June 20, 2012
START interns gain unique experience with State Department
BY MARY BECK
A unique internship through the U.S. Department of State and the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) provides students with the opportunity to work with both the Terrorist Designations Unit in the Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism at the State Department and with START.
The interns research a long-term strategic project as well as a short-term tactical project. They work in START offices with access to open sources, such as START’s researchers and the Global Terrorism Database. They periodically meet with and report to their supervisor at the State Department about their findings.
The students’ personal connection with the State Department gives them an invaluable opportunity to work directly with officials to use their academic training for vital research. Public officials utilize the research these interns conduct to guide policy decisions.
Tulha Siddiqi, a psychology major at the University of Maryland, College Park, is researching linkages between sanctions and deradicalization.
“I feel that the State/START internship facilitates an independence that will allow me to develop my skills as an independent thinker,” Siddiqi said. “The internship allows the opportunity to work with up and coming policy decisions and the ability to take one's own path to answer research questions.”
For her project, Allison Gowallis, a social sciences master’s student at Towson University, is researching what effect court cases have on UN, international, and U.S. domestic sanctions.
“My supervisor assigned me this project because I have visited the EU before to specifically study aspects of its counterterrorism policies,” Gowallis said. “It is certainly interesting to consider the counterterrorism policies of Western entities who have similar terrorist enemies, yet vary in their treatment of them.”
Gowallis first heard about START five years ago as an undergraduate at Maryland. Her first internship experience was with the Global Terrorism Database in the summer of 2008, so she has watched the organization’s internship program grow.
“There were only around 20 kids at orientation,” she recalls from 2008, “so it has grown substantially over the years."
To learn more about START’s internship opportunities, click here.