Why did you choose this particular internship?
I chose this internship because I wanted to contribute to cutting edge research on topics related to counterterrorism. Thus far in my academic and professional career, I have focused on issues of Islamist violent extremism in the Middle East and South Asia, and I wanted to intern at a research institution that valued this knowledge and would help me expand it. For several years I have viewed the Center’s monthly research publication, the CTC Sentinel, and other published reports as go-to sources for engaging and informative research on a wide array of security-related topics. Therefore, when I began looking into internship opportunities for the summer, the CTC was the first place to which I turned.
How does your internship sponsor or agency contribute to the mission of national security?
Since I began my internship, I have come to appreciate how the CTC contributes to national security by not only informing key policymakers on the most pressing counterterrorism-related issues, but also ensuring its research is available to the public. In addition to the CTC’s research element, members of its staff teach West Point cadets as part of a minor in terrorism studies and provide other programs for various government agencies. In these ways, the CTC is able to maximize the accessibility and impact of its research and constantly reevaluate what new research needs to be done. To paraphrase the Center’s Director, LTC Bryan Price, the CTC tries to answer the questions that keep the nation’s leaders and policymakers up at night.
How will this experience help you in your job search and career?
This experience has helped me prepare for a future career in national security in several key ways. The CTC has afforded me the opportunity to engage in multiple research projects that have expanded my knowledge of terrorist activities and US government responses, which will no doubt serve me well going forward. The internship has emphasized the importance of combining quantitative and qualitative elements to produce the best research possible. I have gained experience in data collection and analysis that I previously lacked. In addition, being able to observe and participate in briefings has helped prepare me for what to expect in future national security-related positions. The internship, and more specifically the incredible staff at the CTC, has also instilled in me the importance of maintaining a sense of humor, despite dealing with very difficult topics on a daily basis.
This internship has broadened my understanding of terrorism generally and also allowed me to engage in very specific and nuanced issues. I now feel like I have the know-how to conduct research on any counterterrorism-related topic using a range of tools, some of which I was familiar with prior to this internship and some of which I did not yet have the skills to utilize. The methodical yet creative way that the CTC approaches and conducts its research has sparked several new ideas for my research capstone project, which I look forward to thinking about as my internship continues and exploring further after the summer ends.