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Gaining Firsthand Expertise on Taiwan through the Johns Hopkins SAIS China Studies Internship Award

photo of Jennifer

Jennifer Conrad
MA ‘20
China Studies
China Studies student Jennifer Conrad had the great opportunity to serve as an intern of the US Department of State in the political section of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) in Taipei. Jennifer was one of several students who were the recipients of the new Johns Hopkins SAIS China Studies Internship Award, which provides financial support for students pursuing unpaid public service internships.
As a former journalist, one aspect of the internship that Jennifer really enjoyed was the reporting component. Over 10 weeks, she looked at the latest twists in Taiwan politics ahead of the upcoming presidential election and how online influence campaigns and bots are being used for political purposes. She was able to gain firsthand insights from her colleagues and contribute to their daily work, including attending meetings with high-level government officials, hosting visiting delegations, and planning events.
Jennifer's first year courses at Johns Hopkins SAIS gave her a strong foundation to work at AIT. For example, her course on Taiwan was taught by an instructor who was formerly the deputy director of AIT. That class provided Jennifer the background in Taiwan’s history and politics to start reporting on new developments during her first day at her internship.
Jennifer also took a course on North Korea with the former chargé d’affaires at the embassy in Beijing. Throughout the semester, she gained valuable insights on lessons of being a diplomat, including how to write effectively for the State Department. Those tips were especially helpful since a major part of her internship involved writing, whether it was speeches, memos, social media posts, short “night notes” reporting on significant new developments, or longer cables devoted to a particular issue.
At AIT, Jennifer was able to experience what it is like to work for the U.S. government abroad and gained a stronger familiarity of the life of a Foreign Service Officer, as well as exposure to other government jobs that can involve spending time overseas. These experiences furthered her interest in pursuing a career in the public sector after graduating.