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

Mark Temnycky, Greetings From DOD

My name is Mark Temnycky. I am a Ukrainian-American pursuing a Master of Public Administration and a Master of Arts in International Relations. I am also seeking a Certificate of Advanced Study in the European Union and Contemporary Europe, and a Certificate of Advanced Study in National Security Studies.

This fall I was fortunate to intern at the U.S. Department of Defense: Office of the Secretary of Defense for European and NATO Policy (DoD: OSD), located at the Pentagon, where the duration of the internship lasted 16 weeks. During this period I assisted in developing U.S. and NATO strategy and policies; represented the DoD in interagency meetings, ensuring Department equities are protected while facilitating accomplishments of U.S. policy objects; prepared briefings, decision papers, and action memos for senior DoD officials; and interacted weekly with officials in the National Security Council, Department of State, Intelligence Agencies, U.S. European Command, and U.S. Mission to NATO.

During my days off, including the weekends, I was able to explore the numerous riches that Washington, D.C. has to offer. For example, I visited many of the memorials, visited the various Smithsonian museums throughout Washington, and attended numerous cultural events at embassies and festivals. I was also exposed to the sports culture in Washington, where I met some players from the U.S. men’s national soccer team; some friends and I attended the U.S. vs. New Zealand friendly at RFK Stadium, and we watched the Philadelphia Eagles take on the Washington Redskins in an NFC East division game at FedExField.

Overall I am very blessed and thankful for this experience. I learned more about the various administrative processes of the U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. NATO Policy, the various issues that NATO faces during the twenty first century, and the strength that the NATO Allies have in order to overcome these issues. The experience was simply surreal. Thank you Washington!

Mark Temnycky at the Pentagon.

Learn more about the Maxwell-in-Washington program

Melissa Horste Assists Civil Society in Chile

Melissa Horste is a joint MPA/MAIR student who will be graduating in June 2017. She took advantage of SU Santiago to intern and take courses at Pontificia Universidad Catolica.

Melissa Horste

During the fall of 2016, I interned for a small nonprofit in Santiago, Chile, called Fundacion Multitudes, which seeks to strengthen civil society and improve government transparency in Chile and the region. Admittedly, I felt like the oddball in the organization at first. As a former legislative aid, the nonprofit world is a little foreign to me and in Chile, I found myself having to navigate a different culture in terms of both the sector and the country itself. However, over the course of 4-months and more than 300 hours, my role in the organization shifted from a researcher to project manager as I gained a deeper understanding of the problems facing civil society in the region and put into use the tools we have gained at Maxwell.

Small nonprofits like Fundacion Multitudes rely heavily on a team of energetic, but unpaid, volunteers. As a relatively new nonprofit, Fundacion Multitudes doesn’t have a lot of financial resources, but it makes up for it in networking with other organizations both within Chile and abroad. Fundacion Multitudes has a lot of potential, and I aimed to help them improve their internal processes to build their own capacity. After helping them apply successfully for a grant, my boss made me project manager, and I quickly went to work on developing a Plan de Trabajo. What I thought was a simple Gantt Chart was a revolutionary tool for the organization. (A special ‘Thank you’ to Professor Schnell for introducing us to Tools4Dev, which I used as a constant reference during my internship.) I hope to leave the organization with a packet of tools like this so they are better equipped to develop proposals and implement projects in the future.

Melissa Horste at a geyser in Tatio, Chile

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Camila Urbina Escobar, Working on Donor Relations at World Food Programme in Paris

Camilla Urbina Escobar is a DeSardon Glass Fellow and joint MPA/MAIR student expecting to graduate in the summer of 2017.

In many ways, Maxwell has helped me find my professional and personal identity. It has helped me understand my passions and how I can better be of service to my community, my country, and anyone. The journey that started with the opportunity of a lifetime to attend Syracuse University brought me to my Fall Semester studying at one of France’s foremost academic institutions, Sciences Po, and doing my second internship for the World Food Programme in a year. It has been an amazing chance to experience academic and professional life in France in a brilliant historical and cultural environment.

Studying in the Shadow of Giants

The academic leg of my French adventure was at times almost unbelievable, studying against the backdrop of art museums and steps away from historic Paris was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Sciences Po is one of France’s oldest and most prominent academic institutions, the alma mater of French Presidents and Prime Ministers. The professors and courses were a dream come true for a passionate student like myself. I was able to take incredible courses, including Promotion of Human Rights with Professor Aryeh Neier, the founder of Human Rights Watch; Global Health Management with Karl Blanchet, one of the best professors of the London School of Tropical Medicine; and a negotiation class with Alain Lempereur, the man that until recently was supporting the UN talks in Syria.

Sciences Po was the opportunity to learn from amazing professors and make invaluable networking connections by sharing the classroom with people from all over the world, representing Maxwell and contributing my perspectives in one of the most diverse academic spaces I have ever experienced.

At The French Liason Office

As I wanted to take full advantage of my opportunity of being in Europe and continue the work I started in Timor-Leste over the summer, and was accepted to work with the UN’s World Food Programme Paris Liaison Office, which handles all the donations from the government of France and Monaco to the agency.

It has been a wonderful opportunity to understand the relations between WFP and the European governments, and work in donor and public relations for the organization. Supporting their communications efforts and attending meetings with the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs about their donations to their countries of interests. Being part of one of WFP’s high performance teams and contributing to their work has given me the chance to improve my French and strengthen the  competences I received at the Maxwell School with experience working with the UN in a context of European relations—a chance to put theory to practice.

Being in France gave me invaluable networking opportunities, allowed me to work in a multicultural environment and provided me with insights into the inner workings of the liaison offices of the world’s most effective humanitarian agency. This experience has brought me closer to a dream I have had since I was 12 years old, working for the United Nations to help countries like my native Colombia. Maxwell has allowed me to be one step closer to that dream with the opportunity to have a working and studying experience in France.

Camila Urbina at the Pont Neuf in Paris

Camila Urbina at UNESCO HQ where the WFP offices are located

Learn more about Sciences Po World Partner Program

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Gretchen Wesche E-mails NGO & Ends Up in Cambodia

Gretchen Wesche is currently completing MA degrees in International Relations from the Maxwell School and Teaching & Curriculum from the School of Education. She completed her summer internship with the South East Asia and China regional office for Aide et Action in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and will graduate in the spring of 2017.

While I have known since coming to Maxwell that I wanted to spend my summer internship abroad, going to Cambodia was a surprise. My focus had been to secure an internship in South Asia, as I have been studying the region and Hindi/Urdu as a Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellow for the past year. Due to previous language study and work with French, Francophone Africa was also a possibility.

However, it was a cold email I sent to the South East Asia/China office of Aide et Action, an educational NGO, that brought back my first response. After a short skype interview, I started making plans for the summer (sometimes drifting off to the weekend trips I would take, which both helped me get through exam time and severely distracted me from them!).

In the early weeks of my internship, I rode a tuk tuk with my roommate to work. Later I switched to riding (definitely not driving!) a moto.

In the early weeks of my internship, I rode a tuk tuk with my roommate to work. Later I switched to riding (definitely not driving!) a moto.

My internship was with the South East Asia/China regional office for the NGO called Aide et Action. Since Aide et Action works primarily in education, it seemed a perfect fit for my academic and professional goals (in addition to my MAIR degree at Maxwell, I am also pursuing a Master’s in Teaching and Curriculum at the School of Education). My research project in preprimary education and side work in ICT (information and communications technology), however, offered a chance to learn and work with subtopics outside my comfort zone.

In addition to my main project of producing a report evaluating early childhood care and education (ECCE) projects in the region, for which I did mostly desk research and conducted interviews with country office staff, I also contributed to the regional team’s work in some other endeavors. The most memorable side project was my chance early on to take a field visit with my supervisor and a program assistant to talk to teachers, students, and parents about Aide et Action’s new educational app suite, KhmerLEARN. It was exactly the kind of thing I had hoped I’d be doing—visiting schools, talking to stakeholders, and working with them to help students learn better. I’m really excited to see this app continue to develop and encourage a culture of reading and writing not just in Cambodia but also the region. This trip to the field was also exciting because it was my first chance to really apply some of the skills I’d learned at Maxwell while also giving me a lot to ponder in terms of the goals I have for my studies this final year.

A poster I found on a school visit demystifying greetings for preschool kids…and unsure graduate students.

A poster I found on a school visit demystifying greetings for preschool kids…and unsure graduate students.

Finally, I think it’s worth noting that especially if you go abroad, the Maxwell network is definitely worth tapping into. One of the other MAIR students in my cohort grew up in Phnom Penh and put me in touch with her sister. Besides making a great iced coffee at her shop, having a local connection helped make Phnom Penh even more welcoming. Another friend used to travel to the city quite frequently for work and recommended places to eat and visit that were among my favorites by the end of the summer. I was also able to travel a bit and met in Viet Nam with another classmate also interning in South East Asia along with a friend of another member of our cohort.

Phivear, the sister of a classmate from Phnom Penh, introduced me to her favorite spot for hotpot.

Phivear, the sister of a classmate from Phnom Penh, introduced me to her favorite spot for hotpot.

Outside of my internship, I also got a chance to visit the workshop for one of my favorite artisans at Ten Thousand Villages, a fair trade artisan store I have volunteered with for about five years. They welcomed me to their store and allowed me to spend several days interviewing staff members and artisans for a photo story for my local store. Rajana is a Cambodian-run social enterprise that connects artisans to markets, pays a fair wage, and encourages the continuing revival and growth of Cambodian artistic traditions through sustainable livelihoods. They are perhaps best-known in the States for their “bombshell jewelry”—vestiges of the wars refashioned to symbolize remembrance and new hope.

In front of Ten Thousand Villages, Phnom Penh

In front of Ten Thousand Villages, Phnom Penh

View from Aide et Action office, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

View from Aide et Action office, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Suhyeon Lee Gains a Better Understanding of IOM

Suhyeon Lee is a recent MAIR graduate. Last summer, she had a great opportunity to intern with International Organization for Migration in Geneva as part of the Graduate Internships in Geneva program. Last fall, she also interned with United Nations Information Center in Washington D.C. as part of the Maxwell‑in‑Washington program. 

Suhyeon Lee with her IOM badge at a restaurant in Geneva

Suhyeon Lee with her IOM badge at a restaurant in Geneva

There are a myriad number of people who move to new countries to alleviate suffering or live a better life that their home country cannot provide. However, they face many challenges such as continued poverty, discrimination and hostility from their host country. A country cannot be a perfect place where everyone gets along and everyone can get everything they want, but I believe that if we try to understand and embrace one another, we can make a better world.

During the summer, I had the opportunity to intern with the Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration unit, International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Geneva. Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) is an indispensable part of a comprehensive approach to migration management aiming at orderly and humane return and reintegration of migrants who are unable or unwilling to remain in host countries and wish to return voluntarily to their countries of origin.

My major duty in the AVRR unit was to assist in the development of reports and statistics on assisted voluntary return and reintegration and support the analysis of studies on AVRR by identifying relevant conclusions, good practices and gaps. As a part of the analysis of studies on AVRR, I researched microfinance as a tool to strengthen sustainable reintegration of returnees in countries of origin, focusing on opportunities and challenges. Also, I had an opportunity to design the website of the AVRR unit as a project of strengthening outreach to stakeholders, beneficiaries, and the public.

During the summer, I gained a better understanding of IOM’s work as an inter-governmental organization in the field of migration, and how the organization works with governmental, intergovernmental, and non-governmental partners to help ensure the orderly and humane management of migration. Finally, this internship allowed me to become acquainted with the development of programs and projects related to assisted voluntary return and reintegration.

Ivan Zhivkov, Suhyeon Lee, James Murray, and Maria Chiara Vinciguerra at a festival

Ivan Zhivkov, Suhyeon Lee, James Murray, and Maria Chiara Vinciguerra at a festival

Learn more about the Graduate Internships in Geneva Program

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Tim Stoutzenberger, Balkan Research Leads to Job

Tim Stoutzenberger is a recent graduate of the ATLANTIS Transatlantic Degree Program, where he earned a MAIR from the Maxwell School in Syracuse, New York and a MPP from the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin.

Last Summer, I was fortunate to receive a field research grant from the Moynihan Institute. I spent thirty-five days working in the Balkan region, conducting site visits, interviews, and performing general research for the Global Black Spots Project. That experience helped me further formulate my thesis, which focuses on security and development trends in the Balkans during European Union accession.

With that in mind, in June I began a three month consulting contract with Caritas Switzerland at their Western Balkans Regional Coordination Office in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H). A bit of background…I got in touch with Caritas Switzerland by reaching out to Raymond Bach, director of the SU Strasbourg Center in Strasbourg, France. I knew Professor Bach had friends in the Balkan region, and sure enough the wonderful Maxwell network came through.

For the month of June I teleworked from The Hague, Netherlands while finishing classes at the International Institute of Social Studies. During the first few weeks of my contract, I collaborated via Skype wtih the Balkan Regional Delegate, gained a better understanding of current programs, and began developing the frameworks for upcoming projects.

I arrived in Sarajevo on July 1st during an interesting time for the B&H office and for Caritas Switerland’s regional activities in general (the organization is present in Kosovo, B&H, and Romania). 2011-16 projects were ending, the corporate strategy in Luzern was shifting away from unfettered humanitarian aid, and the local offices were beginning to draft their country programs for 2017-20 with the new strategy in mind.

At the B&H office I work with projects focused on regional food security, youth education and vocational training, income generation, market expansion, migration/refugees/human trafficking, and socio-economic rights for marginalized communities. Larger programs dealing with everything from resource sustainability to public health to conflict resolution are in play as well. I get to travel a good bit, meeting with partners in Tirana, Gorazde, and at our Kosovo office in Przren.

The Global Programs Award I received proved essential during these last few months, especially while I was getting set up in Sarajevo and working locally on my thesis. Additionally, Caritas Switzerland recently agreed to extend my contract which came as welcome news.

Tim Stoutzenberger working at Caritas Switzerland's Western Balkans Regional Coordination Office in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Tim Stoutzenberger working at Caritas Switzerland’s Western Balkans Regional Coordination Office in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Phuong Ha, CSIS’ Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative

Phuong Ha is a recent alumni who graduated with a MAIR degree in December 2016. He wrote this post about his experience interning at CSIS during the 2016 Summer Semester. In the end, he interned at CSIS during his final Fall Semester as well. During both semesters he completed his MAIR degree by taking evening courses at the Maxwell­-in-Washington campus located in the same building as CSIS.

For this summer, I am currently interning at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and working with the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI). The experience has been life changing thus far.

As a research intern, I contribute to the long-term research projects of not only AMTI, but the Southeast Asia program and Japan Chair as well. AMTI covers all Asia maritime disputes ranging from the Indian Ocean to the Sea of Okhotsk. Although, we heavily focus on the South China Sea and East China Sea issues given their rising tensions, and simultaneously pay attention to other “subtle” disputes such as the Kuril Islands/Northern Territories dispute between Russia and Japan.

In greater detail, we monitor the evolvement of these disputes by scouring media for news and tracking government statements either via news reporting agencies or foreign affairs websites. One would be surprised with how many government and foreign affairs’ web pages do not work or contain severely outdated content. Another interesting component of my internship involves analyzing satellite imagery of contested maritime features in the South China Sea. By checking Digital Globe daily and comparing newly released imagery to older versions, we strive to identify the development and status of those features, which can help with the Initiative’s analysis. Other duties include updating social media outlets, staging information of mapping tools on the website, and providing general administrative support at AMTI, Japan Chair, and Southeast Asia’s events.

As one of the most prominent think tanks in the world, CSIS is far from being an unwelcoming place for staff, interns, or guests. I have had incredible opportunities to interact with both resident and non-residents and visiting fellows from all over the world within my Asia department. Likewise, other staff members from different programs and departments are quite friendly and approachable. More importantly, everyone at CSIS is highly professional when it comes to international affairs. Even though I have less chance to directly interact with senior fellows or advisers simply due to their busy schedules and inherent variations of each program, I have always felt acknowledged and appreciated whenever I can afford such an opportunity.

This experience has indeed been a dream came true. I truly appreciate my opportunity to intern for such a great security think tank, where I have been exposed and observed the process of world class foreign policy engagement and research.

The Honorable Ted Osius, U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam (left) and Phuong Ha. The Ambassador visited CSIS on June 8, 2016.

The Honorable Ted Osius, U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam (left) and Phuong Ha. The Ambassador visited CSIS on June 8, 2016.

Learn more about the Maxwell-in-Washington program

Sarah Baumunk Grasps the Ground-Level Experience of Immigrants

Sarah Baumunk is a joint MPA/MAIR student who also interned at the U.S. Department of State’s Western Hemisphere Affairs Bureau, Office of Policy Planning in Washington, DC. She also took evening courses as part of the Maxwell-in-Washington program.

I sit on the phone on hold while trying to help an Eritrean asylee file a claim with his insurance company after a recent car wreck, when a Haitian immigrant—who only speaks French—comes to ask for help with applying for jobs. In the living room outside the office I can hear a crew of Cubans and Mexicans cheering on a soccer match together.  I walk out of the office to see that a generous community member has left two giant bags of donations that need to be sifted through, but before I can get a start I’m intercepted by a group of West Africans who remind me we’re still out of vegetable oil to cook with.  Once I get the extra oil and bring it into the kitchen, I’m waved down by about a dozen Ethiopians and Eritreans insisting that I come eat with them. They treat me to one of their specialties—lentils in a tomato sauces on top of injera (a typical East African spongy bread)—and we practice their English.  With a full stomach, I shoo everyone off to their respective rooms just in time to make the 11 o’clock lights-out, and retreat to the office where I pull out the futon that I will sleep on that night.  All in a typical day’s work while interning with Casa Marianella this summer.

Casa Marianella is a homeless shelter that provides hospitality and support for immigrants and refugees in Austin, Texas. While the nonprofit organization was originally founded 30 years ago to assist primarily Central American and Mexican immigrants, it has since evolved to encompass a much wider variety of noncitizens, with the majority coming from Eritrea, Ethiopia, and French-speaking West African countries. Casa has 38 beds to offer (although it frequently is home to many more) to residents who are either immigrants who can no longer work due to medical problems or asylees who arrive in the US and have no friends or family in our country.  Residents stay for three to six months on average, while they receive legal help from pro bono lawyers and case management from staff members like myself.

Working at Casa Marianella this summer was a life-changing experience that brought practical experience to my studies, allowed me to sharpen my soft skills, and showed me what a compassion-driven organization looks like.

Sarah Baumunk with all of the Casa Marianella staff from summer 2016

Sarah Baumunk with all of the Casa Marianella staff from summer 2016

Over the past year, I have studied immigration policy and law through a number of Maxwell and law school courses. Given this background, I entered my position in Casa Marianella with a broad understanding of immigration in the US, but was surprised by how much I had to learn about the ground-level experience of immigrants today.  From the job search for non-English speakers, to the tedious paperwork, to the hour-long drives every six months to check in with the government, working at Casa gave me valuable insight into the way our immigration laws and policies play out day-to-day.

My time at Casa was additionally an excellent practice in honing those soft skills that are so difficult to learn while sitting in a classroom. In a lot of ways, working at Casa was very similar to being a summer camp counselor.  The job involved almost constant multitasking, and I quickly had to develop the ability to gently let people know they would have to wait while a more pressing issue was solved.  I learned how to use a combination of enthusiasm and tough love to push our residents to do challenging things like find work, apply for an apartment, or meet with a lawyer. I saw how establishing a relationship of mutual respect and caring was essential to maintaining fruitful relationships with each resident.

Finally, Casa opened my eyes to the value of prioritizing compassion and hospitality as an organization and personally.  One of the most surprising things about Casa was how willing every staff member was to go the extra mile for each person that walked through Casa’s door or called on the phone. The Executive Director Jennifer Long always described the goal of Casa as doing the most good for the most people—regardless if they are our residents or not.  This attitude toward life and public service is particularly poignant in our global political climate today.  As we see so much negativity being hurled at people that are different than us, Casa stands as a reminder that our world is seriously lacking in compassion—and for some groups more than others. This summer I was shown that the practice of unfettered compassion can be the most effective tool to encouraging others to become their best selves.

For more information on Casa Marianella, check out their website www.casamarianella.org and the trailer to an incredible and immersive documentary about Casa Marianella being created by Jason Outenreath: https://vimeo.com/167387279.

Sarah Baumunk with a couple of Casa residents, who are both asylees from Eritrea

Sarah Baumunk with a couple of Casa residents, who are both asylees from Eritrea

Sarah Baumunk in front of the main house of Casa Marianella

Sarah Baumunk in front of the main house of Casa Marianella

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

Learn more about the Maxwell-in-Washington program