National Defense University


**The NESA Center is no longer accepting applications for Fall 2020 internships. Information about the Spring 2020 internship application period will be posted in September.**

Note: while internships are being conducted remotely, we require applicants to at least reside in the Washington, DC area for the duration of term in the event that we need interns for in-person program support as circumstances change. 

To apply, send your resume, cover letter, and writing sample (1-3 pages) to Mr. Sam Marrero at Samuel.Marrero@ndu.edu. The NESA Center reviews internship applications on a rolling basis, so interested applicants are encouraged to apply early. NESA internships are unpaid.

NESA Interns Summer 2020

Abigail Wilt is a graduate student at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service pursuing a master’s degree in Security Studies with a concentration on terrorism and substate violence. She earned bachelor’s degrees in Dual Language Specialization (Arabic & Russian) and Criminology & Law as well as a minor in Religion from the University of Florida. In the summer of 2018, Abigail lived in Amman, Jordan and studied Arabic at the University of Jordan. Her academic interests include Salafi-jihadism, hybrid terrorist organizations, Egyptian and Levantine affairs, as well as human rights and responses to terrorism in the NESA region. During her time at NESA, Abigail hopes to learn more about security cooperation between the U.S. and countries in the Middle East

Ali Mackie is an incoming graduate student at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service pursuing a master’s degree in Arab Studies with a concentration in culture and society.  He earned a Bachelor’s degree at Wayne State University where he majored in Near Eastern Studies. Ali’s academic interests are primarily focused on the Syrian and Lebanese Civil Wars and the cultural and societal consequences of conflict. He has visited the region extensively for Arabic language study and cultural acclimation. Ali hopes to gain hands-on research and professional experience at NESA that will correspond to his future academic and professional endeavors.

Hannah Quirk is a rising junior at Yale University majoring in Global Affairs. Her academic interests include U.S. foreign policy, international security, and political violence, with a regional focus on the Middle East. She has studied Arabic both at Yale and for a summer abroad in Morocco. After graduation, Hannah hopes to work in the foreign service and is excited to learn more about U.S. strategic partnerships with countries in the NESA region through this internship. Additionally, she is excited to learn about the impact of U.S. defense policy in the Middle East and engage in research on regional peace-building efforts.

Jessica Link is a rising senior at the College of William and Mary majoring in government, with academic interests in international security and nuclear proliferation. At her college, she has been involved in several student leadership positions, working on the Student Assembly and Community Council. During her internship, she hopes to gain a deeper understanding of the NESA region and opportunities for cooperative security. Jessica also seeks to further develop research skills in the field of international relations.

Ishmael Maxwell is a Junior at Carleton College majoring in International Relations and pursuing a minor in Spanish. His primary focuses are on countering violent extremism and peace building, especially in the South Asia region. This fall, on an NSEP Boren Scholarship, Ishmael took part in the South Asian Flagship Language Initiative, studying Urdu language in Lucknow, India. Previously, Ishmael undertook an internship at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue in London, researching innovative policy solutions to extremism and polarization. At NESA, Ishmael hopes to gain insights on strategies for effective dialogue and discourse between practitioners and stakeholders seeking to create lasting responses to extremism in South Asia and the Middle East.

Nada Kessou is a rising sophomore at Oberlin College, decided on majoring in Politics and Economics while pursuing a minor in East Asian Studies. She is focused in foreign policy and national security with a regional focus on South and East Asia. Having spent two academic years of in Shanghai, China before University enabled her the necessary cultural, linguistic and critical tools to approach a range of issues such as: ethnicity migration policies, trade agreements, Human rights and cyber-warfare. Before attending Oberlin, Nada engaged in extensive prior experiences as a Head of the Archive Team of the Global Issues Forum institution of UWC Changshu and community organizer. For her Research Paper in Human and Economic Geography, Nada conducted field research in Morocco on ethnic migration and inequality. Additionally, Nada developed skills pertaining to developing and evaluating legislation while in the House of Representatives.  While at NESA, Nada aims to enlarge her scope of understanding U.S. foreign policy strategic decision-making with retrospect to the Asia and its impact on relationships within the region.

Reflections from Past Interns

“Through NESA, I was able to develop professional skills alongside experts from across the globe. The flexibility NESA offers in developing my own research with guidance from Faculty allowed me to develop skills crucial for my career path. NESA is filled with opportunities that prepare students for the workforce.”

-Arwa Mokdad, University of Washington, Fall 2019 intern

“NESA did not only give me the opportunity to see, listen and learn from experts in their fields, it also gave me the possibility to interact: Interact with promising military officials from the NESA region. NESA also helped me pursuing my future goals and putting me in contact with people in the field from my home country, Belgium.”

-Kirsten Devlieger, Free University of Brussels, Fall 2018 intern

“The NESA Center offered opportunities to which I’d never imagined I’d have access as a student. Not only was I able to take notes and learn from participant programs, but I engaged with participants and even observe high level policy meetings. Very few internships could have offered me the same opportunities as the NESA Center.”

-Chris Atmajian, California State University Northridge, Spring 2018 intern

“What was different than other internships was being able to develop our own research interests and getting to interact with participants from the region. That was an incredible experience. As someone who also interned on the Hill, the biggest difference was that NESA helped me professionally develop and expand my network in an area in which I’m interested in working.”

-Matt Mueller, James Madison University, Summer 2017 intern


The NESA Center’s internship program is an opportunity for highly motivated undergraduate and graduate students to gain professional skills and subject matter development on foreign policy and national security issues associated with the Near East and South Asia region.

NESA interns are expected to employ competent research, writing, and communications skills in support of NESA faculty research and programs. NESA interns receive access to the National Defense University library and research resources to support research work. NESA interns participate in conferences, workshops, and other programs at the National Defense University featuring academics, subject matter experts, military officers, and diplomats. NESA interns also receive development opportunities throughout the Washington, D.C. area, accompanying faculty and participants on site visits to places like Capitol Hill, the Pentagon, and the State Department.

Interns are encouraged to pursue publication opportunities under the guidance of, or in partnership with, NESA Faculty.

The NESA Center internship is unpaid, and the NESA Center does not provide or assist interns in finding housing accommodations. If you are without housing accommodation, or your home institution or Washington DC area supporting institution does not provide housing accommodation, then interested applicants are encouraged to search listings online or reach out to Washington Intern Student Housing.


Assist NESA Center faculty and staff with long- and short-term research projects related to the NESA region.
NESA programs support: note-taking, course material preparation and logistical support.


A demonstrated interest in International Affairs, Defense, Security Studies, and the NESA Region.
Detail oriented, highly organized, and able to work independently or in teams.
Strong written and verbal communication skills.
Foreign Language skills a plus: particularly Arabic, French, Russian, Farsi, Urdu, Pashto, Dari.
Interested applicants must be enrolled in a degree-granting university program (undergraduate or graduate).

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