Tag Archives: U.S. Federal Government

Katrina Springer in the House During the First 100 Days

Katrina Springer is a May 2017 graduate of the joint MAIR/MSPR Public Diplomacy Program. She is a Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Fellow and joined the State Department as a Foreign Service Officer in July 2017.

Katrina Springer

Two years ago–just before I started my studies at Syracuse–I had the incredible opportunity to intern in the personal office of Senator Chuck Schumer. When I decided to attend the joint Maxwell/Newhouse Public Diplomacy Program, I knew that I would be spending the last semester of the program in DC, and I knew that I wanted to return to The Hill. My goal was to experience another side of Congress in hopes of gaining a deeper understanding of the legislative process.

Last semester, I interned with the Committee on Foreign Affairs in the U.S. House of Representatives. I quickly learned that the House and Senate share the Capitol, but they are worlds apart. I also learned that while many of the skills from my Senate internship were transferable, personal offices and committees operate differently.

Every aspect of my internship provided insight into the critical role of committees in our legislative process. From standard administrative tasks—drafting responses to constituent mail, compiling press clips, greeting visitors, and answering phones—to assisting staffers on more substantive projects and preparing for official committee business, I truly came away from my internship feeling like I’d learned a lifetime’s worth of knowledge about the complex U.S. political machine.

One of my most memorable experiences was collecting more than 160 signatures on an Anti-Semitism letter addressed to President Trump. Luckily, this was a team effort and I did not have to collect the signatures alone. The entire experience—from formatting the letter, to running to member offices, and addressing the letter to the White House—was surreal. Watching major media outlets cover the letter for the next couple of days was also quite the experience.

It probably goes without saying, but being in Washington for the “First 100 Days” of the Trump Administration was interesting to say the least. When the new administration proposed significant budget cuts to the foreign affairs and aid budget, the members of the Foreign Affairs Committee voiced bipartisan support for the diplomatic community and its important work; I was heartened by this seemingly rare demonstration of unity in the current political climate. As someone who will soon join the Foreign Service, I truly value the time I spent with the Foreign Affairs Committee. I am thankful for the Maxwell-in-Washington Program for allowing me to incorporate this enriching opportunity into my academic experience.

Learn more about the Washington Public Diplomacy program

Zack Lubelfeld Investigates Drug Trafficking at Department of Treasury

Zack Lubelfeld is a joint MPA/MAIR who will finish his two degrees this month, then move onto a Boren Fellowship.

Zack Lubelfeld

Last Fall Semester, I completed an internship in Washington, D.C. at the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), in the Department of the Treasury. I worked in the Crime, Narcotics, and Western Hemisphere Division, which is located in OFAC’s Targeting Office. CNW’s primary focus is on implementing and enforcing the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act, or the Kingpin Act, which allows the United States to sanction individuals and entities involved in international narcotics trafficking. These sanctions prevent narcotics traffickers from accessing the international financial system, with the goal of forcing them to cease by starving them of access to money.

It was an interesting experience for me, because I got to see up close part of the United States’ efforts to combat drug trafficking organizations around the world. More than that, though, is that the work I was assigned was no different than that of the sanctions investigators with whom I worked. The opportunity to do the job as if I were any other full-time employee was an invaluable one. I was able to see that my work was actually contributing to the division’s operations, which was really satisfying.

Furthermore, I learned a lot from the experience. Because of the nature of the work, a lot of my learning was done on the job. Fortunately, my coworkers were all very friendly and happy to help me, so whenever I had a question it was easy to find someone who could answer it. The basic components of the job were not very difficult – a lot of reading, researching, and writing – but I had to adjust to a different style of thinking, because much of the work was investigative. It was a new experience, drawing information from all sources to complete an investigation, but by the end I was definitely more comfortable approaching the information like an investigator.

I very much enjoyed my time interning with OFAC, and I gained a lot from it. The experience definitely confirmed that I want to do this sort of work once I graduate. The work done by OFAC has a demonstrable effect on American efforts to maintain our national security. It was very rewarding to get to be a part of it, and to contribute to keeping the country safe.

Learn more about the Maxwell-in-Washington program