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The IWP Internship Experience: Caroline Sparno

Caroline Sparno

Interning at IWP was an experience of immeasurable value. In terms of the knowledge and experience gained, working on the Counterterrorism Group team under Derrick Dortch’s supervision, I grasped how the Intelligence Community operates day to day, and I had the opportunity to conduct analyses on the gravest threats to national security. While intelligence analysis itself is crucial, the way in which it is presented is equally critical. I learned how to brief on complex conflict dynamics using the Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF) model. This idea of conveying complex issues in a concise and straightforward manner is a skill that, I know, is required for any intelligence-related role. I’m very grateful for IWP and the CTG team for allowing me to improve my oratory skills and leadership skills during weekly team meetings and for challenging me to think critically, work quickly yet precisely, and communicate effectively.

Within the CTG team, I was also a member of the AFRICOM team. Africa was my region of specialty in undergrad, and I was lucky to have the opportunity to dig deeper into the conflict dynamics in Northern and Sub-Saharan Africa during this internship. On the team, I was also exposed to a variety of seminars and resources, such as a seminar on military topographical maps and another on military intelligence. Being on the AFRICOM team also taught me the importance of teamwork and communication, as the other interns on the team were remote. I’m very appreciative of the team lead, Frank Mariscal, for spearheading the AFRICOM team’s efforts and for being approachable and knowledgeable on the region.

Besides the informational aspect of this internship, the people involved deserve a special mention. This summer, I worked alongside some of the most driven, kind, and knowledgeable people in the field. Mr. Derrick T. Dortch is one of the most passionate and inspiring people I have ever met. His passion for counterterrorism is unmatched and exemplified through the work he does every day. Whenever I had a question about an assignment, needed career advice, or sought a general talk about my professional goals, Derrick was there. It is clear that, if you put in the hard work, he is willing to help you in every way he can, and he is always seeking innovative ideas for how to improve CTG products.

I believe in what IWP stands for, and I was honored to be a part of its mission. I cannot think of a better way to spend a summer, and I thank everyone at IWP for this incredible opportunity.

Caroline Sparno
Summer 2018