My name is Taylor Rodier, and I am a second-year graduate student at the School of Diplomacy. From the moment that I entered the graduate program at the School of Diplomacy, my goal has been to pursue a career at the US Department of State. I interned with two State Department bureaus: the Global Engagement Center and the Office of the Undersecretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights.
My position at the GEC was on the Iran team; my main responsibility was to track and synthesize the most current academic and think-tank research on Iranian disinformation tactics into a concise document that is then shared with over 700 individuals, both within the Federal Government and with our international government partners. I also served as one of two Intern Team Coordinators. My partner and I helped our supervisor track and peer-review the work of other threat teams, coordinate deadlines, and delegate special projects to other interns. One of my favorite projects with the GEC was to track Iranian disinformation regarding the Afghanistan withdrawal. Another one of my principal duties was to distill an entire article into a few lines and to provide a BLUF (bottom line up front) that summarizes the most crucial pieces of information into only one sentence. This sounds daunting, but luckily, I had received instruction on this process in my Diplomacy coursework which allowed me to be sufficient at this task early on.
My second internship in the Office of the Undersecretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights was very different from the GEC but immensely valuable in terms of professional experience. The Office of the Undersecretary leads Department efforts to prevent and counter threats to civilian security by assisting countries around the world to build more democratic and stable societies. I worked directly under the Under Secretary’s Chief of Staff, mostly on issues related to the resettlement of Afghan refugees. I synthesized information from cables and send daily updates to the Under Secretary so that she can stay informed about events on the ground in the Middle East. I also tracked trends and flag updates of notes, which helps to inform which projects and communications get priority attention from her. I was able to assist with information-sharing efforts between all eight offices that are actively being used to support the resettlement of Afghans.
Overall, my experience in the two bureaus has been the most valuable because I am getting to experience the State Department from the standpoint of both the Civil Service and Foreign Service. My work in the GEC is much more research-based, while my projects with the Under Secretary tend to be more task-oriented and responsive to daily events on the ground. I am incredibly grateful for these opportunities and the way they have helped me develop as a professional in this field. I am also endlessly grateful for the solid foundation that the School of Diplomacy provided me as it has been vital to my success in this role.