Lavinia's Internship Experience

Meet Lavinia Gaggioli, a second-year student at the master’s degree in Strategic Sciences at the University of Turin, Italy. Today, she would like to share some insights with you on who she is and what it is like being an intern at the CCOE!


“I’m an eclectic person and this aspect of me shines through my academic career. Before approaching security studies, I completed a bachelor’s degree in Public and Corporate Communication at “La Sapienza” University of Rome. My area of interest has always involved social studies and communication, with a not-so-recent focus on security thanks to the Master Degree I choose and the seminars on law of armed conflict and stabilization and reconstruction I took besides my degree.

As a civilian student who studies in an army application school, I find CCOE’s work, in enhancing comprehensive strategies in scenarios where the military and civilian personnel interact, of primary interest. It’s an approach that I consider fundamental for future challenges and which has always been central to my studies. As a civilian student who is already immersed in a military environment, I was extremely excited to join an organization that makes practical use of what I’ve been studying for years. As a volunteer, as well as a scout, I always put myself in contexts that would challenge me to achieve a greater purpose. This is exactly what I was looking for with this experience, a challenging and valuable way to better understand my limits and my interests.

I was part of the Concepts, Interoperability and Capabilities (CIC) Branch, and was mentored by Major Ralf Baur. I mainly had two projects. Without going into too much detail, the first was to support the development, design, documentation, execution, and evaluation of the newly developed NATO CIMIC Analysis and Assessment Course (NCAAC); the second project was about the draft of a paper on Ukraine’s current situation in light of the Seven Baseline Requirements that define the Resilience of a State, clearly from a CIMIC perspective with a first future assessment. As part of CIC, I always supported the branch’s initiatives such as CCOE's Online Seminar Series by keeping contact with students and experts, taking care of the seminar’s computer mediation, drafting seminar minutes and supporting CCOE’s Public Affairs Office in publishing seminar materials and articles.“

Despite being in a military-dominated environment, Lavinia found the CCOE to be fresh, agile, and dynamic, reflecting a mindset oriented towards a collaborative future. “I believe I was very fortunate for two reasons, the first being the projects I took part in, especially with regard to the course, it is not every day that you get to participate in the implementation and first iteration of a pilot course: I had the opportunity to interface with experienced analysts and SMEs. In addition, I found the subject matter and teachings of the course extremely interesting and useful for both my future and myself. The second reason is Ralf, due to his life and work experience, also with interns, he is a really knowledgeable and interesting person who never missed an opportunity to enrich my knowledge in a supportive way.”

As an intern, Lavinia gained valuable knowledge and experience that would help her achieve her career goals and ambitions, though she admits that her future is not entirely clear yet. "However, I put all my energy into this internship because it interested me, and I was curious and wanted to find out if this world was for me, I strongly believe that this is what an internship is for, to understand. Clearly, to achieve this I wanted something that would live up to my career expectations and I believe that there is no better place for this than the CCOE. As a Centre of Excellence collaborates with important partners and provides the doctrine and the relative training to NATO CIMIC personnel. Working here is like being both a researcher and a student. Thanks to the training activities the house is always very busy and there’s the opportunity to meet and talk to people from all over the world. The CCOE is a hub of knowledge not only for CIMIC-related studies but also for different life paths, and it literally connects you with the world if you are ready for it.”

To future interns, Lavinia has these final words to say, “I won't deny that it will be difficult and you will probably have burnouts and probably stay until late in the office and probably be led to wonder if you are enough for all this. However, know that all this will come from you, no one here will ever make you feel inadequate and if you do your best they will recognise and appreciate it and in the end, it will not only have been worth it, it will have been incredibly interesting and wholesome.

PS. Plus, the Netherlands is amazing!”