National Defense University


**The NESA Center is currently accepting applications for Spring 2022 internships. The deadline to apply is Friday November 12, 2021.**

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: while internships are currently being conducted remotely, we may begin shifting to a hybrid remote / in-person model in the near future. Due to this, we require applicants to reside in the Washington, DC area for the duration of internship term. 

NESA Interns Fall 2021

Owen Cox is a second-year graduate student at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, in the Masters in Arab Studies program (MAAS). Prior to the MAAS Program, he spent three years living in Riyadh in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia working as an English language instructor for a professional language training school. He also studied Arabic in Amman, Jordan and at SOAS in London. An alumnus of the University of Notre Dame, Owen founded the Notre Dame Alumni Club of Saudi Arabia. Owen is proficient in Modern Standard Arabic and familiar with Saudi and Jordanian dialects. He is interested in Arabic language and culture, and security cooperation between the US and its partners in the Arab World, particularly in the Gulf. He hopes to return to the region upon graduation. As a NESA researcher, Owen hopes to gain a broader understanding of the dynamic security challenges facing the US and regional partners, and work collaboratively to address them.

Weston Pallay  is a master’s student of International Affairs at Pennsylvania State University with a concentration in Middle East and Security Studies. His academic interests include U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, arms control and nuclear non-proliferation, and refugee policy. Weston previously earned a B.A. in History from Cornell University and studied abroad in Amman, Jordan. During his time at the NESA Center, Weston hopes to engage with experts and conduct research to further his understanding of the relationship between U.S. security policy and political developments in the NESA region.

Christopher Muth is a senior studying International Affairs, History, and Arabic at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C. His academic interests include the politics and diplomacy of the Middle East, energy economics, counterterrorism, and non-state violence. Prior to joining NESA, he worked on Iraqi and regional affairs at the Iraqi Embassy in Washington and as a research assistant tracking militant groups’ activities at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation. Christopher has also researched Shi’ite politics and policy interventions to improve performance in Iraq’s energy and security sectors. While at NESA, Christopher hopes to further his understanding of the political and security challenges that face the region and to hone his research and analytical skills in preparation for postgraduate study.

Amber Afzali is a junior at the University of Pennsylvania, pursuing a B.A. in Political Science with a concentration in International Relations and a B.A. in Psychology. Her academic interests include international human rights law, refugee affairs, and U.S. foreign policy with Afghanistan. Apart from NESA, she serves as a caseworker for Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes, helps human rights scholar and law professor Beth Simmons with research on sex trafficking trends, and analyzes international policy as a Perry World House Fellow. Through NESA, Amber hopes to gain the professional and analytical skills necessary to help resolve conflict in the NESA region and aims to bring a unique perspective as an Afghan-American woman to the center and her academic pursuits.

Will Thompson is a Master’s candidate in data analytics at the University of Cincinnati. As an undergraduate, he studied mathematics and Middle Eastern studies at Carleton College. His research interests are in Arabic, economic development, as well as applying quantitative methods towards international economic and political policy. Before arriving at NESA, Will worked on a project using data to investigate the impact of the Payment Protection Plan on the United States economy in response the COVID-19 pandemic. He also participated in an REU researching causality in the statistics of financial time series data. While at NESA, he hopes to engage with current experts to learn about the research and analytical skills necessary to contribute to actionable policy in the Middle East and South Asia region.

Jonathan Gerstein is a senior at Hamilton College, pursuing a B.A. in Government. His academic interests include nuclear security and energy policy, disinformation, great power competition, and democratic backsliding. Prior to joining NESA, Jonathan interned as a research assistant at the Partnership for Global Security where he studied Russia’s use of nuclear disinformation in pursuit of its strategic interests. He also served as a press intern in the Office of the New York State Attorney General. While at NESA, Jonathan hopes to develop his understanding of strategic competition and new and emerging threats to security and defense policy in the NESA region.

Reflections from Past Interns

“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 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).