Name: Aastha Jain
Internship, Co-op or Research Site: The National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START)
Major(s)/Minor(s): Interdisciplinary Studies: Criminology and Criminal Justice
Expected Graduation Year: May 2015
Briefly describe your internship, co-op, research, or service-learning opportunity, including your day-to-day tasks, responsibilities, and assignments.
START triages (or "takes in") news media covering incidents of terrorism from around the world. Senior staff at START creates summaries of the terrorist incidents and makes them available on the Database Management System (DMS). The Global Terrorism Database (GTD) is run on the DMS and includes variables such as the location, perpetrators, and targets of each terrorist event. My job is to identify who was targeted in any given terrorist attack around the world.
What have you enjoyed the most about your position or organization/company?
I enjoy that interns are allowed the responsibility of coding on such an important database. Senior-level staff members bring interns into their meetings to discuss coding progress. In that way, I feel like I am part of something truly unique and important.
What have you gained from your experience that you could not have gained from another opportunity?
I have been able to bring an interdisciplinary perspective to this internship. This is not possible everywhere. START is made up of a team of researchers, programmers, media specialists, and IT personnel all working together. This is interdisciplinarity at its finest.
What advice would you give to another student who is seeking an internship or similar experience?
My advice to students seeking an internship is to make sure the internship fits you, not just that you fit the internship. As students we always want to look qualified but we need to make sure not to sacrifice our personal qualities.
How do you see your experience as meaningful? This might involve skills you’ve gained, information you’ve learned, mentors you’ve connected with, or projects you’ve completed.
My experience is meaningful because there is nothing like the Global Terrorism Database! There is no where else researchers and academic professionals can search for certain variables of all the terrorist incidents in one area. Where else can you look up the number of businesses that were targeted in Yemen during a specific span of time??
Please provide a short quote about what you liked most about your position / earning internship credit / the internship placement process.
Viewing terrorist incidents from all around the world provides me a global perspective on the nature of terrorist attacks.
More insight about Aastha’s internship experience.
I worked on the Global Terrorism Database (GTD) at The National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START). START has defined terrorism for its purposes so all incidents included are of a uniform standard. The GTD is an incident-level database that can be searched based on many variables. Want to know how many police personnel were killed by firearms in Kenya between 2000-2007? That is the kind of information provided by the GTD.
More specifically, I worked on the target classification distinction of the database. There were four interns populating this portion of the GTD for 2012-2013 terrorist attacks around the world. Currently, there are over 20 types of targets within the GTD. Some of these include civilians, transportation, military, and business targets amongst many. The type of target was determined after reading aggregated news media about each attack from many sources. Staff members worked on filtering through the articles and determining relevancy before interns began coding.
Based on my networking and interests, I asked Dr. Gary LaFree, director of the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, to come serve as the INDS Council of Majors Annual Petrovich Lecturer. He came and spoke at UMBC on March 2nd to shed the myths of terrorism and share some of the exciting research coming out of START. I loved my experience at START and was very fortunate to foster that relationship past a semester.