Tag Archives: Think Tanks

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

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Ivan Ponomarev Wastes No Time with Two Internships in DC

Brendan Reaney Looks at Threats to the US and Europe

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.

Viewing Party of the Washington Capitals Winning the Stanley Cup, Outside Capital One Arena

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.

MAIR Program at the Maxwell School

International Relations Undergraduate Program

  • For more about the Fast Track BA/MA program, contact the Director of Admissions, Christine Omolino,  at comolino@syr.edu

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Samm Cadwell, Asia Society Policy Institute in New York City

For my summer 2018 semester, I interned in New York City at the Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI), a small think-do tank that conducts research on economic, security, and environmental issues in the Asia-Indo-Pacific region. As one of four interns, my role was to support any research project any of the researchers or fellows were conducting. Throughout the summer I worked on short-term and long-term projects that included tracking countries or regions, compiling research, and writing memos, website blurbs, and heavily contributing to an article written by ASPI’s assistant director.One of my daily tasks was to track the current news coming out of Myanmar for the ASPI director. Ever week I provided her with a compiled list of the main news articles and summaries, and this work will help her as she pursues her future research. ASPI is beginning a new research project that looks at the evolving energy security and defense relationship between the Middle East and Asia. In order to help facilitate this new project, I spent several weeks conducting research and writing a memo about how the economic ties between the two regions have been evolving into security relations and how new sanctions on Iran and disputes between Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE might affect the energy supply to Asia.

The most important extensive task I worked on was the Pakistan elections that took place in July. Before the elections I was tasked to conduct research on the different parties running, the main issues of the election, the military establishment and media’s effect on elections, and possible election outcomes. After conducting this initial research I had to produce a memo summarizing and analyzing my findings for ASPI’s assistant director. Leading up to the election I also had to continuously track major developments on a day-to-day basis. After the elections, I had to do quick turnaround research on Imran Khan, and later was assigned to use my research and knowledge to help contribute to an article about Khan and his (tentative) plans for Pakistani domestic and foreign policy. The article I helped write will soon be published on the ASPI website, which is very exciting.

The experience I gained over this summer has been extraordinary. Interning at a small think tank, I have had the opportunity to work on a lot of extensive projects, and I was able to impact the work done at ASPI even from my position as an intern. Working at ASPI not only allowed me to apply my Maxwell education in the real world, but it helped to expand and refine on this skill set. It also reinforced the idea that this is the type of work I want to do after I graduate this coming December. I am ecstatic that I had this wonderful opportunity to meet and learn from so many amazing people, and I feel privileged to have had the chance to contribute to the work done at ASPI, even if it was only for a short time.

Samm Cadwell is a recent MAIR graduate who also studied at Tsinghua University, an SU World Partner program. She formerly lived in China and speaks advanced Mandarin. She’s looking to capitalize on her Asia expertise.

MAIR Program at the Maxwell School

Tsinghua University, World Partner Program

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Sonia Rangel, Mastering International Trade Relations

Sonia Rangel is a joint MPA/MAIR. In addition to her Fall Semester in Washington, DC, she interned at Instituto para las Mujeres en la Migración in Mexico City and was part of a team of MPA students who completed a consulting project for Refugee and Immigrant Self Empowerment in Syracuse.

Former US Ambassador, Earl Antony Wayne, and Sonia Rangel at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

Without a doubt, my internship this Fall Semester at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars has been a meaningful and wonderful experience. I am a research intern for a Wilson Center Public Policy Fellow and former US Ambassador to Mexico, Earl Anthony Wayne. The internship has been a great opportunity to investigate economic issues and work closely with a former high level diplomat. This has been an exciting experience for me, because it has provided me with the opportunity to learn more about US – Mexico trade relations and economic ties, a vital topic for both countries that was often discussed during this past presidential election. I have developed a more nuanced understanding of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the benefits it has created for both the US and Mexican economy.

In conjunction with the internship, I am enrolled in a Maxwell course on International Trade and Economic Negotiations that has complemented my internship in many ways. The course has allowed me to understand the complexities of a trade negotiation process by which the rules of trade are developed. The research for my internship has exposed me to the effects of trade agreements once they have been implemented.

Additionally, it is a privilege to work at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, a living memorial for President SummerWilson, the only US President with a doctorate degree, and a place of research for some of the brightest scholars and experts from around the world. The Center’s mission is focused on independent and in-depth research to form policy proposals through open dialogue. During the course of the internship, I have had the opportunity to attend forums and events hosted at the Wilson Center on a wide range of topics such as Brazil-US relations, transatlantic challenges in fighting violent extremism, and national security in Mexico. Furthermore, I work in an open space among other remarkably intelligent research assistants and scholars investigating a multitude of different issues and topics and have acquired knowledge through their research.

Working with Ambassador Wayne has been a valuable experience. I have developed a deeper understanding of trade and economic issues through the tasks that I have completed. Likewise, I have also enjoyed learning from his deep knowledge and practical experience. I also admire his high level of intuitiveness and graciousness towards all people. Overall, my experience at the Wilson Center has exceeded my expectations and has led to professional and academic growth.

Entrance to the Woodrow Wilson International Center of Scholars
Sonia Rangel at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars library

Learn more about the Maxwell-in-Washington program

Jack Gall Helps Promote Accountability in Foreign Policy

Jack Gall in Washington, DC

Jack Gall is a recent graduate of the MAIR program who wrote this post while interning during his final Fall Semester. Prior to interning, he also completed a summer course at the Brookhaven National Laboratory on the framework created by the international community to address the threats of nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism. He combined this with an independent research project with a Maxwell faculty.

This fall in Washington DC has been a rewarding experience as I have worked as the Center for International Policy’s national security intern during some of the most exciting and turbulent times in our nation’s capital in our nation’s capital in recent history.

The Center for International Policy (CIP) is a think tank that promotes transparency, cooperation, and accountability in foreign public policy. CIP was founded shortly after the Vietnam War’s end and has for decades engaged in research and advocacy programs ranging from arms control reform and diplomatic conflict resolution to US security assistance monitoring and environmental protection. The majority of my work has been supporting CIP’s national security program, led by Harry C. Blaney III. A State Department diplomat of over 20 years, Mr. Blaney runs a blog that covers and commentates on current US foreign policy events called Rethinking National Security. Harry has been an invaluable mentor in analyzing the impact of current events, preparing for my post-graduate plans, and fully appreciating the enriching opportunities Washington DC has to offer (he’s particular to local art galleries and I highly recommend the Phillips Collection).

By far the storyline that dominated coverage for the national security program was coverage of the 2016 Presidential Election and the following transition process. My primary responsibilities have been following daily election developments, providing worthwhile quotes, and proofreading and posting regular blog posts. In addition, I have worked to expand the blog’s readership through social media outreach and occasionally wrote posts of my own focusing on my interests such as nuclear security. As an exception to a generational stereotype, I didn’t have much experience with Twitter prior to my internship, so outreach has come with a bit of a learning curve.

Outside of working on the blog, my time at CIP also includes front desk duty and occasionally assisting other programs with open-source resource, database correction, and one hectic but memorable envelope-stuffing marathon for fundraising. My fellow interns are passionate about the work they do in promoting CIP’s mission for a peaceful and cooperative world. Overall, my time at the Center for International Policy has provided valuable professional experience in the public policy arena and taught me the importance of being inquisitive, assertive, and understanding in my work.

Jack Gall and Harry C. Blaney III at CIP
Austin Strain, Jack Gall, Celina Menzel, Leyko Nagayoshi, and Paritt Nguiakaramahawongse at CIP’s Pumpkin Social Function

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Andrew Sweet’s Career from Maxwell to a Rockefeller Fellow

Could you introduce yourself?

My name is Andrew Sweet and I am an Associate Partner at Dalberg, a global development strategy consulting firm. I am based in Johannesburg, but am often traveling around the world.

How did you start your career?

I had the good fortune of starting my career as a Peace Corps Volunteer. For two-and-a-half years, I served as a Natural Resource Management Volunteer, working with farmers on the Togo-Benin border. It was a life-changing experience and one I look back upon with great memories. I went to Maxwell following the Peace Corps and learned from the greats, such as Catherine BertiniPeter Castro, and Peg Hermann. It was energizing to learn from people whose careers were highly practical, and who could help structure and deepen my thinking.

After Maxwell, I spent a few years at the Center for American Progress (CAP) on the National Security team. I co-authored a number of publications on the future of U.S. global development policy. At the time, CAP was housing a number of key thinkers for both the Clinton and Obama campaigns. After President Obama was elected, a lot of the CAP National Security team went into the Administration at the White House, State Department, and USAID. I received an appointment at USAID, where I served as a Conflict Advisor for West Africa, focused on Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire. After two years in this role, the USAID Administrator, Dr. Rajiv Shah, asked me to serve as his Senior Advisor. For the nearly three years, I was one of his closest aides, traveling with him on each of his trips, foreign and domestic. In the last year alone, we went to 24 countries. In this capacity, I also helped to establish two major Presidential Initiatives, Power Africa and the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition.

How did you become a David Rockefeller Fellow, and what is the Trilateral Commission?

I was nominated to be a David Rockefeller Fellow by former USAID Administrator and current Rockefeller Foundation President, Dr. Rajiv Shah, and a great mentor and former professor of mine at Maxwell, Catherine Bertini. I have kept in very close contact with both and am fortunate and humbled to have been nominated by them.

The Trilateral Commission was established in 1973 to bring together leaders from the private sector to discuss issues of global concern for Europe, North America and Asia. It still includes a range of leaders from the private sector, but also from the public, and social sectors as well as prominent journalists. Members include Henry Kissinger, Madeleine Albright, Michael Bloomberg, David Gergen and Eric Schmidt.

Have you had any memorable experiences while working in the field?

I love helping put together coalitions of institutions and individuals with the intent of doing something big in global development. To this end, I enjoyed being part of putting together Power Africa and the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition. My experience as a Peace Corps Volunteer also helped inform my thinking and grounded my experiences in the reality.

One of the highlights from my current work is helping the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation put together Emergency Operations Centers in West Africa. The goal of this work is to capacitate emergency response workers and help ensure future crises, such as Ebola, can be prevented or better managed.

I also have been fortunate to meet and learn from a number of global leaders. I have drawn great inspiration from people like Kofi Annan, Catherine Bertini, and Bill Gates who have all dreamed big and accomplished great things.

What advice do you want to give Maxwell students?

My advice is to focus and dream big. Global development is too large a field for this to be your specialty. Think about the sector (e.g. energy, health, good governance) and a region of the world you are passionate about, then think and do big things. Develop language skills that are relevant to your passions. Build your networks and learn from leaders to draw inspiration and insights. Be a voracious consumer of information. Travel the world and spend significant amounts of time with people whose lives you are working to improve.

Andrew Sweet

Mikhail Strokan, CSIS’ Russia & Eurasia Program

Mikhail Strokan is a MAIR student considering pursuing a PhD.

This summer, I interned in the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), based in Washington, DC. CSIS is one of the world’s leading think-tanks, dedicated to providing strategic insights and policy solutions to help decision‑makers chart a course “toward a better world.” Established over 50 years ago, the Center for Strategic and International Studies is a bipartisan, nonprofit policy research organization. CSIS’s audience encompasses people of all professions with an interest in foreign policy, international relations, military issues, world and regional cultures, etc. In particular, the Russia and Eurasia program (REP) targets two broader audiences: English-speakers and Russian-speakers.

These three months of working at CSIS gave me important insight into how global think‑tanks are structured and run. I was able to meet and work with America’s leading experts in the fields of Russian and Eurasian studies, nuclear proliferation, nationalism, etc. Just as importantly, I met brilliant fellow interns representing other U.S. universities. They contributed to a very friendly and helpful environment, which helped me to survive the hectic and busy schedule of a research intern. They served as an amazing example of how people may be passionate about the work they are doing, and by the end of three intense months working together, we became good friends.

Besides work, I was able to participate in many outdoor events including celebrating my first Independence Day in the U.S.A. I was so lucky to have been in D.C. for this holiday! Due to heavy rain on that day, the National Mall was much less crowded than it usually is during such events. I had a front-row seat to the nation’s most impressive fireworks show.

The summer Maxwell course with Michael O’Hanlon, a very engaging professor and an expert at the Brookings Institution, enabled me to dive deeper into broader geostrategic issues while discussing the ultimate question of who will eventually come to rule this century. Even though combining classwork and internship-related work was difficult, thanks to the Maxwell‑CSIS partnership, I was able to attend the course in the same building in which I worked without spending an inordinate amount of time on commuting across the city.

Mikhail Strokan with fellow CSIS interns
Mikhail Strokan with fellow CSIS interns
Mikhail Strokan in front of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial
Mikhail Strokan in front of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial
Mikhail Strokan at CSIS' front door
Mikhail Strokan at CSIS’ front door

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Deborah Baldwin Does Coms for The Brookings Institution

Deborah Baldwin is a recent graduate of the Public Diplomacy program. She earned a joint Master of Arts in International Relations and a Master of Science in Public Relations from the prestigious Maxwell and Newhouse schools.

From introducing me to new tools and software, giving me opportunities to perform and learn more about research, and allowing me to gain hands-on experience in engaging with their target audience, The Brookings Institution’s communications department provided me with an unforgettable internship experience. I interned this past spring semester with the organization’s social media team, which was a great experience for me being a Public Diplomacy student with an interest in research. I got to not only read much of the great research published by the institution, but I also had the opportunity to learn how to best market it to their online public audiences through tweets, Facebook posts and Medium. I would then gauge how the audience interacted to it. In addition to learning how to market others’ research, I got to perform some of my own, writing reports to help determine the direction of the department’s iTunes U channel and giving recommendations on whether and how they should engage with their public over Snapchat.

The communications department was also open to letting interns get involved in other areas and meet people working outside of their own teams. When the events intern took a new job and left, I filled in for him, checking in guests at the events, helping facilitate discussions with panelists (one of whom was Deputy Secretary of State Anthony Blinken), and learning to use attendance tracking tools to add to my resume. I also made some really great friends with whom to try out the local restaurants.

Brookings has some awesome perks, including a great cafeteria with a specialty coffee machine, a library that not only allows interns to check out an unlimited number of books for up to four weeks, but is also staffed with the sweetest librarians you’ll ever meet and a bookshelf of giveaway books, and events that are free and open to the public. I frequented all of these things, especially the coffee machine. Not only did I see Anthony Blinken at a Brookings event, but I also got to see Gayle Smith, executive director of USAID, along with Justice Stephen Breyer, Turkish President Erdogan, and Sen. John McCain. I even got to see what may have been the largest protest in the history of The Brookings Institution, conducted by Amnesty International when President Erdogan came. From a public relations perspective, it was a good experience to see how an audience might react to a decision made by your organization with which they might not agree, so I got to take advantage of a learning opportunity by going outside and talking to protestors.

This internship allowed me to gain experience in digital communications and relationship building with organizational public audiences while also giving me insight into writing research and helping me to make new contacts in the policy sector. I especially enjoyed getting to know the faces behind the Brookings social media accounts, the YouTube channels and the Brookings Cafeteria Podcast, as well as some of the researchers of the number one research institution in the world.

Deborah Baldwin at The Brookings Institution.
Deborah Baldwin at The Brookings Institution.

Learn more about the Maxwell-in-Washington program