The IWP Internship Experience: Jake Kucharski

July 27, 2017  |  ARTICLES

Jake Kucharski

The internship that IWP provides is an incredibly unique learning experience that provides interns with vast opportunities to expand their knowledge of statecraft, robustly enhance their research skills, and gain valuable insight into the everyday workings of an office. From attending class, to working with a subject matter expert on a research project, interns at IWP have various responsibilities throughout the semester that allow them to grow in multiple ways that most internships do not provide. I have held many internship positions, and the internship that I had with IWP was by far the most rewarding, exciting, but yet challenging internship experience for me. The staff is focused on working with the interns in a manner that is useful to the intern, but also in a way that pushes them to exceed their own expectations of themselves and be better suited for when they enter the job hunt.

When I first saw this internship online, I was extremely hesitant about the day-to-day actions that an intern would have at a graduate school. I envisioned that I would be a paper pusher, only filing paperwork, making copies, and doing grunt work the entire semester. My assumptions could not have been further from the truth. As a research intern, I was tasked with projects that delved deep into research about a wide range of topics, from terrorist attacks to trans-national criminal organizations. These reports are briefed to a subject matter expert on a weekly basis and can even be passed onto law enforcement agencies and operators on the ground, an aspect of this internship that is extremely rare.

Another tremendous opportunity that the students have while at IWP is to attend a class that is taught by the professors at the Institute. Most of the professors are scholar-practitioners and have had extremely successful careers in the subject that they are teaching, which provides for a very unique perspective that is hard to find in the academic world. Lastly, IWP hosts many events that cover a broad range of topics pertinent to the subjects IWP teaches. The interns are strongly encouraged by the staff to attend these events. Also, the internship has built in off-campus visits, such as a tour of the Capitol, the Pentagon, and other sites around D.C. to immerse the intern in the epicenter of the national security world.

Two other parts of the internship that the interns must complete is a front desk duty and working in the "Skybox" (the events and communications office). These responsibilities may sound like a nuisance; however, they provide the intern with valuable opportunities to improve their communication and advanced planning skills, along with insight of how to work in an office setting. Being able to understand the importance of contributing to the mission of whomever you work for, no matter how insignificant you deem the task, is essential to having a successful career, an idea that is instilled in the interns.

Last, but not least, the staff and professors at IWP are incredibly caring, kind, and genuine people who are dedicated to the success of the interns. The atmosphere here is almost like that of a family. This feeling makes IWP an amazing place to work and has been extremely fulfilling for myself. Also, since the staff has established careers, and immense networks, the connections that you can make here are tremendous. I could not recommend a better place to intern, and I know that my professional career has benefited extensively from this internship and I have also grown substantially as a person.