Krista Tuthill

Krista TuthillClass Year: 2010, G'2015
Degree: B.A. in international relations and Spanish language, literature, and culture
Currently studing: Dual master’s program in international relations and public policy
Internship: International security affairs intern at the Department of Defense, the Pentagon

Do you work with any SU Alumni? If so, in what capacity?
Yes, there is another Maxwell School grad in my office. His name is Christopher Skaluba, and graduated from the MAIR program in 2001. He serves as principal director, which in essence is the second in command behind Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Jim Townsend. Given his busy schedule, I mainly support him in the preparation of briefing materials or facilitation of speaking events.

How did you find out about your current position?
By networking with Chris. He came to the Maxwell School in February of this year to reflect on his career path and discuss his role within the Department of Defense. I attended multiple events throughout the day, and expressed interest in working for his office. Over the next few months, he informed me of an internship opening, and the rest is history!

What excites you the most about this opportunity?
Working at the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) for Policy, I’m exposed to ongoing policy challenges in real time. Our office relies on the expertise of other inter-agency officials to create a unified message that supports the United States and the well being of our citizens. It’s exciting to be a part of that and to see how our hard work can have a positive impact on the American people, including our military service members.

How does your position relate to your career goals?
I plan to pursue a career in public service and to hopefully make a positive contribution to policy decisions that impact us all. With experience interning for the Department of State and Defense, I can see that everyone—civil servants or military personnel—shares that same belief, which motivates me to continue this professional journey.

What is the best tip you have ever learned about networking?
Don’t be afraid to follow-up and make those hard calls or emails. It’s not rude, it’s not annoying—sometimes that’s the only way to establish a connection. Be brave and be your best advocate!

What are the most important transferable skills you’ve learned?
Working in fast-paced environments, I am able to draft memos that are brief and succinct, and I am mindful of rolling deadlines, which means prioritizing your responsibilities. But above all, I’ve learned how to be a team player—to ask others if they need help, and to ask in return. Remember, a smile and a “do you need anything?” goes a long way to creating positive work environment.

What advice would you give other Syracuse students about interning in DC?
Network beyond your office! Take advantage of your prime location—do some research and reach out to Syracuse alumni who are working on topics you have a personal interest in. Lay the foundations and make your presence known!

What is your favorite activity to do in the city in your free time?
I’m an outdoor junkie, so I can usually be found playing pick-up soccer, hiking in Rock Creek Park, or biking through Great Falls Park. But really, there is something here for everyone!