Internship Stories

Adam Miller Sharpens Skills at Fund for Peace

This past summer I worked as a research assistant at Fund for Peace (FFP). FFP was founded in 1957 with the primary focus of nuclear non-proliferation. As the Cold War came to a close, the world faced new threats to security. In light of this, FFP shifted focuses and now addresses human security, state fragility, and human rights. FFP conducts a number of projects aimed at improving the resiliency of countries and communities impacted by conflict. Currently, many of these projects focus in the geographical region of West Africa, but FFP conducts work on conflicts around the world.

During my time at Fund for Peace I primarily served in a research role. This involved composing memos on aspects of conflicts we are working on, coding early warning data, and looking for trends to explain the emergence of different forms of conflict. Additionally, I drafted reports for partner international organizations on the risks and vulnerabilities faced by individual countries. One of the best aspects of my time at Fund for Peace was being able to work on a wide variety of topics and projects at any given time. During my time at FFP I was exposed to a wide variety of security challenges present in a variety of locations.

My time at Fund for Peace is one that I will look back on fondly, and an experience that has sharpened specific skills that I will pull on in the security field. As many times as you might write a briefing at Maxwell, nothing is a substitute for delivering a briefing in a professional setting. My time at FFP has allowed me to sharpen the skills that Maxwell began to provide me with, and it has given me valuable knowledge about professional opportunities in security outside of the government.

Adam Miller is a recent graduate of the MAIR program. Not only did he intern at Fund for Peace, but completed an internship at the Department of State during his final fall semester.

Adam Miller, Fund for Peace
Adam Miller (2nd from R) with FFP interns and staff
MAIR Program at the Maxwell School
Maxwell-in-Washington Program

Alejandro Turino, Learning International Development through Theory and Practice

Oxfam is a global organization working to end the injustice of poverty. They help people build better futures for themselves, hold the powerful accountable, and save lives in disasters.

The Pan American Development Foundation assists vulnerable and excluded people and communities in the Americas to achieve sustainable economic and social progress, strengthen their communities and civil society, promote democratic participation and inclusion, and prepare for and respond to natural disasters and other humanitarian crises.

This summer I interned with Oxfam and Pan American Development Foundation (PADF). Both organizations have taught me a lot, not only about international development, but more importantly, about work culture in Washington DC. Since starting my work, I have been offered networking opportunities I could have never imagined receiving in places other than DC. For example, since PADF is the development arm of the Organization of American States (OAS), I interacted with multiple diplomats and private sector personnel from across Latin America.

My work with Oxfam allowed me to meet numerous practitioners of international development, including top officials from some of the world’s best-known NGOs. Oxfam also opened my awareness towards the impact of development. My role as a research assistant 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 Oxfam and other organizations see their role within the international community, and what their views are on what these roles should be. The position allowed me to learn about the field of development on-the-job, which was extremely beneficial since I did not have a lot of experience in the industry beforehand.

As part of PADF, I assisted staff in conducting research, developing methodologies and communications products, and managing projects for our Caribbean programs. PADF offered a hands-on, multicultural environment where I gained practical program management and implementation skills and a collegial atmosphere of professionals dedicated to creating a hemisphere of opportunity for all.

Alejandro Turino at Oxfam America
Alejandro Turino at Oxfam America
MAIR Program at the Maxwell School
Maxwell-in-Washington Program

 

Makany Toure In Geneva, the Peace Capital of Europe

Waterfronts, mountains and chocolate, a combination that could never go wrong for me. Europe has always been appealing to me due to the similarities with my home country, a former French colony. As such I was very excited to move to Geneva for the semester. I began my internship at the interagency division of the World Food Program in Geneva in the late summer of 2019. I arrived in this charming city, full of pretty lights, eager to discover the next five months and anxious about the work environment and the cultural differences of this tightly knitted community. The first piece of advice that I received upon arrival was “always be on time in Geneva, not too early and not too late, just right on time”. It was from the taxi driver who took me from the airport to my hotel, leaving me to ponder on these first words from a local.

Makany Toure in Geneva
Makany Toure in Geneva

This advice came to have such a greater meaning due to the entire city of Geneva working on a tightly timed balance that did not allow for disorganization. Particularly in the position that I held as an intern, I had the role to attend multiple meetings a day and to keep the office updated on partner activities in Geneva. My daily activities required a lot of movement across the city and the UN Palais des Nations where I sat across ambassadors, country representatives, and chairpersons. As such, timing was crucial to meet the busy requirements of meeting attendee schedules. Arriving even a minute late to a meeting could cost a report its entire significance. Soon enough, all my activities adapted to the Geneva style: disciplined, discreet and efficient.

My experience in Geneva was one of the most enriching times of my life, I expanded my network and learned valuable professional skills. Geneva now feels like a second home to me and I plan on using my connections to move back to Switzerland as soon as the opportunity presents itself upon graduation.

Makany Toure is an MPA/MAIR student currently working as a part time consultant at the World Bank and APCO Worldwide as part of the Maxwell-in-Washington program.

MPA/MAIR Program at the Maxwell School
All Global Programs

Federico Ohle Deepens Understanding of EU

As part of the seven weeks I spent in Brussels, I interned at the European Neighbourhood Council (ENC), a think tank which focuses on fostering dialogue between EU member states and EU neighboring countries – especially including both European and non-European civil society actors – in an effort to strengthen a common EU foreign policy framework and Neighborhood Policy (ENP).

ENC roundtable event with members of think tanks, government bureaucrats & officials, etc. from Central Asian states.
ENC roundtable event with members of think tanks, government bureaucrats & officials, etc. from Central Asian states. Also, the EU’s Special Representative to Central Asia, Ambassador Peter Burian

Through the tasks and projects I was assigned at ENC, I was able to further deepen my knowledge of the internal institutional functioning of the EU and its policy making process. Hoping to one day become a practitioner in the field of international politics and a policymaker at the EU level ideally working for the European External Action Service (EEAS), I found it especially useful, for example, to become closer acquainted with the fundamentals of the EU’s foreign policy framework and its substance and to conduct research on the Central Asian region and the EU’s strategy in the area.

Also, by attending either ENC-organized events or other talks around Brussels, I had the opportunity to listen to, meet and network with very interesting experts from other think tanks and professionals from the EU institutions.

ENC organized panel discussion on EU accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia.
ENC organized panel discussion on EU accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia. Panel discussants: Mr. Clive Rumbold, Deputy Head of the Western Balkans Division at the European External Action Service (EEAS), Ms. Marta Szpala, Senior Research Fellow in the Central European Department at the Centre of Eastern Studies (OSW), Mr. Srdjan Cvijic, Senior Policy Analyst at Open Society European Policy Institute (OSEPI) and ENC’s Managing Director, Samuel Doveri Vesterbye. Also pictured in the audience: H.E. Suela Janina, Ambassador of Albania to the EU, and Mr. Vlatko Stankovski, Deputy Head of the Republic of North Macedonia to the EU.

Additionally, as part of the Program, SU Abroad also organized weekly talks with professionals from the foreign service and public diplomacy fields and other European think tanks (including US foreign service officers, a former NATO spokesperson and EU officials). These talks were a great addition and complement to the internship, and expanded my personal knowledge on issues of EU politics and the Union’s policy approach to them.

My favorite among these SU Abroad-organized events was our visit at the EEAS, which is basically the EU’s Foreign Ministry and the headquarters of EU diplomacy and an agency where I hope to be employed someday in the future.

All of this was framed in the vibrant, stimulating and fun city of Brussels (with a Washington D.C.-like atmosphere by day and the charm of a European capital by night) and the country of Belgium, which is so rich in culture and whose cities and towns (or abbeys, where the famous and delicious trappist beer is brewed) are definitely worth exploring.

Federico Ohle is a student in the Atlantis Transatlantic Dual Degree Program, where he will complete 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. While studying in Berlin, Federico is further interning at the German Council on Foreign Relations.

Celebrating an ENC colleague’s birthday
Celebrating an ENC colleague’s birthday with the rest of the team at a tapas bar near the office in the Chatelain neighborhood
Federico Ohle (L) and Maxwell classmates and Brussels Program participants Michaela Eagan and Johnathan Medina during a trip to Bruge
Federico Ohle (L) and Maxwell classmates and Brussels Program participants Michaela Eagan and Johnathan Medina during a trip to Bruges organized by Syracuse University
Atlantis Transatlantic Dual Degree Program
The European and Global Internship Program in Brussels
The Maxwell School
The Hertie School of Governance

Stephanie Prochaska Experiences Realities of Immigration in France

In the summer of 2019, I had the opportunity to work under the French organization of Le Centre d’Accueil et d’Orientation. Also known as CAO, this organization’s mission is to host and provide resources to incoming asylum-seekers from across the globe. These resources range from assistance with paperwork to accommodation by temporary housing.

Throughout this experience, my activities ranged from day to day. On days in the office, I observed meetings between the social workers and the asylum-seekers finishing up their refugee status paper, and when no meetings took place I focused my time on research for the organization, from creating graphics of CAO’s demography to researching the conventions and laws CAO is to follow. Many other days I was not directly in the office, and these days I assisted in accommodation site visits, shopping for supplies, or even making organic and easy cleaning supplies for the asylum-seekers to use.

One particular day of importance during my internship was June 20th, which across the globe is the day set aside to celebrate refugees and their bravery. For International Refugees Day, CAO partnered with other asylum-seeker and refugee organizations across Strasbourg to host a celebration for all asylum-seekers and refugees around the area, completely free of charge. At this event, we provided food, drink, games for children, music, and even a hot air balloon for the refugees and families to ride in! This celebration allowed me to see how beautiful the world can be when we cooperate toward one cause or event.

My internship at CAO was both humbling and rewarding, and it assisted me in both perfecting my French but also experiencing the realities of immigration work and asylum. I gained a better understanding of international, supranational, and national laws and norms regarding the rights of refugees and the legal framework in France for seeking asylum. With this knowledge in hand, I gained a better comparative understanding by setting French and U.S. policy side-by-side to see where each differs, as well as finding common ground. Overall, this experience was academically and professionally enriching.

Making cleaning supplies with asylum seekers
Making cleaning supplies with asylum seekers
Laundry detergent mixture
Laundry detergent mixture
Stephanie Prochaska Making Cleaning Supplies with Asylum Seekers
Stephanie Prochaska Making Cleaning Supplies with Asylum Seekers at CAO
MAIR Program at the Maxwell School
SU’s Strasbourg Center
All Global Programs

Robb Woodruff’s Professional & Cultural Experience in Southeast Asia

Singapore is a unique city that offers a cosmopolitan experience in the heart of Southeast Asia. Culturally, it is a mix of neighboring Asian nations such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. There is a parallel to the New York City metaphor of a “melting pot” of people, religions and cultures. This can be seen especially through all the different types of food that you can find in the food centers.

Shifting from academic life to professional was an adjustment but a welcome one. I worked in the finance department of Pratt & Whitney, an American aerospace firm that produces jet turbines for commercial and government aircraft. My work focused on performing invoice price verifications, asset inventory identification and management and generating comparative tables for hours workers logged. I was fortunate to have supportive coworkers that assisted me with understanding the different tasks and projects that were assigned to me.  I ended each day at 4:50pm which left me time to enjoy parts of the city with some daylight still left.

Robb Woodruff with Singapore program participants
Robb Woodruff (back, 2nd from L) with SU Singapore program participants and Program Director, Professor Gary Lapoint (middle, 2nd from L) plus fellow Maxwell MAIR student, Mark Aludino (middle, 1st from L)

Despite being a small island, there are many areas to explore in the city and always something new to see. Our program group was fortunate enough to travel to Malaysia and Indonesia as well. In Malacca, there were bike taxis decorated in vibrant colors and booming stereo systems. It was fun to see the wide array of taxis, and how the drivers chose to personalize them. Indonesia was a nice escape to a little resort with an amazing beach. The water was piercingly blue, and crystal clear which made leaving after two days even more difficult. All in all, the Singapore program was an amazing experience that gave me professional and culture experience in Southeast Asia.

MAIR Program at the Maxwell School
Singapore Summer Internships Program
All Global Programs

Bart Kassel at DoS Office of Global Social Media

This summer, I interned with the Department of State in the Office of Global Social Media in Washington, D.C. The office is responsible for communicating U.S. foreign policy through direct engagement with millions on digital platforms. Over the course of the summer, the frenetic pace of the office and news cycle was both exciting and exhausting.

Bart Kassel with fellow interns
Bart Kassel (back, 7th from left) with fellow interns

My responsibilities included managing social accounts, drafting copy, editing media, and much more as current events demanded. One of my main projects was leading the implementation of a new content calendar and work-flow tracking system. Another regular responsibility had me editing video from press briefings and other official events for real-time broadcasting on social channels. Attention to detail, careful planning, close team-work, and swift action were my keys to success.

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo cuts a ceremonial cake with former Secretary of State Dr. Henry Kissinger at an event celebrating the 230th anniversary of the State Department.
Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo cuts a ceremonial cake with former Secretary of State Dr. Henry Kissinger at an event celebrating the 230th anniversary of the State Department

The practical experience I developed with the Global Social Media team has taught me with new skills to go along with my Maxwell classes. I was able to apply theory from my Advanced Public Diplomacy class through regular communications activities. My statistics class prepared me to analyze metrics and provide data-driven insights to my colleagues about which types of content was performing well. Management classes that stressed theories of change and log frames proved valuable for my role in planning meetings. Having an opportunity to intern during my MAIR program has also provided me with many new connections.

As an intern, I had the opportunity to network with amazing staff from unique backgrounds. Foreign and Civil Servants, contractors, and political appointees all contribute to the broad and unrelenting demands of diplomacy. I spoke with PhD-holders advancing environmentally friendly mining practices; foreign aid administrators engaging with grant recipients via foreign languages; exchange program leads exploring creative ways to meet policy goals; and many more inspiring people. One thing remained clear—all shared a deep commitment to public service.

DOS Event
DOS Event
Bart Kassel atop one of the State Department buildings in Washington, D.C.
Bart Kassel atop one of the State Department buildings in Washington, D.C.
MAIR Program at the Maxwell School
Maxwell-in-Washington Program

Askar Salikhov Opens a Door to Fieldwork

For two months, I interned at the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Accra, Ghana. IOM is a UN-related agency that manages migration globally. Its mission is to promote safe and orderly migration that benefits all. Many of its responsibilities include assisting government agencies with border management, raising awareness about the dangers of irregular migration, combating human trafficking, helping migrants return to the country of origin, and other activities. The mission in Ghana focuses particularly on child trafficking in the Volta Lake, bringing back migrants stuck in Libya and Niger, and building resilience among communities against push and pull factors of irregular migration.

Representatives from the University of Ghana Center for Migration Studies meet with Syracuse University students
Representatives from the University of Ghana Center for Migration Studies meet with Syracuse University students to exchange information about ongoing project relating to migration in Ghana and Sub-Saharan Africa

During my internship, I’ve worked with two colleagues from Syracuse University, Esther Chung and Jingxuan Wang, on two major assignments relating to child trafficking and assisted voluntary return and reintegration. Our team worked with project managers and assistants to collect visibility materials from victims of trafficking and returnees. Our purpose was to take their experiences and produce engaging narratives that help inform parents and potential migrants about the dangers of child trafficking in the Volta Lake and irregular migration through the Mediterranean corridor. Additionally, we had the chance to take part in a youth and migration conference, income-generating brainstorm sessions with community leaders, and one-on-one meetings with academic partners at a local university.

From the beginning, my objectives were to get exposure to fieldwork activities, connect with practitioners within the milieu of migration and grow my network, learn new skills relating to project design, development, and implementation, and have a positive impact on the mission of IOM and its beneficiaries. I believe that my time with IOM has opened a door for me in development fieldwork, created lasting relationships with colleagues from all over the world, taught me the basics of project conceptualization, and left me with a sense of pride and accomplishment.

Askar Salikhov is a recent graduate of the MAIR program. He completed his degree in Washington, DC while interning for the U.S. Department of State. Askar was part of the last class to participate in the Survey of Current Issues in African Migration program, but IOM Ghana will still consider students as interns based off their experiences working with Maxwell students for a number of years.

Askar Salikhov, Jingxuan Wang, and Esther Chung pose for a photograph with project managers Akpene Amenumey and Victoria Klimova, project assistant Daniel Tagoe, and IOM intern Bowie Ko on the last day of the internship
SU Students Askar Salikhov (center), Jingxuan Wang (5th from L), and Esther Chung (6th from L) pose for a photograph with IOM project managers Akpene Amenumey (L) and Victoria Klimova (2nd from L), project assistant Daniel Tagoe (3rd from L), and IOM intern Bowie Ko (far R) on the last day of the internship
MAIR Program at the Maxwell School
All Global Programs

Nick Rogers, Intel and Strategic Legal Services in DC

Dentons is the largest law firm in the world, employing more lawyers than any other firm. With branches and partner firms all over the globe, the company’s interests are broad and varied. The Washington, DC office houses the government contracts, public policy, intellectual property, health care, energy, and corporate representation practices, among others. The firm also provides business intelligence and strategic services for a variety of clients.

Nick Rogers in front of Denton's Washington office
Nick Rogers in front of Denton’s Washington office

As an intern in the Intelligence and Strategic Services group, I was granted a view of national security and international relations unlike anything I had experienced before. Our group creates a variety of products for our clients, and the work can best be described as “taking the pulse of Washington.” We cover several pertinent topics, track the conversations being had in Congress, by the Administration, and various non-governmental organizations around town. I would regularly be dispatched to events around town, and after taking notes I would write up an analysis of the event for the clients. One of the most exciting aspects of my internship was seeing the finished analysis that I had written and knowing that important people would be reading it.

The work fell into three broad categories: analysis, investigations, and special data-driven projects. Analysis falls into the description of “taking the pulse” of the city, and in some ways the special projects did as well. I took full control of a few different data-driven projects, and I’m grateful for the experience I gained at the Maxwell School and iSchool during undergrad at Syracuse, because it equipped me with the skills I needed to build a few valuable projects from the ground up. Investigations, on the other hand, requires a completely new set of skills to think creatively and solve complex problems. Our group performed due diligence for internal and external clients, providing global insight for mergers and acquisitions decisions. My internship at Dentons was challenging, but incredibly rewarding because I saw the impact my work was having every single day.

Nick Rogers is a fast track BAIR/MAIR students who will complete his bachelor’s in international relations AND his master’s in international relations in five years.

MAIR Program at the Maxwell School
International Relations Undergraduate Program
  • For more about the Fast Track BAIR/MAIR program, contact the Director of Admissions, Christine Omolino, at comolino@syr.edu
Maxwell-in-Washington Program
All Global Programs

Eric Baker Reports on Journalists in Trouble

Few institutions I’ve known illicit a wider range of reactions than Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. In my short few months there, I’ve had Prazaks (Prague locals) tell me everything from how thankful they are for my help in fighting dictators, to being told that I’m a CIA asset. The truth, understandably, is somewhere in the middle.

Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty, once separate organizations, broadcast anti-communist propaganda into the former Soviet Union and its satellites via CIA funding (now Congress funds RFE/RL). For many, particularly older Czech citizens, listening to RFE/RL was not only their only window into the “West,” but an act of rebellion. Though the Soviet Union has faded into the annals of geopolitical strife, its shadow remains over much of RFE/RL’s 22-country region. With the weakening of democracy and rise of oligarchs across the region, RFE/RL’s mission is as important now as it was in 1991.

As the Media and Public Affairs Intern, it’s my job to help boost the visibility of the great work RFE/RL’s journalists do day in and day out. I write press releases, monitor our reporting for awards and mentions in other media, and issue “Kudos” on our website to RFE/RL journalists who have made an impact. This work not only allows me to become more intimately familiar with the work done by our correspondents, it enables me to give credit where credit is due: to our innovative, insightful, and dedicated correspondents who often put themselves in dangerous situations to tell important stories.

With great journalism often comes great risk to our reporters in countries that lack press freedom rights. As such, it is another part of my role to keep up on “Journalists in Trouble” and help report their stories, and the stories that got them into said trouble, to a wider audience. In just the few months, RFE/RL reporters have been harassed and arrested, banned by government officials, and killed in the line of duty. These harsh realities face journalists worldwide but often go underreported. This is why my colleagues and I created the “Journalists in Trouble” newsletter. The bi-weekly newsletter keeps influencers and policy makers across the globe informed on threats to journalists, regardless of their station affiliation. A threat to press freedom anywhere is a threat to press freedom everywhere.

In my final coming weeks, I will continue to work on “Journalists in Trouble,” issue press releases, and edit work from writers who aren’t native English speakers. My final project is a collaborative effort between our department and the country bureaus on the thirtieth anniversary of the Czech Velvet Revolution and other revolutions in 1989. Though I will be back in Syracuse when published, I will assist in building the foundation for this microsite and remind people of the great work RFE/RL has been doing in Central and Eastern Europe for decades.

It has been an incredible opportunity to work with and learn from the professionals at RFE/RL and one that has taught me to be all the more appreciative of our press freedom in the United States. People cannot make informed decisions to benefit their communities if they aren’t given the proper information and context. Radio Free Europe celebrate its 70th anniversary this year and given the incredible work I’ve seen in just a few months, I feel confident they’re just getting started.

Eric Baker is a joint MAIR/MSPR student at the Maxwell and Newhouse Schools. He will be completing his degree at the Maxwell Schools Washington DC program with an internship at Albright Stonebridge Group.

Eric Baker at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Prague, Czech Republic
Eric Baker at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Prague, Czech Republic
MAIR/MSPR Program at the Maxwell and Newhouse Schools
All Global Programs