We caught up with five former USGIF interns to learn more about their time with the Foundation and how it led to where they are now.
Each year, USGIF offers paid internships for students to work for the Foundation. The year-long commitment provides interns an opportunity to make meaningful contributions to Foundation initiatives and begin building a professional network of Intelligence Community members from government, industry, and academia.
“At USGIF we ask a lot of our interns—they contribute substantively to all aspects of USGIF’s operations. We, therefore, look for interns who have the highest levels of maturity, accountability, and motivation, in addition to fitting with our team’s core values,” said Christy Monaco, USGIF’s Vice President of Programs. “During their internships, they receive training, mentoring, and career advice not only from the USGIF staff, but also from members of our community. Everyone is so thrilled to help these talented individuals launch their careers, and we really enjoy seeing how they develop as GEOINTers beyond their experiences at USGIF.”
We caught up with five former USGIF interns to learn more about their experience and what the role has led to both professionally and personally.
When: February 2021 – June 2021
Current job: Senior Consultant, Booz Allen Hamilton
“I wanted the internship because it didn’t require clearance, I could balance it with my school schedule, it was remote, and after my interview with Christy, I felt really invited as a woman. She asked me questions that demonstrated that she cared about what I had to say and cared about my opinions. That was a very inviting environment. I was thrilled to accept the offer because of how well my interview experience went and how she made me feel more like an equal. One of the things I’m most proud of was being able to figure out and fix a major database error we were having right before our Geospatial Metaverse event. I got a lot of good feedback after that and from there they trusted me more and more to take on bigger projects. I wasn’t there just to note-take, I was there to help standardize processes and allowed to sit in on higher-level leadership meetings with partners and organizational members. I really felt that the harder I worked—not necessarily in hours, but the better I was able to solve problems—the larger the tasks I was assigned. I was able to navigate the internship in a way that led to me getting more and more meaningful work, which is unheard of in most internships. It was truly an era of expansion for me.”
When: July 2022-January 2023
Current job: USGIF’s Technology, Database and Membership Manager
“I wanted the internship because, long-term, I saw the opportunity that stemmed from people who had done the internship previously, where they were working, the connections they made in the private and public sector and the academic world, and I found the material really interesting. The subject matter is something I had limited engagement with outside of the academic world and I wanted to learn more about it and how it could provide future opportunities in the workforce. From the get-go, there’s a lot thrown on your plate, but there’s also a lot more responsibility entrusted to you, which is a major confidence booster. Leadership basically said: We’re not going to put all of this on your plate now, but you will be asked to do things like this and when you’re able, you won’t have to go to us for guidance all the time. On this front, Mariam [Ghaussy, USGIF VP of Events & Administration] has been especially instrumental in my experience growing as an individual and as a member of the team as she encouraged growth during the internship. She continuously put more on my plate from different sectors of the Foundation and made me a more well-rounded employee as a result. This has been a major part of my ability to build relationships with people in the larger Intelligence Community since I began here.”
When: June 2021-November 2021
Current job: Real Estate and GIS Analyst, Fairfax County Economic Development Authority
“I had a great experience. The other interns and I had a great relationship. We worked together as a team through issues we came across. Some of my duties were to reach out to key speakers to invite them for events, help facilitate working group meetings and I assisted in helping planning the GEOINT Symposium. Professionally, it’s allowed me to connect with a lot of GEOINT professionals and exposed me to what kind of work I’d be facing in the industry. And personally, I’ve gotten really close to Ronda [Schrenk, USGIF CEO] and Christy and see them as my mentors. Due to the high involvement USGIF has with the GEOINT community, I knew that many doors would open for me through this internship.”
When: September 2021 – February 2022
Current job: USGIF’s Education and Professional Development Coordinator
“The internship was highly immersive. I think that one of the biggest takeaways is just how much trust was placed in me as an intern and how much the staff at USGIF values the input and experience of the interns. That was something that I was able to fully appreciate toward the end of my internship while I was reflecting on my experience. I did all kinds of things while I was an intern. At my first GEOINT Symposium, I helped a lot at our Government Hub, got to meet a lot of the speakers and help them feel comfortable and prepared to be in that role as a keynote or panelist. There was a lot of work in other things, too. Because of my policy background, one of the things I really like to do is program evaluation, and I was given the opportunity to initiate a program evaluation of all of USGIF’s working groups. The leadership wanted to get a better look inside these working groups, so I raised my hand really high and they said, let’s do it.”
When: June 2021 – April 2022
Current job: Intelligence Analyst at VTG Defense
“I could honestly talk about my USGIF internship experience forever. I had such a great experience. The first word that comes to mind to describe the organization is: family. Everyone was super welcoming and helpful. My first few weeks, I was very nervous, but it was very easy to integrate, and it felt like I was wanted there. What I noticed quickly, especially from Ronda and Christy, is that they give the interns a lot of responsibility. At first, I was hesitant to jump in because I lacked confidence, but I was able to grow and take on more responsibilities and that built my confidence along the way. I got a job with a company in Huntsville, Alabama, and now I’m an intelligence analyst here. The internship absolutely helped me get where I am today.”
Featured image: Former USGIF interns Jesse Klauber and Nia Corpuz pose with senior intern Lyndsey Norberg for a photo in the USGIF booth at the GEOINT 2023 Symposium.
USGIF has awarded more than $1.6M in scholarships since launching the program in 2004. This year's winners represent a diverse and multi-talented group who demonstrate a shared desire to impact change through the use of geospatial intelligence tradecraft.