CRDF Global Welcomes its Summer 2020 Interns

In the midst of COVID-19, while many organizations were forced to cancel their internship programs, CRDF Global decided to pivot and rework its internship program into a remote format. As a result, CRDF Global was able to choose ten outstanding individuals from a record number of applications. Tune back in to this page each Thursday, as we feature two of our summer interns each week through the end of July.
From the start, this transition required careful coordination between CRDF Global’s IT team, human resources, and each hiring manager. This planning payed off, with the interns successfully completing interviews, onboarding, and check-ins with their supervisors, all from their home workspaces.  
The change to a virtual work environment did not come without challenges, but as Intern Program Coordinator Jon Freeman explains, “Doing a remote internship required a different type of collaboration between the interns, hiring managers, and myself. We ultimately wanted to create a meaningful internship program that would bring valuable experiences to the interns’ professional work experience.” 
Whether remote or in person, CRDF Global’s internship program gives interns an opportunity to gain in-depth knowledge of issues across the international security and foreign assistance spectrum.  
“We match our interns with CRDF Global staff and partners that have subject matter expertise in the intern’s field of study. Not only can CRDF Global benefit from interns’ new perspectives and ideas, but we also help with their career growth by exposing them to a variety of programs that address important global challenges. COVID-19 required that we adapt our hiring and onboarding processes, but the pandemic proves why we must continue strengthening future workforces to help protect the health and security of our communities,” says Siri Oswald, Vice President of Talent Management. 
CRDF Global’s internship program this summer also provides interns with experience in working remotely. Interns are collaborating on a group project, which they will present to the organization, and attending virtual speaker events. “Being able to work remotely and maintain a dynamic and collaborative environment requires certain skills, which the interns will have an opportunity to develop,” says Oswald.  
In our interviews with our interns, we asked how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected them academically or professionally, and their responses will be featured in our weekly spotlights throughout the month of July.
CRDF Global 2020 Interns:  
Dina Abdalla 

Meet Dina, our Export Control and Related Border Security Program (EXBS) intern! Dina is from the suburbs of Chicago. In 2017, she graduated from DePaul University, where she studied international studies and geography. She has worked and studied in Egypt, Oman, and Algeria, and she speaks fluent Arabic and elementary Farsi. While Dina was on a Fulbright in Algeria studying the relationship between national identity consciousness and language, the COVID-19 pandemic broke out. The Fulbright program was suspended, and she had to be evacuated by the State Department. Despite this, she says, “I was very blessed for the opportunity I had to live and work in a country with one of the most complicated visa processes for Americans. Algeria also overthrew a president through 60+ weekly mass protests. I would get to watch them from my apartment building. It was a revolutionary experience.” 
Doreen Addy 

Meet Doreen, our Pricing intern! Doreen lives in Wheaton, Maryland and is originally from Ghana. Doreen is currently pursuing her MA in finance at American University. On how COVID-19 affected her academically, she says, “COVID-19 pushed the school authorities, my classmates, and me to think of innovative ways of engaging in group assignments, study groups, and taking our exams. It was an opportunity to break out of old habits such as having group meetings in our break rooms to finding ways and relevant models while taking advantage of technology. This experience taught me that collaboration and working together is an essential feature in overcoming any obstacle.” 
Michaela Bamfo 

Meet Michaela, our IT intern! Hailing from Beltsville, MD, Michaela is a senior at Towson University majoring in information systems. When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, she leveraged her computer science skills and love of data to track the spread of the virus. She says, “I was able to collaborate with a friend of mine to create a COVID-19 Tracker for the state of Maryland using an open source API. We were able to design an interface as well as have data about COVID-19 be updated daily. The user is able to see the amount of active cases, recovered cases and deaths by county.” 
Paxton DeRoma 

Meet Paxton, one of our CBRNE interns! Paxton is from Fairfax, VA, and he is a senior at Penn State, where he is majoring in economics. Paxton says that the COVID-19 pandemic has taught him how to overcome unexpected types of challenges: “I had to adapt to doing my classes in a completely different environment than I was used to and comfortable with. I had to change the way I was thinking of my future plans, such as working during the summer. I had to learn to adapt and overcome the new and quickly changing circumstances in the world around me.” 
Joe Givan 

Meet Joe, our Global Health intern! Joe is from Seattle, Washington. He graduated from Kansas State University in 2016 with a BA in sociology and began serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Tanzania. He moved to Virginia in March after working at global health non-profits in Seattle and Chicago, and he will start his Master of Public Health at George Mason University in the fall. Joe says, “This pandemic has re-shaped how I spend my free time. Luckily, Peace Corps prepared me mentally on how to maximize my productivity when having an abundance of free time.” 
Alison Gray 

Meet Alison, our Communications intern! Alison is from Springfield, VA and recently graduated from William & Mary with a BA in history and BBA in marketing. On how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected her professionally, she says, “I gained the time to reflect on what is important to me and to think about how I can use my interests and values to guide my career path. I also had the opportunity to pursue interests that I never had time to explore before, like learning Mandarin Chinese. I signed up for online lessons thinking that I would only do a few classes, but I ended up taking sixteen.” 
Kiersten Harris 

Meet Kiersten, one of our CBRNE interns! Kiersten is from Washington Township, NJ and recently graduated from the University of Delaware. She double majored in international relations and three languages (Spanish, Russian, Portuguese) and minored in Latin American & Iberian Studies. This fall, she will be starting her MA in security studies at Georgetown University. Kiersten says, “This pandemic has definitely affected me a lot because I missed out on my last semester of undergrad. A lot of my friends had to unexpectedly move home, classes were moved online, and my graduation was postponed. I have definitely gained a new appreciation for the people in my life and experiences I have been able to have thus far.” 
Patience Mhlanga 

Meet Patience, our Quality intern! Patience is originally from Zimbabwe. She studied communications at Fairfield University, and theology and Duke University. Patience is a Peace Corps alumna and served in Zambia. She is currently pursuing her Master of Public Health at George Washington University. Along with becoming more technologically savvy due to the virtual transitions the pandemic caused, Patience says, “The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed to me about my resilience and ability to be positive even in the midst of uncertainty. While my internship won’t be at the office, I am grateful for the opportunity itself to intern with CRDF Global.” 
Emily Muller 

Meet Emily, one of our CBRNE interns! Emily is from Gambrills, MD. She is a senior at Jacksonville University in Jacksonville, Florida and is majoring in mathematics. On how the COVID-19 affected her academically and professionally, she says, “The pandemic caused my university to move to completely online classes after spring break until the end of the spring semester. I no longer had a set schedule, with some classes no longer meeting at set times and no longer having rowing practices twenty hours a week, and I had to adapt to a new way of learning at the same time as my professors. This has been helpful in strengthening my organizational and time management skills.” 
Charlotte Volpe

Meet Charlotte, our Counterproliferation intern! Charlotte is from New York City. She graduated from Barnard College in 2014 and is currently pursuing a Master of Public Administration and a MA in international relations at Syracuse University. When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Charlotte was studying Hindi in India as a Boren Fellow: “As a result, I had to end my program early and evacuate India to move back home just before India closed its international borders in an effort to slow the virus’ spread domestically. This experience demonstrated to me how quickly policies and guidance can change during a global health crisis as new information is constantly being collected and assessed.”