Wednesday, July 18th, 2018...10:04 am

IONP Spotlight: Noah Mayhew

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Can you tell us a little about yourself?

My name is Noah Mayhew and I am among the first group of graduates from the dual MA program in nonproliferation studies between the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey and the Moscow State Institute of International Relations. The final semester of this program is spent in practicum, which I completed in the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Office of Public Information and Communication (OPIC) in Vienna, Austria.

How did you find the IAEA? Why were you interested in working there?

While internships are a fantastic (and recommended) way of advancing your professional development, our program required internships. IONP was a streamlined way for several of the dual-degree students to find their internships and the IAEA was a fantastic fit for what I wanted to do later, i.e. work within the international system on nuclear/security issues.

Why did you choose and internship abroad rather than one in the U.S.?

I was initially very focused on receiving the UNODA position through IONP. I am now very glad that I was not chosen for that position because the IAEA internship really offered me more what I was looking for. While both internships offer interns substantive work and fantastic networking opportunities, I found the international environment at the IAEA to be much more fitting to my long-term ambitions. In addition, working at the IAEA exposes you to a huge variety of topic areas in the nuclear field, that make you a more desirable, more well-rounded candidate for junior-level positions after the internship.

What courses at the Middlebury Institute helped prepare you the most for your position with the IAEA?

I found myself drawing a lot from courses that I took with Philipp Bleek, particularly his introductory course and his writing course. As far as his intro course is concerned, the IAEA does a lot of different things under its mandate, and Dr. Bleek did well to cover those things as best he could in the time allotted. His writing course was a great exercise in boiling things down to their most important, most compelling pieces, which was useful in drafting reports for my supervisors, as well as writing web articles for and conducting daily news analysis. I wish that I had taken the course on nuclear power, that I believe Dr. Moore teaches. Finally, language – any language – is always a useful thing at the IAEA. Knowing more than just English is not a requirement for employment there, but it does certainly make you look more credible.

What was an unexpected challenge you faced while at the IAEA?

My work at the IAEA generally ran pretty smoothly. This internship is one of those cases where it is what you make it. If you want to sit there all day and do nothing, you can absolutely do that. But if you want to work, and you make that clear, you can do a huge variety of things. You certainly won’t be bored. Nominally I worked for OPIC Director Serge Gas, but I spent a lot of
my time writing articles for the head of the web section, compiling a daily nuclear news aggregate for senior management and helping the multimedia team with content for videos and other such tasks.

What projects did you work on? How did they relate to your personal mission?

As I mentioned above, I was able to work on a large variety of projects while I was with OPIC. Officially, I worked for the director, mostly on drafting internal communications strategy documents and conducting research for various purposes (for example, vetting speakers). I also worked with the press section in compiling the Internal News Review, which is a daily aggregate of all nuclear-related news compiled for senior management. We kept a database of all IAEA mentions that corresponds with this aggregate. I spent a lot of time writing articles for the web section and also for the IAEA Bulletin. Aside from those things, I did a lot of miscellaneous tasks, such as transcribing interviews, assisting the multimedia team with scripts and video shoots and writing for internal news.
This was helpful because I got to meet and speak to a lot of people within the IAEA that I would otherwise have had no reason to network with. Through this experience, I learned a lot about the IAEA’s work and the huge amount of industries that the nuclear field touches.

What lessons or skills did you learn “on the job?”

Aside from the concrete subject matter, I was able to experience working in a professional, international environment. One of the benefits of the dual-degree program is that the internship during the final semester helps you to transition from student to professional, even just in terms of how to conduct yourself in an international office setting and what sort of skills will be required on a daily basis (writing, organization and being a self-starter go pretty far).

What are your plans now that you have completed your time at the IAEA?

I have secured a position as a Research Associate with the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation following my internship. My first day was Monday :).

Thanks Noah!

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