Tag Archives: Washington DC

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

Chris Conrad, Interning with International Justice Mission–“Justice is Our Middle Name”

Chris Conrad recently completed his Master of Arts in International Relations (MAIR) degree. While completing coursework in Syracuse, he also worked on the Black Spots Project: Mapping Global Insecurity at the Maxwell School’s Moynihan Institute for Global Affairs.

Chris Conrad went sailing for the first time ever with his Contingency Ops team. Despite the cold and windy conditions, it was a day filled with fun and laughter

Several years ago, I read Gary Haugen’s The Locust Effect, which describes a plague of everyday violence against the poor. This violence keeps them in situations of poverty, while offenders – committing abuses such as human trafficking, forced labor, and violence against women and children – escape with impunity. To break the cycle of violence and poverty requires transforming dysfunctional justice systems, protecting vulnerable communities, and bringing criminals to justice for their crimes. This is the goal of International Justice Mission (IJM) through its operations around the world. IJM is partnering with governments, local communities and a network of supporters to “rescue thousands, protect millions, and prove that justice for the poor is possible”

Fast forward to my time at the Maxwell School, where I accepted an internship with IJM in Washington, D.C. for Fall 2015. The internship provided me an opportunity to combine my studies on security and transnational crime with advocacy for human rights and the justice movement. I worked closely with IJM’s Contingency Operations team, drafting safety and security policies, researching emerging global threats, compiling daily news briefings for senior leadership, and monitoring security events in IJM’s areas of operation.

My favorite part about working with IJM was the lively, encouraging atmosphere I encountered every day at work. The staff at IJM are some of the kindest and most encouraging people I’ve met, and they made the internship an affirming experience for all of us interns. Likewise, I grew close to the cohort of interns I worked with, who displayed a variety of knowledge and skills and a passion for justice.

Another highlight from the experience was attending IJM’s Advocacy Summit in support of the End Modern Slavery Initiative. Throughout the day, we met with U.S. Senators and Representatives from our home states, either thanking them for their support of the bill or asking them to be a co-sponsor.

The entire semester was an amazing time to learn and experience new things, and I feel confident as I take these next steps after graduation from the Maxwell School. Thank you for all of the support and encouragement along the way!

Attending a conference with Maxwell alum Kean Clifford, on the roof of D.C.s Newseum.
Attending a conference with Maxwell alum Kean Clifford, on the roof of DC’s Newseum.
Selfie with IJM’s CEO, Gary Haugen and other interns at IJM HQ. He delivered us delicious brownies made by his wife, Jan.
Selfie of IJM’s CEO, Gary Haugen, and other interns at IJM HQ. He delivered us delicious brownies made by his wife, Jan.
In front of the U.S. Capitol with other constituents from Michigan for IJM’s Advocacy Summit. We were on our way to meet with Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Gary Peters (D-MI) in support of the End Modern Slavery Initiative. (See http://news.ijm.org/early-christmas-gift-for-anti-slavery-efforts-as-congress-approves-25-million)
In front of the U.S. Capitol with other constituents from Michigan for IJM’s Advocacy Summit. We were on our way to meet with Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Gary Peters (D-MI) in support of the End Modern Slavery Initiative. (See http://news.ijm.org/early-christmas-gift-for-anti-slavery-efforts-as-congress-approves-25-million)

Learn more about the Maxwell-in-Washington program

Jane Chung, Working with East Asia Foreign Policy Community in Washington DC

Ms. Jane Yoona Chung is a dual MPA/MAIR student in the Department of Public Administration and International Affairs. She will be completing her dual degree program in Summer 2016.

During Summer 2015, I completed my internship at the US Korean Institute (USKI) at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) as Johns Hopkins University. As a program and research intern for USKI, I was responsible for several tasks, one being attending events on behalf of the research institute. This gave me the opportunity to be exposed to and meet experts from the larger East Asia foreign policy community in Washington D.C. Examples of institutes included the The Asan Institute for Policy Studies, Korea Economic Institute (KEI), Sejong Society of Washington D.C., the Brookings Institution, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

Once or twice a week, I attended workshops and/or talks all over the D.C. area. One workshop that stood out to me was a simulation on post-reunification of the Korean Peninsula. Attendees were divided into groups comprised of experts, students, and visiting North Korean scholars. This workshop was an especially humbling experience as I was able to hear from the North Korean perspective on reunification first hand. Moreover, meeting the North Korean students was a fascinating encounter, one that I will never forget. Other talks and conferences I attended discussed the Russian role in East Asia, the tense relations between South Korea and Japan, and the North Korean nuclear program. Learning and hearing from experts, political officials, and academics was very rewarding as it refined and expanded my knowledge and curiosity in East Asian foreign policy.

In addition to the talks and conferences, USKI hosted its first student exchange program with Ajou University in South Korea. This exchange program brought 30 college students, from a variety of majors, to spend a month in Washington D.C. to learn about American politics, history, and culture. I was both a discussion leader that led class in the afternoon and a “guide” for afternoon site visits around Washington D.C. This gave me the opportunity to visit organizations all over the city and to attend a Washington Nationals baseball game for free!

As part of my internship, I was also responsible for conducting independent research on a current topic related to the Korean Peninsula. I presented my research to the Staff on the implications of a land bridge that would connect the Russian Far East and North Korea. With this project, I communicated with experts and had access to a plethora of resources from USKI and Johns Hopkins University (a perk of working with a university). To be able to complete this research project on top of the other responsibilities taught me how to juggle multiple responsibilities with finesse.

USKI Stock Photo

At the same time of my internship, I also took courses through the Maxwell-in-Washington program at CSIS. While it was a bit tiring to take courses in the evening right after a full day at my internship, I would still recommend taking a course. These courses are taught my experts in the field and are conducted as a seminar rather than a lecture.

Being in Washington D.C. was an eye-opening experience as it challenged me personally and professionally. During my internship and stay, I learned about the culture of think tanks, the hustle and bustle of the nation’s capital, and the immense beauty of the nation’s history. Although I worked full-time, Washington D.C. makes it easy to still have a social life after hours and on weekends. Friday evenings were spent enjoying a glass of sangria at Jazz at the Garden or getting a nice warm bowl of duck noodles in Chinatown. Weekends were spent traveling throughout the city on the $1 DC Circulator, free museums, free movie screenings, or hiking through Rock Creek Park. Balancing between professional and personal aspects of my experience was a challenge, but all in all, I would describe my internship experience in Washington D.C. to be humbling and rewarding.

Jane Chung (far right) with colleagues at US Korean Institute
Jane Chung (far right) with colleagues at US Korean Institute

Learn more about the Maxwell-in-Washington program

Vicki Tien, Public Information Intern at UNHCR in Washington DC

Lin Tien, Public Diplomacy student
Vicki Tien, UNHCR in Washington, DC, USA

Vicki Tien formerly interned at the World Food Programme in Geneva as part of the Geneva Summer Practicum. She is a MAIR student who will graduate in December.

This fall I had the opportunity to work at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Washington, DC. UNHCR is the UN refugee agency mandated to lead and coordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide. UNCHR’s Washington Office on the other hand is a regional office of UNHCR which specifically covers the United States as well as 27 countries and overseas territories in the Caribbean.

As a Public Information intern, I work closely with the Public Information officers and UNHCR Spokespersons for the US. I am responsible for several tasks, such as:

  • Monitoring news related to refugee issues and immigration policies in the US and the Caribbean, and preparing daily reports
  • Responding to requests from the US media and the public
  • Providing support for UNHCR campaigns and pitching to major media outlets
  • Disseminating press releases and other relevant documents on a timely basis
  • Attending congressional hearings and public policy forums pertaining to UNHCR and briefing staff.

In addition to my duties in the Public Information Unit, I also provide assistance to staff in other units as needed. For instance, I provided support to our External Relations officers during the High Commissioner’s visit to Washington. I also work directly with our Regional Representative for the Washington Office’s weekly reports.

There are several learning opportunities during the internship at UNHCR. In the beginning of the internship, units like the Resettlement Unit and the Protection Unit would provide intern training, which are open to every intern from every unit. From time to time, heads of different regional offices, such as UNHCR’s Jordan Representative and Americas Bureau Director, would visit the Washington Office to share the latest refugee situations in their regions with DC staff and interns. There is also a weekly UN in DC Brown Bag Series, featuring different speakers from various UN offices to introduce the mandates of different UN agencies and share their career advice with the interns.

Due to a surge in media attention for the Syrian refugee crisis around the globe, UNHCR’s Public Information Unit has been flooded with hundreds of media requests during the past few months. It is such a unique learning experience for me to join UNHCR under these circumstances as it has allowed me to gain first-hand insight into the work of UNHCR and see how it is handling and managing the current crisis. It has also expanded my knowledge on refugee issues and US resettlement processes as well as further building my experience and skills in the field of communications, particularly in media relations and social media. Interning with UNHCR has been an invaluable experience, and I am truly grateful for every experience I am able to have here.

High Commissioner António Guterres launches a new UNHCR report, Women on the Run, at the Wilson Center
High Commissioner António Guterres launches a new UNHCR report, Women on the Run, at the Wilson Center
Vicki Tien carries a giant backpack around DC to raise awareness for refugee children! This backpack is part of UNHCR’s “the Tour around the World in a Backpack” Campaign and has traveled in more than 10 countries collecting messages and gifts of support and solidarity for refugee children.
Vicki Tien carries a giant backpack around DC to raise awareness for refugee children! This backpack is part of UNHCR’s “the Tour around the World in a Backpack” Campaign and has traveled in more than 10 countries collecting messages and gifts of support and solidarity for refugee children.

Backpack promo pic

Bureaucracy: How Things Get Done in Foreign Affairs

This post has been reblogged from PAIA Insider. Read the original post.

BY

Beth Gawne is a MPA/MAIR student, and  a regular contributor to PAIA Insider.

I’ve been thinking about bureaucracy a lot lately, especially as I hit my 4th week in the Department of State. This past summer, the MPA students took “Public Administration and Democracy,” where we learned that basically bureaucracy exists to get things done. Sure, there’s the glitz and glamor of policy and politics, but when it gets down to it, bureaucracy lies at the heart of a functioning society. Of course, back then my impression of what that meant was in terms of making sure the lights come on and the buses run (sometimes even on time). However, I never realized how that related to foreign affairs until now.

Source: http://media.fakeposters.com/results/2012/01/28/zniah5e4q3.jpg
Not even tanks can escape the bureaucracy of the toll booth operator!

Bureaucracy helps make US embassies safe. Bureaucracy uphold US diplomatic relationships with other nations. Bureaucracy keeps nasty weapons out of the wrong hands. Heck… bureaucracies even help us MAIR interns get to our internships when we fly! When it comes to State Department bureaucracy, there’s a lot of waiting around for clearances, for badges, and even for access to a computer. You have to check a document that 10 other people have checked, then forward it on for 5 more people to check over. I used to think this was over-kill, but then when I considered what might happen without these checks… well, those things that I mentioned in the first few sentences might not be the case anymore. International security and foreign relations might be compromised without these basic steps that so annoy all of us.

Whether it’s diplomacy, humanitarian aid, international organizations, trade, or nonproliferation, bureaucracy makes sure that policies can be put into place. It helps the right people get the right resources in order to make sure everyone can do their job. Without it, we’d just have a bunch of words and nothing being done. All of the things that people want to actually do in the world wouldn’t be able to happen if bureaucrats weren’t rolling up their sleeves and typing up some memos to an embassy. It’s just amazed me how many of the officers in DOS rely on this kind of bureaucracy to make sure things happen. International relations isn’t just a set of theories and abstract concepts about security or development work…. instead it’s filled with real people doing real work to make the world a better place. And the rules that govern them help keep it all relatively in order despite everything that’s working against it.

source: http://izquotes.com/quotes-pictures/quote-the-only-thing-that-saves-us-from-bureaucracy-is-its-inefficiency-an-efficient-bureaucracy-is-the-eugene-mccarthy-330947.jpg
(source: http://izquotes.com/quotes-pictures/quote-the-only-thing-that-saves-us-from-bureaucracy-is-its-inefficiency-an-efficient-bureaucracy-is-the-eugene-mccarthy-330947.jpg)

If it’s one last thing I’ve learned in the State Department– besides lots of foreign affairs– it’s that MAIR students learn just as much about bureaucracy as MPA students. We may not have the requirement to take the specific class on it (although thanks to Maxwell we’re still 100% able to take the class), but we sure as heck learn about it during our time here anyway. The internship has been an incredible way to take all of the big concepts we learned in the classroom in Syracuse and apply it directly to what we want to be doing in the first place. This is even more important when you consider how hard it is to get your foot in the door in some of these places.

Also, it wouldn’t be complete without acknowledging the mad writing skills that Maxwell has helped me gain– I’ve gotten so many compliments on my memos!

 To find out about how Beth Gawne’s experiences at the State Department began, read her other article: Intern by day, student by night.

Beth Gawne waves to her fellow Maxwell students from the United States Department of State in Washington, DC.
Beth Gawne waves to her fellow Maxwell students from the United States Department of State in Washington, DC.

Kyra Murphy, Learning from Her Supervisor at National Security Network

Kyra Murphy, MPA/MAIR studnet
Kyra Murphy


Kyra Murphy is a joint MPA/MAIR student who after interning in Washington, DC is now Head Intern at the National Security Studies Program at the Maxwell School under Col. Smullen.

My first experience living and working in Washington, DC could not have been more rewarding. This past May I relocated to the DC area for the opportunity to work as a graduate policy fellow with the National Security Network (NSN). The professional experience, lifestyle, and general atmosphere of Washington in the summer collectively cultivated a time that I will never soon forget.

As a graduate policy fellow for NSN I worked very closely with my supervisor, the head policy analyst within the organization. Due to the similarities in our national security focus, I spent the majority of my time researching and preparing internal policy memos regarding the Turkish-Syrian-Iraqi border and currently volatile regions. Delving into U.S. foreign and defense policy on Islamic State (IS) and the geopolitical relationships in the Middle East allowed me both the time and the resources to investigate some of my interests more fully outside of the classroom settings back in Syracuse.

One of the most integral parts of my experience with NSN was the exposure to the high level practitioners within the national security industry in Washington, DC. Due to the connections and relationships that both my supervisor and others in the organization had throughout Capitol Hill, I was provided many unique opportunities that most graduate summer interns do not get to benefit from. One of the assistants to the Deputy National Security Advisor of the United States gave me and my three fellow interns a private tour of the West Wing of the White House late one Thursday evening. Additionally, due to the Executive Director of NSN’s personal professional experience in the State Department I received a special tour of the Diplomatic Reception Rooms located on the upper levels of the Harry S. Truman building located in Foggy Bottom, as well as the executive level halls in which Secretary of State John Kerry’s Office resides.

The exposure that NSN and the DC area provided me this summer in professional experience, networking opportunities, policy analysis, and professional writing skills have been invaluable to my graduate experience at the Maxwell School. An internship or fellowship opportunity in Washington, DC is not something that any Maxwell graduate student should ever pass up!

West Wing , White House, Washington, DC

 

Clearing a Hurdle

Clearing the Main Hurdle

Picture of Track Hurdle
Not these Hurdles

Many of you who are entering the U.S. government, particularly in the foreign policy and security policy fields, will have to go through the security clearance process. This process, while intimidating, should rarely be a cause for concern and there are a number of steps you can take to make the process as easy as possible. Please note that this is general information. If your hiring authority provides different information, consider that to supercede the information below.

What is Security Clearance?

Holding a U.S. government security clearance allows an employee to access classified information. Clearances are issued at three levels, confidential, secret, and top secret. At each level, clearance holders have access to different types of information on the basis of their job duties. Different agencies have levels within Top Secret (including TS/SCI – allowing access to Sensitive Compartmentalized Information or SAP – Special Access Program Information). They may also call it something different than Top Secret clearance, such as the Department of Energy’s “Q” clearance.

What is the Goal of the Process?

The primary purpose of the clearance is to determine whether a job candidate is determined to be able to maintain classified information. The government is looking for trustworthy applicants with high levels of reliability, loyalty, and character.

What does the Process Look Like?

Once a federal agency extends a conditional employment offer, the agency human resources contact will provide information about the necessary paperwork for clearance positions. This is usually centered around Standard Form (SF) 86, the Questionnaire for National Security Positions. This information on the form is for the last 10 years (although some forms will list the last ten years or until 18, whichever is closer), detailing residences, jobs, contacts, legal issues, education and much more.

In addition the SF-86, agencies may require fingerprints, personal interviews, credit examinations, polygraph test, or other additional materials at the request of the agency. This can often be a lot of material.

How Long Does It Take?

It is challenging to predict how long each clearance case will take, as each individual investigation is unique. However, when the hiring Department issues the clearance paperwork and a prospective employee completes the paperwork correctly and promptly, the time allocated is usually sufficient.

Are Clearances Transferable?

Possibly. According to the State Department, clearances are normally accepted by other agencies if the investigation was completed in the last 10 years (5 years for Top Secret Clearance) and there has been no more than a two year break in service.

 

Do I need to take a polygraph test?

For a secret level clearance, generally no polygraph test is needed. However, this may be necessary, based on the needs and policies of the hiring authority.

Who’s Where in Public Diplomacy

In the past few days, we’ve helped to define the concept of Public Diplomacy (PD) as the foundation concept of our dual-degree with the Newhouse School.  We have also told the stories of Adam Cyr and Jennifer Osias, who has recently completed exceptional internships in traditional public diplomacy-linked organizations. However, here at Maxwell we do have an expansive definition of PD, which includes public advocacy, organizational communications, and government relations work.

Continue reading Who’s Where in Public Diplomacy