The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Class of 2021 First-Year Fellow: Jessica McDermott

FYF Jessica McDermott

As a First-Year Fellow, Jessica McDermott ’21 interned at the Congressional Research Service under the mentorship of Mary Beth Nikitin ’96.

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As a First-Year Fellow, Jessica McDermott ’21 interned at the Congressional Research Service under the mentorship of Mary Beth Nikitin ’96. The following is an excerpt from her final report.

I interned at the Congressional Research Service (CRS), Congress’s “think tank.” I worked in the Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division (FDT). CRS was created in 1914 to provide authoritative, confidential, objective, and nonpartisan information to committees and Members of both the U.S. House and Senate. These four pillars inform all CRS reporting. Members make requests to learn about specific issues, and this informs the day-to-day work of CRS analysts. CRS publishes reports as well as shorter insights and memoranda to educate Members of Congress on certain issues of interest. CRS publications are highly-regarded by Members of Congress and people within the given policy field.

I reported directly to my mentor, Mary Beth Nikitin '96, a nuclear nonproliferation specialist. I worked on a wide array of issues and tasks. For example, I kept up on news stories relating to nonproliferation of nuclear weapons, aggregating sources and providing summaries for Ms. Nikitin. I helped update CRS reports that were out of date. I created a timeline of North Korea’s missile and nuclear tests. I also analyzed and compared four different denuclearization roadmaps for the Korean peninsula. My day-to-day work varied widely, so I had the opportunity to explore many different topics within the realm of nonproliferation of nuclear weapons.

A rewarding aspect of my work this summer was my final presentation to analysts in the Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division of CRS. I presented on several denuclearization roadmaps for the Korean Peninsula that may be considered by the State Department following the joint statement of the Trump-Kim summit. I spent a significant portion of my internship examining issues related to nonproliferation in North Korea, so this culminating presentation allowed me to share some of my work as well as attempt to field questions from analysts in the division. I was glad that we spent time practicing public speaking through Rocky’s Civic Skills Training at the beginning of the fellowship. I felt confident going into this presentation because of both my research on the topics this summer and my public speaking skills, so I really enjoyed this culminating experience.

I would like to thank the Nelson D. Rockefeller Center and all of the Rocky staff involved with the program. I am so happy I could engage in this opportunity and felt very well-prepared by Rocky trainings to be successful in my internship.

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