CIB analyst recounts Iraq Embassy internship experience

US and Iraqi flagsBy Sarah Harvey, CIB Analyst |

Recently, a CIB veteran had the opportunity to exhibit on a high level the abilities she gained through her participation in the Chanticleer Intelligence Brief. Amanda Corona, a senior Intelligence and National Security Studies Major here at Coastal Carolina University, recently demonstrated her CIB skills during an internship at the Embassy of the Republic of Iraq in Washington DC. The duration of the internship was from May to August 2015.

The assumption of most intern positions is fetching coffee, copying papers, and doing the work that most others do not want to be involved with. When asked about her duties as an intern, Corona challenged the status quo. “Every morning, there were two hours dedicated to going through all of Iraqi media, reviewing the news, writing a brief, and sending it off to our director.” Upon learning of this morning routine, the resemblance of the process of the CIB was obvious. Corona continued, “If there was a Middle East think-tank event, we would get sent to those and were required to write a summary along with a brief analysis at the end.” The structure of the summary also reflected that of a CIB analysis brief produced by the members. Corona also went on to

Amanda Corona at the Iraqi Embassy

Amanda Corona at the Iraqi Embassy in DC

describe the length requirements of the briefs, which were similar to those of the CIB as well: one page. “The entire thing had to be one page no matter how long the event was.” Continuing with an example, Corona stated, “We had an all-day event, and I turned in a 6 page report. I had to shorten it…to one.” Corona’s additional responsibilities are parallel to those that were encouraged of the CIB members, rather than assigned. “He [our director] also had us working on putting a list together of the pros and cons of the KRG (Kurdistan Regional Government) gaining independence or staying part of the state.” Moreover, members of the CIB are encouraged to do research that goes deeper than just reviewing news stories. For example, students should analyze the government, culture, demography, and economic situation of a country to help get a well-rounded comprehension of a foreign country, without physically visiting it.

Obtaining an internship with a respected position is quite the accomplishment. When asked how the CIB helped secure the position, Corona commented, “I think the CIB is pretty much the only thing that got me the internship.” The webpage that declares all the major qualifications for the position clearly states, “…a strong interest in US foreign policy and diplomatic relations with Iraq as well as geopolitical implications surrounding Iraq and the Middle East.” Corona further explained, “That’s [the CIB] the only experience I had. I didn’t have a Middle East minor or enroll in Middle East classes.” The CIB, which seemed to be accentuated on Corona’s resume, was very similar to the majority of the duties that the interns were assigned. “They wanted us to do analysis, summarize stories on the Middle East, [and] be able to filter through news sources, which is a skill I gained through the CIB.” The prior knowledge acquired from partaking in CIB helped make Corona an ideal candidate for the internship.

The practicality of the CIB has been recognized through Amanda’s internship. A student applying the knowledge gained in their classroom is rare for an undergraduate student. Corona explained the interest of the officials at the embassy, which closely related the function of the CIB, to the function of the interns at the Iraqi Embassy. Moreover, Corona was told, “you’re going to be doing something similar to that.” Corona then explained, “they have something like that, where they compile news stories, and send them to Iraq so then Iraq can share [the stories] with their people.” The similarities to the CIB attracted the officials’ interest.

Lastly, Corona stressed the importance of CIB in relation to those students who wish to partake in an internship. “If you have a minor, that’s great. But if you have no applied knowledge, it’s not as useful.” She recommended the CIB to students who have no other outside experience with analysis, yet are interested in obtaining an internship. “The CIB is a nice resume builder.” Numerous CIB members have acknowledged the usefulness of the club outside the meetings. Staying up-to-date on your region, applying analytical techniques, and also becoming more aware of events around the world, are just a few ways the CIB has facilitated a real-world application of the information gathered from classrooms.