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MASIA Class of 2020 Students Share Their Summer Experiences

September 30, 2019

Each year, the Asian Studies Program provides summer funding to eligible first-year students enrolled in the Master of Arts degree in Asian Studies (MASIA). Students use this funding to pursue a variety of internships and intensive language study programs across the world and right here in Washington, D.C. All experiences must be relevant to the Asian Studies degree program, full-time (35 hours/week or more), provide professional experience and/or advance language skills, and last for a minimum of eight consecutive weeks. We recently caught up with some of our students to learn about how they spent their summers.

MASIA students pose at CSIS

Seiyeon Ji (MASIA ’20) is in her second-year in the M.A. in Asian Studies Program where she focuses on the security of the Korean peninsula. She currently interns with the Korea Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

Please tell us about your summer experience. Where were you located and what were your main responsibilities?
This summer I interned at the Korea Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). My main responsibilities included monitoring satellite imagery of North Korea’s military bases, compiling daily updates on North Korean imagery-related news, and producing research reports covering North Korea’s WMD program and its mineral resources.

What was the most exciting thing that happened to you this summer?
One of the most exciting aspects of the internship was interacting with a senior fellow specializing in satellite imagery. I was able to observe and learn how he conducts imagery-analysis and detects military infrastructure using satellite imagery.

What specific skills and knowledge from your courses in MASIA helped you succeed in your internship?
The analytical skills that I developed through my coursework at Georgetown, including compiling, organizing, and presenting my research in a concise and clear format, was particularly useful for producing timely research reports.

What was the biggest takeaway from your summer experience?

One of the biggest takeaways from my summer experience was the importance of being independent in my work. The Korea Chair entrusted a lot of the research tasks to the interns and gave us a lot of flexibility in how we conduct research. This required being both disciplined and creative in my research practices and setting my own goals and deadlines. My experiences also taught me the value of asking for feedback on my work early on in the internship.
Benjie Canday in Tokyo, Japan

Benjie Canady (MASIA ’20) is in his second-year in the M.A. in Asian Studies Program where he focuses on politics and security of Japan and South Korea. He currently interns with the U.S. Department of State, Office of Multilateral Nuclear and Security Affairs.

Please tell us about your summer experience. Where were you located and what were your main responsibilities?
My summer experience was at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, Japan. While at the Embassy, I was in the Consular Affairs Section assisting both the Visa team and American Citizen Services. In the mornings I fingerprinted visa applicants and in the afternoons I worked on a variety of topics aimed at assisting American citizens in Japan.

What was the most exciting thing that happened to you this summer?
The most exciting thing about my internship was the opportunity to participate in the Embassy’s Independence Day Reception. Shortly after arriving at the Embassy, I took over as head of the decorations committee. As a result, all of my work had been completed prior to the event, so I was given the opportunity to simply attend and enjoy. Due to it being the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, the event was space themed with an added element of NASA-JAXA cooperation. Additionally, popular Japanese Pop group, “Da Pump,” performed their hit song U.S.A. which added to the excitement of the night. At the conclusion of the event, I was able to introduce myself to Ambassador Haggerty who is now running for Senator to represent my home state of Tennessee in Congress.

What specific skills and knowledge from your courses in MASIA helped you succeed in your internship?
Given the fact that I was in the Consular Section, not much could have really prepared me for success. Nonetheless, my understanding of the Japanese government and Japanese processes that have been developed through classes with professors such as Dr. Sheila Smith prepared me well for dealing with Japanese government representatives in various meetings and conferences.

What was the biggest takeaway from your summer experience?
Through my summer experience I confirmed my intentions to seek a career in the U.S. foreign service. I have found that people often speak poorly of the necessity for all FSOs to complete a Consular tour, but I found it to be quite rewarding and hope to be a Consular FSO one day as a result of my time in Tokyo.

Tra Hoang and friends

Tra Hoang (MASIA ’20) is in her second-year in the M.A. in Asian Studies Program where she focuses on political risk and emerging tech policy in Southeast Asia. She currently works as an Analyst at The Asia Group.

Please tell us about your summer experience. Where were you located and what were your main responsibilities?

This summer, I interned at Access Partnership, a private consulting firm specializing in tech policy. I was based out of the company’s Asia headquarter in Singapore. My primary tasks included tracking market trends across the tech sector and maintaining contact with Southeast Asian regulators to seek clarity on policy frameworks. I also assisted with developing briefing memos, stakeholder maps, and risk management strategies to help clients further business advocacy in the region.

What was the most exciting thing that happened to you this summer?

I was most excited about the various opportunities to meet with government and business leaders in Singapore to discuss policy challenges in the tech sector. During these meetings, I was able to observe how public and private interests often intersect to address the disruptive yet transformative aspect of today’s technological advances.

What specific skills and knowledge from your courses in MASIA helped you succeed in your internship?

I find two classes, Trade in Asia-Pacific and Private Sector Cybersecurity, particularly useful in helping me understand the trajectory and impact of the growing digital economy across Asian markets. The ability to conduct in-depth research and write concise memos is also a crucial skill that I gained from foundational MASIA courses, which then prepared me well for similar client deliverables.

What was the biggest takeaway from your summer experience?

This summer experience has confirmed my career interests in the private sector and motivated me to acquire more international experience moving forward. It was extremely valuable for me to have direct exposure to how policy is formulated on the grounds and learn from a different work culture.

Liana Sherman recording her voice

Liana Sherman (MASIA ’20) is in her second-year in the M.A. in Asian Studies Program where she focuses on international political economy and business in Asia.

Please tell us about your summer experience. Where were you located and what were your main responsibilities?
This summer, I attended the Middlebury Chinese School in Middlebury, Vermont. While there, my main responsibilities were to study Mandarin Chinese and prepare a mini series for the Chinese School’s weekly podcast group. This enabled me to research and discuss various topics I was interested in while simultaneously participating in the intensive language learning program. Due to the intensive nature of the program, a strict language pledge, and the college’s remoteness, this environment proved perfect for language study. It was extremely beneficial to me, as I was able to fine-tune my pronunciation, practice giving presentations entirely in Mandarin Chinese on topics relevant to my studies and career path, and do intensive reading of expository writings on interesting and valuable cultural topics.

What was the most exciting thing that happened to you this summer?
The most exciting thing that happened to me this summer was being a featured presenter on Middlebury’s Chinese podcast. Through that opportunity, I got the chance to do independent research and write concise and clear presentations on subject matter that was of personal and professional interest to me.

What was the biggest takeaway from your summer experience?
The biggest takeaway from my summer experience was that I learned for myself that I am able to not only participate in, but thrive in an intensive language learning environment. Additionally, I developed effective methods on how to study. I now feel more comfortable and confident conducting research using Chinese materials as well as writing papers and presentations entirely in Chinese.

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