Seth Binder – Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED)

Project on Middle East Democracy
Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED)

This story was submitted by Seth Binder, who completed his graduate IR degree in the fall of 2013.

As part of the MAIR requirements, I participated in Syracuse’s Washington D.C., Global Security and Development Program (GSDP). This opportunity provided an array of course options and an endless number of internship possibilities in the DC area.

I took Professor Schneider’s “Soft Power in the Digital Era” course and landed an internship with the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED). The course investigated the nuances of soft power through the lens of U.S. foreign policy and brought countless influential members of the foreign policy community including former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and founder of the Center for a New American Security Michele Flournoy.

At POMED, I was a policy intern in their Advocacy program. This experience was exceptional! Not only did I publish regularly for POMED’s blog on current events in the Middle East, I helped them with longer-term projects, like investigating Voice of America’s Persian News Network. Importantly, I contributed substance to the organization, instead of more mundane administrative work like data entry or making coffee, as some interns are asked to do.

The organization also went out of their way to help me as an intern develop my skills and prepare me for the international relations field here in D.C. They held weekly training sessions from resume writing to networking and extended an open hand to connect me to other organizations and people. The experience at POMED opened my eyes to the important work an advocacy organization can have on U.S. foreign policy and the incredible generosity of the organization to not simply use my effort as a business transaction, but develop a relationship for the foreseeable future.

The GSDP program provided me an opportunity to further my intellectual interests and develop my professional abilities to ready myself for a career in foreign policy, typifying the overall experience I had at the Maxwell School in the international relations graduate program.