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  • ml2723a 9:26 pm on March 20, 2014 Permalink  

    Current Projects This semester I get to work… 

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    Current Projects

    This semester I get to work on Domestic Radio Nuclear Material Smuggling Networks.  This project is important because experts fear that as terrorist organizations become better funded they might be able to pay international crime organizations (ICOs) to deliver nuclear materials.  Since ICOs are profit driven the prospect of masses dying as a result of their transaction might not be a deterrent.  Additionally, since radio nuclear material is small it is easier to transport than much of the other goods trafficked by ICOs.  My first project was making brief profiles for ICOs identified by a separate project within START.  Now I have moved on to making similar profiles for terrorist organizations.  The end goal is to know what groups work together, in what states and to have a full map of ever smuggling root in the US within the next five years.  There is a project doing the same type of work for Europe and Africa this semester, South America is already completely finished and Asia and Australia are also in the ten year plan.  This type of project is great experience because I get to work on a full world smuggling networks map that will be essential for many intelligence and law enforcement worldwide organizations.

  • ml2723a 9:12 pm on March 20, 2014 Permalink  

    START is an organization that uses Open Source… 

    START is an organization that uses Open Source materials to research terrorism threats to US security.  There are two really exciting aspects of working at START: 1) Open Source Research means there no security clearance needed and 2) START is funded by federal organizations you know as an intern that all of your research and work is being used in real projects.  The whole reason why the projects exist is because an organization made an inquiry.  There is also a huge emphasis on professional development at START.  After my projects I have met with my supervisor about ways to improve my work.  There is also an “enrichment schedule” of events containing lectures from experts and members of federal organizations, excel trainings and opportunities to make presentations and get feedback.  A negative is that all of these events happen near the University of Maryland.  The events are scheduled on a variety of days so, at least for me, I try to attend all of the ones happening on my intern days.  A few weeks ago I attended a lecture about Global Jihadism from the leader of the consortium, Bill Braniff, who recently testified in Congress and used to train of the FBI Agents.  The full time employees at START are friendly and open to meeting with interns about career prospects.  I am excited to see what the rest of the semester has in store!


  • ml2723a 8:36 pm on March 20, 2014 Permalink  

    Asking Questions 

    download      My internship at The National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Research on Terrorism (START) has brought me into completely new territory as far as projects go.  As these new experiences came up I had many questions regarding proper memo etiquette and what specifics were needed in the databases I was working on.  After carefully considering questions and trying first to figure out the answers myself I began asking questions to my supervisor.  He was always patient and nice with his replies, but I was never fully convinced that he was happy with getting a few questions regarding the project a day from me since the other members of my group did not appear to be asking questions as well.  Then the first project was completed.  Each member of my group had independently researched approximately 25 Organized Crime groups, summarized their actives and gave information about leadership structure to the database.  My supervisor reviewed each set of groups and met with all the group members individually to give comments and critiques so we could move forward onto the next project with even better results.  When I walked in he high fived me and said “Congratulations! You’re the only intern who I don’t have critiques for!” I completely attribute that to my inquiries about the project specifics.  So my moral of the story, don’t ask questions just to be asking questions.  Your supervisor does not have time for that.  If you have a question that you can’t figure out the answer to do not be afraid to go in and ask! This will lead to better work in the long run.

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  • ml2723a 8:17 pm on March 20, 2014 Permalink  

    Large Data Sets 

    This semester is my first time working with a truly huge data set.  Approximately 150 rows and columns that go out to OX with an accompanying 54 page code book was bigger than I had ever worked with.  At first all of the numbers that stood for concepts and categories looked overwhelming, but after spending some time with it the Excel sheet makes complete sense!  For anyone who is charting new grounds for themselves by entering the universe of enormous data coded in concealing ways do not worry! After an hour things will make sense.  Moving forward on my Honors Capstone I am excited to turn my data into a sheet similar to my internship one so I can make charts and graphs with it.  I never thought excel could be so much fun!  This is especially exciting since confidence with big data sets seems to be the hot topic for hiring!



  • ml2723a 8:13 pm on March 20, 2014 Permalink  

    Finding an Internship 

    I have found my best resource in finding internships is chatting with friends about what they’re doing and what organizations they have heard about.  When taking this approach the inquirer needs to have some ideas as well, so don’t just walk into the conversation only asking questions.  Especially at American University, your friends are also excited about working for different organizations and are probably stuck between which one they want to intern for.  I found out about the internship program at the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Research on Terrorism (START) from the Career Fair, but that can be a bit of an overwhelming space.  The organization offers 30 different internship programs and is in the far land of College Park so I didn’t consider it.  Then I found out two of my friends interned there during this past year.  Both of them had nothing but positive experiences during their internships.  It’s one thing to hear recruiter tell applicants that the internship is substantive, but hearing intern stories tends to be a completely different tale.  So talk to your friends and their friends right now.  Regardless of whether they had a positive or negative experience I am sure they will be enthusiastic in talking about it!fri

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