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  • Kristen 2:55 am on April 25, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    The end!! 

    Well, what a semester!! I have to say what everyone else says…but where did the time go?? One of the best experiences this semester was definitely my internship at FDD. I learned so much about the Middle East, Israel and just in general about the way non-profits run. FDD was a very organized and efficient organization which was beneficial for me to work for them just because I got the most out of the experience. I know there is controversy about “unpaid” interns, but I never felt like I was getting taken advantage of at FDD, but I do know people who were unpaid, getting no credit, but did way too much for the organization, so beware of places like this! What I think I will take out of this whole experience is probably the fact that the people I met were so dedicated to their jobs and each had so much to contribute to the organization. I know I can get a great reference and always have contacts at FDD, which is so valuable to me at this point in my life. I think I also learned things about myself, like the fact that I want to work for another non-profit like this one because the employees were completely dedicated and passionate about their jobs, and I knew they wouldn’t be there if they weren’t. This is definitely the type of place and people that I want to be around in terms of my career path. So thanks everyone for taking interest in my internship and this blog, and I hope some things may come of value for your future internship journey!!!

  • Kristen 12:33 am on April 23, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    Final Speaker Series 

    Today at FDD we had our final speaker series which was from one of our own employees who I have written about before, Ambassador Richard Carlson. He took a different approach in his talk so instead of talking about his specific careers, he decided to tell us anecdotal stories that had to do with the benefits of being an intern. He started by talking about his first internship at the LA Times newspaper as the editors copy boy. He thought this was valuable information for us to know that he came from humble beginnings and also that no matter where you are working you can come across really incredible experiences.  He spoke particularly about the people he met there, one being a young man he befriended who he later went on to make a documentary with.  This friend’s father also happened to be very involved in politics in California, and invited Ambassador Carlson to dine with them on Christmas eve one year, where he rubbed shoulders with stars of the time such as Frank Sinatra and Jimmy Stewart.  Various other careers taught him valuable lessons in each: a police officer in Ocean City, MD one summer, loan officer at San Diego Federal Bank, and even a reporter for ABC where he earned Emmy’s for his investigations.  Although his stories were all over the place, his main point was to take advantage of every opportunity, every internship or job and every person you meet to the fullest.  Get everything you can out of every experience.  He ended with a story about his wife’s uncle, who happens to be Bill Fulbright (of the Fulbright scholarships) who was actually the one to speak on his behalf for his Senate confirmation hearing when he became an ambassador.  His advice was great and his life is really incredible, it was great motivation to go out there and jump on every opportunity that comes my way!

  • Kristen 4:42 am on April 16, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    When Social Media is not the best new thing… 

    So I was recently talking to a friend of mine and she told me about a girl she knew who graduated last year and got a job pretty quickly, had recently gotten fired.  I had met this girl before and knew she was smart, really involved in school and an extremely nice and outgoing girl.  The reason she got fired was because the company she worked for tracks her computer activity and saw that she used Facebook and g-chat too much, and they fired her for not being productive in her job on the basis of these activity reports.  Although I hadn’t talked to this girl face to face I knew she probably did not lack in her work performance but I guess the analysis reports made it look like she was constantly on social media websites instead of doing her work, and her company did not want someone doing that during their time.  Although this is a depressing story especially while everyone is in the process of looking for jobs right now, but it also really gave me a wake up call.  Even at my internship, I don’t usually go on Facebook too much, but I tend to go on celebrity gossip sites, or open my emails from clothing stores.  Even if someone can’t see your screen, this is a good lesson to note that your company may know what you are doing all the time.  So lesson learned: when you get a job, don’t lose it by going on websites that aren’t necessary!!!! My advice…if you get bored, check the news or go take a walk around the office, no one can blame you for that!

    • David Fletcher 3:06 am on April 18, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Companies track computer sites and phone logs. Any activity during company time that is not authorized is grounds for dismissal no matter how innocent it may be. I would bet that the company that let her go had spelled out their zero-tolerance policy in writing. Most organizations would alert the employee to cease with their surfing by issuing a warning unless the amount of social site browsing was overwhelming.

  • Kristen 1:00 am on April 7, 2010 Permalink | Reply  


    Since it seems lately that the internships have been slow with new and exciting things to report about, and everyone has been giving advice and anecdotes, I will follow suit. Recently, the administrative assistant/ intern coordinator told me I was one of the best interns they’ve had. I am only saying this not to toot my own horn at all, because it honestly came as a surprise to me. I am not the smartest intern there by any means, my major (being International Business) is way different from the Middle Eastern and Security studies degrees that everyone else there is pursuing, and sometimes I get very frustrated with my work because I feel like I just can’t get it right. So when she told me this, it not only made me happy, but it really made me think about why she said this, and thought since the purpose of this blog is to help others with internships, I would pass along what I think makes me a ‘good’ intern. First, I am not afraid to open my mouth. There are a ton of interesting and extremely intelligent people in my office, and although this intimidates me a lot, I have made a point to talk to almost everyone at the office. Even if it is just a passing hello while getting coffee, or if I actually get to work with them, I’ve noticed this is one difference between myself and the other interns. They only interact with the people they directly work with, and in turn, no one else there really notices their work no matter how good it may be. I have actually had people in other departments ask me to do something for them just because they know me. Although this can make me really busy, I enjoy it because they are so grateful when I help them out. So, just simply being friendly and going out of your comfort zone has really helped me in my internship, and I am happy to say that having a personality and a good head on your shoulders CAN get you far in your career!

    • Jessica Beasley 1:26 pm on April 7, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      What a compliment! Great advice too!

  • Kristen 7:00 pm on March 29, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    Another Speaker 

    Today at FDD, we had another speaker come in and talk to us as part of the Intern Speaker Series.  His name is Klon Kitchen and he works as an International Counterterrorism Fellow at the National Defense University.   In the past he has been the Chief of the Extremist Messages & Influence at National Counterterrorism Center, the Senior Program Assessment Officer at Office of the Director of National Intelligence and a Senior Analyst at the Al-Qa`ida Senior Leadership at Defense Intelligence Agency.  He gave an excellent talk about the status of the world and terrorism as it stands today.  He first spoke about a “security paradox” that the United States faces, which means that because the conflicts we face are long, hard and extremely expensive in terms of lives and money, but there is no way we can just leave these conflicts alone.  So it is a huge problem because the US can’t win them but if left alone, a decisive threat is there which could lead to an attack similar to 9/11. He spoke about the problem of the United States not having a “grand plan” about their foreign policy, and how this causes several problems internationally.  Overall he was an excellent speaker who really had great points and gave us a lot to think about.  I really enjoyed it because he gave a good insight into what is currently going on now inside the National Security sector of our government.

  • Kristen 2:05 am on March 23, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    AIPAC Policy Conference 2010 

    So today marked the beginning of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference 2010 in which many people on the staff at FDD attended.  You may have heard about the AIPAC conference in the news, but basically AIPAC is one of the biggest pro-Israel lobbying groups, and it holds this conference yearly to promote pro-Israel policy, strengthen the relationship between the United States and Israel, and ensure that Israel remains strong and free.  There are many speakers at this three-day conference, and some of the staff at FDD were part of this.  This event is especially relevant considering the recent events concerning Israel-US relations.  They have been a long-standing ally of ours, and we constantly support them, but about a week ago, Israel authorities decided they wanted to build apartment complexes in areas that Palestinians believe they own.  This made the Palestinians upset, and the US believed it was the wrong move to make.  Hilary Clinton spoke at the conference today and said that the US will continue to support Israel and received standing ovations from the audience.  To read about such a large event such as this, and then to know that I helped my supervisor prepare for it is a huge honor and makes me feel very important and confident in the work we do here at FDD.  Hopefully the rest of the conference will be a success!

  • Kristen 4:00 pm on March 19, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , new people, radio show   

    New People, New Opportunities 

    One of my favorite things at my internship is meeting new people.  It is a different culture working there because there are many people on the board and who work for the company, but only about 30 members are staff and work at the office full-time.  So I generally only see the staff day-to-day, but occasionally some other interesting person will come to the office and walk around and I get to meet them.  Yesterday, Ambassador Richard Carlson, who is a member of our board, came to the office to work for the day.  I met him and not only was he a very pleasant man, but his experiences were so vast and interesting.  He was the US Ambassador to the Republic of Seychelles (small islands off the coast of Madagascar) from 1991-1992. From 1986-1991, he was Director of the Voice of America and Associate Director of the US Information Agency.  He currently hosts a radio show entitled “Danger Zone” which is broadcast in the US, Canada, Europe, Africa and Asia.  It basically is a discussion radio show that talks about the inner workings of our national security system.  Ambassador Carlson hosts various guests on the show to have heated discussions and debates.  It was so interesting to meet a person who has so many accomplishments under his belt, and who still works to defend the greater good.  I would have loved to talk to him for hours about his experiences, especially because he was also the director of Voice of America for the last six years of the Cold War, which I am sure he has wonderful and fascinating stories from these years.  So now I am happy to say that when FDD staff refers to “the Ambassador” I know exactly who they are talking about!

  • Kristen 4:37 pm on March 17, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    Speaker Series 

    I wanted to write a blog post about the speaker series that we have here at FDD.  They are events built into our internship program that feature numerous interesting people who speak for about an hour and take questions from the interns.  It is a great networking and learning experience.  One of the speakers that we got to hear was a man named Khairi Abaza who works at FDD where he is focused on democratic reform in the Arab world, the spread of terrorism, and the influence of the media on politics.  He also does work with the campus programs at FDD which is why he came and spoke to us.  He is a former member of the Egyptian Wafd party, which is what he spoke to us about.  He gave a description of how Egypt made the transformation to an Islam state and how it rejected democracy.  It was a very interesting talk and Mr. Abaza has an extensive amount of knowledge on the subject.   It really showed me one of the main reasons why our Foundation is working so hard to achieve our goals.

  • Kristen 12:48 am on February 26, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    Part of the “Bigger Picture” 

    Hi again everyone!  So I wanted to take the opportunity to write my second blog post about what the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies really does.  The culture there is very dynamic and diverse and I never feel pressure, yet I do feel like I am really contributing to the bigger picture.   I think giving a sense of what FDD does is captured very well by their mission statement: “The Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) is the only nonpartisan policy institute dedicated exclusively to promoting pluralism, defending democratic values, and fighting the ideologies that threaten democracy.”  It was founded after 9/11 (although the ideas were brewing long before then) when it seemed like the right opportunity to start putting these ideas into action.  The Foundation really believes that democratic values are the keys to making the world a safer place.  With the world so threatened today by terrorism and weapons that we may not even know exist, FDD is committed to promoting the rights that everyone should be entitled to and what our country is based on: freedom.  We are a non-profit which means we run on donations.  I will admit, when I went into the company I was really picturing some low-level start-up with a small budget.  Since I work in the development department, I see first hand these donation that we receive, and although I cannot say much about the finances, I will say the amount of contributions that we receive from people who are committed to making the world safer is monumental.  Since I work with the donors, I really have an exciting job.  Most of the people who are involved in the Foundation have such interesting pasts and it is enjoyable to learn about them.  The Foundation also conducts a speaker series every few weeks especially for the interns, and so far we have only had one, but they are really awesome and give us a chance to see the different minds involved in FDD.  I will definitely write more about these talks once I attend more!

    • FB 1:12 pm on March 1, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      That’s great that they have a speaker series for the interns. What was the first one like? How many interns are there? Did you know they had a speaker series when you applied for the internship?

  • Kristen 7:53 pm on February 20, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Foundation for the Defense of Democracies,   

    Hi everyone! My name is Kristen Casapull… 

    Hi everyone! My name is Kristen Casapulla, I am a senior in SIS, with a minor in International Business. I am interning at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies for the spring semester.  I got the internship by just looking at the career center’s website, and applying the old-fashioned way!  I really think I lucked out with this internship considering how much I like it.  A brief overview of what FDD does: it’s a think/action tank that takes the ideals that make up a democracy and try to implement them in places where there is trouble and turmoil, like in the Middle East.  The board of directors is made up of Congress people  from both sides of the spectrum, both an ex-CIA and FBI director, and even an Ambassador.  The staff is also made up of very talented and smart people who have interesting backgrounds and have one goal in mind: peace throughout the world.  The Foundation is fueled by donations and grants by average people who see what we are doing as a means to an end.

    When I work at FDD, I really feel like I am part of something bigger, and that the organization really does excellent work and puts ideas into action.  THe staff at FDD gets published in magazines, newspapers and online and appear on numerous tv shoes, even the Daily Show! So I really know they are doing a great job of getting the word out there, and that by me working there, I am somehow helping this happen.  I think that working at an organization like this, where everyone works towards a common goal, that I realize what I may want to do after graduation.  If anything, I know I will take that away from my internship, which to me is probably the best thing I can get from it! A clear path in mind for after graduation…finally!!  Well, until next time I hope you enjoy reading about my experience at FDD as much as I enjoy writing about it!

    • fblume 12:12 am on February 22, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      I very much enjoyed reading about your experience! (Where’s your photo?!) Can’t wait to hear more!

      • Kristen 11:34 pm on February 22, 2010 Permalink | Reply

        Thank you!! I really love working there and I am so excited to share my experience working there and especially what this organization is about. Ps, sorry I was late, but the photo is up 🙂

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