Tag Archives: Washington DC

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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Megan Soule Builds Network in Public Affairs at DOS

This summer I lived in Washington, D.C. as an intern with the U.S. Department of State. At State I worked in the Office of Public Affairs and Strategic Communications (PASC) within the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). ECA works to build friendly, peaceful relations between the people of the United States and the people of other countries through academic, cultural, sports, and professional exchanges, as well as public-private partnerships. My office oversaw all public affairs and digital communications for the entire bureau. Some of the program offices we worked with were Fulbright, CLS, Education USA, and Edward R. Murrow Fellows program.

PASC is made up of a group of videographers, photographers, graphic designers, data analysts, web developers, and public affairs practitioners. I worked on projects with all aspects of our office, but mainly I served as a digital designer. I led the design of the Discovery Diplomacy brand through the U.S. Diplomacy Center and the redesign of the International Education Week branding (look out for it November 14th-18th this year). Over the course of twelve weeks I was put in charge of designing the design guidelines for ECA that will then be used to shape all public diplomacy for the entire State Department. The design guide that I created was presented to the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and other public diplomacy officers in D.C. and at posts.

I was lucky enough to be given a lot of responsibility as an intern and be able to head several high priority projects. Everyday I was putting the skills I had learned in the Public Diplomacy program to use. Since my officer served as the in-house digital communications team it was not only our job to produce content, but to ask why this campaign or this method of presenting information was necessary. I spent much of time team researching objectives, goals, and target audiences of programs so that I could create the most effective and engaging design materials for each office.

While I was at State I was able to meet many Syracuse alumni across many bureaus and across government agencies. Even being in D.C. for only three months allowed me to significantly grow my network. Every week I was able to meet with one or two alums to talk about life after Syracuse, tips they had for me in their first jobs, and other career advice they were willing to share. Most of all this summer has also helped me shape where I want my career to start after Syracuse. I am excited to be continuing my internship virtually with my office in the Fall and back in D.C. in the Spring.

Megan Soule, 10,000 Women Dinner with First Lady, Michelle Obama at the U.S. Department of State

Megan Soule, 10,000 Women Dinner with First Lady, Michelle Obama at the U.S. Department of State

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Emily Ma Takes Unexpected Path from DC to Turkey

Emily Ma is a MAIR student who wrote this post last summer. She is currently interning at the U.S. Commercial Service in Taipei, Taiwan.

The course of my summer in Washington D.C. did not turn out as expected at all. I accepted an internship with the United States Citizen and Immigration Services under the Department of Homeland Security as a Pathways Intern. On the first day of the internship, I found myself assigned to the Refugee Affairs Division. Blindly diving into this internship, it has turned out to be a profoundly rewarding experience, and a potential turning point in my career.

A division that works rather under the radar (my supervisors have admitted), the Refugee Affairs Division is the adjudicating authority on all refugee applications into the United States.  The RAD Office (as the US Government – USG – is so fond of acronyms), is comprised of several different sections, but I was the intern for the Refugee Corps. Refugee Officers within the Refugee Corps are sent on monthly details around the world to adjudicate refugee applications after they have been referred to the United States by UNHCR. I had heard about refugee resettlement within the US, and RAD is the final security check, pre-arrival.

The first project with which I was tasked was to organize and coordinate a large hiring surge of officers for the division. I organized resumes, collected letters of recommendation, and had the opportunity to sit in on several interviews.

After successfully completing the first project within the first three weeks working at RAD, my supervisors decided to send me to Turkey as a fingerprinter on the next detail. Despite the several setbacks due to recent events in Turkey, the US Embassy in Turkey confirmed that it was safe for our team to continue the mission. So, somehow, here I am writing this blog post in Turkey. I’ve been working directly (fingerprinting can be surprisingly difficult at times) with refugees, and the Refugee Officers on my team allow me to observe their interviews with refugee applicants.

Working with refugees and leaving the country had most assuredly not been in my plans when I moved down to DC this summer, but I guess it just goes to show that you’ll never know where life will take you.

P.S. Refugee Officers want to make it clear that refugee adjudications are made by the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Refugee Affairs Division, not the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration.

Emily Ma at the Bosphorus in Istanbul, Turkey

Emily Ma at the Bosphorus in Istanbul, Turkey

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Charlene Cordero Learns How the Private Sector Advances Public Policy

Charlene Cordero is currently taking advantage of Maxwell’s World Partner Program with Sciences Po in Paris, France, where she is taking graduate courses and honing her French language skills even more.

This summer I worked as a Global Fellow at the Podesta Group (PG) in Washington, D.C. As an international security student with substantial work experience in be public sector, I wanted to spend the summer learning how the private sector can aid foreign and sovereign entities in advancing their public policy interests in Washington. PG allowed me to work closely with an exceptional team of public policy experts, dive into foreign policy issues that I would usually not be exposed to, and perfect my memo writing skills.

Though the caliber of PG and its staff made it a great workplace, the relationships I forged with my coworkers and other fellows became my favorite part of working at PG. I have honestly never worked somewhere where I felt so validated. Every time I completed a task or wrote a memo and sent them to the team, principals would reply lauding my good work and thorough memos. I often felt like my work did not call for such praise, as most went through numerous rounds of edits and comments with the team. But, the fact that the principals would take a few moments to reply how much they – and by extension the clients – appreciated my work made the whole experience a whole lot more fruitful.

Another great experience came from the exposure to issue areas that I would normally not know much about. At Maxwell – and for most of my life, if we’re being honest – I’ve strongly focused on Western Hemisphere issues due to my Dominican background and upbringing in the Caribbean. However, over the summer I learned more about the South China Sea dispute than I ever thought I would know. The research I did at PG allowed me to really learn about the conflict, the actors and issues at play and the potential international outcomes and reactions. I remember musing over the excitement I felt as I waited for the decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague and the potential reactions of China, the Philippines, and the United States. That was something I did not expect to learn this summer!

My summer at Podesta was a great introduction to the work the private sector can do in advancing public policy. I’m humbled and honored at the work I completed and relationships I forged and leave DC ready to apply my newfound memo writing skills and South China Sea expertise at the Maxwell school.

CCM-PG

Charlene Cordero with Shelby Jamerson, Global Fellow and Alyssa Hassett, International Policy Analyst. Charlene's closest coworkers PG.

Charlene Cordero with her closest coworkers at PG: Shelby Jamerson, Global Fellow and Alyssa Hassett, International Policy Analyst

Charlene Cordero at the Podesta Group

Charlene Cordero at the Podesta Group

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Matt Kienzle Joins Team at GAO in DC

Matt Kienzle is a former teacher pursuing the MPA/MAIR to facilitate a career change. He began working at the U.S. GAO last summer and has taken evening courses as part of the Maxwell-in-Washington program.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has a boring name. Thankfully, it was not a boring place to have a summer internship. GAO is a Federal Government oversight agency that has Congressional authority to investigate any agency or program where Federal money is spent. I was fortunate to secure an internship at an agency that does meaningful work, employs good people, and allowed me freedom to produce quality products.

I was placed on the Leadership and Executive Development Program Team in the agency’s Learning Center, and immediately assigned to complete useful and visible long-term projects. During my first week, I was tasked with analyzing the effectiveness of the nineteen Leadership Development courses at GAO, mandatory for all employees promoted to management, and presenting recommendations to senior staff about how to improve them.

The project required me to utilize many of the skills that are taught and reinforced at Maxwell. I gathered both quantitative and qualitative data to determine which courses were functioning as intended, which could be improved, and why. I attended many of the courses to better understand how they function in practice, a technique that had the added benefit of allowing me to take courses that are only open to managers.

Another reason my experience at GAO was positive is that the team I worked with was very supportive and allowed me to independently complete tasks. I was given assignments and projects, and expected to complete them in a timely and competent manner. Autonomy allows me to produce better work because I feel greater ownership over the product. For example, twice a year, the agency hosts a Leadership Speaker Series, which brings experts in the leadership field to GAO to present to employees. My supervisor granted me the responsibility to identify the speaker, negotiate terms, and organize logistics for the agency-wide event.

Since I was primarily working on projects independently, I quickly learned that I was expected to meaningfully contribute during team meetings and update coworkers on my progress. Initially, it was an intimidating prospect, and doubly so because GAO is a fairly complex agency that can be difficult to understand. Despite the learning curve, it was satisfying to reach a level of familiarity with the agency, and to engage in projects in which I was responsible for calling meetings both to discuss my progress and solicit opinions.

Overall, my experience at GAO was highly positive and I am looking forward to an opportunity to return in the future.

Matt Kienzle in front of the GAO

Matt Kienzle in front of the GAO

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Daniel Matthews Explores Global Competitiveness in US Production

Daniel Matthews took advantage of the Maxwell-in-Washington program during the Summer and Fall semesters, where he interned at the USITC during the day while taking Maxwell courses at night.

usict-logo

This summer, I was able to work at as Pathways Intern with the United States International Trade Commission (USITC) in Washington, D.C.  The USITC is an “independent, quasijudicial Federal agency” that investigates the impact subsidized and dumped imports have on the competitiveness of U.S. industries.  International Trade Analysts and Economists gather and analyze trade-related data and present this information to the President, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), and Congress so that each may be able to make informed decisions regarding trade policy.  The USITC receives investigation requests from USTR, the Senate’s Committee on Finance, the House of Representatives’ Committee on Ways and Means, and from various domestic industries.

I was hired on as an intern with the Office of Industries’ Natural Resources and Energy (NRE) division.  Earlier this year, the Committee on Ways and Means of the U.S. House of Representatives requested that the USITC conduct a 16 month investigation under section 332 of the Tariff Act of 1930 to obtain information on factors that affect the global competitiveness of the U.S. aluminum industry.  As the NRE division intern, I have been tasked with conducting extensive research on trade flows of various aluminum products identified under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) and North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), the production processes of various forms of aluminum, and other background information relevant to the investigation.  I will also have the opportunity to have my research published as part of the report, and will be coauthoring the first chapter with the project leader.  As part of the ongoing investigation, I will also be able to travel to industry facilities throughout Maryland and Virginia in order to observe the production of aluminum products used in the automotive, aerospace, and other downstream industries.

usitc-building

USITC Building, Washington, DC

Through this internship, I have been able to work directly with Trade Analysts and Economists on an increasingly important industry in the United States.  Aluminum’s qualities, including its lighter weight relative to steel, resistance to corrosion, malleability, and ductility are increasingly sought in the automotive, aerospace, construction, and energy industries.  This position has complemented research and coursework that I have undertaken at Maxwell, and has allowed me to apply many of the analytical, research, and writing skills that I have developed as an MAIR student in a professional setting.

Daniel Matthews at the USITC

Daniel Matthews at the USITC

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Vahid Khatami, Monitoring & Evaluation at IRD

Vahid Khatami is a joint MPA/MAIR student who spent his Summer Semester taking part in the Maxwell-in-Washington program where he interned at IRD during the day while taking Maxwell courses at night. Vahid is currently still in Washington, DC interning at IRD and at Microfinance Opportunities.

Based on the Global Humanitarian Assistance report, at least 42% of people with extreme poverty – around 677 million people – are estimated to live in countries that are politically fragile. Many international organizations have been established to address such conflict and post-conflict environments, including International Relief and Development (IRD). With their headquarters in Arlington, Virginia and 18 years of experience, IRD currently operates in more than 15 counties across Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, the Americas, and the Middle East. The international programs address relief, stabilization, and development needs in the areas of health, agriculture, infrastructure, emergency response, and governance.

Vahid Khatami at IRD headquarters in Washington, DC

Vahid Khatami at IRD headquarters in Washington, DC

As an intern in the applied learning unit of IRD, I reviewed mostly current performance reports of the projects to pull out the critical lessons learned and build a database to improve the quality of data-driven policies in the organization. To improve the accuracy of the contents, I did several interviews with program managers to reflect their viewpoints on the most important lessons learned from the programs. Such interviews helped me to improve my work relations with other staff.

I have also performed more technical jobs such as building a database of all the consultants’ historical records who have worked with IRD. For this purpose, I wrote several text-mining codes to extract the relevant information from a mass of documents which resulted in more than a thousand records. Writing the codes to automatically extract data, made a huge difference in my work rather than doing the same job manually. In the end, I suggested developing a managerial dashboard for databases including the lessons learned and consultants and indicators. This was all implemented by the M&E interns’ team and accepted by the office director.

As my career track is focused on international economics and development, I found my internship a good step to leverage my knowledge in the field. I better understand some of the development challenges in the real world and the culture of a non-profit organizations working in international development. I expanded my communication skills through the tasks and applied my technical skills in a professional environment. I hope to find my next professional position in the same career track based on this experience to improve my portfolio.

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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.

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Kimberly Hatcher Uses Award to Partake in DC Opportunities

Kimberly Hatcher is a graduate of the Public Diplomacy (PD) program, where students earn a joint Master of Arts in International Relations and a Master of Science in Public relations from Syracuse Universities two most prestigious schools, the Newhouse School and the Maxwell School. All PD students are required to spend their final Spring Semester in Washington, DC.

My Global Programs Award funded three D.C.-centric endeavors: a research consultancy with the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), a fellowship in the State Department, and an unintentional internship at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).  At the conclusion of the Public Diplomacy degree program (M.A. International Relations, Maxwell School/M.S. Public Relations, Newhouse School of Public Communications), being able to study and work in D.C. for the final semester was not only a key factor in my SU enrollment decision, but additionally a vital maneuver in my career development.

Security clearances take (too much!) time, therefore much of my semester was spent attending South Asia events and networking with like-minded individuals at various think tanks and government institutions.  Through these interactions, I began my research consultancy with the South Asia department of CIPE, for which I am (still) slowly building an entrepreneurial ecosystem for the youth of Pakistan, currently comprising over 60% of their 200 million populace. However, as the conclusion of the semester loomed, and my internship requirement was yet to be fulfilled, I utilized the Maxwell-CSIS partnership to procure a part-time research position with the Wadhwani Chair in U.S.-India Policy Studies.

Just prior to the conclusion of my masters course of study, my clearance was approved and I began my fellowship at the Department of State. Originally a member of the India Desk, because of staffing shortages and my years of communications experience, I was transferred to the Press Office for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs.  Currently I am the point for Central Asian press guidance, in addition to contributing to the Bureau’s social media, Indo-Pak, and Indian economic directions.  I am also press lead for this year’s U.S.-Pakistan Business Opportunities Conference, and am very fortunate to be able to say that I am doing exactly what I had hoped for upon entering Maxwell two years ago. Without the support of Maxwell’s Global Program Award, it would have been very difficult for me to pursue my career aspirations, and I am very grateful for every afforded opportunity.

Asma Jahangir, founder of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, and Kimberly Hatcher

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Rachel Coolican,”There was much for me to learn about OSD Policy and the inner workings of the Pentagon.”

Ms. Rachel Coolican is a recent graduate of the MAIR program, and spent her last fall semester interning with the European & NATO Policy Office of the Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia.

Pantagon Intern name plate of Rachel Coolican

Pentagon name plate

During the Fall 2015 semester, I had the honor and privilege of interning with OSD EUR/NATO Policy at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. Within the office, I worked specifically with “Team North-West Europe” and directly supported the Desk Officers of the Nordic Portfolio covering Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Denmark.

As a subset of the International Security Affairs division within OSD Policy, Europe and NATO Policy assists the ISA’s Assistant Secretary of Defense (Ms. Elissa Slotkin) in her mission to manage defense relations with all foreign governments and international organizations within the office’s jurisdiction. This includes developing and maintaining: regional security and defense strategies, subsequent functional policies, foreign military sales, education and training, and comprehensive relationships with multilateral, regional, and bilateral partners.

As I mentioned, throughout my time in EUR/NATO, I assisted with all duties performed by desk officers on the North and West Europe team to develop strategies and policies with our Nordic Allies. This included: organizing and supporting meetings between senior Department of Defense (DoD) and European officials; planning and implementing an annual bilateral studies group meeting that set the coming year’s goals for advancing security; routinely interacting with relevant embassy counterparts in Washington and abroad; providing policy analysis to senior DoD officials regarding current events; constructing various written preparatory deliverables to senior leadership; attending inter-agency meetings and crafting after-action reports; and providing any requested support to the ASD of ISA, the USD for Policy, and Secretary Carter himself.

There was much for me to learn about OSD Policy and the inner workings of the Pentagon. This internship was great because I was able to work with passionate and trusting teammates and supervisors, who allowed me to do substantial work for senior leadership in order to get the full experience of being a desk officer.  My favorite part of the internship was being able to attend a myriad of meetings that focused on current events (one being with Deputy Secretary of Defense, Bob Work!) and building strong personal relationships with foreign embassy counterparts. These things allowed me to become more knowledgeable in U.S. strategic planning, and how the DoD works with partners to advance U.S. goals at the betterment of our partners. This will be a professional experience that I will never forget, and I now have a network of colleagues and friends who I know I will be in touch with for years to come!

Rachel Coolican(Maxwell MAIR Student Headshots 2014)

Rachel Coolican

Pentagon

The Pentagon with Washington, DC in the background.

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