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CCU intelligence and national security studies students visit Washington, D.C., as part of new Study Away program

July 18, 2018
CCU students met with Rep. Tim Scott of South Carolina during a summer study away program in D.C.CCU students met with Rep. Scott Taylor of Virginia during a study away program this summer in D.C.CCU students met with Rep. Scott Taylor of Virginia during a study away program this summer in D.C.

Ten intelligence and national security studies students visited Washington, D.C., June 3-23 as part of the National Intelligence Studies (NIS) Study Away program.

“With a program like intelligence and national security studies, the majority of jobs at the federal level are going to be located in the D.C. area. The purpose was to expose [the students] to the intelligence community and agencies that are there,” said Rick Kilroy, assistant professor of politics, who led the NIS Study Away program.

In previous years, intelligence majors went to Washington, D.C., for spring break programs, but this new Summer I course included classroom instruction and visits to several government agencies.

“My favorite aspect of this trip was living on Capitol Hill,” said Clara Comiskey, an intelligence and security studies major from Atlanta, Ga. “Our apartment was right in the middle of everything and truly gave us a feel of what our lives outside of work would look like.”

The three-week experiential learning program was created to give students insight into the career paths that are available to them with degrees in intelligence and national security studies.

“The intent is for them to get an idea of what they want to do [after graduation] and what they need to do to be successful in their career paths, and then pursue internships,” said Kilroy. The students got a unique glimpse of what it is like to work in the intelligence field and what it is like to live in a busy area like D.C.

The group networked with representatives from several intelligence agencies, think tanks, graduate schools in the Washington, D.C., area, and nongovernmental agencies. Some of the agencies the students visited included the Department of Homeland Security, the Director of National Intelligence, National Maritime Intelligence Center, National Ground Intelligence Center and the Pentagon.

Students also had the opportunity to attend a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing about Russian interference on the U.S. election, and had meetings with Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina and Rep. Scott Taylor of Virginia.

“The trip was an absolute amazing experience,” said Maeve Stewart, a graduating senior from New Jersey majoring in intelligence and national security studies. Stewart said it helped prepare her for a career in the intelligence community. “Everything I learned and the people I encountered gave me such a real understanding about what the intelligence community is really like. It just solidified where I want to end up.”

One highlight of the program was the National Counterterrorism Center visit on June 12, where the students participated in a simulation activity that gave them an idea of the daily work in the intelligence community. They took a tour and received resume-writing tips and career advice.

“While learning about the agencies was important, learning about how to get hired was so much more constructive,” said Comiskey. “We were given direct feedback on our resumes, tips on how to strategically use online hiring sites, and unique ways to find jobs. I feel much more confident in applying for internships. I have learned exactly what employers are looking for in a resume and how to make myself stand out.”

Another significant opportunity for the students was working in teams to write research papers called National Intelligence Estimates. The teams then briefed intelligence analysis instructors on the papers at the Department of Homeland Security’s Intelligence Training Academy.

All the students were either intelligence and national security studies majors or minors. The 10 students are: Kyle Brossard, Christopher Bruttomesso, Clara Comiskey, Austen Goodyear, Chelsea Mitchell, Katelyn Montrief, Mason Putnam, Maeve Stewart, Brian Thorne and Destiny Trouilliere.

They had time on the weekends to explore monuments near Capitol Hill and museums, including the Spy Museum and the Cold War Museum. Several CCU alumni who are working in D.C. in the intelligence field met with the students to share job-hunting experiences.

According to Kilroy, the program has received funding for next year and will be offered in Summer I in 2019.

For any questions or to learn more about next year’s NIS Study Away program, contact Kilroy at rkilroy@coastal.edu.