Skip to Main Content

Meet Rachel Simroth

International Relations & Diplomacy Major
Civic Engagement Minor; Arabic Minor
Washington Academic Internship Program Participant

I am drawn to the policy process, but I am also interested in the role of journalism and public/cultural diplomacy programs, and I am pursuing a career in US foreign policy in the Middle East.

My time in Washington, D.C. through the Ohio State Washington Academic Internship Program (WAIP) was one of the most formative experiences of my time as a Buckeye.

Prior to WAIP, I went on two study abroad programs in the Middle East - a summer in Jordan studying Arabic and a winter break to Israel and Palestine to study the conflict. On campus, I previously was a research assistant for the former Regional Director for NW Africa Defense Policy at the Department of Defense, working on categorizing foreign policy legitimacy arguments. I also had been a research assistant for a post-doctoral candidate, researching the 2019 Algeria Hirak protest movement. After these experiences, I wanted an internship that would allow me to work on US foreign policy, specifically in the Middle East and North Africa.

Foreign policy decisions are made in Washington, DC - not Columbus, OH - so I knew this WAIP program during the spring semester of my junior year would allow me to take my first steps in the DC foreign policy scene. 

My internship was with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, working with the Majority Staff on the Middle East and North Africa policy portfolio.

The type of work I did fell into three categories:

  1. meetings with foreign governments/US executive branch officials/international organizations,
  2. extensive memo writing experience,
  3. and high-level diplomacy work.

I regularly participated in and summarized policy meetings with domestic and international actors, from Lebanese Members of Parliament to USAID in the West Bank/Gaza office to our counterparts at the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs. One of the highlights of my internship was working on a Tunisian democratic backsliding portfolio. After attending meetings with the NDI office in Tunisia, Carnegie’s Tunisia experts, and opposition Members of the Tunisian Parliament, I wrote the first draft of the memo raising a pattern of democratic backsliding to the Chairman. I also regularly prepared written analyses of current regional MENA issues for the Chairman. Topics I analyzed and wrote on include media restrictions in Iran, a Syrian Civil Defense briefing after the earthquake there, and a memo in preparation for his meeting with the Saudi Ambassador. I also assisted the policy team to vet US ambassador nominees, prepare for a congressional hearing with Iran, and the hearing when the Secretary of State testified before SFRC to defend his budget request. Several times I worked with the Chief of Protocol for SFRC to prepare the Committee Room in the Capitol for meetings with high-level foreign officials, including the King of Jordan, the Foreign Minister of the UAE, and the Saudi Ambassador to the US.

The WAIP program provided a highly beneficial structure to my internship experience in DC. Each WAIP student is matched with a mentor, a fellow buckeye to guide us in our first steps in the D.C. world. My mentor was the previous Senior Coordinator for Women’s Empowerment at USAID, the former Director of the Women's Political Participation Program at NDI, and currently the Director of the Peace With Women Fellowship at the Halifax International Security Forum. She was a great person to talk with about future career paths and a sounding board for my reactions and impressions of Washington. Additionally, the WAIP study tours were valuable and allowed me to expand my knowledge of D.C. and my professional foreign policy network, from USIP to the Institute of World Politics to the Georgetown School of Foreign Service.



Being a participant in the WAIP program has already opened doors during my senior year at Ohio State and post-grad opportunities.

After I completed WAIP, I stayed in D.C. for the summer and interned at The Washington Institute, a foreign policy think tank that focuses on the Middle East. Here, I supported think tank research, publications and events and even prepared briefing materials on China/Levant issues for the Foreign Service Institute. Then in September, I began a virtual internship with the US Department of State through the VSFS program. I am currently in the process of applying to positions at think tanks, NGOs, and international relations magazines in Washington and New York City, as well as interviewing for positions abroad as well.

The WAIP program set me up for success in a variety of avenues - from expanding my knowledge of the foreign policy process to giving me the opportunity to work in a professional D.C. environment. Being the youngest in the SFRC intern cohort that semester - and the only one from a state school - I was grateful to have an Ohio State community in D.C. to support me throughout the process and give me the tools to succeed. My SFRC internship taught me how to think more critically about American foreign policy - whether I was reading a report and then asking if the Egyptians are truly following through on their human rights benchmarks, getting coached on how to draft questions for an Assistant Secretary of State, or having my policy team point out to me after a meeting that this is how allies disagree with each other.

This knowledge I would have never learned inside a classroom, and so I cannot recommend WAIP enough to any Ohio State student interested in getting valuable professional, real-world experience in DC. 

Meet More Glenn College Students