National Defense University


**The NESA Center is currently accepting applications for Fall ’24 internships. The deadline to apply is Monday August 12th. The Fall internship will begin after the Monday September 2nd Labor Day Holiday.**

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 full-time and unpaid.

Note: internships are being conducted in a flexible hybrid remote / in-person model. To be considered, however, applicants must reside in the Washington DC area for the duration of the term for which they’re applying. 100% remote internships will not be considered. 

NESA Interns Summer 2024

Apurva Hari is a rising senior at the University of Maryland, pursuing a BA in International Relations and double minoring in International Development & Conflict Management and Sustainability Studies. Apurva is interested in South Asia, conflict resolution, post-conflict reconstruction, diplomacy, and sustainable development. While at NESA, she hopes to contribute to high-level research and extend her knowledge of US policy in the NESA region, Track II diplomacy, and international security.

Harun Vemulapalli is an undergraduate at the University of California, Los Angeles, majoring in Political Science and Statistics. Harun is interested in studying non-state actors’ ideological motivations and recruitment propaganda, and would like to explore the use of narrow artificial intelligence by religious extremists in the NESA region. Harun hopes to pursue a career in the intelligence community and conduct academic research.

Jess Badiny is a student at Stanford University studying International Relations with a concentration in International Security and minors in Foreign Languages and Vocal Jazz. Jess is a member of the Stanford ‘Women in Politics’ organization and a researcher for the Stanford Hoover Institute’s Veterans Projects. Jess’s academic interests include defense, diplomacy, intelligence, and foreign policy. She is eager gain experience in the facilitation of diplomatic dialogue, deepen her understanding of security in the NESA region and support the research of NESA’s faculty members.

Katherine Holden is currently enrolled in University of Oklahoma’s International Studies Accelerated BA/MA degree program having recently obtained her Bachelor of Arts in International Studies with a minor in Arabic. Katherine has an interest in diplomacy and the Middle East, and would like to pursue a career in the foreign service or academia. Katherine hopes that her NESA internship will deepen her understanding of US security policy in the Middle East and South Asia.

Kirill Shabalin is pursuing his M.A. in South Asian Studies at Columbia University on a Fulbright Fellowship. He specializes in political theory with a focus on postcolonial, populist, and nationalist thought. Hailing from Russia, Kirill has a strong interest in economic and security cooperation between South Asian and post-Soviet states. During his internship at NESA, he hopes to contribute to the faculty’s research on issues in South Asia.

Mina Ritz is an undergraduate student at the George Washington University pursuing a degree in International Affairs and Political Science with a concentration in Middle East affairs. Her academic interests include cases of democratization, the intersection of religion & democracy, and US foreign policy in the Middle East. She hopes to expand her understanding of US security policy, geopolitical dynamics and looks forward to supporting and collaborating with NESA’s faculty members.

Saskia Zandstra is completing her M.A in Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies at Georgetown University. Her academic focus is on religious extremism, foreign policy and legal systems in Central Asia and Russia. Hailing from the United Kingdom, Saskia looks forward to deepening her knowledge about security and development in the NESA region from a U.S. perspective.

Reflections from Past Interns

“My internship with NESA has been the most fruitful experience in my academic and professional career yet. The opportunity to work alongside Faculty members on research projects I am passionate about deepened my knowledge of the region while opening my eyes to a new side of international relations. NESA truly shaped the trajectory of my career and the meaningful connections I made still support me long after the conclusion of my internship.”

-Sophie Rossi, James Madison University, Spring 2023 Intern

“I worked on intriguing research projects and assisted thought-provoking and engaging seminars on a wide variety of NESA region topics. Considering the genuine conversations I had with NESA faculty, staff, and outside experts, the entire experience was pivotal in deciding the next steps in my academic and professional career and helped me develop the necessary skills and knowledge to take them.”

-Lien Knaepen, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium, Spring 2022 Intern

“The unique and stimulating environment at NESA has become the foundation of my academic and career trajectory. NESA gave me invaluable experiences deepening my knowledge of the Middle East and Asia, as well as opening my eyes to the importance of sub-regional distinctions in international security. My enduring and vibrant relationships with the NESA Senior Leadership, Faculty and Staff continue to shape my global perspective and benefit me professionally.”

-Patrick Centeno, Ramapo College, Summer 2021 Intern

“I had the unique opportunity to assist NESA’s expert faculty research on topics that most interest me and engage with practitioners and government officials directly  from the NESA region. Although my internship was virtual, it was highly dynamic and interactive. I gained skills and connections that have already been crucial for beginning my career in foreign policy.”

-Ishmael Maxwell, Carleton College, Summer 2020 Intern

“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 opportunity to interact with military officials from the NESA region. NESA also helped me to pursue my future goals and even put 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 a DC based intern hosting organization.

NESA does not sponsor travel or work visas for non-US Citizens. Hosting organizations such as The Washington Center, are able to facilitate this, and do so on a regular basis for NESA interns. We invite non-US applicants to apply through such organizations if they are not already in the United States.


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).