Internship Stories

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
All Global Programs

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

Lauren Sutkus, Financial Crimes at Treasury

This past semester living, taking classes and interning in Washington DC is one of the most memorable times I’ve had at Syracuse. Although, DC has been exhausting and a huge change from my time spent at Syracuse, it is extremely rewarding. I am lucky enough to have received a pathways internship with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), a bureau of the Treasury Department.

As a pathways intern you are expected to work as close to full time as possible while finishing your degree. At the Treasury department, a high level of trust is placed on interns as they are treated as a member of the team albeit working at a less sensitive level than full time employees. Intern duties vary, however mine focused on assisting in the preparation of presentations for public audiences, data research and analysis for and drafting of reports and documents. As well as performing open source and commercial database searches to assist research specialists on open cases.

FinCEN has continued to impress me in the ways that they focus on developing each employee weather it be an intern or a high-level full time employee. The director especially pushes for workplace integration of all levels of employees and encourages communication and the facilitation of ideas with other elements within Treasury and within the government as a whole. However, the most enjoyable aspect of my internship has been getting the chance to know my coworkers. Each person has a more diverse background than the next.

Lauren Sutkus was a joint MPA/MAIR student who graduated in May 2020.

Lauren Sutkus in front of the Treasury building
Lauren Sutkus in front of the Treasury building
MAIR Program at the Maxwell School
Maxwell-in-Washington Program

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

Henry Mau: Berlin, du bist so wunderbar

“Berliiiiiiiiiin, du bist so wunderbar” is the title of a famous song in Germany: “Berlin, you are so wonderful”. After having lived in Germany for about a semester now, I can safely say: It’s true!

In fact, it’s true for a reason that might sound puzzling at first: Berlin is probably the least German city in the country. It’s chaotic, unjudgmental and never sleeps. The “Berliners” are a very special kind: Always in a rush like that businessman who just bumped into you on the streets in Manhattan but at the same time as alternative and relaxed as surfers in Huntington Beach. The city has this sort of authenticity that one can hardly find anywhere else. It’s a vibrant cultural melting pot, a historical city, both a battleground of history and symbol for the union of Germany if not also Europe as a whole. Myself a German, the mere fact of being able to now get to live there is truly exciting!

German Budestag at night
The German Bundestag (parliament) on the 9th of November, for the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Resolution, at a venue where 3o years ago was the „death zone“ between East and West Berlin.

Apart from the uniqueness of Berlin, which quite frankly I find difficult to put in the right words, the city also offers exceptional academic and professional opportunities. With seven other students, I take part in the Atlantis-program: As double-degree students, we spend our first year at Maxwell and the second one in Berlin. Being able to experience both the US and Germany, America and Europe, Syracuse and Berlin, adds a priceless value-added to my studies of, well, international relations, that I could otherwise have never acquired.

Henry Mau and colleagues
Henry Mau and colleagues attending the Pearson Global Forum on Conflict.

I started to work part-time at Save The Children (shout-out to Prof. Jeb Beagles in Syracuse, without whom I’d probably never have gotten the position!), and thereby managed to get myself into position towards a post-academic career in the humanitarian sector.

All in all, I am thankful for the opportunity that Syracuse University offered me, and I would encourage anyone to give it a shot and apply to the Atlantis-program: In Berlin, you get to spend a year that you will never forget!

Henry Mau is a student in the Atlantis Transatlantic Dual Degree Program, where he is wrapping up a Master of Arts in International Relations at the Maxwell School in Syracuse, NY and a Master of Public Policy at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin. He also interned at the Council of Europe through SU’s Strasbourg Center in summer 2019.

Atlantis Transatlantic Dual Degree Program
The European and Global Internship Program in Brussels
The Maxwell School
The Hertie School of Governance

Henry Mau, In the heart of Europe

Askar Salikhov, Conflict & Stabilization at DoS

For three months, I interned at the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations (CSO) in Washington, D.C. CSO’s mission is to anticipate, prevent, and respond to conflict that undermines U.S. national interests. The bureau implements this mission in two complementary ways: through data-driven analysis and forward deploying stabilization advisors to conflict zones. The objective is to inform U.S. strategy, policy, and programs on conflict prevention and stabilization.

During my internship, I’ve worked with civil servants, foreign service officers, and other experts to manage programming and provide analytical products relating to Ukraine. I have drafted documents, collated trip books, and briefed principals ahead of important interagency meetings with high-level interlocutors. Additionally, I have produced research on electoral processes and violence in post-conflict environments. Finally, my office relied on my assistance for logistical support: organizing meetings, taking notes, writing readouts, and managing tasks.

My objectives for my internship were to get exposure to public sector work, connect with conflict practitioners and grow my network of colleagues, learn new skills relating to project design, management, and monitoring, and have a positive impact on the mission of CSO. Looking back at my experience, interning for the U.S. State Department has shaped my perception of civil service in a positive way. I hope to begin my professional career within the public sector, working on supporting and delivering exciting development programs that advance the interests of the United States.

Askar Salikhov is recent graduate of the MAIR program. In pursuit of his degree, he also completed an internship with IOM, the UN Migration Agency, in Ghana during summer 2019.

Askar Salikhov poses from the speaker’s balcony at the U.S.
Askar Salikhov poses from the speaker’s balcony at the U.S. Capitol Building during a work-sponsored tour.
MAIR Program at the Maxwell School
Maxwell-in-Washington Program

Askar Salikhov Opens a Door to Fieldwork

Johnathan Medina, Tech Advocacy in DC

This fall I had the opportunity to intern with a trade group called the Internet Association (IA). IA focuses on advocating for its member companies in Washington D.C. and state governments throughout the country. IA’s member companies include some of the largest technology firms in the world like Google, Facebook, Amazon etc. My co-workers had all worked in high levels of government from being a Chief of Staff to Nancy Pelosi, to running multi-million-dollar digital technology acquisition programs. Being around such talented and knowledgeable people helps you better understand the reality of different career paths.

Johnathan Medina
Johnathan Medina

My role on the team was as a Government Relations intern where I worked with the Policy and GR teams to analyze legislation, cover hearings, and produce reports that would be sent to policy professionals at our member companies. This was an eye-opening experience being involved directly in Washington D.C. politics and learning how policy is developed and advocated from a business perspective. Most of my portfolio was working on Cloud-Computing technology and the discussion surrounding its regulation for financial services and institutions. Through this project I was able to learn more about the industry, which was very important in helping me land my future job. One of the skills I developed strongly from the experience is being able to read legal language and think with the mind of a lawyer. Compliance is a mix of policy and law and it is a field I am excited to be part of as it grows.

My personal time in DC was very rewarding as well since the city offers a nearly non-stop slate of activities. I enjoyed being able to attend events in DC from the numerous organizations and the opportunity to connect with other alums is unparalleled. The experience was also helpful in discovering what you actually enjoy doing on a day to day basis which is more valuable than anything else in the end.

Johnathan Medina is a recent graduate of the MAIR program. He also interned last summer at the European Institute of Asian Studies as part of the The European and Global Internship Program in Brussels.

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

Johnathan Medina Researches Fintech in Southeast Asia for the EU

Erica Rawlins Learns to be Adaptable in PR

I spent my summer interning with The Brandman Agency. It is a global public relations and digital marketing agency located in the core of the city that never sleeps. I have had the opportunity to work with numerous luxurious travel and lifestyle brands from all over the world.

Erica Rawlins
Erica Rawlins

This internship provided the opportunity to learn behind the scenes of branding for a client from the business and communications perspective. I’ve learned that it is imperative to understand that the world of communications isn’t predictable and as a practitioner one must be adaptable. Furthermore, this was my first time working with an agency. The day to day duties differ and I embrace tackling different problems every day.

The international relations aspect of my degree program provides a different perspective as to why and how global clients interact with their stakeholders. It’s truly fulfilling learning the intricate details of the travel industry because it’s impacted through policy, economics and brand awareness. Many of my family members are direct recipients of the changing tides of the travel industry, I am so fortunate to do work that impacts many families that look just like mine.

One of the highlights of my experience was sitting down and having an intimate conversation with the executive team. The leaders of the agency are all women and it gave the interns (a total of four of us) the opportunity to ask seasoned professionals their advice navigating a career in travel. Working on teams led by successful, humble women is inspiring. I’m grateful for this experience and network of persistent women.

Erica Rawlins continues to intern in New York City at APCO Worldwide, while completing her joint MAIR/MSPR degree at the Maxwell and Newhouse Schools.

MAIR/MSPR Program at the Maxwell and Newhouse Schools