All posts by georgiabarlow

Working at Operation Restoration

I have been working with Operation Restoration, a nonprofit based in New Orleans that is dedicated to helping formerly incarcerated women and girls access higher education and tools to help them with reentry. Because there is no office space I have been working over the city and from home, meeting with Syrita Steib-Martin, the executive director, in her office at Touro medical center, and in Baton Rouge when we are working on legislation.

I first met Syrita at an event on Tulane’s campus about women in the prison system when we hosted Piper Kerman, writer of Orange is the New Black, and then followed up with Syrita at a Newcomb Prison Project meeting. From here she and I talked about my goals and interest in this kind of work, and she invited me to work with her. From the internships I have had I have found that it is very important to follow up with people and to show up to events that interest you. Meeting people and organically talking about your interests helps them remember you when you say that you are looking for an internship later on.

I had initially been working on background information and data collection for our bill HB688 that has since passed and become law in Louisiana! This bill makes it illegal to discriminate against individuals with a criminal history when applying to public institutions of higher education in Louisiana and makes Louisiana the first state in the nation to do this. I was able to be in the room when this bill was discussed in senate and house committee meetings, and watch as it was signed into law.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards signing HB688 into law

I have worked with a number of other community organizations and have made connections with V.O,T.E. , LAPEC, The National Council for Formerly Incarcerated Women, and have worked with a number of state representatives and their offices. This internship has provided me with freedom to take my interests to the next level as well as learn about the working of a nonprofit.


Helping Women and Girls Access Higher Education

I am a rising senior studying political science and international development. I am a Newcomb Scholar and particularly interested in the intersection of policy and human rights. This summer I am an intern for Operation Restoration, a New Orleans non-profit dedicated to helping formerly incarcerated women access paths to higher education. I have been interested in criminal justice reform for a long time, and just finished up another internship at the Orleans Parish Juvenile Court working with a grant writer on alternative to detention programs for juveniles.

I am excited to work with this organization because right now they are really involved in passing state legislation to open up educational opportunities for formerly incarcerated individuals, beginning with House Bill 122 which passed the education committee yesterday. This bill will end the discrimination that formerly incarcerated people face when applying to institutions of higher education by removing questions about criminal history on initial applications. We are also working to create spaces where women can access resources like work clothes, computer classes, help with applications, etc.

My own goals for this summer while working with Operation Restoration are:

  • Learn about the day-to-day operation of a non-profit. Operation Restoration is still in its beginning stages so I will also see how non-profits develop and be a big part of that process.
  • I want to learn from the women that we work with about the barriers that they face and work hard to start to come up with strategies to face these barriers, whether it is changes in legislation, access to resources or anything else.
  • Work on my grant writing skills to secure more money for the organization.
  • Operation Restoration lacks a physical office space so I want to learn how to work in various settings, and see where I can do my best work with other people.
  • Do on the ground work with marginalized populations to help create lasting and sustainable change.

Newcomb’s mission is to educate women for leadership in the 21st century. I think that something that really makes a great woman leader is the ability to bring other women along towards progress and this is something that this internship will really allow me to do. It’s mission is to help women achieve their dreams of education through resource access, changes in legislation, and work with partner organizations. It also works to achieve equality for women in higher education access, which I think fits within Newcomb’s mission well.

I am excited to start working full-time with Operation Restoration  and learn about the injustices that formerly incarcerated people face as well as begin to come up with solutions to end discrimination in higher education.

Just Beyond the Halfway Mark

I have been in Berlin for over a month now and am more than halfway through my internship at BIGS Potsdam. I  had changed my learning goals in my first week at the think tank from what I had originally planned. Though they are similar, they have altered slightly and I have outlined them below. As such, I think that I am progressing towards a number of my goals. The most noticible in my daily life is the adjustment to life abroad, and particularly to life that is spent surrounded by a language that I do not speak. I have learned basic phrases in German, I can politely ask for a coffee as well as find my way around Berlin using only signs in German. I am learning about how to run statistical analyses on data collected through surveys and experiments, as well as how these experiments and surveys are planned and collected. I have been able to wittness how many of these projects begin, from the grant application process onward. I think one of the measures of my learning is that I have found myself asking more questions than I typically would. I have had to adjust to a number of things and learn on the go how to complete tasks that I am assigned at my internship. This has been a good adjustment and has expanded my knowledge.

I have been working on the beginning stages of a literature review that will accompany the academic paper resulting from the research that has been conducted about first responders and altruism. I have been compiling articles, journal entries, and previous experiments and finding common threads that bring these things together. I have also been working on running statistical analyses on the collected data and writing up notes on the findings to send to my supervisor who is currently running a program in Beriut for a week and a half.

I think that this internship has made me more aware of the directions that I can go as a leader as well as making me more confident in an office environment. Until this point I have had jobs typical of a student, waitness, nanny etc. and had not been in a more traditional work environment. For this reason I was a bit nervous about how it worked, but now I feel more comfortable with the expectations and workings of an office environment. I have also been surrounded by women who are at the top of  afield that is more traditionally dominated by men. International security, and particularly cyber security are typically more male carreer paths, but I have really appreciated getting to know women who are breaking that mold and doing it well.

I have learned a lot through this experience, as an employee, and as a person outside of the office. I feel confident in my ability to travel well, and to work in an unfamiliar place. I have had to navigate my way around a city that I was completely unfamiliar with and as an international development and international relations major this is something I need to feel comfortable doing. I have learned a lot about how to transfer data collected through experiments and surveys into usable numbers, figures and charts that can help to understand behavior. I have had to refresh a lot of things I learned years ago in statistic classes to be able to contribute to this project, but it has been very constructive. Additionally, this job and my time here has allowed me to grow my international network of contacts. I work with individuals from around Europe as well as one other person from the US who is a former member of the state department. I now have people who have studied, lived and worked nearly everywhere in the world as colleagues and I think this will be really beneficial in the future.

Updated Goals:

experience experiments involving people

understand data collection and coding

see how experiments are transfered into academic papers

understand how experiments can be used to aid development

feel comfortable living in another country and speaking beginner german

Beginning Weeks in Germany

I have been in Germany for just over two weeks now and have had a great time. I arrived on a Sunday and immediately started work the next day at BIGS Potsdam. This is a think tank focused on international society and security. Fellows in the company are working on projects that range from the influence of the internet on Islamic extremism and how to better censor the information, to forming an international task force that is going to make a transatlantic cyber security network. It is not quite what I expected but I love it even more than I thought I would. The environment in the office is not particularly typical, people come and go as they please, lunch is eaten around a large conference table, the walls are all white and with huge windows so it is always bright. I have my own office with a window because I was told by the head of the think tank that it was “not like America” and here it “would be rude” to not let me have at least my own window.

I have been working with Dr. Neil Ferguson on research evaluating first responders to emergency situations. I have learned A LOT about research during this process and how it can be tedious, but how rewarding it can be. We are working with quantitative data I have learned how to use stata to enter large amounts of data in an organized way and use the variables to compare different aspects of a persons personality and life to the likelihood of them being a first responder. I have been fascinated by the work and though the data entry can be slow it is yielding very interesting results. Next week I will be a part of the control experiment where random people who “look like they could be firefighters” will be chosen to do the same experiments and survey to have something to compare the firefighters to.

In addition to this work I have been helping another fellow in the office with his research grant proposal that he is sending to the European Research Commission in mid August. I have drafted letters of support to send to other organizations and even US congressmen to help with his proposal. I think that the first week it is important to establish that you are willing to take on any task, some of the work that I have done was not what I expected but it has been the most helpful because it is something I had no idea how to do. Additionally, don’t be afraid to ask for help or even look up the things you do not know. When I drafted my first grant proposal I went over it with the man applying for the grant, then when I went to work on it on my own I had a template up on my computer that I found online, and then I went back to him to see what recommendations he had. You will not know everything and that is the point. You are there to learn and grow as a person so don’t be afraid.

I am looking forward to continue this work but I am also excited because I am going to start attending some conferences that people in the office have been invited to but cannot attend. Next week for example I am attending the talk between the Deputy Secretary General of  NATO, the American Senior Advisor for Security and Defense Policy, and the HEad of German Policy Planning, and they will be discussing the outcomes of the Warsaw Summit that happens this week.

I actually got this internship through a family friend, I sent my resume to everyone I knew with a cover letter explaining that I did not have much experience, but I outlined what my interests and career goals were. I got a response from BIGS Potsdam a few weeks later because my resume and CV had been passed on to them. They do not typically have an internship program so it was kind of made up as it went along, but it is working out! My advice to someone looking for an internship would be to tell everyone you know what you want to do, don’t be afraid to reach out to others, people really do want to help you succeed. Additionally, if you are thinking about interning abroad, I would highly recommend it but just realize that it does come with its own challenges in addition to the new internship. It can be hard to find housing when you don’t speak the language, metro signs can be confusing at first, but you can do it, it just takes a bit of practice and being willing to go out on a limb and try something very new.

downtown Potsdam (left)  and BIGS Potsdam Office building (right)

Think Tank Internship in Germany

Hi! My name is Georgia Barlow and I am a rising junior at Tulane studying international development and political science. I am originally from Maine and have always been interested in international work. I am going to spend my summer in Potsdam, Germany working for BIGS Potsdam, a security think tank. I will be working with a research team that is doing work on metro security. Their research on transportation security will happen in Berlin and a developing nation so that a globalized approach can be made to transportation security. This has become an increasingly important body of work following recent terrorist activity that has targeted modes of transportation.

I am really hoping to use this time in Germany to learn about research and how it can be applied to global policy. One of the end goals of this research team is to create new policy in Germany, the EU and on an international scale to ensure that people are safe when traveling. On a more personal note I really hope to use this opportunity to explore a new country and to get used to living in a different part of the world. I hope to live in many different places in my life and this is just the first stop on the journey. My five learning objectives are:

  1. understand how research is conducted in real world situations
  2. understand how research can impact policy
  3. understand the complexities and nuances of conducting cross cultural research
  4. speak beginner german comfortably
  5. adjust to life in a new country

Newcomb’s mission is to “educate women for leadership in the 21st century” and I think that by exposing myself to new research as well as a globalized approach to security and government I will be putting myself in a position to enter fields related to political science or international development with a wide array of skills. This internship will expose me to challenges that I have not had to face yet in my work or schooling and I will become a better leader and person for it. I am really excited to work for this company because I think that they are doing very important work. They are a progressive company that brings together people from all over the world to work together and come up with creative solutions to complex problems of our time. I am looking forward to learning as much as I can while I am there!

Georgia Barlow