Washington DC

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.
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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.

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  • For more about the Fast Track BAIR/MAIR program, contact the Director of Admissions, Christine Omolino, at comolino@syr.edu
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Emma Diltz at Department of State’s Press Office

The Office of Press Relations at the U.S. Department of State is the hub of media activity at the Department. It works directly with journalists to disseminate the Department and Secretary’s messages to the media and the public concerning U.S. foreign policy. It also helps staff the Secretary’s events and travel, whether domestic or abroad.

As an intern, I’ve had the opportunity to really get to know how the Department functions. I also helped staff multiple events, such as the roll out of the 2019 Trafficking in Persons Report, the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, and the 230th anniversary of the Department of State. While working, I have met dignitaries from different countries and helped members of the press gain access to cover events.

Emma Diltz had the opportunity to staff the 230th anniversary celebration where Dr. Henry Kissinger spoke

While these major events were interesting to experience, and they change based on administration, the main day-to-day functions are consistent and what keeps the office running. Much of my job consisted of working with journalists to understand the major topics of the day and delivering those queries to the various bureaus’ Public Affairs Officers. They delivered their guidance to the spokesperson on those queries so then she is ready to answer them at the podium on press briefing days. On days the spokesperson and Secretary traveled, I compiled the virtual guidance into a memo and sent it to the officer director, who delivered it to the spokesperson.

As the press office, it’s the outreach team’s job to set up interviews for the Secretary. This includes knowing who is interviewing him. Part of my job as an intern was to write short biographies of journalists who were interviewing him, and draft that into a memo for his front office.

Emma Diltz, Department of State, Press Brieffings room
A regular part of Emma Diltz’s internship was helping and attending Department Press Briefings.

Much of my internship allowed me the opportunity to shadow press officers and understand the rotations they do in their jobs. Each officer has a different task every day, and through my time at the Department, I now have a better understanding of each. The Fourth Estate continues to be one of the most important pillars of democracy, even when leadership doesn’t always see it that way.

While we’re in a tumultuous time with the way the government interacts with the media, my few months at the Department of State Office of Press Relations showed that, regardless of the message coming from the heads of the departments, there are truly good people doing important work in these agencies. The collaborative effort by the press office and the journalists showed that there doesn’t need to be animosity between the groups, and there’s much more room for understanding than it looks like from the outside.

Emma Diltz is currently finishing a joint Master of Arts in International Relations and Master of Science in Public Relations degree at the Maxwell and Newhouse Schools.

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Leah Knobel Furthers Understanding of Human Rights

The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is a private, non profit organization dedicated to the growth and strengthening of democratic institutions around the world. Each year, NED makes more than 1,600 grants to support the projects of non-governmental groups abroad who work for democratic goals in more than 90 countries.

Leah Knobel at the National Endowment for Democracy
Leah Knobel at NED

This summer, I had the opportunity to serve in the Endowment’s Office for Governmental Relations and Public Affairs; the office is responsible for maintaining relationships and strengthening NED’s reputation with lawmakers on Capitol Hill to advocate for our annual appropriation, as well as all communication functions of the organization.

As an intern, I worked on a diverse set of initiatives and projects. On a weekly basis, my responsibilities included cultivating a weekly update of legislation and hearings of relevance to NED, writing memos for hearings attended on the Hill, fulfilling FOIA requests, scheduling meetings with lawmakers and their staff, and assisting the public affairs team with communications outreach. I also worked on several long-term projects, including an extensive media list and the digitization of NED’s Annual Report .

I was fortunate to attend some of the Endowment’s major events. My first week coincided with NED’s annual Democracy Awards, which honored three defenders of human and religious rights in China. The Endowment regularly hosts discussions, panels, and guest speakers at its office; I attended countless events featuring experts in the areas of democracy promotion and human rights.

My experience with NED has helped refine and further my understanding of the world’s most pressing human rights issues and how the Endowment addresses them by supporting civil society movements abroad. My exposure to government and congressional relations work was by far one of the most valuable takeaways of my summer–the insight into Capitol Hill and the skills gained will serve me well into the future as a public diplomacy professional.

Leah Knobel is a MAIR/MSPR student at the Maxwell and Newhouse Schools at Syracuse University.

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Molly Martin, Strategic Communications at USAID

This summer I had the opportunity to put my public diplomacy classes to work at the United States Agency for International Development in Washington, D.C. As a Strategic Communications intern in the Bureau for Legislative and Public Affairs, I got help tell USAID’s story to the American people and the world.

LPA is responsible for managing and coordinating the Agency’s external affairs, making it the perfect spot for me as I work towards a dual degree in Public Relations and International Relations in the Public Diplomacy program at Syracuse. Although there was no “typical day” in LPA, my main responsibilities included everything from editing blog posts from USAID missions around the world (like this one from North Macedonia), to pitching and writing my own blogs, to building social media toolkits for Agency newsletters, to joining high-level meetings with senior leadership and external partners.

LPA serves as USAID’s central point of contact with Congress, the media, and the international development community, which gave me a lot of exposure to many different parts of the development space. The LPA team encourages their interns to take advantage of the countless think tank panels, Congressional hearings, and USAID events happening around town, which really helped me connect what I was learning in the classroom to the real world.

Some of the highlights include representing USAID at Congressional hearings on the Ebola outbreak in the DRC and protests in Somalia (see if you can spot me in Rep. Bass’s tweet), attending a talk by Nobel Laureate and human rights activist Nadia Murad, and helping USAID’s Democracy, Human Rights and Governance team launch the new US Government Strategy for Advancing Protection and Care for Children in Adversity at the White House.

Molly Martin working hard at the launch of the new USG Strategy for Advancing Protection and Care for Children in Adversity at
the White House.

Although I was nearly 400 miles away from campus, I still felt close to SU. One of the best parts of my DC experience was connecting with Syracuse alums and students based in the area. Their advice and insight into DC life has been so helpful throughout the summer and as I get ready to finish my degree in Washington this spring!

Molly Martin at USAID
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Linsey Armstrong Empowers Women in U.S. Foreign Policy

The Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues (S/GWI) at the U.S. Department of State seeks to promote the rights and empowerment of women and girls through U.S. foreign policy. S/GWI’s priority areas include: women, peace and security; adolescent girls; women’s economic empowerment; and gender-based violence. This spring, I had the opportunity to serve this office as one of two interns for the semester.

As an intern, I worked on numerous events and initiatives for the office including the 2019 International Women of Courage (IWOC) Award and the 63rd session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. For these events and initiatives, I drafted talking points and other communications, as well as assisted with event planning, scheduling and coordination. I was also able to represent the office at public outreach events like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s International Women’s Day Forum and attend sessions at the 2019 Spring Meeting of the World Bank/IMF. Additionally, this internship provided me with opportunities to learn about press relations when volunteering for IWOC and the 70th NATO Ministerial.

Linsey Armstrong

Throughout my internship, I followed a rotation system that allowed me to shadow members of our functional policy, programming and regional teams. This rotation system was incredibly helpful, as I was able to gain strong insight into how intraoffice teams collaborate and work together to advance the S/GWI’s priorities. Throughout these rotations, I was invited to attend meetings with other DOS bureaus and civil society organizations, as well as work on substantive projects for each team. These experiences provided me a comprehensive view of U.S. foreign policy making and programming efforts.

My experience working for S/GWI was incredibly rewarding and helped me grow in countless ways. I was able to refine and further my understanding of multilateral fora and international organizations, foreign policy, issues affecting women and girls, and governmental communications processes. I was also able to develop writing, research and organizational skills. Working in a diverse office with passionate and intelligent advocates who work to champion women globally was incredible. This internship also provided me with great insight into the work of the U.S Department of State and the U.S. government as a whole.

Linsey Armstrong graduated with a joint MA International Relations and MS Public Relations (MAIR/MSPR) degree in May 2019. During the spring, she interned at the Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues at the U.S. Department of State as part of the Washington Public Diplomacy Program.

Linsey Armstrong attending the 2019 International Women of Courage Award ceremony and reception, featuring special guests Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and First Lady of the United States Melania Trump.

Linsey Armstrong Reaches Global Audiences

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Yue Chen Has Front Row Seat on US-China Trade

Over the spring, I served as a communications intern at the US-China Business Council (USCBC) in Washington, DC. USCBC is a private, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization of approximately 200 American companies that do business with China. Its mission is to expand the US-China commercial relationship to the benefit of its membership and, more broadly, the US economy.

Based on my background in international relations and public relations, I helped the communications & publications team at USCBC with daily news updates and social media management. I also helped interview Chinese scholars and translate documents into English for the publication in USCBC’s digital magazine – the China Business Review. Since the U.S. levied its first round of punitive tariffs in 2018, tensions have emerged between the U.S. and China, becoming a major global concern. It was a valuable opportunity for me to intern at USCBC around this period of time as I was able to obtain the first-hand materials and pay close attention to US-China trade issues.

In addition, I was very fortunate to have joined and helped with USCBC’s events and gained precious insights on US-China relations. When Chinese Premier Liu He visited Washington, DC for trade talks with President Trump on January 31, USCBC held its premier conference – Forecast 2019 – on China’s business and political environment and discussed the prospects of trade negotiations. On the Forecast, experts from think tanks, the US Senate and the US House of Representatives talked about the most focused on issues about US-China relations such as cybersecurity, intellectual property, tariffs and subsidies, etc. USCBC also co-hosted the US-China Innovation Forum with CSIS, where American and Chinese representatives from industry, finance, government and think tanks discussed how to best foster, protect, and advance innovation.

Thanks to the Maxwell DC Program, I am here to pursue my public diplomacy practice at the heart of global policy in Washington, DC. Interning at USCBC was a great chance for me to explore US-China trade relations and lay the foundation for my future career.

USCBC Forcast 2019 conference

Yue Chen is a recent alum of the joint MAIR/MSPR degree where she studied at the prestigious Maxwell and Newhouse Schools at Syracuse University. She formerly interned at Temasek’s Stewardship Asia Centre through SU’s Summer Internships in Singapore program.

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Arpan Dahal Supports Global Witness on Capitol Hill

When founded in 1993, Global Witness was a pioneer in seeing the link between natural resources, conflict, and corruption. Since then Global Witness has fearlessly worked for protecting human rights and the environment by confronting corruption and challenging the systems that enable it.

My interests include working on policy issues and field that involves interaction. My Fall internship at Global Witness has been rewarding for many reasons. I have been exposed to different levels of policy efforts and got to engage with people from diverse fields. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Global Witness where I assisted with publications and reports on anti-money laundering and corruption and their policy solutions. Conducting research to support advocacy with policy advisors and outreach to strategic constituencies helped me get exposure to policy areas. Furthermore, I learned about the cycles a bill goes through and the steps involved in between.

I was fortunate to support Global Witness’ presence on Capitol Hill as a thought-leader and issue expert on priorities. I was also involved in a coalition called FACT that Global Witness is part of. Here I learned more about how multiple organizations working towards the same goal cooperate and overcome the challenges to succeed. Attending Senate hearings regularly and getting involved in current affairs added to my existing knowledge and skills set. I believe the experience at Global Witness has made me a better thinker and a better problem solver. Working with law enforcement communities and other allies was a bonus which was an exciting experience.

Arpan Dahal is a recent graduate of the MAIR program. He also interned at the Institute of International Finance during Spring 2019.

Arpan Dahal working at Global Witness
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Taylor Hart-McGonigle, African Affairs at DOD

During the course of the fall semester, I worked with the Office of the Secretary of Defense- Policy (OSD (P)) in the African Affairs

office. African Affairs office informs the Department of Defense’s (DoD) policy and positions for the countries included in the Africa Combatant Command’s (AFRICOM) Area of Responsibility (AOR). The office is led by an appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense and works with the interagency, the Joint Staff, and international partners, among others in executing DoD policy priorities in Africa. The office draws upon the National Security Strategy and the National Defense Strategy to inform its policy recommendations and priorities and applies these documents to the African context when executing policy and programs.

In my position as a policy intern, I worked with the regional directors, action officers, and leadership to fulfill the office’s mission set. While I assisted in each African region where needed, my primary focus was on the Magreb, Sahel, Lake Chad Basin, and the Horn of Africa because I have prior experience with northern Africa. On a weekly basis, I assisted in drafting policy briefs that communicate the office’s activities for leadership with a focus on our activities related to the National Defense Strategy. Additionally, I worked on a few meetings where I was responsible for contributing to my principal’s preparation and read materials and working level engagements prior to the meetings.

The DoD was completely foreign to me at the start of my internship, and I am now better aware of its mission and function. In particular, I learned how DoD collaborates and connects across the combatant commands, Joint Staff, Security Cooperation, Policy, and the interagency. While I learned about Africa, I also learned how to be adaptable and get the information you need when you are not an expert. Overall, I really wanted to better understand how Policy contributed to the national security enterprise, and I feel that my experience with OSD (P) has given me invaluable insight into how national security policy is created and executed.

Taylor Hart-McGonigle in front of a Qiam-1 SRBM missile at the Iranian Material Display in Washington, DC.
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Zeyar Win, Advocacy and Policy at Amnesty International

I participated in the Maxwell-in-Washington Global Security and Development program during my Fall Semester and had the opportunity to do my internship at Amnesty International USA (AIUSA), the Nobel Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with over 7 million members and supporters worldwide. This internship provided me the opportunity to merge two things I’m strongly interested in: advocacy and policy briefing. I have been interested in advocacy work, so this was great opportunity for me to work there.

My off-campus experience working with AIUSA in Washington D.C. was terrific and fruitful. It was also related to my previous activism experience in Burma. I fulfilled three main tasks at AIUSA: 1) Tracked the United States Policies on human rights issues in the Asia-Pacific region including Myanmar, and wrote the bi-monthly Asia Policy Brief; 2) Assisted in petitions and campaigns of AIUSA, including logistical support for program activities and events; 3) Attended the congressional hearings and panel discussions on the Rohingya crisis as a fellow of AIUSA. I also enrolled in two classes: Statecraft and Smart Power, and Global Sustainability and Development, at Maxwell in D.C.

This internship gave me the opportunities to use the advocacy tools that I learned theoretically from classes. It also improved my communication and presentation skills and strengthened my professional ability to work in a multicultural environment. On November 10th, I attended the regional conference of Amnesty International at the University of Denver in Colorado as a panel speaker, where I discussed the Rohingya refugee crisis and possible options to find a sustainable solution. I gave an interview with Voice of America (VOA) about my personal experience of institutionalized segregation against the Rohingya community in Burma. In addition, I attended many panel discussions and congressional hearings on human rights violation issues. I was also invited to discuss Rohingya problems with the Chief Officer of the Burma desk at the State Department in Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C. is a vibrant professional environment for me to improve my knowledge about social work and to broaden my network. I usually joined Maxwell alumni gatherings in Washington, D.C. Those gathering were helpful for me because we shared knowledge and information with each other and, sometimes, discussed our plans, internship and job opportunities.

Zeyar Win is a graduate of Maxwell’s MAIR program. He previously interned at VOA and now works at the International Republican Institute.

Zeyar Win (right) at the Amnesty International Regional Conference in Denver

Zeyar Win Assists VOA with Rohingya Issues

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