My summer internship experience at the Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI) was remote due to the pandemic. It was nonetheless a memorable experience as I got to explore cybersecurity issues around Southeast Asia. ASPI is a think-tank under the umbrella of the Asia Society family, which aims to explain the diversity of Asia to the United States and the complexity of the United States to Asia. It heightens understanding between the two regions and tackles major policy challenges confronting the Asia-Pacific in security, prosperity, and sustainability by providing solution-oriented recommendations and ideas for such challenges.
At Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI), I delved into policies and developments around the data privacy issue in Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, and Singapore. I learned how these countries bring up policies and collaborate bilaterally, regionally, and globally to tackle problems around cybersecurity. My summer internship experience also enriched my knowledge and understanding of the world.
Working at ASPI
The internship started in June 2021, around the end of the spring quarter, and continued through the end of summer. There were a total of four interns in the Washington D.C. office. I mainly worked with a small team of three - Elina, my supervisor, Chris, my co-intern, and I - which focused on cybersecurity issues.
My supervisor, Elina Noor, an inspiring expert in cyberspace, especially in the Southeast Asia region, led the team with great insights and leadership. Along with my co-intern, Chris, we spent the entire three months working on a project that studies Ethical Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Data for Inclusive Development in Southeast Asia. The project itself is expected to continue for a year, and we were in the early stages of the project.
As a security research intern, I collected data and assisted the research. Additionally, I focused on building-up fundamental understanding of the project - determining the stages of development each country is in, how they respond to the global trend and issues, and what criteria need to be included in analyzing the different characteristics of each country, considering both the local context and the global trend. In the next nine months, the project will survey countries’ positions on these issues, assess the importance and impact of the topic, and highlight the significance of engaging in international developments. I am excited for the final product to come forth, a collaborative work of all people involved in this project.
Other responsibilities also came along the way. I had the opportunity to find the correlation between the South China Sea dispute and cyber incidents between the countries claiming sovereignty over the region. These incidents are ambiguous to identify, and the attribution is not always clear. It was also challenging to make a data set from scratch as it was a whole new experience. However, I managed to conclude that cyber incidents spiked around the time of the major disputes around the South China Sea. No secret that the Global Economy class taught by Professor Aturupane from Fall 2020-21 helped me make sense of the data set and read graphs!
The interns in the New York and Washington D.C. office took turns doing daily press scans, following up with news from the Northeast to the Middle East. It was amazing to learn how Asia, as one big continent, held such a diverse set of news and events occurring each day. I also accumulated lists of people in congress, embassies, and the government to share the op-eds from ASPI. Most of these administrative works were done as a team effort, and I met a larger ASPI family through the experience.
Ending My Internship
Working at ASPI was a rewarding way to spend my summer. I owe special thanks to Elina and Chris, who were incredibly supportive and made me feel like I was making a significant contribution to the institution. I was also rewarded with knowledge and insights into new topics in Asia and its relations with the world, mainly focusing on the U.S. It provided great insight into the developments of cybersecurity issues and data privacy around Southeast Asian countries. It was a fantastic opportunity to apply what I learned at Stanford to real-world policy problems. I thoroughly enjoyed my internship this summer and feel ready to embark on new challenges that will come forth in my career path.