2010 PFIG Recipient Lilly Frost

Career Administrator

Lilly Frost
College of Arts & Sciences
Political & Social Thought Major
2011 Graduation Year

Internship: Stimson Center

Notes on the first week

Hi! My name is Lilly Frost and I am interning at the Henry L. Stimson Center this summer. The Stimson Center is an independent, nonprofit, public policy institute (also known as a think tank) committed to finding and promoting innovative solutions to the security challenges confronting the United States. I work in Stimson’s Southwest Asia Program under CEO and President of Stimson (and Director of the Southwest Asia Program) Ms. Ellen Laipson along with her research assistant Mr. Andrew Houk. We hope to provide insightful policy recommendations and analysis to governments around the world as well as other organizations that influence public policy in Southwest Asia such as non-governmental organizations or businesses.

As an intern I have several main tasks, which include reading and summarizing relevant news and literature, performing background research for program projects, supporting, coordinating and taking notes at events and meetings, and coordinating projects. During the first week my research focused on the Persian Gulf countries’ reactions to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference held last month in New York. This Treaty Review is somewhat unique because it included a clause on hosting a conference in 2012 on creating a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone in the Middle East; this zone is contentious because of Israel’s unreported nuclear capabilities, Iran’s nuclear non-compliance, and the surge in civilian nuclear programs in Arab countries. My specific research involves looking for clues concerning Persian Gulf nations’ perspectives on this future conference and its mission. I am also researching the role of nuclear energy in the Persian Gulf; particularly what this energy means and why there is so much interest in it recently as compared to other sources of renewable energy. I will probably work on these two initiatives throughout the summer.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my internship so far. The office atmosphere is both stimulating and fun, my colleagues are kind and intelligent, and my work is exciting and varied. While I do conduct a lot of research sitting at my desk, I also have the opportunity to attend relevant Senate Hearings, think tank presentations, and local conferences. Additionally I conduct some administrative tasks like composing event invitations and stuffing folders, but I enjoy these tasks as well because they offer a welcome break to the intensive work of research and analysis and they also expand my experience with planning formal events.

My major goals for the summer include getting published, forming relationships with experts in my field, and developing a better understanding of how to maximize my academic and extra-curricular activities at UVa to better prepare me for landing a job in foreign affairs. The Stimson Center provides the opportunity for any of its employees to publish a spotlight piece on their website about a newsworthy, current topic analyzed from a unique perspective, and both of my bosses have encouraged me to work towards this goal so it has become my most tangible mission. Secondly, I am already aware of the importance of networking, especially in foreign affairs, and I hope to capitalize on my time in Washington DC by establishing as many contacts as possible to provide me with an extra boost when searching for a job in two years. Lastly, after just a week at Stimson, I realized how valuable all of my academic and co-curricular activities have been in developing my professional skills from composing my thoughts concisely to coordinating events, and I would like to continue developing these skills when I return to UVa in the fall. I hope to learn more about what it takes to succeed in the work place this summer and then where I can continue to improve these skills as a student. I cannot wait to spend more time at Stimson and watch my research and projects develop. This is truly a dream job! Thank you, UVa Parents Committee for helping me to take advantage of this valuable opportunity!

Midway

Upon this second journal checkpoint, I still love my internship at the Henry L. Stimson Center! I am so lucky to have obtained an internship that is this fun, interesting, and substantive. I continue to enjoy a balance of completing administrative tasks, researching topics, and attending off-site events. I helped contribute research and a very impressive chart to a report Stimson will publish soon on the future of nuclear energy in the Persian Gulf. This research is interesting because it demonstrates the different ways in which an important world issue can have various side effects on different players. For instance, this research examines how Iran’s pursuit of nuclear enrichment can lead to countries in the Persian Gulf claiming that they need civilian nuclear programs too. While the Gulf countries are cooperating fully with the US and Non-Proliferation Treaty, unlike Iran, their actions indicate some of the ways different people respond to issues.

I also helped with a conference on Iranian nuclear proliferation and the US options in dealing with this threat a couple of weeks ago. It was a little stressful but also very rewarding to help plan and staff such an important event. I have organized and managed plenty of events at UVa, but this event, co-sponsored with the United States Institute of Peace, involved over twenty experts on Iran and/or nuclear futures. This event was also part of a series of conferences intended to generate the ideas and recommendations for a full report on the available as well as the advised US options concerning Iran. While I had to take care of some of the tedious tasks like making coffee, cleaning up the trash, and taking notes, which I later had to fill in by transcribing the meetings by listening to our recordings over and over again, I also had the chance to talk with renowned experts and improve my event planning and managing skills. I learned other details like how to rearrange our conference room, make table tents, and set up the projector, which while seemingly insignificant have made me stand out among the other interns who have not learned these tasks yet.

Another highlight of my internship so far has been the lunches and events that our intern coordinator has arranged for us. We have had three business lunches where different senior staff, or in one case someone from human resources at the State Department, have come to eat lunch with us (provided by Stimson) and talk to us about their expertise, life stories, and career advice. This has been a great opportunity to network and receive different perspectives on what is important in life and in your career. Stimson also arranged a day for us to go out to lunch in Georgetown and then ride on a river boat for the rest of the day. It was really nice to get to hang out with the other interns in a relaxed, casual, social setting. I will definitely feel sad to leave my new friends at the end of the summer, but look forward to keeping up with them and hearing about the positions they take on and the successes they achieve in the future.

Right now I am looking forward to the chance to publish a brief report on a newsworthy topic like the Iraq-Kuwait border issues that continue today. This report would go onto Stimson’s website and I will have the chance to say that I am published! I think that this will serve as one of the most beneficial aspects of my internship, in addition to the professional skills I have honed. I look forward to working with Stimson to find another internship next summer and to stay in touch with them over the next school year as I work on my thesis in Political and Social Thought and begin my Masters in Public Policy at the Batten School. I cannot express my thanks enough to the PCIG Committee for providing me with the generous funds that have made my internship possible this summer! Thank you!

Final Reflections

After reflecting on my experience at the Henry L. Stimson Center this summer, I realized that I was fortunate enough to have met the goals I set in the beginning of the summer and to maintain a sense of excitement concerning my future professional opportunities. I originally hoped to: get published this summer, expand my career networking connections, and develop a better sense of the professional skills I should look for and develop in UVa's academic and extra-curricular activities.

My biggest goal this summer was to get published and I am very proud to have accomplished this. As I mentioned in earlier entries, Stimson offers interns the chance to publish interesting articles called "spotlights" concerning an overlooked current issue, and this is one of the opportunities I took advantage of this summer. The title of my spotlight is The Iraq-Kuwait Border Issue: A Step in the Right Direction or More Empty Rhetoric? and should be published on Stimson's website by the end of the month (http://www.stimson.org/spotlight.cfm). This article examines Iraq's efforts to exit United Nations Chapter VII Status, which it acquired because of Saddam Hussein's acts of aggression and breaches of the peace during the First Gulf War when he invaded Kuwait. Chapter VII for Iraq carries a number of political, economic, and military limitations including the payment of huge war reparations to Kuwait as well as the requirement that Iraq accept and recognize the internationally-sanctioned border it shares with Kuwait. My spotlight specifically looks at how diplomatic progress between Iraq and Kuwait over border recognition issues may indicate real improvements in this process that could help satisfy the conditions Iraq needs in order to exit Chapter VII. In addition to this more notable publishing opportunity, I was also officially published in Stimson's recent report based of off a workshop held last April in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia called "Nuclear Dangers, Nuclear Realities". Although this accomplishment is small, I am proud of the chart I created on page thirteen of the report using basic data from the United Nations (http://www.stimson.org/swa/pdf/Nuclear_Dangers_Workshop_Report_FINAL_For...); look for my name and chart description in footnote seventeen!

During the summer, I also met a number of experts involved with Middle Eastern foreign policy as well as some concerned with the rise of private, transnational news networks in the Arab world, which is the specific subject that I plan to write my thesis on this year. In particular, I met Marc Lynch, the man who literally wrote the book on this subject, and have already followed up with him via e-mail about scheduling an informal interview sometime soon. I also received advice on my thesis ideas and potential points of contact from my senior boss Ellen Laipson and developed relationships with my work and academic colleagues at the Stimson Center and Georgetown University. I look forward to returning to DC for a new internship next year and reconnecting with the experts, colleagues, and friends I met this summer.

Finally, the last important goal I set was to develop a better sense of what skills I should hone while at UVA based on the university's opportunities and the professional qualities valued in my field of work. I now approach my leadership positions and academic responsibilities differently because I realize how earnest, hard work at school can noticeably pay off in the "real world". For instance, I have started working harder to improve my Arabic language skills by practicing beyond what the homework demands because I understand that my language skills are one of my most marketable traits. Additionally, I try to thoroughly read for my Masters of Public Policy classes because these classes are tailored to develop the political, economic, and data analysis skills needed in the public policy arena, in which I would like to work. I have also been planning my extra-curricular activities more thoughtfully and recently applied for a position editing for a new publishing company in Charlottesville. The extra job experience as well as work on my editing and reading skills would serve as a better use of my time than attending club meetings or events that I might find interesting, but will not benefit my overall career goals.

Although I still participate in the fun activities that I enjoy most at UVA, I now take my personal and professional development more seriously. Having the chance to participate in an excellent internship before finishing my undergraduate degree has granted me insight and a sense of purpose that is hard to develop without actually experiencing the professional world that you hope to enter after graduation. I would like to thank the Parents Committee Internship Grant providers once more for selecting my application and helping to fund my amazing summer in Washington D.C.