Kendall Horvath Researches Organized Crime in the Amazon with InSight Crime

I spent my Fall 2020 internship as a Writing and Research Intern for InSight Crime. InSight Crime is a think tank dedicated to studying the top threats to national and citizen security in Latin America and the Caribbean, which is the threat of organized crime. Their mission is to deepen and inform the debate on these issues by providing the general public with regular reporting, analysis and investigation on the issue and state efforts to combat it.

I was excited about the opportunity to intern with InSight Crime because it offered unique and exciting work experience that was different from the traditional internship that one is likely to find in DC. The internship advertised itself as a program that allows interns to gain substantive experience reporting, researching, and writing, while increasing one’s knowledge of organized crime in Latin America. The experience lived up to these expectations and more. It was also the perfect match to my MAIR Peace, Security, and Conflict (PSC) concentration and future career aspirations of working on issues related to transnational organized crime.

My primary duties were focused on helping the Environmental Team investigate illegal mining, logging, wildlife trafficking, and deforestation in the Amazon Rainforest. While I initially knew very little about the scope of these criminal activities, I gradually became familiar with the topic, its regional and international context, and its impact on society.

InSight Crime also allowed me to work with its publishing department to write articles for their website. Working with this team gave me first-hand experience in scraping websites for news related to organized crime, pitching potential articles for publication, and the opportunity to author byline articles. It was also an informative look into the world of journalism.

My internship with InSight Crime truly was a memorable and rewarding experience. I had the incredible opportunity to work alongside some of the most intelligent and dedicated individuals, while simultaneously building investigative and research skills that are applicable to multiple different industries. If you have an interest in the topic and can speak Spanish, I would highly recommend this opportunity for its substantive and rewarding work.

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Anne Ahrendson Works on Debt Sustainability for Sri Lanka

Last fall, I had the opportunity to support the implementation of US policy by working with the US Embassy in Colombo, Sri Lanka. As an intern for the economic section of the embassy, I got to spend ten weeks researching macroeconomic issues and providing context around those issues to help inform US policies.

As someone who studies International Political Economy, is interested in macroeconomic development, and cares about the interaction between the public and private sector, this was a dream position for me. The economic section of an embassy, particularly in a smaller embassy, handles everything that isn’t directly political or consular in nature. In Sri Lanka, this means that the economic section covers everything from commercial policy to research and development, which is particularly exciting in the area since there are a lot of research vessels in the Maldives.

My primary project focused on creating a report on debt sustainability in Sri Lanka. The covid-19 pandemic has caused an economic downturn in many countries, Sri Lanka included, resulting in challenges making debt payments. To help inform US policy, I researched reports from commercial banks and think tanks and created models showing different outcomes of possible mitigations to address the debt issues.

Though my experience was meant to be in person, the pandemic made it into a virtual experience instead. What would have been an exciting few months in Sri Lanka was instead an exciting few months spent working from home in Washington, DC. Having missed out on some of the opportunity to be in person and meet people that I worked with, instead I had opportunities to join remote meetings with other interns and work with my supervisors to create a better experience for future interns who would also be coming on during the pandemic.

Despite the challenges around interning in a virtual environment, I was grateful to have the opportunity to learn more about the kind of work that the embassy does and use that to inform my future career goals.

Anne Ahrendson
Anne Ahrendson
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Sakshi Thorat Supports Research at Business Executives for National Security

Business Executives for National Security (BENS) is a non-partisan think tank with HQ in D.C. and seven regional offices across the United States. It was founded by mining executive Stanley A. Weiss and has over 400 members who are the senior business and industry executives volunteering their time and expertise to address the national security community’s most pressing challenges. BENS leverages the diverse expertise of its members to support government efforts that tackle other prominent challenges. They provide actionable solutions in terms of best practices. The organization’s Policy/projects work for the Commission includes government projects focusing on military modernization, national security workforce, and critical defense challenges. The research wing of the organization is the four Councils- Technology & Innovation Council, Energy Council, Competitiveness Council, and Resilience Council.

Sakshi Thorat (lower R) at BENS weekly Policy Team meeting
Sakshi Thorat (lower R) at BENS weekly Policy Team meeting with fellow Maxwell student, Sean Withington (upper L)

My work at the organization mainly focused on supporting the Council’s research. I had the opportunity to sit in on roundtables and discussions held by experts in the fields. I researched various issues relating to great power competition with China, particularly its economic policies and the rare earth mineral supply chain. On the Commission side, I assisted in the research about DARPA’s Mosaic Warfare Technology, Artificial Intelligence and Innovation Ecosystem in the U.S., and Data standardization operations within the DHS. I also had the chance to contribute to the weekly Executive Briefs on news events relevant to the Commission and the Council.

I was still able to learn the dynamics and the importance of public-private sector engagement in National Security, gain a deep understanding of the different sides of the great power competition with China and learn about the U.S. Government’s efforts and projects on military modernization. My work at BENS has exposed me to the practical side of the MA in International Relations Program, which I will carry on to my professional career.

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Nadia Husseini-Eyre Gets Thrown Into the Deep End at BCW & Ends Up With a Well Trained Mind

Last fall, I took the opportunity to diversify my knowledge of International Relations into the Public Affairs and Global Communications sector. Interning with Burson Cohn & Wolfe in Brussels, recently named PRovoke Media’s 2020 Global Agency of the Year and formerly known as Burson-Marsteller, I had the opportunity to closely interact with several private sector and government clients. From organizing, publicizing and promoting Government and European Commission initiatives to working with several energy, sustainability, and policy directed projects across the EU, I was never short of new learning.

Nadia Husseini-Eyre in Brussels, Belgium
Nadia Husseini-Eyre in Brussels, Belgium

I have always imagined myself working in policy and development, in the foreign office or the UN. However, this internship opened my eyes to a new aspect of IR and public diplomacy. Alongside my placement in the BCW Communications Team, I was able to work in the Government Relations department at BCW. These confidential projects utilized my Maxwell experiences by covering IR and global digital policy developments, engaging in policy with the private sector, and drafting urgent crisis communication proposals (for which we won!).

My main responsibilities changed every day. In fact, on my first day I was warned, “you’ll be thrown into the deep-end, it might feel overwhelming, but you’ll adjust quickly”. Never have those words been truer. Immediately assisting with client-media relations, policy and social monitoring, proposal drafting, event planning and management, writing and publishing promotional materials, communicating with MEPS and influencers and more, all across several private sector clients and governing bodies, my mind was being well trained in the art of efficient multitasking. Previous 4-hour long tasks can now be completed in 1 hour; the blessing of being thrown into the deep-end – you can really see how far you’ve come!

I was pleasantly surprised by how hands on I was during my internship. It was great to feel valued as an intern and to see my work approved and used with clients. This experience has motivated me on my IR endeavors, and I will leave my internship being both incredibly thankful for this experience and with a new-found beloved Nespresso addiction.

Nadia Husseini-Eyre is an MAIR student currently finishing her degree in Seoul, Korea at SU’s Yonsei University, World Partner program.

Nadia Husseini-Eyre at BCW
Nadia Husseini-Eyre at BCW
MAIR Program at the Maxwell School
Yonsei University, World Partner Program
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Yuliia Popyk Works on Ukraine at US Institute of Peace

During my MAIR program I had the opportunity to intern at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) as a Visiting Research Assistant. My summer internship at USIP was covered by the Edmund Muskie Internship Program for Fulbright Graduate students from Eastern Europe, and my continued internship through the Fall 2020 was made possible with the support of the PAIA Department and a Global Programs Award.

Yuliia Popyk, Lincoln Memorial
Yuliia Popyk at the Lincoln Memorial

“USIP is a national, nonpartisan, independent institute, founded by Congress and dedicated to the proposition that a world without violent conflict is possible, practical, and essential for U.S. and global security.” I have been a part of organization’s critical department – Office of Strategic Stability and Security (OSSS), with the focus on Russian activities in the conflict zones around the world. My line of work was on Ukraine, my home country. USIP established the Office of Strategic Stability and Security (OSSS) to provide research, analysis and policy recommendations on the growing impact of global powers on international peace and stability with a special focus on Russia and Ukraine.

Ukraine has been fighting in an ongoing war with Russia for more than six years now, and it continues today. USIP is engaged in many projects directed at change in Ukraine. In fact, during my 6 month internship at USIP I co-researched material for the analytical paper on the impact of COVID-19 in Ukraine and its conflict zones; assisted with Religious Mapping Methodology (RLM) research on the impact of religion on war in Ukraine; participated in the development and preparations for the Track 3 dialogues between Ukrainians and Russians; co-organized the RLM presentation of preliminary findings; attended multiple webinars, online events, and discussions on various topics related to national security, global order, and Russia’s engagement in the conflict zones.

I was immensely honored to work with Ambassador William B. Taylor as the head of our department, as well as many other fascinating American foreign officers and researchers. Many thanks to my supervisor Leslie Minney for her constant support, help, and understanding. I enjoyed my internship experience at USIP very much!

Yuliia Popyk
Yuliia Popyk
United States Institute of Peace
United States Institute of Peace
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Ehsan Ghafourian Finds Innovative Initiatives for Near East Foundation

I found a great chance to work as an Intern for Near East Foundation (NEF) during this summer. This organization is an experienced, operational NGO that is actively looking for sustainable solutions for vulnerable people. For almost a century, NEF has developed close collaborative relationships with local organizations and communities across the Middle East and Africa to achieve sustained results. NEF’s approach is knowledge, voice, and enterprise.

Ehsan Ghafourian
Ehsan Ghafourian

I was part of the stabilization and conflict resolution team with a smart person as my partner. Our focus was on peace building through economic cooperation and development. I measured each project based on ongoing benefits at cross border collaboration beyond the life of the project to evaluate how much NEF was successful at building resilience between vulnerable people. All my activities were completed in a systematic way and according to theory of change.

Vulnerable people need knowledge, opportunities and tools to participate in civic and economic life and I tried to help this mission by increasing NEF’s efficiency. I found innovative initiatives and indicators that can impact communities throughout the Middle East and Africa. These solutions are responses to urgent needs for humanitarian assistance that supports life-saving interventions and reduces risks of morbidity and mortality for affected persons. By focusing on livelihood issues, I framed conflict mitigation and reconciliation into practical and immediate concerns for average citizens.

I appreciated NEF’s president, Dr. Charles Benjamin; and the Director of Program Support, Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning, Laurent Denis. Both of them and other NEF staff were always nice and cooperative.

Ehsan is currently the Social Sector Intern at Asian Development Bank’s North American Representative Office.

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Laura Turner, Health Needs Assessment for Aythos in Nepal

This summer, I have had the opportunity to intern with Aythos, a small development organization in Nepal. Since 2009, Aythos has worked primarily in rural communities, implementing programs that aim to alleviate poverty by reducing barriers to economic participation and by fostering health and sustainable livelihoods. Aythos’ work is locally-driven and strives to improve gender equality, income-generating opportunities, sustainable agriculture, and women’s and community health.

Laura Turner in the White Mountains of New Hampshire thinking of Nepal
Laura Turner in the White Mountains of New Hampshire thinking of Nepal

As Aythos’ Health and Nutrition Programs Intern, my primary duties involved improving the organization’s health curriculum, advancing its nutrition program, and conducting research on prevalent public health issues among our beneficiaries. To date, my main project has been developing an extensive needs assessment composed of three questionnaires that will be administered to various individuals in the villages we work in. The results from this assessment will help us better understand the current needs of our population, particularly in the context of COVID-19. It will provide us critical information on how the villages have been impacted by the pandemic and Nepal’s lockdown in terms of food security and changes in nutrition, changes in health and access to health services, and other areas. Other tasks I have been working on this summer include sharpening and expanding the organization’s health curriculum, which is currently targeted primary at sexual and reproductive health.

Though I am working remotely from my home in Maine due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this internship has still been a valuable and enjoyable experience. Through video calls I have been able to work with the wonderful Nepali staff as well as meet several of the U.S. board members, who are very enthusiastic about and dedicated to Aythos’ work. The experience so far has taught me more about the inner workings of a small development NGO and given me the opportunity to practice skills I have been learning throughout my education at Maxwell.

Laura Turner is currently completing her MAIR degree at the Maxwell School.

Helambu Valley, Nepal
Helambu Valley, Nepal, where Aythos does much of its work
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Lauren Romero Evaluates Inclusive Economic Development

The Near East Foundation (NEF) is the United States’ oldest nonsectarian international development organization, originally founded as the American Committee for Syrian and Armenian Relief in 1915.  Currently, NEF has projects in ten countries: Armenia, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Mali, Morocco, Palestine, Senegal, Sudan and Syria. With local partners, they work to directly improve the lives of vulnerable people through sustainable agriculture, microenterprise development, women’s empowerment, civic education and peace building. Over the years, NEF has worked with the United Nations, the European Union, USAID, and a host of other organizations to facilitate their projects.

Lauren Romero on a call with her fellow Maxwell NEF interns.
Lauren Romero (bottom right corner) on a call with her fellow Maxwell NEF interns. Top L to R: Mahin Tariq, Ehsan Ghafourian, Sakshi Thorat. Bottom L to R: Sianeh Dennish, Dr. Laurent Dennis (NEF), Katie Smith

To complement my Maxwell Certificate of Advanced Studies in Post-Conflict Reconstruction, this summer I interned as an analyst for NEF’s Inclusive Economic Development (IED) program. Within IED, I conducted targeted analysis around key issues and questions associated with NEF‘s projects and theories of change to inform future program design. This is to help launch a new evidence lab designed to duplicate NEF’s impact beyond 2020.

After researching recent IED projects, which included Advancing Women’s Business in Palestine and Reducing Vulnerability of Syrian Refugees and Lebanese in Lebanon, I wrote summaries of nine projects, comparatively analyzed projects, and investigated the innovative Siraj Centers to identify project effectiveness and lessons learned. With my fellow program intern, Mahin Tariq, we analyzed the IED program as a whole and drafted a new IED Theory of Change. All program interns are collectively designing a 2020-25 Learning and Research Agenda. The final phase of my internship, which is set to complete in August, is to develop an IED key brief analysis.

While COVID-19 certainly brought about a new sleight of challenges, I was impressed with NEF’s ability to expose its interns to the extent of their global reach via a remote internship. My role as an analyst intern provided insight on how an NGO operates internally, and how to assess a project’s impact from initial proposal to final report.  My work as a remote intern with NEF was incredibly satisfying and gave me a greater appreciation for the imperative economic development work they have successfully conducted over the past one hundred years.

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Erica Rawlins’ Worthwhile Experience at APCO Worldwide

APCO Worldwide is a unique public affairs firm, with over 25 offices all over the world. Headquartered in Washington, DC, APCO is an advisory and advocacy communications consultancy helping organizations in the public and private sectors. For over 35 years, APCO uses the brightest minds from an array of industries to come together to push change, driven by their core values: boldness, curiosity, inclusivity, and empathy.

As a member of their spring 2020 class, I interned in their New York City office. This experience exceeded my other intern positions simply because APCO is so large yet quite connected. I worked on accounts from the retail, tech, healthcare, insurance, food, and confectionery industries. One most truly has an entrepreneurial spirit to thrive in an environment where no two days look the same. Although a challenge, I mastered the art of pivoting to meet the demands of my days.

NYC team with Al Roker from a Lunch & Learn
Erica Rawlins (4th from L) with NYC team and Al Roker from a Lunch & Learn

The New York City office is significantly smaller than headquarters, but this allowed me to get to know colleagues on an amicable level. APCO has a robust intern program and the organization truly invests in its interns! Many colleagues started their careers at APCO after their internship. In fact, the current North American VP was a former intern! My intern coordinators encouraged informational interviews with higher-ups and provided professional workshops in areas we’d like to improve. I collaborated with teams in Seattle, DC, Chicago, and Raleigh offices. APCO Worldwide’s work culture stood out the most! Although there is a hierarchy within the organization, the team in the New York office made it clear that if you have a question you can always talk to them. In my time, I learned a lot from their Lunch & Learns and hosted events for Black History and Women’s History Month.

Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic the spring internship program was terminated in the North American offices. The unprecedented turn of events was frustrating, but even after the end of my internship I still heard from colleagues from my various accounts. They reached out and extended kind words due to my abrupt departure. To be honest, I did not take into account work culture in my job search and I have to thank APCO Worldwide for that. Unlike many other firms, it’s independently owned (no holding groups delegates) and majority-owned by women. The founder, Margery Kraus even dedicated a day for all North American interns to get to know her, in addition, to receive a copy of her book, Roots & Wings. APCO Worldwide is a place to grow and thrive professionally. There are many opportunities including APCO+, which is a team based out of the DC office. Entry-level participants spend 18 months in rotation learning about the core facets of public relations. Also, there is the Global Exchange program; this allows employees to work out of a foreign office for two weeks! That means you can collaborate and work with teams in London, Bangkok, Berlin, or Dubai office or where ever you choose. Despite my abrupt departure, my internship at APCO Worldwide was worthwhile!

Eric Rawlins graduated from the Maxwell and Newhouse Schools with a dual MAIR/MSPR degree in spring 2020. She also interned at the Brandman Agency. She currently works as a PR Consultant at AT&T.

Public Diplomacy and Global Communications Program

Erica Rawlins Learns to be Adaptable in PR

Molly Martin, Staying on Her Toes at Edelman

This spring I had the opportunity to put my public diplomacy classes to work at Edelman, a multi-national public relations firm, in Washington, D.C. As a Communications Intern for the “Sectors” pillar of Edelman’s business, I supported health, federal, public affairs and private sector clients ranging from health advocacy groups to international governments and corporations.

Edelman Office in Washington, DC
Edelman Office in Washington, DC

While there was no “typical day” at Edelman, my main responsibilities included supporting media relations by monitoring client coverage, coordinating media audits and researching the international and domestic media landscapes, as we advised clients on the best way to break through the noise and share their stories. I also regularly conducted research to back up our client work and support new business pitches (several of which we won!). As an intern, I was constantly learning on the job and being challenged to do my best work and stay on my toes to anticipate client needs in our fast-paced world.

This became more necessary than ever as we watched the Covid-19 pandemic unfold last spring. In a sort-of baptism by fire, I went through a crash course in crisis communications as we began to advise clients in a range of industries on the best practices for communicating during this difficult time.

While the pandemic certainly upended my experience – to the point that I had to finish my internship remotely – I learned many important lessons that I’ll take with me as I start my career. Clear and effective internal and external communication is critical for any organization, especially during an international crisis such as the one we’re experiencing, and I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to hone my skills and grow as a professional and individual at Edelman.

Molly Martin graduated with a dual MA in International Relations and MS in Public Relations from the Maxwell and Newhouse Schools at Syracuse University. The program has been transformed into the Public Diplomacy and Global Communications graduate program. Molly also interned at USAID and UN Peacekeeping. She currently works at Edelman full time.

Public Diplomacy and Global Communications Program
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Molly Martin, Strategic Communications at USAID