rewarding and I am grateful for the experience.

Kirssy Gonzalez is a graduate of SU’s Maxwell School and College of Arts and Sciences. She has earned both a MA in International Relations (MAIR) from Maxwell and a Pan-African Studies degree from Arts and Sciences. She also formerly interned at International Organization for Migration — the UN Migration Agency — in Geneva during the summer of 2017.

MAIR Program at the Maxwell School

Pan African Studies at SU’s College of Arts and Sciences

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Kyungmi Shin Initiates Children & Digital Marketing Outreach at UNICEF

This summer I interned at UNICEF in Geneva. My team was the Children’s Rights and Business Unit within the Private Sector Engagement Division of the Private Fundraising Partnerships (PFP) Department. UNICEF headquarters is located in New York, but the entire PFP department is based in Geneva. Due to my previous work experience in the private sector, I have been interested in exploring the intersection of the public and private sectors, and this was a great experience which helped me to expand my expertise and pursue a future career in this field.

Kyungmi shin at the Palais des Nations where here office was located.

As a graduate intern, I was able to get involved in several projects such as the Children and Digital Marketing initiative. I was in charge of finding ways to make the Children and Digital Marketing discussion paper more child-friendly so that children can easily understand what digital marketing is and how it affects their rights.

I developed the idea of creating an animated video which can grab children’s attention with youth-friendly story telling. After watching this short video, children are asked to answer a survey which is designed to find out how much they actually understand the content and what their opinions are regarding this topic. I was given the ownership to initiate and lead the project, and I am happy to finish my internship with actual deliverables.

Before joining UNICEF, I had a very limited knowledge of human rights and how the private sector is engaged with children’s rights. After three months of interning, I am convinced that the role of corporations in children’s rights is significant not only in the aspect of child labor but also in children’s role as consumers and their impact on corporations. This great lesson is so meaningful that I would like to further explore more ways to learn about public and private partnerships. After reviewing a number of impact assessment reports on children’s rights and business from numerous country offices and human rights institutes, I am confident to say that my skills in researching, creating reports, and communication also improved.

Despite the high living costs of Geneva, it was definitely a great experience that expanded my horizons, and I am grateful to share this UN experience in this amazingly beautiful city.

Kyungmi Shin is a MAIR student at the Maxwell School currently interning at the International Finance Corporation in Washington, DC.

Kyungmi Shin in the Swiss Alps.

MAIR Program at the Maxwell School

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Katherine Hewitt, Life, Studies, & Interning at the Pompidou Group in Strasbourg

This past summer, I had the opportunity to live in Strasbourg, France as a participant of the Summer Internships in Strasbourg program. I interned with the Council of Europe as well as studied religion and human rights at SU’s Strasbourg Center.

The Strasbourg Center is in a perfect location, surrounded by diplomatic missions and easily accessible by several bus and tram routes.  The Center very quickly becomes the focus of your day to day life.  They organized monthly picnics with foods from the local market and weekend excursions in France and Germany for all students.  Even from before our arrival the staff at the Center was very active in making sure our arrival and adaptation to Strasbourg was smooth.  They answered all of our questions and helped a couple of us find a place to get our laptops fixed.  I was even able to use the Director’s connections to find my next internship at Caritas in Bosnia.

During the summer there are students participating in several programs: engineering, French language, religion and human rights, or the intern program.  They were all undergraduate students both from SU and from other universities.  But by the second week, we were all good friends, hanging out after class and on the weekends. It’s been several months since the end of the program, but we all still talk to each other.

Weekly picnic with fellow Strasbourg Center students

Living in Strasbourg is quite relaxing and easy.  The city’s public transportation is extensive and easy to use.  The trams can take you anywhere, even across the Rhine to Germany!  The Center provides you with a renewable pass so that you have unlimited access to public transportation.  But, if you leave yourself enough time, it’s quite enjoyable to just walk everywhere too.  There is an option to live with a host family, but I decided to live by myself.  I had a quaint little apartment in an area known as Petit France looking over the canal.  I lived above a typical Alsatian restaurant, and every morning and afternoon the wait staff would say Bonjour and exchange some pleasantries.  It really made you feel like you were apart of French life!

The religion and human rights course is extremely interesting.  While I focus on human rights, I hadn’t explored this connection before.  The professor, Yuksel Sezgin, teaches the course in a very approachable manner.  It is very clear he is passionate about what he teaches and wants all of his students to walk away with an increased knowledge of the subject.  For a grad student, the nightly readings were manageable, but more importantly were engaging.  He used his connections at the local university and the Council of Europe to bring in guest speakers that really expand our understanding of religion and human rights in a comparative context.  Even if you decide not to go on this study abroad, I highly recommend taking one of his classes on campus.

Council of Europe, main building

Interning at the Council of Europe was probably the highlight of the summer. Through the universities connection with Thomas Kattau, the Deputy Security of the Pompidou Group, I was offered an internship alongside another undergraduate participant. The Pompidou Group analyses trafficking trends and national strategies on drugs as well as promotes public health solutions to drug use.

While I was there, I worked on several projects.  My first big task was to write the Meeting Report for the Annual Airports Group Meeting.  For three days, I attended the meeting taking notes and meeting with various officials from across Europe and the world.  It was an excellent opportunity to see how international organizations share best practices and “success” stories.

Agora Building, location of the Pompidou Group

I started to work on preparing for the 17th Ministerial Conference that will be held in November.  Among typical tasks like preparing papers on the project outcomes, making schedules, and writing speeches, I had a unique opportunity to set up an app for the event.

Everyone in the office made me feel welcome and included.  They would pop by my office every now and then to chat and see how I was getting along with their assignments.  I was always given interesting tasks to complete and many of them prepared me for my next internship.

Katherine Hewitt is a MAIR student on her last semester at the Maxwell School. She is currently interning at Caritas in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

MAIR Program at the Maxwell School

SU’s Strasbourg Center

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Stephanie Spera Works with Illiterate Mothers in South Africa

Stephanie Spera is a current joint MPA /MAIR student at The Maxwell School. This summer she interned with Connect Network, a non-profit network based in Cape Town, South Africa, as part of her degree requirements. She also participated in the summer program South Africa: A Global Health Education Experience.

This summer, I embarked on a journey that has changed me academically, professionally, and personally. It all started with a Skype call with Dee Moskoff, an alum of the Maxwell School and Director of Connect Network, an organization that partners with NGOs around Cape Town to reach women and children at risk through health, education, and empowerment programs.

Connect Network office in Cape Town, South Africa

My primary responsibility at Connect was to aid in the final stages of developing a health literacy manual for illiterate mothers and their children in the Western Cape. The manual focuses on empowering women and children to respect their bodies, identify their health needs, and improve their understanding of issues such as sexuality, emotional health, and abuse. This included several steps, including performing a baseline survey of mothers to identify community needs; meeting with partners to finalize content and to ensure they are happy with the final product; writing a year-end report for donors; and drafting a budget request for year two funding.

From the start, my team met the stress of development and deadlines with passion, purpose, and perseverance. We sat for hours with partners to make sure the manual met their objectives. We facilitated conversations between each partner, the illustrator, and donors to maintain the vision of the project at every step. Amid threats of rioting, we traveled weekly to Khayelitsha Township to meet with local facilitators who helped to develop and collect surveys and provided valuable feedback on the needs of the community. Although each partner has different interests in the project, our shared dedication to improving the lives of women and children by empowering them to advocate for themselves and improve their access resources has kept us moving forward.

Stephanie Spera and her team at Connect Network

During my time in South Africa, I have found a passion for health care and bridging resource gaps for people from disadvantaged backgrounds. My experience at Connect has taught me the importance of people and relationships, and has given me the skills necessary to continue that fight when I return stateside.

MPA/MAIR Program at the Maxwell School

South Africa: A Global Health Education Experience

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