A Summer to Remember – Széll Kálmán Fellows Lived, Learned and Interned in Washington DC

by | Aug 29, 2022 | News

Dorottya Zsiborács, Domonkos D. Kovács, Bence Szabó and Márk Vad arrived to Washington DC this summer, to spend 8 weeks as Széll Kálmán Public Policy Fellows. The four talented Hungarians truly immersed themselves in life in Washington DC. Here’s a short recap of their action-packed summer, and their two-month TFAS internship programs.

Bence Szabó, Dorottya Zsiborács, Márk Vad, Domonkos D. Kovács

Dorottya was an International Affairs Fellow at The Fund For American Studies Summer Fellowship Program over the summer. She greatly enjoyed living, learning, and interning at DC. After 2 months of professional development, she came home with a better understanding of the field of security, especially cybersecurity and AI, and intelligence.

Dorottya Zsiborács

Living in DC was a great opportunity to meet and network with world leaders, such as politicians, people from the intelligence community, think tanks, and NGOs. She attended several events organized by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), one of the world’s leading think tanks in security and defense. Moreover, she had the chance to visit the Capitol, attend a talk on foreign service at the Department of State, and hear more about the work of Senators on the Hill. The learning experience was provided by George Mason University. Gaining an insight into American Foreign Policy was extremely useful, especially evaluating it from the very beginning of US history of foreign policy, from the Westward expansion to the current issues of rivalry with China.

Dorottya interned at Janes, a private open-source intelligence company, where she worked on monitoring Russian and Chinese financial statecraft and economic espionage and analyzed how they pose a national security threat to the United States. This was an outstanding experience as she got to learn about the use of economic tools – such as malign surveillance technologies establishments and foreign investments- to threaten the security and sovereignty of targeted states. Moreover, she took part in developing an AI/ ML model annotator that is used with a new research tool allowing analysts to conduct research on the global operations of Chinese and Russian enterprises in a more efficient manner.

“Overall, spending the summer in DC was an excellent opportunity to build my professional network in the field of security and international relations, work at a world-leading firm in private intelligence with expert analysts and using cutting-edge ML technology, and learn how political processes work in DC, how entities gain power in such a competitive political system.” – Dorottya Zsiborács

Bence Szabó

Bence Szabó worked at the Mercatus Center of George Mason University, an independent non-profit organization with the mission to build a highly credible and effective scholarly outreach Center that conducts research, trains graduate students, and offers market-oriented solutions to bridge the gap between academic theories and public policy problems. As a summer outreach intern, Bence’s role was to analyze and understand how governmental public policy decisions affect the lives of US citizens whilst further expanding the organization’s partner network.

Throughout the TFAS lectures this summer, Bence Szabó got to learn about the challenges our society is facing. This program prepared him for the challenges of the future and how to become an effective leader. Among other classes and briefings, Bence attended the SEC and political fundraising meeting at the TFAS Centre around Dupont Circle. He also attended the Swedish Embassy briefing, not to mention the Capitol Hill Lecture series by Rand Paul at the Hart Senate Building on Wednesdays. Living in DC for 8 weeks taught him important lessons about building connections with people.

“We have started creating communities of problem-solvers. That is the essence of our track. Our job here this summer was to bridge the gap between the academic theories and Ideas and the tangible problems our communities are facing.” – Bence Szabó

Domonkos D. Kovács

Domonkos D. Kovács arrived in Washington DC with a determination to discover and understand the intricacies of American foreign policy-making – he considers such knowledge to be indispensable for the endeavor of strengthening the transatlantic axis. In accordance, during his fellowship, Domonkos worked for the German Marshall Fund of the United States, the premier transatlantic-focused think tank, the motto of which reads ‘Strengthening Transatlantic Cooperation‘. In his position, Domonkos worked on improving relations between the think tank and governments, whilst also contributing to the efforts of GMF’s Alliance for Securing Democracy by researching authoritarian influence and malign foreign interference.

Some of the most important things that he learned from his fellowship experience, was to gain detailed insight into the inner workings of the think tank world – he got to know how think tanks operate, how they are funded, what their aims are; my most major conclusion was that in order to determine the true purpose of an organization, one should not look at the mission statement, but the funding records. Also, he learned a great deal about the world of diplomacy – especially concerning the practical, operational side, to which he did not have this close access before. Thirdly, he particularly enjoyed the guest lectures at GMU – TFAS had a great selection of experts, both in terms of topics covered, and level of expertise offered.

“My overall experience was very rewarding – the fellowship was well organised, and brought great value to my educational and personal development. My experience not only met my expectations, but exceeded them.” – Domonkos D. Kovács

Márk Vad was part of TFAS’s Business and Government Relations program track. The D.C. Summer Program track on Business + Government Relations attracts future business and policy leaders to Washington, D.C. for a summer examination of the practical and theoretical questions surrounding the dynamic business-government relationship. Students examine the economic and political issues that shape how business and government interact, as well as the importance of representing the interests of business before Congress. Through the track, he was able to get a general overview of the U.S. political system and how business and the public sphere meet. 8-weeks long he studied what are the synergies and how you can actually exploit them.

Márk Vad

He interned at the National Association of Business Political Action Committees (NABPAC), which is the sole trade association for the corporate PAC community. He had the chance to work together with the government affairs teams of the largest companies, such as Walmart, Samsung, American Express, and Altria Group. During these two months, his main project used to be to deliver a comprehensive analysis of the published Congressional scorecards of different organizations and create a so-called „Scorecard of scorecards” for the members of NABPAC. During his summer internship, he attended events like fundraiser events, company happy hours, and lobby events where he expanded his professional network. He even has been offered a job opportunity through this professional network.

„The last 8 weeks have changed my life completely. Studying, working, and living in Washington is an experience that is irreplaceable and an opportunity to be seized. In addition to working and collaborating with the top people in the industry, we have had the opportunity to examine the evolution of American society and how American democracy has evolved to where it is today. I had the privilege to learn the beauty of the profession from Washington’s top lobbyists, for which I owe a huge thank you to TFAS and Hungary Foundation.” – Márk Vad





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