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Internship Blogs

Women of Color Advancing Peace Security and Conflict Transformation| Brittany Long

This summer, I had the privilege of working remotely from Durham, NC with Women of Color Advancing Peace, Security and Conflict Transformation, a think tank that works to advance the leadership and professional development of women of color in the fields of international peace, security, and conflict transformation. The organization has created a space, based in DC, where its members can develop a strong voice and engage in policy discussions on an international scale.

I am so appreciative of the opportunity to have worked with this incredible group of people. WCAPS provided an amazing opportunity to speak with and work with women of color who were working in national security and conflict transformation from all over the world. One thing that I value most about my experience as a Carlucci fellow is that in addition to learning the tactical elements of defense and the historical and political elements of American grand strategy, I am also able to explore internal security, and understand the vulnerabilities of our most marginalized citizens. Working with WCAPS gave me the opportunity to engage with scholars and experts from marginalized communities across the globe as we addressed global threats to US national security like climate change, nonproliferation and the destabilizing effects of human trafficking.

Throughout my experience with WCAPS I was privileged to be able to conduct research and produce an Op-ed about the use of artificial intelligence in US antitrafficking efforts. I was also able to work alongside the Southwest Asia and North Africa working group to write a podcast that sought to explore the ways in which the US can support those actors in Yemen who are working to combat human trafficking within its borders. Additionally, I was able to strengthen policy analysis skills, develop marketing and program development capabilities, and have daily interactions with those who are redefining national security.

I am grateful for the Carlucci Fellowship in Security Studies for allowing me the opportunity to develop professionally, contribute to academia, and learn from the amazing Executive Team and members at WCAPS.

Valens Global and the Defense Intelligence Agency | Luke Talian

As a graduate student, this summer has been nothing short of transformative, thanks to the incredible opportunity I had to intern at two distinct locations. Each internship, Valens Global and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), offered unique insights into the realms of defense contracting, the intelligence enterprise and senior-level leadership exposure. These experiences have not only broadened my horizons but have also shaped the trajectory of my career in ways I could have never imagined.

During my time at Valens Global, I was granted the privilege to delve deep into the intricacies of defense contracting, namely with their contract for the newly established Irregular Warfare Center. While experiencing working in a predominately remote environment, I was able to experience a decentralized system that highlighted autonomy and professionalism. I had the opportunity to shadow the CEO which offered me a glimpse into the strategic decision-making processes at the highest level. I was also able to see him provide expert witness testimony in criminal trials for victims of terrorism, reinforcing the importance of national security. My day-to-day roles at Valens included conducting in-depth case studies, diving into AI research, and building a comprehensive irregular warfare literature library. The most compelling project there was analyzing the fractured political environment of the French resistance movement before, during, and after World War II as part of curriculum for partner nation training.
My second internship with the DIA was equally enlightening, as it provided me with daily interactions with warfighters and those who support them globally. This experience was instrumental in helping me understand the inner workings of intelligence agencies and discerning my potential role within such a structure. I was fortunate to contribute to the integration of various organizations into the agency's ongoing efforts concerning global competition. Additionally, I played a pivotal role in strategic messaging and the revision of internal processes of several offices, gaining hands-on experience in shaping intelligence operations.

I am immensely grateful for the Carlucci Fellowship in Security Studies that made these opportunities possible. Not only did these internships offer me invaluable professional development, but they also paved the way for future students to embark on similar journeys. The program's support and commitment to fostering partnerships between academia, industry, and the Defense Intelligence Enterprise have been instrumental in my growth and will undoubtedly continue to benefit aspiring students who follow in my footsteps. I look forward to carrying the knowledge and experiences gained during these internships into my future academic and professional pursuits, and I can't thank the Carlucci’s enough for this truly life-changing opportunity.

Foreign Assistance for Good | Eilish Zembilci

After an extremely busy and exciting school year—and a wonderful beginning to my Summer in South Korea getting engaged—I was happy to be based in Durham working with the Nicolas Institute of Energy, Environment, and Sustainability on the Foreign Assistance for Good project. As a research analyst for the Nic Institute, I enjoyed the unique opportunity to directly contribute to research and recommendations for the U.S. Interagency Infrastructure Assistance Review (IAR), an effort being led by the U.S. Department of State Foreign Assistance Bureau.

The IAR is an interagency effort that identifies how U.S. foreign assistance could be better targeted to improve the bankability of sustainable infrastructure projects, and there could not be a more critical time for such an effort. The global infrastructure gap reached a multitrillion-dollar peak following the Covid-19 pandemic and the intense need for quality, sustainable infrastructure only grows as the climate crisis intensifies. Having a pipeline of viable and quality infrastructure projects in low- and middle-income countries is considered necessary precursor to attracting private sector investments, which is a critical element of the G7’s Partnership for Global Infrastructure Investments (PGII). PGII intends to mobilize the investments required to fill this gap and is often discussed as an alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which is often criticized for environmental hazards and labor violations, among other concerns. Because the project was designed as a collaborative agreement between the Nicolas Institute and the State Department, I had the unique opportunity of working directly with extremely knowledgeable Institute experts and high-level U.S. government leaders to devise and implement a research plan that would ultimately inform U.S. government strategy on such a key diplomatic and foreign assistance imperative.

As a former Program Manager and Researcher rolled into a single position, I enjoyed having research be the core focus of my role with this project so I could focus on applying my deep interest as well as the skills I developed over the course of my first year at Duke. Being on a two-person team provided ample opportunity as I had critical strategic role in the direction of the research and ensuring the outputs of the research plan were aligned with the State Department’s priorities for the IAR. As such, I developed a research plan and contributed to a comprehensive literature review, identified and analyzed third-party evaluations of U.S. development programming targeting renewable energy infrastructure, and helped facilitate key informant interviews. Traveling to DC to host a high-level roundtable at the beautiful Duke in DC office was a highlight of my summer, and I so enjoyed meeting new experts in the infrastructure field as well seeing familiar faces from my time at CSIS.

Once back in Durham, I aggregated the research findings from the evaluation analyses and our interviews to identify core trends and gaps in U.S. investments in infrastructure development. Notably, I developed a novel framework for the U.S. government—the USG Infrastructure Assistance Lifecycle—that fills a critical gap in streamlining and coordinating interagency efforts in this sector. I then synthesized these data into key components of the IAR report and presented the framework, findings, and recommendation to an interagency infrastructure working group for the first round of review.

I deliberately chose to pursue a summer experience beyond my background in food security and humanitarian assistance because of the interdisciplinary nature of my education at Duke and the support of the Carlucci Fellowship. Although food security and infrastructure are different sectors, the success of U.S. foreign assistance investments in these fields often hinges on similar core concepts: the need to develop local capacity to sustain success beyond project close, the importance of participatory planning and design for local buy-in and sustainability, and the importance of donor coordination—inside and outside of the U.S. government—in meeting key development goals. I anticipate these same themes will emerge through my master’s project research as I focus on a different aspect of U.S. strategic interests and foreign assistance: migration as a climate resilience strategy and implications for global stability.


412th Theater Engineer Command | Alice Shih

This summer, I had the privilege of interning at the 412th Theater Engineer Command as the Operations Officer. The 412th Theater Engineer Command  trained and…

Valens Global | Ben Dratch

This summer it was my privilege to work with Valens Global as an assistant wargaming analyst. Valens Global develops and facilitates simulations that are conducted…

Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Center on Military and Political Power | Sara Downing

I spent my summer as a Visiting Military Analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ (FDD) Center on Military and Political Power (CMPP). Partnered…

U.S. State Department: Political-Military Bureau, Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement | Tate Russack

Tate Russack interned in the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (WRA) as a policy and technical advisor to demining and disarmament project managers, as…

Family Health International 360 | Blake Corbitt

Blake Corbitt interned underneath the Chief Financial Officer of Family Health International (FHI) 360 for my summer internship. Family Health International is a global non-profit…

NC State Laboratory for Analytic Sciences | Rob Mixon

Rob Mixon’s 2021 Summer internship developed from the Carlucci Fellowship network. James Settles (MPP ’21) connected him with North Carolina State’s Laboratory for Analytic Sciences…