Internship Stories

Michaela Eagan’s Hip-Hop Diplomacy

This spring I had the opportunity to work as the Communications and Marketing Fellow at
Meridian International Center. Meridian is a nonprofit center for diplomacy and global
leadership that “strengthens U.S. engagement with the world and accelerates collaboration
through the exchange of leaders, ideas and culture”.

My Fellowship was housed in Meridian’s cultural diplomacy department. The Meridian Center
for Cultural Diplomacy works with the U.S. Department of State, American embassies around
the world and the D.C. diplomatic community through exhibitions, cultural exchanges and

One of my main responsibilities was working on the Next Level USA hip-hop exchange
program. An initiative of the U.S. Department of State, the University of North Carolina at
Chapel Hill and Meridian International Center, Next Level USA host exchanges of MCs, DJs,
hip hop dancers, beatmakers, beatboxers and graffiti artists who conduct workshops, lead jam
sessions and lecture demonstrations in host countries. The second focus of my fellowship was
the creation of a separate exhibition website to host digital exhibitions and act as a virtual archive
for the department’s past exhibitions.

As most of D.C. moved to telework this spring, I was able to continue my work at Meridian
remotely. With these changes came the opportunity to assist the department in transitioning many
of its programs to virtual experiences and develop communications strategies to support
Meridian’s ongoing cultural diplomacy efforts.

As a Public Diplomacy student, it was a rewarding experience to take theories out of the
classroom and implement them in tangible ways through the day-to-day activities of cultural

Michaela Eagan is a recent graduate of the MAIR/MSPR joint degree program. She also interned during the summer of 2019 at More Europe as part of the The European and Global Internship Program in Brussels.

MAIR/MSPR Program at the Maxwell and Newhouse Schools
Maxwell-in-Washington Program
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Michaela Eagan, Cultural Diplomacy in Brussels

Fiona Wu, Private Fundraising and Partnerships at UNICEF

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) saves children’s lives, defends children’s rights, and helps them reach their full potential in countries and regions all over the globe. Being one of the “big names” of the UN agencies, I explored a different facet of its work through my internship with the Multi-Stakeholder Platforms Team (MSP) of the Private Fundraising and Partnership Division(PFP). Beyond working on programmes in the field and working with member states, UNICEF also extensively work with the private sector in terms of fundraising, advocacy, and partnership.

Throughout my internship, I had the opportunity to work with almost all members of the team on different projects. Frankly speaking, prior to joining the MSP team, I have had some prejudice against INGOs working with the private sector. Having either actively participated or independently led on these projects, however, greatly changed my perception. I have seen evidence of private sectors taking the lead in driving conversations, changing social norms, and advancing government policy changes in various contexts.

Fiona Wu and team members during a team retreat
Fiona Wu (L) and team members during a team retreat on the day of Halloween

Apart from the internship, we also participated in a course here in Geneva featuring experienced and renowned guest speakers from various international organizations from UNICEF, to UNHCR, as well as the Mission of USA. These experiences gave us the chance not only to get an inside perspective of the work of these organizations, but also to dive deep into subjects we are interested in.

Although the learning opportunity from professional and academic work is greatly appreciated, perhaps, the biggest perk that Geneva and the Geneva Practicum Program offer is the tremendous networking opportunities. Request for “coffee” with colleagues, people who you meet during events, guest speakers from the class are almost never turned down. An “informational interview” does not necessarily lead to an actual interview, but it always leads to a rediscovery of yourself and your career pathway.

Fiona Wu is a recent graduate with a joint MPA/MAIR degree. She also completed a project with an organization in Syracuse called Hopeprint as part of her MPA. The project looked into social determinants for new American’s health.

Fiona Wu, U.S. Mission Geneva
Fiona Wu (3rd from L) with Students and Professor Werner Schleiffer (2nd from L) of the Geneva Practicum at the U.S. Mission in Geneva
MPA/MAIR Program at the Maxwell School
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Kenyi Lukolo, Supporting IOM’s Partnerships for Better Global Migration Governance

Since its inception in 1951 as the Provisional Intergovernmental Committee for the Movement of Migrants from Europe (PICMME), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) as it is currently known, is the right-hand of the Community of Nations; supporting efforts to address the challenges of global migration. The agency is not only engaged in the implementation of global frameworks such as the Global Compact on Migration (GCM) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) but it is also the key Coordinator of the United Nations Migration Network. IOM is fundamentally committed to the principle that humane and orderly migration benefits migrants and society.

I was assigned to the International Partnerships Division (IPD) which is the institutional focal point for IOM’s engagements and with Civil Society, Inter-States Consultations Mechanisms on Migration (ISCMS), Non-UN Inter-Governmental Organizations (IGOs or NUNOs), IOM observer organizations and other Multilateral Processes.

At IPD, there are opportunities for interns to contribute sufficiently to the achievement of the organization’s strategic objectives. As part of my work, I conducted background research and compiled documentation pertaining to Civil Society and IGOs, in order to inform IOM’s understanding of those actors’ modus operandi on issues of migration and to establish the framework or benchmarks for possible engagements and partnerships. I also compiled content to revamp the IOM-Civil Society website in order to enhance IOM’s external visibility. Similarly, I reinforced the administrative and logistical processes during IOM’s exchanges with civil society as well as in diplomatic events such as the Colombo Process Ambassadoral Meeting, where the Member States from Asia Consulted each other on the management of overseas employment and contractual labour in their region.

During the internship, I also attended important thematic events like the state-led Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) as well as IOM’s International Dialogue on Migration (IDM) and the Annual Council Meeting. These events not only refurbished and strengthened my understanding of how stakeholders interact, aggregate their interests and establish common grounds, but also provided opportunities for exposure and networking.

Let me assert that the Maxwell Program in Geneva has been a great experience. I have learned how the UN System and other institutions operate in the face of global concerns such as migration, poverty, hunger, conflicts, climate change, trade, etc. As such, my understanding of how nations and institutions respond to these issues is quintessential in advancing my career in international development.

As a last note, I was also thrilled by “International Geneva” owing to its historic and strategic standing as a hub that facilitates global engagements. I mean, from the beautiful scenery of the powder tracks in the Alps and the Jura mountains to the institutions, and the people in towns and streets of the City, one began to understand why for so long, the World has always looked to Geneva when there is a call to work together to save our common humanity.

Kenyi Lukolo is a recent graduate the MAIR Program at the Maxwell School. He completed his studies at Sciences Po in Paris as part of SU’s World Partner Program.

Kenyi Lukolo, IOM, Head of IPD
Kenyi Lukolo (3rd from L) with Head of the IPD’s Migration Policy Officer and Associate Migration Policy Officer (L)
MAIR Program at the Maxwell School
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Hamza Mighri, Research & Data Analysis for Just Results

My name is Hamza Mighri and I am a Fulbright scholar from Tunisia at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University focusing on international political economy, trade, and finance for my MAIR degree. Upon completion of my coursework on campus, I moved to Washington D.C. to meet my professional experience requirement and embarked on a fabulous work and learning experience with Just Results (JR). Economic development is at the heart of the work we do as a consulting firm specialized in delivering results-based services to governments, and donors.

As a Research and Data Analyst, I designed and helped implement surveys and assessment methodologies, conducted economic research on developing countries, performed data analysis and visualization, wrote reports, and ensured coordination and communication with local partners in numerous African countries including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Morocco, and Tunisia. At Just Results, we focused on three key solutions to social and economic hardships: improving investment and business climate, boosting agricultural production, and increasing youth employment. For our recent projects, we conducted a labor market assessment in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic Congo, in the regions of South and North Kivu focusing on the mining and agriculture sector. Our work involved providing technical assistance to governments on how to simplify, harmonize and digitize their business and administrative procedures in alignment with the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) principles to increase their trade facilitation indicator and the ease of doing business ranking.

Just Results is also growing in an inspiring and mission-driven environment. Located at the Open Government Hub co-working space, we work closely with a large number of non-profit organizations that are devoted to fighting corruption, promoting governance and integrity practices, and supporting open data initiatives and policies including: Open Government Partnership (OGP), Transparency International (TI), National Democratic Institute (NDI), Development Gateways, Global Integrity, ResultsData, and many others.

Washington D.C. has also been a marvelous city to explore with all its museums and theaters, such as the National Gallery of Arts, and the National Museum of the American Indian. Moreover, the city offers a wide variety of culinary experiences drawing on the city’s diverse population.

I look forward to continuing my academic training working with Just Results in Washington D.C. for the next year, with more wonderful and inspiring professional and personal experiences to come.

Alex MacDonald, Just Results
Hamza Mighri and Maxwell alum Alex Macdonald (MAIR/MAECN 2018) at Just Results’ office at the Open Gov Hub coworking space and incubator.
MAIR Program at the Maxwell School
Maxwell-in-Washington Program
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Mark Aludino Explores Migrant Return and Reintegration with IOM

From the moment I arrived, I was captured by Geneva’s international vibe. Surrounded by the headquarters of many UN organizations, one could not ignore the city’s importance globally. As such, for a MAIR student like myself, I consider my internship with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) a privilege, since I was not only granted the chance to learn from the very best in the field, but also the opportunity to have a bird’s eye-view of IOM’s operations all over the world.

For this semester, I interned for IOM’s Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) Unit, the team in charge of ensuring the orderly and humane return and reintegration of migrants who are unable or unwilling to remain in host or transit countries and wish to return voluntarily to their countries of origin. During my time with the unit, my primary output was a cross-regional analysis on the reintegration sustainability of IOM interventions in countries found in the Horn of Africa, West Africa, and Asia with the aim of objectively evaluating IOM’s programs and identifying potential best practices. Aside from my main task, I also regularly assisted the team in drafting both internal and external documents and reports, highlighted with my production of the AVRR Quarterly Bulletins.

IOM AVRR Training of Trainers
the IOM AVRR Reintegration Training of Trainers for Regional Thematic Specialists (RTSs) and Chief of Missions from the different countries. The PowerPoint in the background (and the contents of the other slides not in photo) is one of the outputs Mark assisted with the production of.

While the daily tasks increased my knowledge and provided me added marketable skills, I found my stint at the headquarters extremely worthwhile as I directly interacted and worked with our colleagues in the regional and country offices. In many ways, my appreciation for the headquarters increased after seeing its importance in ensuring stability for operations and addressing concerns on the field. Not only that, but with my responsibilities, I also gained a better understanding of how development is provided and the nuances of dealing with different stakeholders in different contexts.

Aside from my internship with IOM, the city also provided numerous avenues for personal growth through meeting experienced individuals from other UN agencies, open talks at various universities, and SU’s Geneva program itself. Clearly, there seems to be no better place to get my feet wet in the world of international development than in Geneva.

IOM Building Geneva
IOM Building Geneva
MAIR Program at the Maxwell School
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Mark Aludino Delves Into Supply Chains in Singapore

Adam Sawyer’s Internship Culminates in World Migration Report

As a UN-related agency, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is charged with coordinating with States, NGOs, and international organizations to ensure that migration occurs in a safe, orderly, regular, and humane fashion. I have received an internship in IOM’s Migration Policy Research Division, the office that guides and informs the international migration policy arena based on the expertise collected from all over the world.

IOM does an excellent job at ensuring that interns receive a professional experience as a trusted partner in the world. A primary responsibility includes organizing and marketing the IOM Migration Research Lunchtime Seminars, a monthly event in which a visiting scholar gives a presentation, a Q&A session, and an interview on a topic related to migration. All have been fascinating ‘deep dives’ into a topic relevant to human mobility. To be a part of coordinating this kind of educational event is a gratifying experience.

As I write this, the culmination of much of my work here at IOM is about to come to fruition. IOM released the World Migration Report 2020, the organization’s flagship publication.  Activity related to the Report has taken up a majority of my time while interning here, with tasks including the (double) verification of references against primary sources, data-checking, and data visualization. Since many academic institutions trust IOM outputs as the backstop for their own publications, IOM must ensure that the reporting of all empirical findings passes the highest level of scrutiny, which in turn, gives the Report a global reach. To provide but one statistical example, I found that the previous edition of the World Migration Report had been cited in over 550 research articles and in more than 25 languages. Based on my work on the Report, I am listed as a main contributor on one chapter and a part-project researcher for the entirety of the publication. It truly is a privilege to be a part of the team that has become one of the primary conveners of migration research globally.

Work and home life share common themes. In Geneva, since nearly everyone comes from a different part of the world, the topic of migration is never far from discussion. More than anything, I have had a glimpse into the European response to migration compared with the policy responses to immigration seen in the United States. My time here in Geneva has been a success.  I hope to put the things I learn here to the service of migrants and their communities as I return stateside.

Adam Sawyer was an MAIR student who completed two semesters interning at IOM in Geneva.

Adam Sawyer above Geneva
Adam Sawyer above Geneva
MAIR Program at the Maxwell School
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Adam Sawyer Works on World Migration Report for IOM

Alejandro Turino, Using USA Development in Latin America

The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) is a leading research and advocacy organization advancing human rights in the Americas. WOLA envisions a future where public policies protect human rights and recognize human dignity, and where justice overcomes violence. WOLA tackles problems that transcend borders and demand cross-border solutions. The organization creates strategic partnerships with courageous people making social change—advocacy organizations, academics, religious and business leaders, artists, and government officials. Together, they advocate for more just societies in the Americas.

This fall I interned with the Washington Office on Latin America, carrying out research for the Central America Monitor. The monitor is a new initiative led by WOLA and local partner organizations to track U.S. assistance to Central America and evaluate the progress that Central America is making to reduce violence, safeguard human rights, strengthen law enforcement and the rule of law, combat corruption, and increase accountability and transparency.

Since starting my work, I have been offered networking opportunities I could have never imagined receiving in places other than DC. For example, I interacted with multiple diplomats and private sector personnel from across Latin America. My work has allowed me to meet numerous practitioners of international development and human rights advocates, including top officials from some of the world’s best-known NGOs.

WOLA also raised my awareness towards the impact of development. My role as a research fellow allowed me to gain insight on how international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) operate both internally and externally in the quest to address global societal problems. I investigated how the Guatemalan government was professionalizing their police force, to avoid human rights abuses on the part of law enforcement, and to create a force that would no longer require help from the nation’s military. I constantly sent Freedom of Information Requests (FOIAs) to the Ministerio de Gobernacion (Interior Ministry) in Guatemala to obtain data we needed on issues such as police budgets and numbers of officers. My work at WOLA has allowed me to both understand the Central America region more in depth, and to see how human rights and their preservation are key to successful human and societal development.

Alejandro Turino was a MAIR student who graduated in December 2020. He also interned at Oxfam and the Pan American Development Foundation.

MAIR Program at the Maxwell School
Maxwell-in-Washington Program

Alejandro Turino, Learning International Development through Theory and Practice

Adam Miller Tests New Analytical Methods on Conflicts at DOS

This past fall I had the privilege of working as an intern at the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations (CSO) at the Department of State. CSO is a functional bureau, which means it does not focus on any specific region. Instead, CSO focuses on questions of stabilization which can be divided into three lines of effort: political instability, security sector stabilization, and countering violent extremism. CSO provides expertise in order to support officials throughout the government including other bureaus, the intelligence community, embassies, and Geographic Combatant Commands (COCOMS)

Within CSO, I worked in the office of Advanced Analytics (CSO/AA). CSO/AA serves the bureau by providing analytical support to any products being produced. This means that my day-to-day involved working on different types of complicated stabilization issues, in different regions around the world. In many ways interning at CSO/AA is similar to a graduate research assistant position, except with greater responsibility, independence, and shorter timelines. As the analytic office for CSO, CSO/AA produces research with extremely short turnaround.

The fast paced culture of CSO/AA allowed me to test analytical skills gained at Maxwell, and learn several new analytical methods. Additionally, I was able to gain new knowledge about conflict dynamics in dozens of different countries. This provided an insight into a newer way of approaching international relations, one where technical expertise can be just as important as regional expertise.

Outside of CSO, I was able to take advantage of all of the benefits presented to interns at the Department of State. I found almost anyone was willing to talk to me about their office, even without a prior connection. Additionally, the Department of State organizes activities for the hundreds of interns working for the department at any given time. This allowed me to go to workshops on federal resume writing, participate in diplomatic simulations, watch a war gaming session, and listen to speakers from around the world.

Adam Miller completed his MAIR degree in December 2020. He also interned at the Fund for Peace.

MAIR Program at the Maxwell School
Maxwell-in-Washington Program

Adam Miller Sharpens Skills at Fund for Peace

Kibaek Kim at Asian Development Bank’s North American Office

The unique combination of my identity as an Asian and my schoolwork in International Political Economy (particularly in Developmental Economics) has made a perfect match with the work of the Asian Development Bank (ADB). ADB is one of the major multilateral development banks, which has 68 member countries including non-regional members such as the US and Canada.

Kibaek Kim at ADB
Kibaek Kim at ADB

The ADB’s North America Representative Office (NARO) has been focused on external relations with the US and Canadian governments and other multilateral development institutions. The work at ADB NARO offered me a remarkable opportunity to experience how Washington works to engage in international development.

Kibaek Kim's ADB ID
Kibaek Kim’s ADB ID

One of the most important missions I had during my internship was assisting the president and vice presidents of ADB to participate in the World Bank/IMF annual meeting. I was one of the ‘observers’, who are the representatives of international, regional and economic organizations that are invited by the World Bank and IMF. Also, I attended a number of events every week as one of the representatives of ADB NARO, which gave more chances to expand my networks.

Annual WB/IMF meeting
Annual WB/IMF meeting

ADB NARO consists of qualified team members in International Development. We would discuss current issues in this arena whenever we had a chance to talk, which really helped me to open my eyes wide to see and understand the situation in diverse and professional perspectives. I would strongly recommend to apply for this job if there are Maxwell students who are interested in the Asia and the Pacific region and International Development. ADB would be the best place to develop your career.

Kibaek Kim with ADB colleague
Kibaek Kim with ADB colleague
Kibaek Kim at ADB
Kibaek Kim at ADB

Kibaek Kim completed his MAIR degree in December 2020. He also interned at the Global America Business Institute in Washington, DC.

MAIR Program at the Maxwell School
Maxwell-in-Washington Program

Bart Kassel at the Nature Conservancy in DC

One of the most pressing issues facing the international community is how to address the impact of climate change. Rising oceans, food and freshwater insecurity, urbanization, and many other issues prompt global action to preserve the planet for future generations.

The weight of this issue led me to pursue a new role this Fall with The Nature Conservancy (TNC), a global non-profit focused on environmental issues in 79 countries and all 50 states. The Worldwide Office in D.C. coordinates the organization’s work which brings together scientists, policy experts, and local leaders to tackle climate change, protect lands and waters, provide food and water sustainably, build healthy cities, and connect people and nature. TNC is a great place to work with smart eco-geeks, environmental policy wonks, and other upbeat and motivated colleagues.

My responsibilities as a Contract Specialist focus on ensuring money-out agreements for TNC’s global initiatives adhere to legal standards and TNC policies. The day-to-day of the job has required me to guide program teams through the contract and grant-writing processes, review and approve agreements, manage extensive records, and more. Some of the projects I supported include: mitigating the impact of climate change on indigenous communities in the Amazon; advocating for international action on environmental issues at UN summits; and cleaning up polluted river basins in Latin America. One recent work day began with me video chatting a team in South Africa, consulting with our legal office about a Chinese project, and finishing the day by guiding a West Coast office through a contract revision.

The role has been very satisfying—serving as an expert point of contact for staff around the globe addressing a large problem in diverse and meaningful ways.

Bart Kassel is a recent graduate of the MAIR program. He also interned at the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Global Social Media in summer 2019.

Bart Kassel at the Nature Conservancy
Bart Kassel at the Nature Conservancy
MAIR Program at the Maxwell School
Maxwell-in-Washington Program

Bart Kassel at DoS Office of Global Social Media