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.
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 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.
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.
The Global Sustainability and Development class was an extraordinary course taught by Professor Melinda Kimble. The focus was on the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and policy recommendations with an emphasis on climate change and environmental issues. The class discussions mainly concentrated on analyzing international agreements and action plans; assessing national policies in alignment with SDGs; and describing the economic, social and environmental interlinkages among various SDGs.
The other course I was enrolled in was Statecraft and Smart Power in the Digital Era, offered by Professor Shannon N. Green. The course focused on a strong foundation on public diplomacy by the use of policy formulation, interagency decision-making, and the practice of public diplomacy. I was very much inspired and motivated with the public diplomacy programs administered by the US government agencies and other non-profit organizations. Those seeking employment in public service, NGOs, think tanks, and consulting firms would find this course most appealing.
I worked as a Public Policy and Advocacy Intern at InternAction. It helped me to observe and analyze on the policy strategies of many of its member organizations by attending various events and policy discussion meetings. During the internship, my major assignment was researching newly elected US Congressmen and their political stand on foreign assistance. I accomplished this using advanced research and advocacy skills with my newly acquired knowledge on the American political system. I would like to offer special thanks to the InterAction team, Professor Ryan Williams, Samantha Clemence, and Isaac Olson for their great support and guidance during the period.
The second conference I participated in was Law, Justice and Development Week 2018. Interacting with justices, lawyers, students, and development workers from all over the world was a very enriching experience. Hearing their perspectives and best practices in relation with law, justice and development which are, as we know integral parts of sustainable development.
This Fall I had the opportunity to intern abroad in Santiago, Chile at Fundación Multitudes as an Operations intern. This internship provided me the opportunity to learn about civil society in Chile by educating locals on their right to be heard in government. The mission of Fundación Multitudes is to reduce the gap between citizens and public institutions, working with a strong emphasis on cross-cutting issues to achieve agreements between the government and different sectors of civil society, including the private sector. All of the above encourages citizen participation by raising standards of transparency and open government in state agencies.
I specifically worked on strengthening tied with The Community of Democracies (CD) which is an intergovernmental coalition of states established in 2000 to bring together governments, civil society and the private sector in the pursuit of the common goal of supporting democratic rules and strengthening democratic norms and institutions around the world.
I worked directly for the CEO of Fundación Multitudes who is also the Chair of the ISC for The Community of Democracies. The ISC advises governments on the actions needed to enable civil society to work freely to strengthen democracy, rule of law, and protection for the fundamental rights enshrined in the Warsaw Declaration. The ISC coordinates a variety of initiatives for civil society, including the civil society forum taking place in the biannual Ministerial Conferences of the Community, which results in a set of recommendations to the Ministerial Declaration made by civil society representatives. I was in charge of translating various documents from Spanish to English for The Community of Democracies.
Fundación Multitudes is a very small non-governmental organization that is composed of 10 employees who take on various roles. Due to this I was able to work closely and in the same office as the CEO and the project director. I wrote two communication protocols to define communication between The Secretariat General of the Community of Democracies and the Chair of the ISC. The protocol included information regarding civil society matters and how it can be communicated properly to the governing council. I was given liberty to design and write it according to my best abilities which was later on reviewed and signed by the CEO of Fundación Multitudes and Secretariat General of The Community of Democracies.
The second project I was in charge of was the creation of a branding and internal communication proposal where I was in charge of designing the new logo for The Community of Democracies. This project challenged me in various ways since I do not have a background in design or marketing and was not sure how to design a logo.
One of the things I learned through this internship is that when you work for a small organization you will be asked to do projects outside of your field of expertise. This not only challenged me but helped me gain new skills that I can further develop in another position. The last project I was in charge of was the creation of a capacity assessment and survey. This was designed to help Community of Democracies identify areas in which all 25 members of the organization need help in. This was designed to help establish a concrete foundation between members of the organization by identifying the needs and capacities of all 25 members. While I interned for Fundación Multitudes I worked with their external partner where I was in charge of designing projects. As I end my semester here in Santiago Chile I am very appreciative of the opportunity I had to intern while taking courses.
This summer, I was fortunate to intern at Catalytic Communities, an advocacy NGO and think-tank based in Rio de Janeiro. The organization runs a variety of programs, but my internship was primarily focused on the Community Land Trust initiative being headed by the organization’s Executive Director. Catalytic Communities is dedicated to formulating networks of discussion between the informal and formal settlements of Rio, community mobilization, and a participatory and asset-based model of development.
The core focus of my internship was on the Community Land Trust (CLT) Initiative, which is a community-managed nonprofit organization that is established to provide permanent affordable housing and build community assets. My main role on this project was to draft materials for our planned workshops in August and to do research on the diverse application of the CLT model. My research on CLT case studies and their diverse application was published in an article for the NGO’s sister organization, “Rio on Watch” , which is a news source that profiles residents of informal settlements, informal settlement regularization efforts in Brazil, and local events in communities of interest. This research was imperative to my understanding of the applicability of the CLT model in Rio de Janeiro, as well as provided support for my education of other interns in my organization.
While I was mainly concerned with the development of the CLT Initiative in preparation for our August workshops, I was able to engage with interns completing a variety of projects. The most important of those being a study on evictions. I joined fellow interns on community visits to profile residents all over the city of Rio. These community visits were essential in helping me comprehend the effects of land speculation, post-Olympic development issues in Rio, and the failure of the government to provide essential services to its residents. In addition to these community visits, I attended community events. These community events were generally in the same communities that we profile or have the intent to profile. I emphasize these events as this enabled us as interns to see the residents of these informal settlements and strengthen our friendly relationships with them. It was also beneficial in simply getting to understand the culture of Rio.
Lastly, I took the time to explore Rio’s sprawling natural landscape. I went on several hikes and, of course, visited the beach. It’s amazing to be laying on the beach in Leme staring at the waves and seeing people rappel on the Sugar Loaf Mountain in the same frame. I also went on a trip to Sao Paulo. The main intent on that trip was to, of course, enjoy myself but it provided an important comparative experience to the function and systems of Rio de Janeiro.
My time in Rio was truly amazing. I am so lucky to have been working for a great organization like Catalytic Communities. I am grateful to have been a witness to a variety of social issues in Rio including community militarization, gentrification, and land speculation. I walk away from this experience with a confidence in what I want to accomplish professionally, one that I didn’t have before.
Victoria Fanibi is a graduate of Maxwell’s MAIR program. After completing her independent internship in Brazil, she finished her degree through Maxwell’s World Partner Program with Tsinghua University in Beijing.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.