Notes from the Field: Amanda Lamothe '15

Student Intern: Amanda Lamothe '15

Internship Organization: Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies – Honolulu, HI

How would you describe your employer in one paragraph? What’s the elevator pitch?
The Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies (APCSS) is one of five regional academic institutes of the Department of Defense (DoD). It primarily offers courses and workshops that relate to Asian Pacific security issues to mid to high-ranking diplomats and security practitioners predominately from the Asia Pacific region. Additionally, APCSS has its own in-house publication.

What are your specific responsibilities in the organization?
As an intern, my primary role has been to provide research assistance for two different projects. For the first project, I am conducting research for Dr. Rouben Azizian, a current expert in diplomacy and former diplomat for the USSR. My research focuses on Russia's relationship with China and will be used in Dr. Azizian's book regarding Russia's relationship with Asian countries. For the second project, I am conducting research on Chinese Soft Power for Dr. Alexander Vuving, an expert on Soft Power and Asian Security. In addition to these projects, I have had the opportunity to provide support for two courses at APCSS. For example, during the Comprehensive Management Course, I presented a case study during Dr. Azizian's elective on Diplomacy and Crisis Management. In addition to the projects described above, I will have the opportunity to publish my own short paper. While my topic is yet to be finalized, it will likely focus on Chinese Soft Power relative to Russia.  

How did you feel on the first day of your internship?
The first day of this internship was very exciting. While I was unsure of what to expect, I maintained a positive attitude and remained very open minded.

What is your favorite part of the internship so far?
My favorite part of this internship thus far was having the opportunity to present to mid to high-ranking officials participating in the Dr. Azizian's elective on Diplomacy and Crisis Management as part of the Comprehensive Crisis Management course. As a part of this undertaking, I presented a 10 minute case study on the East China Sea Island dispute to 15 diplomats and security practitioners from 10 different countries. It was truly an amazing and rewarding experience.

What challenges have you faced so far?
This summer, the internship program at APCSS expanded to include undergraduate students for the first time. Accordingly, the internship program is still transitioning to accommodating more interns and one of the consequences of this is a less structured internship program. To respond to this, as opposed to waiting to be told what to do, I reached out to APCSS faculty that I was interested in working with to ask them directly if they needed any research assistance. For this reason, I was able to work on two different research projects.

What do you hope to achieve by the end of your internship?
In terms of skills, I hope to enhance my research and writing in addition to my networking skills. More generally speaking, I hope that this internship will allow me to expand my knowledge on issues affecting the Asia Pacific region and more specifically East Asia.

What have been some practical lessons you've learned in the day-to-day life of your internship?
I have learned how to live on my own. While I have studied abroad and travelled without family prior to this internship, I had never had an experience where I travelled somewhere without knowing anyone. This experience has taught me that I am fully capable on thriving on my own, whether this means cooking for myself, making new friends, learning how to budget my finances, and so on.