Tag Archives: Internship Stories

Clearing a Hurdle

Clearing the Main Hurdle

Picture of Track Hurdle
Not these Hurdles

Many of you who are entering the U.S. government, particularly in the foreign policy and security policy fields, will have to go through the security clearance process. This process, while intimidating, should rarely be a cause for concern and there are a number of steps you can take to make the process as easy as possible. Please note that this is general information. If your hiring authority provides different information, consider that to supercede the information below.

What is Security Clearance?

Holding a U.S. government security clearance allows an employee to access classified information. Clearances are issued at three levels, confidential, secret, and top secret. At each level, clearance holders have access to different types of information on the basis of their job duties. Different agencies have levels within Top Secret (including TS/SCI – allowing access to Sensitive Compartmentalized Information or SAP – Special Access Program Information). They may also call it something different than Top Secret clearance, such as the Department of Energy’s “Q” clearance.

What is the Goal of the Process?

The primary purpose of the clearance is to determine whether a job candidate is determined to be able to maintain classified information. The government is looking for trustworthy applicants with high levels of reliability, loyalty, and character.

What does the Process Look Like?

Once a federal agency extends a conditional employment offer, the agency human resources contact will provide information about the necessary paperwork for clearance positions. This is usually centered around Standard Form (SF) 86, the Questionnaire for National Security Positions. This information on the form is for the last 10 years (although some forms will list the last ten years or until 18, whichever is closer), detailing residences, jobs, contacts, legal issues, education and much more.

In addition the SF-86, agencies may require fingerprints, personal interviews, credit examinations, polygraph test, or other additional materials at the request of the agency. This can often be a lot of material.

How Long Does It Take?

It is challenging to predict how long each clearance case will take, as each individual investigation is unique. However, when the hiring Department issues the clearance paperwork and a prospective employee completes the paperwork correctly and promptly, the time allocated is usually sufficient.

Are Clearances Transferable?

Possibly. According to the State Department, clearances are normally accepted by other agencies if the investigation was completed in the last 10 years (5 years for Top Secret Clearance) and there has been no more than a two year break in service.

 

Do I need to take a polygraph test?

For a secret level clearance, generally no polygraph test is needed. However, this may be necessary, based on the needs and policies of the hiring authority.

On the Ground in Ghana with the International Organization for Migration

2014 IOM Ghana summer interns
2014 IOM Ghana summer interns. Photo: Joanna Kitts for IOM

For the past several years, PAIA students have taken part in SU’s innovative partnership with the International Organization for Migration’s Mission in Accra, Ghana to develop the field skills needed for success as development and humanitarian workers. Continue reading On the Ground in Ghana with the International Organization for Migration

Abigail Reese (JD/IR ’15) – UN Counter Terrorism Executive Directorate

The following entry was drafted by Ms. Abigail Reese a dual-degree JD and MAIR student.

The United Nations Counterterrorism Committee was established by the UN Security Council
United Nations Security Council Chamber. Photo Source: Wikipedia

“I spent my summer working in NYC for the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED). CTED was established by Security Council Resolution 1535 (2004), and its purpose is to assist the work of the Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) and coordinate the process of monitoring the implementation of resolution 1373 (2001). Resolution 1373 requested countries to implement a number of measures intended to enhance their legal and institutional ability to counter terrorist activities.” Continue reading Abigail Reese (JD/IR ’15) – UN Counter Terrorism Executive Directorate

Julia Schulteis (MAIR ’14) – UNICEF Corporate Social Responsibility Unit

Ms. Julia Schulteis is a graduate student in International Relations.  During the fall semester she is serving as a consultant for UNICEF’s Corporate Social Responsibility office.

I was uneasy about accepting an internship in Geneva, Switzerland. Prior to Maxwell, I had spent two years living in rural Thailand working in community development as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I loved my time working outside of an office, living with people of different cultures and learning about development from the very people whose lives are impacted. However, in returning to school for a Masters in International Relations, I knew it would be important to see the other side, the work that happens from headquarters. I am grateful now that my hesitations did not stop me from spending the summer in Geneva, along with seven other Maxwell students, as it proved an invaluable learning opportunity. Continue reading Julia Schulteis (MAIR ’14) – UNICEF Corporate Social Responsibility Unit

Getting Your Foot in the Door at the UN

It's easier to get in on the streetside
The UN Secretariat in New York
Source: Wikipedia

One of the challenges of finding a position within the United Nations is how to begin one’s search.  The UN employs more than  44,000 staff around the world, with operations that affect the 193 member states and bridge specializations from information policy, to peacekeeping, to international health, to logistics.

As many of you have expressed interest in working with the United Nations Secretariat, its constituent funds and programs, or its specialized agencies, we thought it useful to give some background on how one can get one’s “foot in the door” with the United Nations.  Continue reading Getting Your Foot in the Door at the UN

Who’s Where in Public Diplomacy

In the past few days, we’ve helped to define the concept of Public Diplomacy (PD) as the foundation concept of our dual-degree with the Newhouse School.  We have also told the stories of Adam Cyr and Jennifer Osias, who has recently completed exceptional internships in traditional public diplomacy-linked organizations. However, here at Maxwell we do have an expansive definition of PD, which includes public advocacy, organizational communications, and government relations work.

Continue reading Who’s Where in Public Diplomacy

Nitika Sethi – Grassroots Research and Advocacy Movement (GRAAM)

GRAAM workers in the field
Preparing the District Human Development Report
Source: Graam.org.in

Ms. Nitika Sethi is a dual-degree student studying International Relations and Public Administration.

I spent 11 weeks in Mysore, India working for the Grassroots Research and Advocacy Movement (GRAAM). GRAAM is a policy initiative of the Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement (SVYM) nonprofit organization. The GRAAM team works to develop research and advocacy agendas to influence all levels of policy in response to the widespread grassroots efforts of SVYM in public health, education, governance, and rural development. Continue reading Nitika Sethi – Grassroots Research and Advocacy Movement (GRAAM)