Tag Archives: PSC

Beth Gawne Tackles Security & Nonproliferation at the State Department in DC

Beth Gawne is enjoying her life in Washington D.C.

Beth Gawne is enjoying her life in Washington D.C.

Beth Gawne spent three years teaching English in rural Japan before coming to the Maxwell School. She is a joint MPA/MAIR student who will finish with two degrees. She interned at the United States Department of State in Washington, DC and is a regular contributor to the PAIA Insider blog.

“And they will beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation will not lift up sword against nation, neither will they learn war anymore.” –Isaiah 2:4

This is a quote I saw often in a hallway of the Harry S Truman building of the State Department while I spent my Fall Semester learning about nonproliferation efforts in the US. This quote was written as a mural on the wall of the floor I worked on, and across from it was an image of a mushroom cloud from the first successful nuclear test of the Manhattan Project. It gave me inspiration and motivation as I worked in the front office of the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation (ISN), sitting in on meetings with high-level diplomats and representatives from the government, taking notes, and organizing briefing documents for the Assistant Secretary.

My time in the State Department provided me a 30,000-ft view of what the US does to prevent nuclear, biological, and chemical materials from being used as weapons, and instead to focus those efforts on peaceful means. I learned that these efforts range from formal treaties and conventions, to interdiction and export control, to even helping scientists overseas to prevent accidents or theft of dangerous materials. Even more, I learned about the slow moving machine that is the bureaucracy meant to ensure that these efforts are consistent and properly coordinated. I realized that without this, our government would spend its time responding to the latest crisis and be unable to do anything else long-term.

My job itself had me working alongside other staff assistants to make sure the leadership of the bureau was prepared for meetings and events. I got to see what makes a strong leader within the government, and I had the opportunity to work with some of the most engaging, kind, and supportive people I have ever met. I even was given a chance to do a few projects in other offices, helping with detailed data collection that was going to be used to impact a real problem on the ground. Knowing I was involved in something that would make a difference was probably one of the best parts of the internship overall. I wasn’t making copies and running to Starbucks; I was helping to communicate an argument for NATO or inform bureau officers of a country’s stance on an issue.

I was most impressed with the quality of the leadership within the bureau, and for people who have such important and high-level jobs, everyone was down-to-earth and welcoming. I’m excited to see what my future holds, and hopefully my path will cross with ISN once again— even if I’m not directly working there.

Read Beth’s latest contribution to the PAIA Insider blog:
Life as a Returning 2nd Year Student, AKA: Should you do a dual degree?

Learn more about the Maxwell-in-Washington program

Beth Gawne with friends in Washington D.C.

Beth Gawne with friends in Washington D.C.

Beth Gawne standing in front of mural on the wall of the State Department

Beth Gawne standing in front of mural on the wall of the State Department

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

Acronym Salad: Part II – The IC

Seal of the US Intelligence Community.

Seal of the US Intelligence Community. Source: DNI.gov

The section of the U.S. government that is literally and metaphorically shrouded in secrecy is the intelligence community.

While all of the constituent agencies have public presences, they each have different functions and specializations.

Thus, if you area  student seeking to serve in an analytic or management roles within these agencies as professionals, it is useful to understand which agency is the best conceptual fit.  It is also useful to attempt an internship within one of these agencies, as it would secure valuable career preparation for work in the IC. For information about those opportunities, visit the individual websites of each of the IC members.

Continue reading

Becoming Policy-Relevant

The White House Situation Room

The White House Situation Room, hopefully a goal of all policy professionals.
Source: whitehouse.gov

All of you interested in working in international relations or public administration policy are looking to make sure that your research and insight is at the forefront of the field.  Thus, it makes sense to take some time to read “So You Want to Be Policy-Relevant” by Professor Joshua Busby, Associate Professor of Public Policy at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas. Continue reading

Greg Flatow – Tunisian Association for Management and Social Stability

During the fall semester of 2013, I participated in an internship program with the Tunisian Association for Management and Social Stability (TAMSS). I completed this internship while taking intensive Arabic courses at the University of Tunis Carthage.

University of Tunis - Carthage

University of Tunis – Carthage
Photo: Greg Flatow

My internship provided me with a forum to practice my newly acquired language skills, while simultaneously affording me the opportunity to gain professional work experience with an international organization. Due to my experiences at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, which provided me with the necessary skillset to engage in an internship organization, I was able to actively participate in my internship program and enhance the productivity of my organization.

My activities at TAMSS varied significantly throughout the semester, and I have been utilized on an as-needed basis by the different offices in the organization. My first project entailed constructing information packets for Tunisians in the informal economy. Many Tunisians are not cognizant of the robust labor code in Tunisia and the governmental programs established to help informal workers enter formal employment. My objective was to summarize the benefits of formal employment in a concise document that could later be translated into Arabic.

I also worked on the Women in Democracy project, which focuses on augmenting Tunisians’ knowledge on democratic practices and preparing Tunisians for the upcoming elections. Local volunteers collected surveys on the population’s knowledge and interest in democratic affairs, and I worked with TAMSS employees to compile the data.

Additionally, I assisted a colleague with a research project on female entrepreneurship. Her intent is to analyze trends in the post-Arab Spring era, including the rise of Islamism and a more democratic government, in order to assess the impact that these changes have on female entrepreneurs. She is an American professor without a background in Arabic, and I assisted her in translating Arabic surveys and entering data into Excel spreadsheets.

My studies at the Maxwell School have pertained to security and foreign affairs, and it is my desire to acquire a governmental position that relates to these concentrations. I believe that many governmental agencies actively seek individuals who have previously engaged in international work and language studies. Through my work at TAMSS, I worked on various projects in the organization (some of which are funded by the US State Department), gained potential references for future job applications, and proved my ability to work in a foreign environment. It is my hope that this experience will provide a bridge to a desirable job in the future.