Batten Student Highlight: Izzy Motta (BA '24)


It was an absolute delight to engage in conversation with Izzy Motta (BA, 2024), exploring her internship journey at the Alliance for Securing Democracy (ASD), housed within the esteemed German Marshall Fund (GMF). Through Izzy's reflections as a Communications Intern, we gain invaluable insights into the dynamic fusion of research, communication, and tangible impact within the sphere of global democracy and security challenges. If you’re interested in learning more about career opportunities within this realm, Izzy’s insights and experiences are sure to provide meaningful guidance. 

Q: What was your most impactful policy work experience? What was your official position title?

A: In Summer 2022 I worked as the Communications Intern for the Alliance for Securing Democracy (ASD) at the German Marshall Fund (GMF). The German Marshall Fund is an American think-tank dedicated to promoting transatlantic partnership between the US and the European Union. The Alliance for Securing Democracy is a political advocacy group within GMF with a research focus on foreign and domestic democracy and threats to it.

Q: What were your main responsibilities at your internship and the projects you got to work on? What did a day in the life look like?

A: As the Communications Intern, I worked closely with ASD’s Senior Communications Specialist and the External Affairs team to promote ASD research, projects, and events on social media and prepare publications for release. A typical day started with compiling a news briefing that summarized the daily news on all our research focuses. I often had to start work early to finish these briefings so that they would be in all ASD inboxes every morning. Afterwards, I’d meet with my supervisor to touch base on tasks for the week, and join a couple other meetings with ASD or GMF comms staff to review progress on current projects. In between meetings, I would draft social media posts, work on the weekly newsletter, write up a media analysis briefing, or copyedit and prep research reports for publication.

Q: What are some highlights from your time working there? Most impactful things you got to work on/people you got to meet?

A: Throughout my internship, I had the opportunity to conduct my own research on a topic of my choice. ASD had completed a lot of research already in Russian disinformation campaigns, but it largely focused on Russian disinformation in English. Working at the nexus of my Spanish language skills and interests in international relations and security, I investigated the global security risk of Russia’s disinformation appeal to Spanish speakers. My research analyzed a particular Russian media account that was growing in popularity with Spanish speakers worldwide, how Russia had managed to circumvent bans meant to reduce its platforms, and potential steps that could be taken to address these vulnerabilities. It was an exciting opportunity to pursue my own interests, publish my research through ASD, and work with talented field experts!

Izzy and brother
Izzy is pictured here with her brother, Ben Motta, who is a fourth-year student in the UVA Engineering School, as they attend a security career fair.

Q: What inspired you to take on this position? Any specific classes or Batten professors?

A: I was looking for an opportunity in which I could strengthen and apply the research, writing, and communication skills I had cultivated in Batten. I searched for communications roles 1) because I didn’t know in exactly what field I wanted to work in yet, and I knew that communications experience was a transferable skill, and 2) because I wanted to work with all levels in an organization. Through a communications role I would have access to all people in the organization, from the higher-ups to the junior staff- because everyone needs to communicate something! Prof. Stam’s class on US National Security in Spring 2022 piqued my interest in global security partnerships and the foreign policy space, and inspired me to look for internships in this realm.

Q: Any advice for Batten students as they begin or continue their internship search?

A: An internship is an excellent way to get realistic experience in a field, boost your resume, and figure out what you want. That being said, if you’re having trouble securing an internship, consider other possibilities- volunteering, working, studying abroad, externships, shadowing, traveling, or independent study/ research are other legitimate options that give you the same advantages as official internships. Don’t be afraid to try something different!

Q: What skills and lessons from your time in Batten helped you be successful in your position?

A: As challenging as the page limit requirements for our Batten policy memos are, they helped me be able to write clearly and concisely. Tweets (X?) can only be 280 characters, or else people lose interest. News analysis can only be so long, or it starts to get confusing. Practicing concise writing in my Batten classes made it easier for me to narrow the message I needed to convey and communicate it much more effectively.

Q: How has this position informed what professional pathway you want to pursue after Batten?

A: Working within ASD comms exposed me to an array of research foci and gave me a chance to explore and test out what I was interested in. Getting to engage in ASD’s impressive foreign democracy and geopolitics research made me realize that, in my next step, I want to gain expertise on the domestic side, particularly in the national security and military space. After I graduate this May, I’ll be working full-time as a Strategy & Consulting Analyst with Accenture Federal Services. I’m looking forward to strengthening the communication and research skills I refined at ASD in my new position with AFS, and getting more experience in the defense and national security field.

Q: What are you most excited for in your final weeks at UVA and in the Batten School?

A: Walking around Grounds in the final weeks of classes has made me realize how much I’m going to miss UVA. Before Final Exercises, I’m looking forward to soaking up as much time as possible with my friends, enjoying and exploring Cville more, and being grateful to God for both the challenges and the growth I have been afforded throughout my time at UVA and in Batten. 


Garrett Hall at Sunset

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